Musicians, like writers, are prophets. Their words, which cannot be anything but divinely inspired, live long after them. Thirty-eight years ago, Esan-born Nigerian musician Sonny Okosun, founder of the Ozzidi band and the Ozzidism exponent, released ‘Which Way Nigeria’ under the EMI label. He named his band ‘Ozzidi’ after a renowned Ijaw river god. To Okosun, the meaning was “there is a message“.

The message in Okosun’s ‘Which Way Nigeria’ was unambiguous. It was a lamentation of the wasted opportunities for greatness by a richly endowed nation, a nation that should be the pride of the Black race with its abundant human and natural resources. Somehow, Nigeria has managed to continue on the path of stunted growth close to four decades after Okosun put his thoughts on vinyl, and 15 years after his departure from disappointment.

What did Okosun say or rather ask in ‘Which Way Nigeria?’ Hear him:


Which way Nigeria?

Which way Nigeria?

Which way to go? (2ce)

I love my fatherland

O yeah

I want to know

Yes, I want to know

Which Nigeria is heading to…


Many years after independence

We still find it hard to start

How long shall we be patient before we reach the promised land?

Let’s save Nigeria

So Nigeria won’t die!…


Every little thing that goes wrong

We start to blame the government

We know everything that goes wrong

Because we are part of the government

Let’s save Nigeria

So Nigeria won’t die….


Inefficiency and indiscipline

Is ruining the country now

Corruption here, there, and everywhere

Inflation is soaring high

Let’s save Nigeria

So Nigeria won’t die…


We made mistakes during the oil boom

Not knowing it was our doom

Some people now have everything

While many many have nothing

Let’s save Nigeria so Nigeria won’t fall


Which way Nigeria?

Which way Nigeria?

Which way to go? (2ce)

I love my fatherland

O yeah

I want to know

Yes, I want to know

Which Nigeria is heading to?


In search of the way to a better country, Nigerians in 2015 voted for a change of what they considered or were made to believe was a clueless, wasteful party and government represented by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that had been in power for a straight 16 years since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999. The party had become so confident and complacent that its former chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor boasted that it would be in power for 60 years. He told the Vanguard then, “The PDP is a party for all and it is set to rule Nigeria for the next 60 years. I don’t care if Nigeria becomes a one-party state. We can do it and the PDP can contain all.” Ogbulafor did not reckon with the wind of change that would blow the party’s umbrella apart 7 years later and send its members scampering for cover in other parties, mainly the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The story of how the PDP was swept away from power with the APC’s magical brooms is fairly well-known. A renegade group that called itself the New PDP, comprising seven PDP state governors and some top party influencers, went into an alliance with the opposition APC, which itself was a special-purpose child birthed from a union between Nigeria’s three largest opposition parties – Senator Bola Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), General Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) along with a breakaway faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Bola Tinubu, who had governed Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos State from 1999 to 2007, was the undisputed brain behind the merger, a feat that earned him the title of APC National Leader, notwithstanding that the president is conventionally the leader of a ruling party.

As they say, the more things change, the more they remain the same – in some cases, even worse. Soon after President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015 and well into his first tenure, anyone who complained about the slow progress in place of the radical change envisaged was promptly branded a wailer by APC spokespersons and supporters. However, as the hardship triggered by some of the government’s economic policies began to bite harder and insecurity percolated to different parts of the country, many hailers became wailers. Nevertheless, Buhari got a second term that came with renewed hope that the scourge of insecurity, galloping inflation, youth unemployment, unrelenting corruption, and separatist agitations would be mitigated. This was not to be. At least, not to the degree expected. The despair of the citizens translated into cynical sobriquets for the APC, like All Promises Cancelled (APC) and “From-top-to-bottom.” At a point, the president himself confessed that he had done his best and was looking forward to retiring peacefully to his country home.

“We are big in size and population, facing many challenges, but in many areas, we are trying. In seven-and-a-half years, I have done my best,” Buhari told a visiting delegation to him in Washington DC comprising the Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Forum, Sheikh Al-Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah and his deputy, Pastor Bob Roberts of the US.

In an interview with the state television NTA, Buhari also admitted that age was no longer on his side:

“The age is telling on me, working now for six, seven to eight hours per day in the office is no joke — there are questions of executive council, memos from as many states as possible to be considered virtually every week. Really, it’s a lot of hard work, but as I’ve said, I asked for it and I cannot complain.”

The president’s best did not seem good enough for millions of Nigerians. Apparently, not even for the APC presidential candidate, now President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who preferred to campaign with his accomplishments as Lagos State governor more than the achievements of the government he reportedly boasted to have single-handedly “installed” in Aso Rock, and for which he was the flagbearer.

Tinubu was widely reported to have told a gathering of Ogun State APC delegates:

“If not for me that stood behind Buhari he wouldn’t have become the president. He tried the first time, he failed, the second time, he failed, the third, he failed, he even wept on national television and vowed never to contest again but I went to meet him in Kaduna and told him he will run again, I will stand by you and you will win, but you must not joke with Yorubas and he agreed. Since he became the president, I have never got ministerial slots, I didn’t collect any contract, I have never begged for anything from him, it is the turn of Yoruba, it is my turn.”

The Jagaban, as Tinubu is fondly called, was later to declare that what he said was misinterpreted by “those who do not understand the nuances of this richly layered and subtle language….Instead of weighing what I said carefully, they translated so quickly and thus inaccurately in an attempt to meet media deadlines,” he said in a statement to clarify the “misinterpretation.”

Before and after the 2023 general election campaigns kicked off officially in September 2022, millions of youths across the nation, yearning for a change to the status quo, had identified with the Obidient Movement personified by former Anambra State Governor and presidential flagbearer of the Labour Party, Peter Obi. For them, he was the only option. They expressed this in words, rallies, songs, and skits on and off social media. Their passion could only be compared to the #End SARS Movement of October 2020 when Nigerian youths across regions and religions rose as one to protest police brutality against youths. It was a spontaneous movement comparable to the 1976 youth uprising against apartheid in Soweto, South Africa. It triggered unprecedented political activism among the youths who registered to vote in their millions and turned out on election day to cast their ballots for their preferred candidate. Their ballot, in the words of renowned lawyer, writer and poet, Dike Chukwumerije, was not just a piece of paper.

“What I ended up putting in that box was my hope for a country where young people would not be so disillusioned by the actions of their own parents, by their own leader that they would be willing to risk crossing the Sahara desert on foot just to escape,” he said in a solemn message posted on his Facebook page.

The lack of trust in the ruling party conveyed by Chukwumerije in his message was captured in a pre-election survey by Afrobarometer, a South Africa-based pan-African, independent, and non-partisan research network that measures public attitudes on economic, political, and social matters in Africa. According to a report published in News24, Afrobarometer found that “26% of respondents trust the ruling party and will vote for it again, while 36% trust the opposition”.

What were the youths disillusioned about? Did the surveys and polls on the election manifest in votes for the candidates?

To be continued in Part 2


From Random Thoughts: A Collection of Essays and Poems by Tony Ekata




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