‘The problem of Nigeria…’

‘The problem of Nigeria…’

Instead of working together to build the country, everyone is busy looking for who to worship or who to worship them

During the week, I received the following message. It attempts to explain the Nigerian situation from the viewpoint of the average man. As usual, I have tinkered a bit with the grammar but I promise you the sense is intact. Please read:

… Two million of the likes of Buhari cannot change Nigeria. Everything is wrong with Nigeria. The Director won’t give you a contract except you pay up front. The banks won’t give you a loan except you concede a certain per centage. The man supervising the contract won’t pass the job except you play ball. The clerk won’t pass your file for payment except you rub his palm. The accounts department won’t raise your payment voucher or cheque unless you see them…

The worst thing is that it has become a norm and no one sees anything wrong with it. If you think otherwise, they begin to think you are sick and not normal. If you stand in their way, you put your life at risk. If you get killed, there is no justice system in place to seek redress and bring the perpetrators to book.

The police are corrupt; the judge is the same. Nobody cares about anybody. No law and order… everybody is only desperate about one thing: MONEY. They will kill anybody and anything that stands between them and money.

I am an electrical engineer contractor with MNSE and COREN. But the system doesn’t care about my qualifications. (Power) Distribution and transmission jobs are given to Alhajis, pastors, friends and relatives without any basic skills. I started to ask myself how I would convince my children that education and hard work are rewarding when fools, agberos and touts are running the country from the national assembly to the presidency.

Don’t put yourself in harm’s way for any reason. The problem of Nigeria is in the hands of Nigerians living in Nigeria… Everybody there thinks about himself and nobody is thinking about Nigeria.

That lamentation almost has you in tears, no? It fair broke my heart. I am sniffing so much I may not be able to come up with my usual jokes today. I will still try though.

I agree that the problem of Nigeria is in the hands of Nigerians, but not in the way you think or the writer thinks. For one thing, I do not believe that the generality of people were participants in the orchestration of this gargantuan failure. Most of us have become victims of the charade. Even when we have joined in doing the wrong thing, we are still victims. Not excusing your wrongdoing though but, I quite believe that this debacle was planned and executed at the very start of Nigeria’s birth. It was not an accident.

This is why I find it really amusing when people play the blame game and point fingers at President Buhari. Like I always say, I am not the man’s PRO or his media man (or woman) but any short-sighted fellow can see that deducing that he is the source of Nigeria’s failures because ‘things are hard in the time of Buhari’ is myopic. I think, and I know many will agree with me, that the failure we are witnessing today was planted the same day the country was born. Nigeria came DOA. The failure is not in our stars, brethren; it’s in our genes.

Nigeria was very unfortunate to have had the first set of elites she had. It was that crop that planted the disorder, deception, wreckage, chaos, plunder, destruction, insanity and abnormality that have become part of our national life and psyche. In planting a cancerous ethnicity/tribalism seed, encouraging a divisive religious atmosphere, and pursuing an arbitrary political system, the nation’s first set of elites sealed Nigeria’s coffin, set her independence ablaze and made sure she never found her freedom again. That system benefitted the personalities at that time; it was exploited by the army; and is being fine-tuned even today by the nation’s neo-politicians.

For a system to flourish, it must be inherently utilitarian, i.e., be of benefit to the average man, not just a few personalities or families. Nigeria’s system is at present cult-based, which puts personalities at the centre of action. This is why it is possible for us to turn a few individuals to demigods and worship them as such and place them above the law – executive members, legislative members, institutional heads, service heads, corporate heads, just name them. As gods, they can do no wrong. They are above the law.

I have a post in my phone showing Russia’s president, Putin, serving himself fuel at a filling station with no attendant in sight. I have another one of the former Iranian prime minister taking a bus to work as an ex-minister. It’s different here though. Recently, I heard that the former IG of Police and the current were having a spat on the number of cars the former hooked home with his finger when he retired: twelve or twenty-four. What?

The present cult-based system is also why it is possible for an ex-governor to be welcomed from prison like a conquering Hercules just returned from a war. This is why it is possible for fellow senators to worship another senator like he was Caesar leading some Roman campaigners to expand the empire. Instead of working together to build the country, everyone is busy looking for who to worship or who to worship them. And, as of a man, everyone has chosen the emblem of worship: money. It brings power. This is why the system has failed. It never existed.

These evidences of systemic failure have spread through all the nation’s institutions to result in zero productivity – power, civil service, school systems’ failures, etc. Erroneously, many of us have attributed these failures to the nature of the African man’s heart which I have heard is ‘wicked, black and evil’. I have found this a little strange. I do not believe a Nigerian’s heart is any more depraved than a Briton’s heart for example. The heart of man in general has a depravity depth as long as the north pole. What makes the difference is the presence or absence of well-defined systems.

So, there are no scientific measurements for ‘wicked,’ ‘evil,’ ‘black’ hearts, but there are scientific measurements for whether one has done one’s work or not. Everyone’s work schedule is clear enough. If there is a failure in a civil service office, then the head should be held responsible. The failure on a police station floor should be put squarely at the door of the supervising inspector. The failure in a classroom should be accounted for by the teacher or the head of the school. If every officer takes responsibility for their jobs, then it should be possible for the policeman to arrest a wrong-doer, be he the president.

Foundational errors have been committed with respect to Nigeria. I still maintain that it was arrogant of Britain to have yoked three disparate groups together in the first place. However, Britain’s error has been compounded by the error of governance adopted by the early elites for Nigeria. Good statesmen would have built the people rather than focus on tribes or personalities. The most powerful instrument for developing a nation is not so much the material as the human resources. That we built personalities and tribes rather than people has become our millstone now.

Nigerians should stop behaving like criminals. Many a criminal prefers to recriminate his reporter neighbour, the arresting policeman and the sentencing judge for his stay in prison rather than himself for committing the crime. This is what Nigerians are doing – pointing fingers. We do not need two million Buhari; we need just you. Begin to hold yourself accountable for this country today.


By Oyinkan Medubi



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