Nigeria @60: Twists and turns of the consciousness of Africa’s sleeping giant

By Adewale T. Akande
An online search states that “sleep” is “a condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.” Any living creature experiences fatigue and exhaustion and then sleep to restore energy. Sleep also helps to keep our mind and body healthy. An average person spends about 33 percent of his or her life sleeping. Sleep helps repair and restore our organs and systems, such as immune systems, muscles, hormones, and vital role memory development. No one can survive without sleep, but when somebody over-sleeps, which is called hypersomnia, it has negative symptoms such as heart disease, diabetes, low energy, memory problems, and increased risk of death. Besides, depression and low economic status are also associated with over-sleeping.
The sleeping “giant” of Africa, repeatedly drowsy since the second republic, has struggled to keep up with development and progress tracks. Following a series of corruption, human rights abuses, and impunity, Nigerians who have remained asleep under the guise of self-motivation and deep resilience to succeed with or without government, have suddenly regained consciousness. The last republic constitution was a “cut and paste” arrangement by the ambitious military to sleeping democrats. Oversleeping is just as bad as not sleeping enough, as such persons wake up groggy and sick.

However, this sudden consciousness dilemma is far-reaching, as Nigerians have woken up to a distasteful reality, which only time can reveal. Nigerians have woken up to a very sick nation. From the clamours from separatist groups and agitators, to the unprecedented level of crime rate and insecurity, the six decades of sleep has birthed a nation on the brink. Virtually all sectors of the economy have remained asleep for far too long. Specifically, with the police originally instituted to protect lives, maintain law and order, now resorting to an instrument of oppression and fear, the Nigerian youths within the past eleven days have woken the sleeping giant. Politically, it is a tragedy for nations with citizens who have fallen into protracted sleep amid the misery, poverty, and gross danger, as in Nigeria today.

The effect of overdue sleep has brought pervasive corruption, infrastructural decay, educational decay, and government’s highhandedness, which increases ignorance and poverty in all ramifications. In February this year, I made a research trip to Bangkok, Thailand, on bus drivers´ behaviour management and sustainable transport service. I could not believe my eyes with excellent infrastructures transformation in such a third world nation. Meanwhile, Nigeria keeps on recruiting and “electing” incompetent, selfish, and corrupt leaders and representatives to manage her growing population and enormous resources. The bitter truth is that Nigeria has never gotten either a competent Prime Minister or President with VISION since 1960 up till today. The nation has become a “cash and carry” enterprise for every Jack and Harry. You can check their records of little minds. Some of them are worse than armed robbers. People that cannot give what they do not have except abracadabra! Why are the worst of us ruling the BEST of us while the best is good for us all?
Meanwhile, with loud blaring from separatist youth and groups, religious leaders, and well-meaning Nigerians agitating for better governance, October 2020 witnessed the awakening of lazy youths with the hashtag “SOROSOKE”. As stated by Anthony Burgess “laugh and the world laugh with you, snore and you sleep alone”. The most populous nation in Africa has been sleeping alone, with her eyes closed for six decades. The world has seen the rise of new global changers like Singapore, Malaysia, India etc. Nigeria had greater potentials in shaping international relations and resources. Nigeria, a nation projected in 2017 by the UN World Population to overtake America’s population and surpasses the 300 million people mark by 2050 and become the most populous country in the world (CNN-Inside Africa, 2017), has arisen to the consciousness of her manifest potentials. The sleeping nation has just woken up to feel the barbarian conduct of SARS and bad governance in general. As coined by the Nobel Laurel scholar, Nigeria has been the largest sleeping generation in the last two decades in the world. Hence, a potential world market is sleeping. A country blessed with abundant human and material resources has been examined to be sick and in a deep sleep for sixty-years.
Moreover, the nation’s marriage of inconvenience (via amalgamation in 1914) is afflicted with sleep and seems not “fully” ready to think of restructuring to retrace her steps and take her role among the league of nations and republics. Nigeria is an epitome of a nation that has been sleeping with wobbly economic and zero national security for so long. A country sleeping when sunrise is beautiful will never get light to see in the night. When a nation sleeps too much, there will be no time to advance development, rather, armed-robbery, scam, ritualists, tribal and religious conflict, and extreme poverty pervades the polity. A people in love with her bed will not encourage her citizens to wake up and go to school as the level of ignorance has become the status quo of every individual and sector of the country. A prosperous nation is not achieved in drowsiness and wishful thinking. It is borne in the extreme consciousness of the realities of hard work, resilience, and creativity, particularly among the youths. It is time to wake up and change the course of time. It is time to end the constructs of corruption and Nepotism in all sectors of Nigeria. It is time to breathe fresh air.
Miscreants who have stolen and looted the nation’s commonwealth should be made to face the full weight of the law. This is a clarion call to remain awake by every Nigerian citizen. When everybody sleeps, who will think and act for the nation? It is time to put an end to hatred and all primordial sentiments. It is time to push for critical and innovative thinking that will drive sustainable development. It is time to restructure the country, create jobs and engage best practises for all citizens´ welfare. For we have had more than enough sleep that will last a lifetime, it is time to be fully awake to outs bad governance for a refreshed and rejigged Nigeria.

  • Adewale T Akande, Author, Road Traffic Safety Researcher and Consultant, Email: [email protected]

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