NES 23 Opening Poetry Performance by Dike Chukwumerije



I'm a poet so I'm going to begin with lines from a poem written by the Irish poet WB Yeats and popularized by our own Chinua Achebe things fall apart and the center can not hold may anarchy is loosed upon the land things fall apart and the center cannot hold and I start with those lines because I want to ask why are things in such danger of falling apart in the country today the answer is an open secret every time you look at our coat of arms it's right over there you will see the answer to that question is written under our coats of arms we call it the Nigerian matzah when it says unity and faith peace and progress unity and faith peace and progress unity and faith because it is difficult to preach unity if you're not also offering faith beauty of the country feels like it's on a threat today because too many Nigerians have lost and are losing faith in the nation why is this happening the answer is sad or relatively straightforward where you have a soldier that has paid the ultimate price defending the territorial sovereignty of the country perhaps they're not East and after what the government struggles for one reason or the other to care for the widow and orphans is left behind people lose faith if you have a Nigerian that has graduated from university with a two on a first class and it's pounding the streets of Lagos and Abuja but cannot find a job because of federal character quota system tribalism nepotism people lose faith if you have a mother that takes her child to the hospital and was what that child died because that government hospital is on strike or if it's not on strike it has no drugs right B has drawn she has to pay the full market price for treatments upfront before they would consider this child as well then which that child died in the corridor people lose faith and when people lose faith in the states they take solace in the tribe because the tribe is a natural enemy of the states when people lose faith in the state they take refuge in the tribe and as more and more people take refuge in the tribe they begin to trouble the peace of the nation unity and faith peace and progress so how do you defend a piece of a nation that is being troubled in this way not by bullets or bombs but by bringing progress to the people for it is that progress that restores the faith of the people in the States for when the Nigerian passport when the green white green becomes a valid ticket to a better life people will rush to embrace the Nigerian identity so I am a poet I'm constrained as an individual I can only preach one Nigeria with my mouth but the Nigerian state cannot be seen preaching one Nigeria only with its mouth no it must preach one Nigeria with its architects and its builders with his teachers and its extension workers it must preach one Nigeria by building roads and bridges and hospitals and real words must preach one Nigeria by bringing a progress that is inclusive to all so Nigerians unity and faith peace and progress so that now in this time of heightened ethno-religious tensions the need for good governance and economic inclusion has never been higher because in the last 20 to 25 years driven basically by was new socio-economic conditions we have seen violent fronts open up all over the country we have seen a militancy take roots in the south south and insurgency take roof in the north east if this trend continues how many more fronts may open in the next 20 to 25 years at how many fronts can a Nigerian state fight simultaneously therefore the issue of good governance and economic inclusion has become an existential one for our nation if we are not able to turn the tide and begin to effectively deliver a better life to Nigerians across born then it is only a question of time before the Nigerian states begins to buckle under the increasing weights of this more applying socio-economic contradictions but there is hope in South Africa in the aftermath of the collapse of apathy people predicted chaos and bloodshed those predictions did not come to pass chiefly because of the decision of one man to stand up for the common good of all South Africans white or black we need the same thing to happen here we need our government to commit to stand up for the common good of all Nigerians regardless of faith tribe political affiliation we need a government now commit to invest in for instance in infrastructure for all investing in the roads that unites in the bridges that bind in the railways that connects invested in our unity schools as they were meant to be in the NYC as it was meant to be invested in creating heroes out of our sporting champions who daily demonstrate on the field of struggle that victory has nothing to do with faith and ethnicity and everything to do with hard work and tenacity if we have a government that invests in these things then there is hope it have a government that is committed to investing in providing jobs for our youths affordable credit for our startup businesses so that people feel that they have a stake in society for those who have houses and cars of their own and less likely to go out on the street to burn the houses on cars of others Travie government committed to investing in equal economic opportunities for all Nigerians and there is hope if you have a government committed to investing in laws that are set in unknowable in advance in a justice that is blind to the power the wealth the political office the faith the ethnicity of those who stand before it so Nigerians know that action a will attract consequence be regardless of who you are then there is hope if we will invest in in commit to invest in in language of inclusion in alternative interpretations of our own history and social realities so that Nigerians see that poverty does not discriminate between north and south now armed robbers do not obey the federal character principle I wonder we were neither burst his banks it does not just flood the homes Muslims are non-indigenous that devastation does not discriminate and the only way we can tackle it is by pulling together if you can invest in narratives like this then there is hope because that Center in that in those lines things fall apart in the sense I cannot hold that Center is the commitment of the government to the common good for the common wealth of this nation now I am not the government I'm just a point so I can only contribute my poems to this struggle for economic inclusion for social justice and national integration so I'm going to leave you this morning with a poem titled the wall and the bridge if a white man turned and called me nigger my blood would boil in righteous anger for the evil of discrimination is clearly established when a white man tries to treat me like rubbish but if alsace a evils are greedy and crude and it will say else's a hot iron rude and he just says the Shaqiri must die today and as I tell the Zilla there is no other way if you revise the Claire it is out or nothing and we use federal character to share everything so before you can even smile and tell me welcome they must first ask me where my father is from even those who were settlers but now indigenous say those who are settlers can't become Indians and the Constitution says we're all citizens local governments keep issuing certificates of origin if my brother passed jam what can go to uni because he is chief and he's not a nori and yoonah mean has a quota for his catchment area so he must go back to being me or with one more year if it's ok to say it's not ok to marry someone just because they are Calipari and that every tribe to have its own side I will know them practicing epified if you cannot buy land unless you're a native I cannot find work unless you're a native and cannot feel safe unless you're a native how can we then see we're not primitive yet you go to London I gave your passport they said to wherever however you want you stand there and fight for it welcome back has not to use ethnicity I don't get I don't get the logic of thinking it's different to be tribalistic and then to be racist if you're happy to judge him just hearing his name whatever you call it my friend is the same where there is no courage to cross the divide where there is no faith to look deep inside and stop judging accents and son names and dressing this firework when she will only keep burning which nation can stand divided in its people how can one build on foundation so brittle if we cannot see ourselves in each other this journey ends here were going no further for when God made man he gave him no facial marks he did not make baggy oh come on Angus show as a black man is just like a white man no culture is older than being human this this is the truth until we accept it our nation will stumble on its broken feet for the same things can bind us that drive us apart for the wall and the bridge are both in the heart thank you very much

10 thoughts on “NES 23 Opening Poetry Performance by Dike Chukwumerije

  1. "Deep and wise words to the ears of the deaf" Nigeria needs sensitization of minds

  2. I am sick and tired of hearing this rhetoric. The time has come to move from fantasizing about a government that will never come of it's own fruition. We need to do something very drastic and immediate, something that has probably not been done any where else in the world; to change the course of this country. Lagos youths were tired of the power of Herbert Macaulay's NNDP and they formed the Lagos Youth Movement which eventually became the Nigerian Youth Movement, such a small group eventually overthrew a government that had been in place for 16 years [shades of APC and PDP]. We need another youth movement to change our sad narrative.

  3. Would they listen to you? the present Nigerian gov't preaches one Nigeria with bullets and brutality, and then turn around to engage in the worst sabotage of the very the Nigerian project they profess to promote via xenophobia, cronyism, nepotism and despotism. the result is the anarchy pervading the system today. Just over 2 years ago, Nigeria was the number one economy in Africa, is a now laughing stock economically. The worst recession ever. Insecurity everywhere.

  4. Nigerians need confidence, hard-earned through diligence and integrity. Confidence is the outcome, a reward. Faith is lazy expectation, requiring minimal engagement, that makes people wait and wait for a miracle, instead of apply themselves and build.

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