O-Y-O is the capital of Nigeria
By Eniola Mayowa
Got the inspiration for this headline from my teenage daughter. And this is not an attempt to change the capital of Nigeria from the political Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja or the commercial capital, the city of Lagos, but to draw attention to the many misnomers that has made average Nigerians to look not to government for support but to strive to make ends meets where government supposed to provide social amenities, infrastructure and economic support for the citizenry.
In the local parlance, O-Y-O simply means “On Your Own”. A situation where people are left without support that should ordinarily be provided in terms of social amenities, economic empowerment, infrastructural development, security and territorial defense, conducive atmosphere and enabling environment for people to maximise their potentials among other provisions.
Power generation and the provision of electricity for Nigerians is the responsibility of the government but what does average Nigerian gets in this regards. Many households, particularly in Lagos, neighbouring Ogun state and its environs could go for many days and sometimes weeks, without electricity supply hence many have had to take the option of self-provision by courting the alternative power supply. While many have had to embrace generating set as alternative which invariably serve as the main source of power supply; others have had to invest in solar energy or inverter to enjoy electricity supply. In precarious instances, people have had to buy transformers and other instruments of power generation for the companies with responsibility for such provisions without any guaranty of efficient power supply.
Seeking medical help has high potency for O-Y-O. Quality healthcare is rare for average Nigerians; from the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services, there is no guarantee of quick response in emergency situation. You have to know somebody who knows somebody to get medical attention and bed space in the tertiary hospital particularly in the case of emergency.
Suffice to say that such medical attention usually come at an exorbitant cost to the patients and their families. You will be promptly advice not to report any form of exploitation as such could have implication on the quality of health services that is made available to you.
The authority you imagine should be able to help in the case of any infraction may be culpable. It is a system that encourage lackadaisical approach to deliveries with many lives lost in the process. For those who resorted to private hospital for succor, many have had to cope with inexperience medical personnel and dearth of facilities in the moment of critical or complex situation.
Again, the risk of being diagnosed for wrong illness is real. A former president was once treated for a wrong illness from which he later died; ditto for a prominent lawyer who sadly didn’t also survive the medical mismanagement.
Security is a major issue for Nigerians. No place is immune from attacks, invasion and vandalism in the country hence everyone is ‘On-Your Own.’ It is not uncommon to have people come together as soon as they settled in a location for the purpose of ensuring safety of their lives and properties. Many communities, localities and resettlements in the cities, towns and villages have had to resort to self-help in the provision of security for their inhabitants and residents by tasking individual settlers and residents on payments for security and other sundry dues. Suffice to say that our security personnel have perfected the act of failing the citizenry when they are needed most to perform on their duty. A call to the police in an emergency is unlikely to meet rapid response.
In today’s Nigeria, many households and families spend the chunk of their earnings on educating their children and wards. From the kindergarten through secondary and tertiary education, Nigerians are made heavily if desirous of simile quality education as the provision by the government neither meet the needs nor offer quality. Gone are the days when public education was primed as the best when compare with private sector as average family spend a lot of money. Currently many Nigerian households and families are struggling under the yoke of school fees with attendant exploitation from private promoters who are also struggling under the yoke of many demands and tax duplication from government agencies who ordinarily should provide collaborative support for private promoters in the education sector.
A system where your relationship with the high and mighty is the major consideration for placement in schools rather than your performance at the entrance examinations. In other clime where education is made a priority, educating the citizenry up to the secondary school level is made free and compulsory; that is the only way to guarantee an enlightened society where everyone is educated enough to know the basics rules of engagement between the government and the governed.
The cost of providing social amenities and public infrastructure is gigantic but Nigerians are made to provide such amenities when in dare need. Roads are being constructed through neighbourhood efforts and self-help in order to enjoy relative comfort. People have had to construct plank bridges to connect one community to another and for easy of movement from one place to the others.
Average Nigeria is made to provide all that is required to own and manage a small business and while at it, bewildered with all manners of demands from the same government with the responsibility for support to stabilise the business. A small business owner is made to source for fund, provide amenities, contend with lack of social infrastructure that directly impart the business, faced with keen competition from external businesses (that enjoy their home support) while expected to meet other obligations.
The O-Y-O debacle is legion, but certainly not beyond redemption. There could be a turn around when our systems intentionally produce leaders who genuinely care for the feelings and the wellbeing of the generality of the people.
We can have a nation where things work, where infrastructure are developed by leaders for the good of all and not for reason of stealing the commonwealth.
We can have a country where progress toward civilization is seen as a common goal to achieve regardless of who is in power. Where there is commitment to a common tenet of a nation for all and not for the privileged few; and where desire for power is for service and not for personal aggrandizement.
The citizens would no longer be ‘on your own’, but patriotism takes its preeminence place as the guiding principle for the development of the country.