OpinionOPINION: How to be a Nigerian

OPINION: How to be a Nigerian

April 7, (THEWILL)- On the average, Nigeria is good, her people are a bunch of good Bananas. Only a few rotten ones give the whole bunch a bad look and a rotten smell. Nigeria, ideally is one of the best places to live in, it is not a Police state like the so-called western democracies.

In Nigeria you can urinate anywhere and not get fined or arrested, you can get a ladder and climb the power poles and effect a change of power phases, that is if the problem is not from the nearby power transformer, which anybody can repair with dry wood.

In Nigeria, you can set traps inside your compound and catch birds and roast them to taste and not be afraid that you are at Piccadilly Square in the United Kingdom and some stern looking cops will harass you for animal rights violation. We still beat kids with cane despite parents that want to be more European than Europeans…

We as a nation need to restore national pride, a lot of us have lost hope in the system, the structure, the leadership, with each passing day, it is becoming obvious that Nigeria may be just an empty plastic cup, too light to hold a cup of coffee cold or hot.

I am rewriting this essay about my beloved nation that I originally wrote 15 years ago because lately I have discovered that I have tried hard to write nice stuff about my nation, but each time I try the truth hits me and I never end up, I criticize a lot and hardly give solutions…my reason, simple…there are enough solutions to Nigeria’s multi-dimensional and hydra-headed problems, enough to fill an American Congressional Library, well prepared by committees, panels, commissions and bodies of experts.

Name the field or area and I will refer you to a paper, a report that should ordinarily have solved that problem a long time ago. For example, how many times have we removed subsidies without removing subsidies or is it the Orasanya Report on merging and reducing government bureaucracy by shutting down some ministries and parastatals?

For avoidance of doubt, what happened to the Vision 2010, I was writing this in 2008, by then we were working on a vision 2056 for constant power electricity and it is 2024 now, how time flies and alas we still lack vision of who we are and what we want to be in terms of electricity.

I remember one committee like that with a long name that was supposed to provide palliative measures due to the rise in petroleum prices. Till date, it died a

natural death. It is another 15 years and we are not only discussing palliatives but looting it with reckless abandon that our students die in stampedes for them.

There have been reports upon reports that if properly handled would have made Nigeria number one in most things if not everything, because if despite all the ills of our society we are still thus there as the most happiest and religious in the world…Then there is a problem.

In recent times, I have watched us be reminded of the successes of Malaysia, a success that was championed and achieved simply because of purposeful leadership, leadership that had the confidence of the governed. That leadership brought about economic prosperity, industrial strength, intellectual pride and dynamism. We have discussed Singapore and for us the only thing that has poured is how our best brains and not so best have become caregivers in the UK and pouring into Canada and other places that were nowhere in the map of economic discussion only two/three decades earlier.

It was only expected that when a nation barely commits one percent of its GDP on education, we would have a collapsed Unity school set up, a crazy university system. We all weep at the situation but no one really thinks how we can have national competitiveness when the level of investment in human capital is abysmally low.

A new Nigeria cannot unfold, with fast paced infrastructural development, rapid push in human resource development, healthcare delivery, when of the approximately Universities and polytechnics enroll almost 2 million students yearly and graduate around 600,000 people, of which barely 5 per cent had a chance of a job, the remaining 95 per cent slowly became an unemployable bunch with redundant qualifications and there is no plan to put a halt to this because truth be told they are formally educated but informally employed, too many graduates fighting for few jobs.

Today’s Nigeria lacks quality education, effective health care delivery and real development despite her wealth. We are breeding terrorists, frustrated young men, sad mothers, senior citizens that daily curse the nation because we have refused to give them their dues.

Isn’t it intriguing and excitingly Nigerian, that this is Nigeria, the rich, poor and everybody cries and laughs almost at the same time; the difference is the swing of the pendulum.

Being a Nigerian requires a tricky trait, despite the Woles, Achebes, Anyaokwus, Maitamas, Balewas, Ziks, Awos, Sardaunas, and many too numerous to call, there is a distinction to being a Nigerian and wanting to be a Nigerian. The Nigerian big man makes a law, those wanting to be Nigerian or already big men proceed immediately to look for a way to break the law, he explores loopholes and escape clauses, like the Immunity clause used for stealing.

Ordinary Citizens would do it their own way, they would jump queues with no excuse, they would do u-turns on an expressway, stop in the middle of the road to say hello to a long-lost friend without parking…correct them, and they will abuse your dog.

Who wants to be a Nigerian? It takes a lot. You have to be noisy. Music is not danceable if it is not loud, big is sweet and good.

How can one understand the Nigerian and want to be one? When in power he loves affluence and will do anything to stay-put. In religious matters, he will fake it; in business, his cheques will bounce. In the civil service forget the noise of ‘servicom’, your files will miss and only reappear at the right price. A Nigerian will ban the importation of lace fabrics, yet his wives, concubines and mistresses will die the day they cannot wear one.

In Nigeria, you need to understand how a complainant can suddenly become a suspect and in the end a witness, yet still land in jail for a crime that was committed against him.

The pain of this essay when it was originally written is that despite all the exhaustive bad traits that we battle every day, Nigerians abound in their millions that want to be Nigerians for the right reasons. And it still has not changed…Those Nigerians are not easily understood because they will not give bribes, all their actions are in line with tradition, society’s good norms and rationality.

They largely are old now and most times reside in rural areas, although a few still stay in urban areas. They are generally good and detribalized, they believe in the principles of live and let live. These Nigerians are neither the bottom power women nor the moneybag men. They strive daily to remain patriotic and committed to the Nigerian dream despite the reality, they are disciplined and are hardworking, and they battle the stark reality that as patient dogs they may never have any bone left.

These sets of Nigerians suffer from the Nigerian experiment because of the larger majority’s inability to curb greed, inability for us to be fair and rational towards other people’s perspectives, opinions, positions and interests. The continuous inability to make sacrifices for the common good, an unwillingness to respect our institutions…like, the abuse of our health and educational institutions in the name of na government property and so it’s nobody’s own.

Our monetized society too has been of more harm than good to us. Do you now understand Nigeria, are you a Nigerian, do you want to be a Nigerian? May Nigeria win.


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