Where Is Our Government?

on April 9, 2022
Download as PDF
“We have a lot of insecurity in Nigeria. By road we are not safe. By train we are not safe”.
         (From a survivor of the Abuja-Kaduna Train bomb; Mon., March 28, 2022)

Too many ills do a nation kill  
     Ills just as many as the corpses
That clutter every gutter
     Of our callously mis-governed country

The roads are slaughter slabs
     The rails only take us on terminal journeys
Every coach is a waiting coffin
     The nation’s graveyards puke from unspeakable excess

“Bandits”, “terrorists”: a tardy government
     Plays name-games while criminals 
Rampage without restraint
     Different name, same Nemesis

What do you call a nation
     Where food is scarce
And peace is scarcer; where 
     Life sells at a thousand for one kobo?

Bandits raid the homestead
     Bandits raid the streets
Bandits raid the schools
     Bandits raid the temples

Bandits rack army barracks
     Bandits pummel police stations. . . .
Our government fled long ago
     Without leaving a forwarding address

Niyi Osundare is a leading African poet, dramatist, critic, essayist, and media columnist. He has authored 18 books of poetry, two books of selected poems with several literary laurels to his credits.