It is timely reward that coincides with our Independence Anniversary and the hosting of 8th All African Games in addition to our rating as the Second Most Corrupt Nation in the world. There is a need for special public holiday to celebrate it since the award is not from some home-based social clubs and cultural institutions that are professional praise-singers in getting their palms greased. It was also neither from Sao Tome nor Guinea Bissau, where some mischievous people could have thought that we intimidated them to give us the honour. The news was broken from the United Kingdom, the land of our colonial masters and the Second Superpower as recognized by American Bushman.
Some unpatriotic Nigerians have described the recent happiness medal to the country as an award for suffering and smiling. Even at that, every winner must have suffered before the victory. It is compelling to recall that in the past Nigeria is only receiving Gold Medals for the Most Corrupt Nation on earth apart from its categorization in the comity of poorest nations. It is therefore gladdening to hear the new tidings that the country harbors the happiest people in the world. Upon the breaking news, most Nigerians beam smiles whether out of astonishment, amazement or joy, but a smile always depicts happiness.
Many factors are known to trigger happiness, not necessary in pecuniary gains but in personal success, self-expression, fulfilling family and societal expectations. It may be added that Nigeria did deserve the happiest people recognition because it people can endure any hardship even if the right of an individual is unjustly threatened. They persevere in the face of endemic poverty and take joy in their downfall. Our optimism is an endowment that points to the fact that majority of our populace seeks refuge at worship centres to frolic and keep the faith for better tomorrow. Just think about better future and you forget the present.
But some columnists the like of Reuben Abatis, Sani Zorros, Abiodun Abdulrauf and Kabir Babatundes instead of devoting their writings and pages to eulogize the Happiest Award, have consistently castigated it. The joyous Nigerians may not be surprised that the critics are those who lost out from the recent sharing of political booties in which few of their colleagues were appointed into plump public offices. If they were appointed spokespersons, their voices would have reached the heavens in commending the rare international recognition. By the way who gave the media the right to speak on behalf of fortunate Nigerians over the deregulation of the downstream sector, when the press have selfishly deregulated their cover prices to the joy of their readers?
We know the sponsored of the campaigns of calumny over our enviable Happy and Corrupt Awards. They are defeatists at the last fleece and fare election, where most of the incumbent contestants where almost return unopposed by cheerful Nigerians. Instead of going to the World Court in the Hague, the unhappy and guilty oppositions, prefer to pretend in the Nigerian Court, where they may negotiate with the winners for settlement.
Some unpatriotic Nigerians too, have joined the chorus of skeptics of our prestigious awards that make us the envy of the rest of the world. They childishly claimed that Nigerians are suffering from marginalisation and deprivation. It is necessary to tell these cynics that suffering is synonymous with sacrifice. And to sacrifice in the Nigerian context, is to emulate the most patriotic and hardworking Nigerian who publicly and honestly declared that he sacrifices by spending 240 cowries for staying in a hamlet within an unpopular ghetto, while the rest of happy citizens dwell in palatial habitations. Please the cowries he spends are equivalent to kobo-coins not in millions of Naira.
Credits should go to our politicians who engage our youth into full employment as political thugs, bodyguards and crowd boosters in organized rallies and solidarity visits. That is the reason there is no complaint of unemployment even amongst the jubilant youths. The cheerful entrepreneurs and industrialists are also helpful as they close their companies and invest heavily in sponsoring godsons to emerge as public administrators. In return, the godsons transfer monthly dividends from state coffers to the personal accounts of godfathers and the rest of us remain happy.
In the mood of our happiness we are worried by the greediness of the so-called pensioners who complain regularly of unpaid entitlements. After collecting salaries and allowance all their lives, these old pensioners should spare the young generations and forsake their entitlements. They should go to sanctuaries where they could easily pray for quick passages to reduce the overgrown population. The fate of pensioners is similar to teachers whose rewards, as we have been told repeatedly, are in heaven. If the teachers insisted on receiving their salary here on earth, they should be advised to resign their appointment immediately and join politics where they may be appointed into lucrative positions. Some prophets of dooms complain that Nigeria is unsafe because of our friendly communal and religious clashes, resulting to elimination of very few weak souls. We should deport the detractors of our cordial brushes to neighboring Liberia, Cote Di’voir, Sierra Leone and other brotherly African countries to be experimented in the traditional medical laboratories where their limps would be given face-lift.
We have sufficient impassable and un-motorable roads that give succor to jobless youths and children, who either gladly hawk their wares or gleeful beg on the streets and highways to eke-out living. Also in an effort to encourage self-reliance, the epileptic electricity generation and water supply by public corporation, have boosted our local producers of candles, firewood and pure water for family sustenance.
Though government may ignore the service of public utility, the enthusiastic Nigerians have hailed the recently launched Nigerian Space Satellite which could run shivers of fear into the veins of lesser, though arrogant and ambitious African countries. America and Russia, the Ogapatapatas in space technology have used the same frightening expeditions and explorations to intimidate the rest of the world.
The angry nations may envy Nigerian for not recording a dose of suicide bombing against bad policies and programmes. Even the faceless militants who clamour for resources control and selfish elders who campaign for a sovereign national conference could not stake their life in their agitations but pretend in the struggle for selfish enrichment through secret negotiation with the so-called persecutors. While public officers hardly resign voluntarily in the face of indictment or nonperformance, some legislators recently embark on delightful hunger strikes over deprivation, where they keep adding weight from the effect of the excessive air they breathed during the protest.
To maintain our position as the number one Happiest Nation, we may encourage proliferation of worship centres including shrines to give succor to the poor souls. Our public officers too, known around the world for buying houses and lodging public funds in private accounts abroad should be honoured for making us proud. Afterall it is through the display of such opulence of the few in foreign lands that the world would know that we are truly happy here at home.
As we try to promote our traditional medicine we should encourage our herbalists to take over those ill-equipped hospitals to prescribe their AIDS Cure therapy, life-prolonging herbs and may even start producing Happinesine capsules and Smiledol tablets for export to many angry nations around the world as our major sources of foreign earning.
In conclusion, we should thank the effective leadership of the labour and academia who embark on consistent strikes that enable workers and students ample opportunity for extra vacations to supplement the few public holidays. At least wage-workers received their remunerations for the days and months they are on strikes. We should hail the workers’ strike on the deregulation of petroleum products which is indirect way for a deserved holiday, for joyous Nigerians, to celebrate the Happiness and Corruption Awards. Happiest Corrupt Nigerians indeed.
This article by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Daily Sun Oct21 and Nigerian Tribune Nov, 2003