Everything has not been exactly what we want it to be in Nigeria. Nor has it been exactly what we thought it will be. I guess it has been like that since 1960. Nigeria has become a country where the best is in yesterday. We look at yesterday with a sense of nostalgia. We wonder when yesterday will come again. We look at years under Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello with complete amazement and regret. We wonder whether those years will ever come again. We wonder whether God could or would revive us again.

You begin to wonder whether those good days can come back. You remember those days when N1000 would convert to €956. You ask why N1000 would now convert to €1. You remember that you needed only N380 to fly Lagos – London on economy. Today you will do that for N2.3m. Stranger than fiction. With N6300, you could buy a Passat VW car. With N8000, you could buy a Peugeot 504 GL; a Peugeot 505 for N12000 and a Mercedes Benz 200 for N15000. Today that N15000 cannot buy a Tokunbo tyre.

I always like to use myself as an example of what used to be. As a young officer I earned N 140 per month. I paid a house rent of N35 for a 3 bedroom flat. For running my Peugeot 204, feeding and other expenses, I spent N45 every month. I ended up saving N60 monthly. Much later as Chairman, Oyo State Directorate of Information, my annual salary was N12000. That salary could buy a brand new Peugeot 505. Today that post probably will attract an annual salary of N500, 000. That will sound a lot of money. That N500, 000 can no longer buy a car. It will just buy an Okada.

That illustrates not only the devaluation of the Naira but also the devaluation of the human beings. The annual salary of a young graduate then could buy brand new car. It doesn’t matter what he’s paid today, his annual salary cannot buy a brand new car… Back then he could buy a new car with his annual salary. And no one could use any car not assembled in Nigeria, at least for Public Servants like Governors, Commissioners, Ministers and President. Today these Public Servants could terrorise the landscape and environment, with cars worth more than N100m.

This human devaluation, a worst form of currency devaluation has turned some people into moving sad human beings. You ask them how they are doing? The answer will become “I’m not happy”. Follow up and ask him why he’s not happy. He’s likely to say “Nigeria is not smiling or he would say” Nigeria is not making me happy….or my husband is making me unhappy or my wife is making me unhappy….or I’m not happy with my job., Every Nigerian finds reasons to be unhappy.

Someone wants “a country that is not worth living in, but is not worth dying for”. This results in a lowering of morale. It results in lowering of the spirit of patriotism. Citizens consequently lose hope and loyalty to the nation. There is therefore a huge disconnect between the leadership of the country and the citizens. Of course the leadership does not know, and if it knows, does not care about whether the citizens are sad or morose. They are not committed to providing the optimum for the maximum number of people. They are not interested in whether the people are free from the shackles of some oppressors, free from ignorance, disease or ailments, free from wants, or free from multidimensional poverty. They only care for themselves and family, their luxurious homes, their luxurious cars, the luxurious schools their children attend. They only care about their opulence and vulgar wealth.

I have good news for the trodden poorest of the poor Nigeria. You do not have to be sad, unhappy or morose .A French author, Salter, said you remain oppressed and intimidated so long as you allow it. He believes that even the man in chains can be free, even if it means his death. That’s why Isaac, in the Bible, told Esau that the time will come and he would be strong and he would free himself from the bondage of his brother Jacob. And it happened. It can happen to you.

The first step towards being freed is for you to accept mentally this profound philosophy that NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY OR UNHAPPY. Neither the non-responsive, oppressive leadership, nor the hostile unkind environment can make you happy or unhappy. The ability to be happy is inherent within you. It has nothing to do with the country, the environment, your family or your job. It has nothing to do with money or wealth, luxury of houses, cars, clothes or food. It has to do with your inner self.

No one can make you happy or unhappy. Inordinate ambition will drive the leadership into unhappiness. Greed and avarice will drive the rich and wealthy into unhappiness. Jealousy and pride will drive many people into unhappiness. However, many ordinary people will be driven into happiness because of their inner contentment. Contentment does not mean lack of ambition or aspiration. Contentment does not mean laziness or lack of push and dynamism. Contentment is the key to happiness. It’s mental in all dimensions. When you accept that only you can make yourself happy, you would have broken the chain, indeed the manacles with which you are being held down.

You have become a free man who can confront the contradictions, the inanities and mental poverty of the Nigerian environment and leadership. No one can make you unhappy. No one can make you happy. THE KEY IS YOU. When you unlock the key, you will see the enormity of your potentialities and opportunities. Try and have this mental rethinking and you will surely break the bondage that is oppressing you.

See you next week.

Yemi Farounbi