Every nation’s national anthem and pledge is a solemn promise and assurance of an improvement on yesterday and today. These paraphernalias discusses yesterday, today and tomorrow.
A great man once said; ask not what your country has done for you, but rather, what you can do for your country.
The average American wakes up and says God bless America. In Africa, the story is different. We pray for yourself and those closer to you, curse your enemies and lastly ask God for “visa ayo” visa of joy for you and your family so, we can jet out of this hell hole called Africa. In Nigeria, it is even worse, we don’t mind leaving Nigeria for Ghana, just leave Nigeria, any destination outside Nigeria is prayers answered.
How did we get here as a people?
You will agree with me that the Nigeria’s national anthem is very melodic and pleasing to the ear; big shout out to Ben Odiase. But a song is just as great as the melody and the message. Not just the message, but the sincerity of the message.
So, while the second stanza of the Nigeria’s national anthem is filled with words of prayer, the question of sincerity comes to mind.
And the line that keeps repeating in my subconscious is “the labour of our hero’s past, shall never be in vain.” Clearly, we all understood this line and it’s significance, but a country who used her own hands and military to kill some of her hero’s past, then you begin to wonder if the labor are not in vain already. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Ahmadu Bello all played active role in the fight for independence, one was killed for the activism of her son and the other in the January 1966 coup.
While, we like to think our founding fathers and nationalists are the “hero’s” in this context, the truth remains that the hero’s of any country are people who have dedicated their life to serving the government to make the lives of the government and the citizenry better. Needless to say that the military, police, civil service all constitute what we know as our hero’s.
Now, you’ll be wondering if their labour are in vain or not. I would have left you to think that out, but a country that feels comfortable when workers are being owed for 38months, where workers are being paid modulated salaries, where you only earn a percentage of your salary after tax. I leave you to answer that.
It was in this same country, a state governor said the following to the pensioners who were demanding for their pension.
“Se, eyin o ni omo ni? Osise to wa laye o ti gba owo, se eyin le wa fe gba owo?”
Roughly translated as; “Don’t you people have children? A living worker is yet to collect his salary, how much more you pensioners.”
“Don’t you people have children? A living worker is yet to collect his salary, how much more you pensioners.”
First of all, asking pensioners if they don’t have children who would take care of them is the height of cruelty. For someone who has dedicated 35 productive years of his life to service and whom you promised gratuity and monthly pension till death. And liking a pensioner to the dead and the active workers in the service to the living is lack of human decency.
And every morning, school children sing with passion “the labour of our hero’s past shall never be in vain.” Only for them to eventually become adults, join the work force and have their labour be in vain.
Who am I kidding? Their parents are the civil servants being owed salaries, meaning the kids have probably being sent out of school a couple of times.
We have sunk so deep into mediocrity that salaries are now a campaign mechanism. Payment of 13th month salary and bonuses is now an achievement. Any governor who manages to pay salaries consistently on the 25th, such governor deserves a second and maybe a third term.
Yet, minimum wage recently increased from #18,000 to #30,000 and it is an achievement of the government. Not minding that the minimum wage is still one of the lowest in Africa; highly unbecoming of an oil producing nation. Yet, some states who had difficulty paying the #18,000 now have no hope nor means of paying the #30,000. But everyday, these heroes leave their homes, weather the traffic and all other hardship and risks on the road to resume work, only to at the end of the month return home empty, but a large debt ranging from rent, school fee, feeding and other miscellaneous.
On this occasion of Labour Day, policy makers in Nigeria needs to wake up to their responsibilities and treat workers right, because only then can we attain maximum productivity and efficiency.
Dúródolá Oláwálé. Y