Change is a word that presents different images to different people. For change to be desirable it needs to be a change for the better. Only those in a bad situation are eager for change. Whenever I think about the situation in Nigeria, it is obvious that change is overdue. In every aspect of life in Nigeria change is needed if the country is to survive and thrive.
The statistics coming out of Nigeria is cause for concern. Our country scores high marks in the most undesirable categories. Nigeria is a dangerous place to give birth. According to UNICEF, Nigeria is the second largest contributor to under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world. Nigeria alone accounts for almost 20% of maternal death in the world. In some parts of northeastern Nigeria, 1 in about 64 women die giving birth. And the news does not get better. According to The Borgen Project, current life expectancy in Nigeria is about 54 years. Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, yet our life expectancy is the lowest in even just West Africa. The reason for this is that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Nigeria was 148th out of the 180 most corrupt countries assessed in 2017.
Expecting self-motivated change from Nigerian politicians is an unlikely event. Those who benefit from a situation are the least likely to accept or offer change. For these unfavorable statistics about our country to change there has to be a change in practice. Nigeria is a democracy. The politicians are elected to their positions. Their job is to bring about our will. Grim life expectancy is definitely not our will. It is time for us to demand accountability from our representatives. When politicians come into office and do not declare their assets before taking office, we must demand it. When politicians leave office and do not declare their assets, we must demand it. Nigeria’s constitution states that elected officials must declare their assets as well as that of their wives and children under the age of eighteen upon taking oath and again on leaving office.
The time has come for sustained and peaceful protests—for Nigerians at home and in the diaspora—until change comes. We shouldn’t be celebrating our leaders when they come for the United Nations assembly, we should be protesting them with placards. When they leave Nigeria to come for medical care, we should carry placards in front of the hospital. Why are there no functional hospitals at home worthy of their use? When they buy multi-million dollar homes abroad with our money, we should protest in front of the city hall where they processed the deed. We should call our senators and congressmen wherever we are to demand an end to Nigerian politician laundering loot abroad.
Effecting change is not easy but it is doable and necessary. If South Africans did not rise up to protest apartheid, the world would never have joined them. Keeping quiet will not allow change to come to Nigeria. The politicians will not hand over change on a silver platter!