Friday, October 10, 2008

Nigeria We Fail Thee

If you scratch ground small,
You go find oil, coal, gold plus precious stones
And the people? Adults wey dey work hard
And small pikin wey GOD take bless us left and right...
Wetin other countries dem dey find,
We get am!!!

If you were in Nigeria in the late 80s and 90s, you would know the above 'rap' that goes along with the song 'Me I Like My Country' quoted on SSD's post.

I doubt if Lord Frederick Lugard really knew what he was doing in 1912, when he suggested to the British Foreign Office and successfully 'amalgamated' the Southern and Northern Protectorates with the Colony of Lagos in 1914 to create what is known today as Nigeria. His intentions were far from altruistic as he was more concerned about his inability to get the 'darned natives' to cooperate with him in ending their 'barbarism' through his Indirect Rule system. More importantly, it was vital that Britain gain control of unclaimed areas before Germany, Portugal, or France claimed the land and its resources for themselves.

He did not know that by that singular act, he had birthed the greatest nation on earth.

Like many people then and since then, including historians, economists, political thinkers - and very many people who are Nigerians - Nigeria is just a geographical solution to a political problem, a resource/means to an economic end. And that is their mistake.

Many people look at Nigeria in terms of its abundant resources both natural and otherwise and believe that is the raison d'etre of its greatness. But even if you take away all the oil, gold and other etchetram, etchetram resources that lie in its soil, air and waters, Nigeria will still be great.

With over 150million people (and still counting) from 280 different ethnic nationalities crammed into about 971,000 square kilometres of land space (plus/minus Bakassi), renowned political pundits (and the Brenton-Woods Institutions) are still scratching their heads why we have not finished killing each other off as other humans would have done or divided up the land into a million fragments as other humans are wont to do.

(In comparison, the USA is about six times the size of Nigeria with a population just about 1.5 times and without its potentially volatile ethnic diversity. The average American has six times more space than the Nigerian to avoid getting into each others' faces.)

Nigeria was described by Professor Bayo Williams in the Nigerian 25th Anniversary Edition of the Newswatch magazine (October 1985) as 'the biggest problem of the professional obituarists'. Every time they pronounce her dead, like the Phoenix, she rises again. And again.


I believe that Nigeria's greatness is in its people. Yes, Nigeria's greatness is in Nigerians.

We are also its greatest problem. Think about it. Of any problem you want to ascribe to Nigeria and you will find a Nigerian.

Nigeria is not corrupt. Some Nigerians are. (We are not necessarily more corrupt or criminally minded though than any other peoples. Erm, we just do it with more aplomb. With attitude. We do everything with the swagger.)

I have travelled around Africa quite some and in discussions with non-Nigerians, they tell you about what I call the 'Naija Swagger'. We don't see it in ourselves but others do. Most other Africans can't understand it and find it annoying. That, to me, actually explains the obvious animosity towards the 'green passport' at most immigration points. It is a fear arising from the perceived unpredictability of the Nigerian. With some jealousy.

I have since stopped letting it bother me. I have learned to cope - with a lot of patience. There's a price you pay for greatness. I have stopped apologizing for it. And I think that's what we need to do as Nigerians, to stop apologizing for Nigeria because Nigeria has done nothing wrong.

(If some Nigerian decides to get involved in crime in Saudi Arabia for instance and is caught, you expect me to identify with it? Why? Have you ever heard the US government or people pleading for Americans convicted for crimes in countries like Thailand? In fact, most Americans distance themselves as much as possible from such incidences. You never hear of such on Oprah.)

This greatness is in every Nigerian (not the Guinness advert). We are all trying to actualize this greatness within us and in the process we get impatient with other Nigerians who are probably not moving at the same speed as we do. And this explains our individualistic outlook to life. We want it like yesterday. We can see it. Why can't everybody just get it?

So we become everything to ourselves. Generate our own power and water, build our own schools and roads, literally become our own governments because we believe the government is too slow to do some things we wanted done - like yesterday. And when we can't, we simply go to another country where they have those things we believe we need. Then we blame Nigeria for not having them.

So, what to do?

If not I, Who? If not now, When? . I can't remember who said that but its the question we should be asking ourselves as Nigerians.

The Nigeria I Seek Begins With Me!

Repeat this to yourself every morning when you wake up and before you sleep. Yeah I know it can be difficult but remember to repeat it to yourself next time UMYA takes another of his 'trips'. Adequate health care for all Nigerians does not depend on him, it depends on me!

Those of you who are people of prayer should pray for Nigeria everyday. I do not advocate outsourcing our problems to GOD. No, let's do it our selves. Bless Nigeria everyday and send warm thoughts of love to any part of the country you think is hurting. If you can't think of any where, send it to the Niger Delta or just send it to your village. There is nothing like too much love, is there?

Welcome To The Greatest Nation On Earth!


1 comment:

ibiluv said...

profound.........i like!!!!!!!!!!!

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