Why do I carry an international passport that describes me as a Nigerian, yet within Nigeria I could be described as a ‘non-indigene’, if I find myself in the wrong place at the right time or because I was born at the right time in the wrong place?

And why would the registration form in the National Hospital, Abuja insist on branding my children as Cross Riverians, when none of them has ever lived up to 20 cumulative days of their lives in that state?

And why should a poor girl on the street of my late father’s country home pay more school fees than my nephew to attend the state’s university in the very state she was born in 18 years ago and had never travelled out of?

Why should anybody refer to her as a non-indigene by saying that her parents, even though have lived there for the last 25 years, were previously born and bred in an ‘alien’ part of Nigeria? Yet, my daughters, who can hardly speak any language from Cross River State, are expected to stay here in Abuja and access scholarship from the state as…indigenes?

I laugh at it, and you laugh at it too, yet in the last 15 years or so, I have not paid any income or other direct tax to Cross River State; rather, Lagos and FCT have fed fat on my fat taxes.
And talking about my fat taxes, how come I pay so much to fuel the “consolidated lootable funds” operated by the governments who serve me darkness instead of electricity, after they threatened since 2007 to declare a state of emergency in the power sector but have failed to? I tell you what, by the time God touches their heart to declare this long-awaited emergency, even they would forget what the emergency was meant to be declared on. There, we laugh again.

For my fat taxes, I traverse potholed roads. For my fat taxes, I operate my own water corporation. For that same reason, I struggle to pay through the nose, that my children may have quality education provided by a money-bag private school proprietress; because the public school our parents attended, which we attended have been destroyed by our governments. Hey, and do you know that we even pay more taxes than some of our fat cows in government? Well, that is a story for another day.

Why do we declare two days of public holidays to mark religious events when other countries declare just a day? Is it just so that we tell the world we are highly-religious, yet we loot the national treasury daily? Why do we waste public funds in sponsoring cronies of those in governments to pilgrimages that have failed to rub off on our lifestyles? How come we have a high per-capita of religious places with a non-commensurate holiness?

And why do we declare one day in a month as sanitation day if all we do is sit at home to watch television or generate waste that the rains would help us wash back into the drains?

Or why do we waste resources on and fix certain days as election days when we would already have pronounced some people as ‘anointed’ or ‘consensus’ candidates and we already know the result before the election?

And why did we declare October 1 a national holiday to mark our Independence Day when all we ended up doing was stay at home and wonder about how we have failed as a nation and the lack of freedom we experience?

But why am I so critical of my nation as though I were a foreigner or a ‘non-indigene’? My answer is simple compatriots. I am a true Nigerian; proudly Nigerian; 100% Nigerian and more Nigerian than many of our leaders. After all, I have one and only one citizenship – Nigerian, like my parents before me, like all my siblings, like all my children. So when I criticise my country I do so with love and the selfish hope that it becomes better, that it may be well with me and my family. I do so knowing that if Nigeria fails, I stand to lose, much more than many in government who could easily flee to their alternate, if not primary countries, where their families live or where they spend vacations and go for medical checks, using public funds.

So my dear compatriots permit me to call my critical attacks a PATRIOT’S MISSLE. It is still preferable to a SYCOPHANT’S PRAISE.

· First read at Balcony Muse IV and published in NEXT newspaper on October 12, 2009

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