In the early 80s, popular Nigerian musician, Sonny Okosuns shocked the entire Nigeria music audience with the song titled ‘Which Way Nigeria’. The critics and of course music lovers reasoned that the hit track was apt as it showcases the history of the nation from independence till the period it was released.
However, many years after Okosuns death in 2008, and many years after the song was released, the message remained evergreen, as no issue mentioned in the piece has been addressed. In fact, every tiny bit of information remained as it were when 31 years old, the artist expressed his disillusion.
The artist expressed that ‘many many years of our independence, we still find it hard to start’, reflecting a country that is in auto-pilot, in comatose and seems not to have a direction. He went ahead to ask ‘how long shall we be patient before we reach the Promised Land?’ This line highlights the desire of every Nigerian based on the promises that have coming since independence, which gave the populace hope of brighter future that portends positive promises. It is worthy of note that the promises were heralded in 2015 when the present administration was canvassing for the people’s votes. This promise of milk and honey was summarized in what the administration called ‘change’. But many months down the line, the result is disillusion; the change has proved to be negative as hardship and the so called recession is the newest lexicon in the dictionary of Nigerians. So the patience is stretched longer, as no one seems to know how much longer it is going to last.
Sonny Okosuns noted in the second stanza of his song that ‘everything that goes wrong, we start to blame the government’, noting that ‘we are part of the government’. At this stage, much as he realized that the common people are part of the government, he identified that there are also a set of people who has been bestowed with the grace to carry the tag of government when he said, and rightly too that ‘inefficiency and corruption is ruining the country now’ adding that ‘inflation is soaring high’.
The whole scenario painted 31 years ago in a simple song still follows the country today. The extent of looting is incomprehensible, and so does the rate of inflation where a bag of rice, Nigeria’s stable food, sells for N18, 000 and still counting prompting the question, which way Nigeria?
The artist noted that ‘we made mistakes during the oil boom’ in the way resources were mismanaged, but the same mistake is evergreen till today, considering that between 1985 and 1993 under the regime of the Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, yet another oil boom was witnessed, but where are the proceeds? Again, during the Peoples Democratic Party reign, oil was lucrative, but nothing was forthcoming. So, Sonny Okosuns assessment of mistakes continues.
And not forgetting that some have everything while some have nothing continue to be the order of the day.
It is obvious that the problems that came with independence are yet to extricate themselves from the Nigerian nation thereby crippling its growth. The country’s growth has therefore remained stunted with many blaming the quagmire on ineffective leadership and corruption. A onetime leader of the country had said the problem of the country has ‘defied all economic logic’ making one wonder if Malaysia, Singapore and all other countries that have risen above mediocrity were not once in a state of indecision.
In the song’s constant refrain, the artist maintained ‘let’s save Nigeria, saying that Green Revolution is the reality and should be given a chance, adding that a single step in this direction will lead to a million miles of self sustenance.
As Nigeria turns 56, we must understand that the song of 1985 will continue to haunt the nation until ‘our ambition to be millionaires’ is curbed, and replaced with the desire to ‘save Nigeria’.