Few days ago, I watched two YouTube videos made by Nigerians resident in USA and they had one thing in common – how bad Nigeria is and the corrupt leadership. One of them actually bashed Nigeria so much that you’ll wonder what sort of people live in that country.
After seeing these videos, I wondered if it was reasonable to expect a new born child to act, think and function like a 50 year old adult. How do you even start to compare the differences in experience, character, physical qualities, maturity, intellectual knowledge between an infant and an adult. Do you expect a child to jump out of the womb and compete with Usain Bolt on a 100m race??? NO WAY. So why do we compare Nigeria with USA, UK, Canada etc? It took USA 237 years and Canada 146 years after independence to become what they are today and still there are slums/ghettos in these western countries. I live in London and there are some places I have walked/driven through that are as bad as Ariaria market in Aba. I once came across a part of Elephant and Castle that looked like a mechanic workshop somewhere in Lagos. The only difference between Nigeria and these countries is a system that works and it took them hundreds of years to achieve what they have today. We need leaders who have a passion to make Nigeria a better place; not for the purpose of greed, wealth acquisition, looting and embezzlement of funds allocated to the masses. Creating a system that works is a journey that takes a very long time but Nigerians are not patient. This article is not to dispute the fact that Nigeria has issues and it does not overlook the fact that our leaders are corrupt. However, my aim is to draw your attention to a nation that is a work in progress; a nation that is making transition into becoming a better country. Even though some of us do not (and have refused to) acknowledge it, the fact remains that we have made tremendous progress since our independence. The truth is, our children/grand children may be the ones to see the Nigeria we dreamt of. The Nigeria we see today is not the Nigeria we used to know and will not be the same in the future.
The most common issues in Nigeria are:
Petroleum: It’s sad that we are a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with over 40 billion barrels of oil reserve and still have fuel scarcity.
Electricity: In 2007, Nigeria supplied Ghana 80 megawatts of electricity to help make up the 2000 megawatt they required to address their energy crisis at that time. It is disappointing that five years later, Ghana is said to be supplying Nigeria with electricity. I know some people will ask if we’re moving forward or backwards (I guess forward but with little bumps in the way).
Education: The JAMB system in Nigeria will NEVER be a true test of knowledge but yet, it has denied many qualified and over-qualified Nigerian youths a right to education. The ASUU strike has frustrated students because most of them end up spending 5/6 years in school for a 4 years course. Because of this, many parents have resorted to “expensive” private schools that have accreditation issues (if our education system was good, most students in private schools will not be there).
Politics: Politics in Nigeria has never been played fair and impartial; it has never been without election rigging or killing of innocent people because of power.
Medical needs: Our medical facilities are really poor, inadequate and rusty (obsolete).
Government: The bribery and corruption is on another level… I can’t find the words to explain it.
Other chaos:Boko-Haram, kidnapping, bad roads etc
In one of the videos I watched @Ritaspeaks asked a question – Naija, is it that bad? Watch the video HERE. Well, the answer is Yes and No but it depends on how you see it. I acknowledge the issues facing Nigeria; I guess we all expected more from our leaders but feel let-down as none of these have been changed despite their numerous promises during elections. Things may be bad but what matters is how we see it. Do you see the cup half full or half empty? How can we even see the good in Nigeria when all we do is magnify the bad deeds, escalate all our mistakes, insult the government, bash our leaders and curse the nation? How can you see the change when your vision is clouded with negative images of Nigeria? I don’t know about you but I can see a cup half full. Any success without mistakes will not last cos mistakes help to shape and mould us into better and stronger people as long as we dust ourselves up and keep moving. That’s the way I see Nigeria. We are a growing country, an emerging market; we are making our mistakes but we are also getting stronger every day.
We need to stop focusing on the issues we have and channel this vexation into making Naija a better place. There is hope for a better tomorrow but it takes you and I to make the difference. John .F. Kennedy (35th USA president) once said, “don’t ask what your country can do for you; instead ask what you can do for your country”. Every day I bless God for men like Pastor Chris Oyakhilome for his “Reach Out Nigeria (RON) Campaign” which holds every 1stOctober in all states in Nigeria providing food/shelter to the needy, donating ambulances to hospitals, computers to schools etc (see more of RON works HERE). I appraise men like Aliko Dangote who recently took out a huge loan to build a refinery in Nigeria – it takes a man with a passion for his country to take this petroleum matter upon himself (ermm abeg, can we vote him for president?). Thanks to Dr Ola Orekunrin of Flying Doctors who has helped with emergency medical attention. Even our youths are making a difference in their own way; people like Duro Oye who started the 2020 Change Foundation to eradicate youth violence in the UK; Debbie Motilewa who started Volunteer Nigeria (read Debbie’s interview with LynnVille HERE) and so many others. We have made progress, though little but it’s something to celebrate. If all you see is the negative and bad side, you’ll never see the good when it happens.
To Nigerians currently living in the country, don’t be in a haste to run away or get involved in illegal activities all in the name of searching for greener pastures; the grass is greener where you water it. Don’t curse your country/leaders please, the curses may follow them and if they are still in authority, it will affect you. The British national anthem is more like a prayer and in every verse it has the caption “God save the queen”; every time that anthem is sang, it’s a prayer for their leader. It is difficult to find an American or a Briton cursing/ saying negative words about their country. Please let us focus on the good things instead of magnifying the bad ones; and let us learn to pray for our leaders (yeah I know you’ll say we’ve been praying; pls continue). When making international trips, don’t be ashamed to show your green passport at the airport while you’re on the queue & don’t hide it in a red/black passport holder. I understand we get extra checks/harrassments most times just cos of our nationality; just shrug it off. They don’t know our journey so they only act based on their myopic knowledge about us. Just IGNORE them, let them do their checks.
And to my fellow Nigerians in diaspora, don’t be ashamed to say you’re Nigerian. The way you present Nigeria to your colleagues at work, fellow students etc will determine how they see you. No one can believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself; you’re the Nigeria they see and the story you give them is what they’ll believe. Even when they ask you questions about the bad things in Nigeria, answer them but make sure you end the conversation by pointing out the good things about Nigeria that they never knew. Most violent acts and frauds in UK,USA in the past 2 years has one or more Nigerians involved. That is really disappointing but hey… every country has both good and bad people. You may have become a British citizen or gotten your green card – you’re still Nigerian cos the name printed on your passport will not change from Oluwasemilore Adegbite or Chukwuebuka Nwachukwu to Tom Grays – You’re Naija for life, be proud of it and speak positively about the country. (random names, sorry if it’s your real name).
Finally my brethren and sisthren (lol), abeg let’s be patient with Naija, we’re only 52 and we will get there. We may not know the “HOW” for now but we will surely improve and develop; just keep supporting in your own little way and never give up on her. We are a work in progress…better days ahead.
|Aerial view of Falomo Bridge, Lagos.|