By Dibie Kingsley Chukwuma
I couldn’t help feeling sorry reading about the apology tendered by Edo State Governor Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole as a result of the social media criticism that greeted his directive to a widow in Benin city the Edo State capital when he directed her to ‘go and die’. Unfortunately, I do not feel sorry for the Governor or his team of advisers who must have advised him to swallow his pride and apologize for the statement, but for the widow in particular and the totality of the Nigerian masses in general.
Watching the video, one would notice how the woman begged the “Comrade -Governor”, lamenting how she had lost her husband who was a police officer and died while serving the nation. At face value, many Nigerians might not understand the implication of the statement as it relates to the issue, but being a Nigerian who knows what it means to live in a country without water, electricity, affordable and available healthcare, food, safe and reliable transportation systems, social security or stable power supply, I think the governor spoke from his heart and only said the expectation of the nation’s political class.
“Go and die” only reflects the condition Nigerians have been put in over the years by our government, and the governor only paraphrases the situation in a statement. Tell me, what better word can reflect the expectations from the demoralizing conditions Nigerians go through every day to make ends meet? When a driver leaves his family in the morning to travel along the Benin – Lagos expressway, what are the chances that he is not going to die? When a University Lecturer travels from Benin to Kano in order to attend a crucial meeting to ensure university students get back to school after 5 months of staying at home, what are the chances he is not going to die by the reckless convoy of the Kogi state Governor? When a policeman says farewell to his wife and children as he goes to serve his country? What are the chances that he doesn’t go to die?
Sarcastically, this widow in this situation is probably a widow whose husband death benefits was stolen by “Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina and his gang”, thereby leaving her and her children with nothing to fend for themselves. Haven lost their breadwinner, such a situation alone is a directive to her and her children to “go and die” and the governor only reminded her of the needful. So merely saying those words was an interpretation of a situation and an expectation from his part.
It is no news that Nigerians are resilient, hardworking and hopeful even in the mist of total hopelessness. No doubts, we certainly are the happiest people on earth as assumed by some, else, how possible will millions of us live on less than a dollar a day and still smile, tell jokes, play and watch football with so much enthusiasm and Joy? How else will university student be at home for 5 months and not complain? The world decries economic meltdown which has been characterized by suicide attempts and successes by individuals and families in Europe and other parts of the world. Compared to the standard of life in countries like Greece, Italy and Spain where higher rates of suicidal attempts, demonstrations and protest have been the gateway through citizens’ expression of displeasure, Nigerians over the years have found themselves in worse conditions and more frustrating position. But ironically, we never complain demonstration or protest.
Where in America will a “John Yesufu Yakubu” be able to steal 32.8 billion and handed a paltry jail term of 2 years or pay N250, 000 as fine? Or former Governors like Lucky Igbenidion milk their states dry there-by subjecting the people to miserable lifestyles and still get fined Edo 3.5 million naira in a plea bargain deal? So for this widow to start complaining or begging Governor Oshiomhole, he was probably astonished and could have interpreted that she was tired of being the kind of Nigerian he knew and the political class expects her to be. One can deduce from the governor’s statement that Nigerians have never complained and should never complain or beg no matter the situation or condition. And when we do, we make them angry and they remind us of their expectation in the first place.
While commending the governor for being courageous to speak his mind in public, likewise the minds of others like him, I sincerely hope that Nigerians understand better now the relationship between us and our politicians regardless of their political party affiliation. Over the last couple of months following the merger of some opposition political parties to form the APC, we have seen politicians like the Edo state Governor criticized many suggestions, initiatives, policies and actions by the ruling party with the aim to win political points, so if the same gesture is replicated by the ruling party officials on this issue of “Go and die’, I honestly hope it shouldn’t be news-worthy to the ordinary Nigerians on the streets. As I desire that they would publicly wash their dirty linens in the coming days, I also believe we have understood their innermost expectation for us to know that whatever the situation we find ourselves, they all expect us not to complain or beg, but to “go and die” if we can’t cope.