“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.