For an average Joe Nigerian in motherland Africa, the Nigerian in God's own country is seen in the prism of the likes of Professor Philip Emegwali, the computing genius. For that Joe, the struggle to get emancipated by securing the almighty American visa is to jet out and in a twinkle of an eye go back to Nigeria, roaring in cash-money. But unbeknowst to this "aspirant", for each Philip Emegwali there are several thousands of Augustine Obi whose dream of realising the fabled American dream has turned into a nightmare. There are approximately four million Nigerians living in America and the Philip Emegwalis among them are less than 0.001 percentile and between the Philip Emegwalis and the Augustine Obis of Nigerians in America are several other Nigerians some of whom life is a daily struggle and juggling of priorities. Which bill should be paid and which other bill will be deferred or recycled into the next billing period, at which time it attracts further interests making it near impossible for a full amortisation of the debt. This billable hang over the neck of majority of immigrants, Nigerians inclusive, as well as many other Americans whose lives are identifiable with a popular aphorism, "one lives in here to pay bills".
Sunday, May 18, 2008
THE INVISIBLE NIGERIANS IN AMERICA!
Is it a bed of roses? It depends on whether you are asking Philip Emegwali or our own very Augustine Obi. Is it very challenging, you bet, depending on whose paradigm you are measuring it? Is it a refuge for the near hopelessness back home in Nigeria, surely. However one thing is certain - that if you put your daily measure, you will come out better than were you left at the chagrins of a country whose leadership knows no better but to loot the treasury dry. A country whose stock in trade is for her "leaders" to steal and steal until an individual becomes wealthier than the state itself; and her citizens left with virtually nothing. A country whose graduates are made destitute amidst the plenty which the very few had wantonly commandeered for themselves and their families. A country which sprang an Olusegun Obasanjo from prison and without putting him in a half-way house to decompress, put him in Aso Rock in charge of the affairs of the state. How could a prisoner who has been information-deprived, socially ostracised during his incarceration, and who was in a complete isolation from humanity because of the nature of the charges, treason, for which he was imprisoned be foist on a nation without first psychologically evaluating him for fitness to govern? This was a man who the Abacha junta accused of treason and was left in solitary confinement for almost three years without a sense of where he was. The result was a complete brigandage - the magnitude of corruption witnessed under his rule, although presently indeterminate conclusively, is guesstimated so far as the highest ever known to mankind in Nigeria. And Olusegun Obasanjo is still walking the streets of Nigeria, a free man! Where then is the deterrent for future "leaders" not to strive to outdo Obasanjo with looting of the state's treasury?
Anyway, going back to our discussion on Nigerians in the fabled wonderland, there are many who would rather take the plunge back to an unknown quantum - Nigeria but are too hard pressed for cash that they could not even afford the flight ticket out of JFK back to Africa. What then results is a conscience effort to try to stay afloat at all cost possible and stoically await the day of their final home-calling ; at which time even sending their remains back to motherland for interment becomes a community effort to raise the necessary freight as well as funeral home's expenses. This blogger has witnessed quite a number of them and they are surreal indeed. How can a son of man hold three jobs and sometimes four jobs just to get by? How can a son of the soil go from 6.00AM to next day's 6.00Am sometimes for seven straight days every week, with intermittent naps aka sleep just to pay his bills? And at the same time accommodate the needs of his numerous other dependent relatives and friends back home in motherland? What went wrong one would ask? How could a country like Nigeria with her deep oil wells both of unknown and proven reserves, as well as other abundant natural and human resources create such an unwholesome environment for her citizens to thrive; that they would rather forcibly take it through the rear in their attempt to escape from such "Sorbibor" of a place, than stay home? Is it worth the risk, one would ask? But this question can only make sense when one has something to compare the Calvary with. The absence of any meaningful option is no option at all and that is what the successive years of maladministration has bequeathed Nigerians with, which fuels the mad rush to escape overseas and sometimes even to South Africa!
But whether it is jumping from the frying pan into the fire itself will be left for some other blogger to comment upon or at some later date. The summary is that it is not easy and all the hard work notwithstanding, absent of a lucky break, the road to that dream is rather a continuum and goes on ad infinitum. It is not paved! It is a rugged terrain! It is very steep! It is very slippery! It is arduous! It is treacherous! It is not for the faint-hearted! It is not for the quitters, since quitters do not win! As the popular slogan goes "pray until something happens (PUSH), the road to the American dream has a big billboard (signboard) which reads in bold capital letters "KEEP ON WITH YOUR JOURNEY UNTIL YOU FIND IT". For some it takes about 30years; for some others it may be less while some others have journeyed thereon on the dream-road without finding it until they met their final end. Some of these unfortunate and disillusioned many, sometimes become so incensed with the country that forced them out into exile to this no-man's land, that they completely severe whatever relationship they hitherto had with it and even at death elect to be incinerated or interred here instead of being carried back to a country which forswore them. Even an unmarked grave sometimes becomes a preferred option to them than shipping their dead body to a "strange place" which otherwise would have been called home, strictly speaking. Only because their country failed to do right by them and for them. This is the trend despite the fact that getting a good decent burial is somewhat outlandishly very exorbitant. And one wonders why?
Is there a solution to this despondency which fuels the mass desperation to escape from "home"? This blogger watched a Nigeria movie called "EUROPE BY ROAD" and didn't cease crying tears of sorrow at the horrible experience this fleeing escapees from Nigerians are made to endure enroute to their fabled promised land. What triggered this massive exodus by many Nigerians out of the country and the somewhat fierce urgency to have it accomplished now need to be properly examined. Why would citizens of a country be so desperate to get out of their country and at whatever risk exposure or danger they may face enroute? The simple answer is HARDSHIP! This blogger believes that there is a solution to starve off this wildebeest-explosive urge to get out of town by many Nigerians! YES there is! The resources in Nigeria MUST be distributed fairly in order to go round the people and not made the exclusive preserve of some very few well connected individuals and the "leaders" so called. These leaders, who have done so much injustice to the people they supposed to look after that they should be referred to as marauders instead. If things were right most many a Nigerian in Diaspora would rather be at home in Nigeria living a good life just like the people of United Arab Emirate of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. UAE is a country whose leader deserves all the toga of a leader strictly phrased. His love for his country is so profound that he breathes every day thinking, how he could better the lot of his people and country. Today the Emirate has been transformed from an arid desert land into a lush destination point in the Middle East. In UAE you will find a growing cosmopolitan, a trading nerve centre of the world, the one and only seven star luxury hotel in the world, the people through their leader are also building the world's tallest building, they pride themselves too as the only country in the Middle East desert that operates a world class skiing resort and you wonder how could ice and snow be available in the desert? The answer is the same reason why Saudi Arabia has the biggest desalination plant in the world and could supply her citizens with enough drinking water and for other domestic usage, from the Arabian sea. The same reason Israelis could transform the Negev desert into one of the agricultural baskets of the world. The same reason Las Vegas desert was transformed into the travelling destination for the world's fun loving and thrill-seekers. It is called purposeful leadership which gets the back of her people which unfortunately does not include Nigerian leaderships, ever! None of the leaders of Nigeria since her independence from Great Britain in 1960 has had the urgency of the moment to inscribe his name indelibly on the soul and conscience of Nigerians by positively bettering their lot. They are so out of sync with the population they govern that many a time when they pass on, the majority of the population celebrate their death instead of mourning them. It is not right! It is ridiculously very offensive that such a chasm should exist between the leadership and the people in Nigeria which lacuna was brought about by a purposeless leadership.
In summation therefore, to that prospective Nigerian selling all his property to embark on the proverbial dream journey, know ye that it is not easy. That the streets are not paved in gold! That it could be frustrating and sometimes very brutal. However, once you have prepared your mind and psyched yourself up enough to convince your spirit that nothing else could be worst than the "hell-hole" you are escaping from, then your problem is nine tenth solved. That is the winning mindset - the expectation of the worst is the beginning of success. But when you imagine it in the minds of a Hollywood movie you have recently watched or the packaged presentation of a country of God where everything is honky-dorry, then you are in for a shocker! Please do not leave yourself open for the dagger's point, shield your expectations so that you may stand a chance at giving it a shot. Otherwise, you will not be able to recover from the shock of what the experience will throw at you and peradventure instead of becoming another Philip Emegwali or somewhat in between, you might end up as another victim of the dream by becoming another Augustine Obi. Only yourself can save you and as the popular saying goes, there is no free lunch in here so as the boyscout motto goes, BE PREPARED!