Is ‘’Nigeria’’ a pejorative? Is it a byword for the abominable? The name of our country has assumed grotesque meanings lately. It has been contorted by a phylum of distraught and overbearing citizens to mean misfortune, pain and suffering. Sadly, ‘’Nigeria’’ is becoming the governing synonym for turpitude and misery among some Nigerians.
‘’May Nigeria happen to you’’. This has been said to me many times on account of my views which some inveterate cynics and misanthropists find perturbing. But my belief and faith in Nigeria remain untrammelled.
Nigeria is not barren of challenges. In fact, currently, we are beset with medusa-like problems – insecurity, unhealthy economy, ASUU strike, etc. But we will always have challenges. Every country does. No single leader can magic away Nigeria’s troubles overnight. In fact, no single leader can vapourise all the worries of any country under a tenured performance. However, there can be processes spurring prospects, hope and possibilities for change.
We will always have troubles. The world has always got troubles ‘’since the Pope was an altar boy, and since the Dead Sea was critical’’ – Lucky Dube. Challenges are a natural phenomenon of life. No life is without obstacles, and no country is without difficulties.
What matters is our attitude and approach to the problem. Regrettably, the disposition of some Nigerians to a social scourge afflicting everyone is that of a buck-passer and blame-barterer. Responsibility is never ours to take. There must be someone or something to take the guilt. We are quick to point fingers, and rail against the government, but ignore our culpability in the problem.
If there is a fatal accident on the road; we succumb to the jaded refrain, ‘’Nigeria has happened’’. But we ignore the problem, which is the impatient drivers who are Nigerians like the rest of us. If there is a terrorist attack on a settlement, we ignore the legion of collaborators – residents, informants and citizens who just look away and are Nigerians like the rest of us – but blame Nigeria. When there is a report on corruption involving a public officer – ‘’Nigeria has happened’’ – but the same Nigerians cherry-pick what case to outrage over – depending on which side of the country the accused fellow comes from, where he worships, who his friends are and his standing in the media.
Who and what is the ‘’Nigeria’’ happening to Nigerians? It is you and me. All of us from the Nigerian gene-pool are collectively blame-worthy. We made this country; it was not given to us.
I happen to be involved in an estate management group, and from my little corner, I see how unmanageable Nigerians can be. We fancy the best services; we make demands, but we do not want to bear the financial or mental cost of providing those services. We just want it done. We want our irresponsibility serviced, and if things go wrong, we bring out clenched fists seeking who to pummel for our own imprudence. We are an ungovernable people.
We cannot leave Nigeria to the government or toss it aside whenever it suits us like garbage. Fixing Nigeria is the responsibility of leadership and followership. The leadership undoubtedly has more responsibility, but the followership must play its own part in a symbiotic intercourse.
There have been killings in the United States – at schools, parks, malls and churches. I read Americans condemn the atrocities with shared indignation, but not necessarily resorting to denouncing their country. Nigerians show crass disdain for Nigeria. They seek every opportunity to convict the country of whatever grouse they hold.
They make a spectacle of their emigration from Nigeria on social media as if the country is some infernal and desolate place only fit for miserable creatures. Ridiculing Nigeria to make a point is self-immolation. We are all eternally connected to Nigeria, and whatever image we project of our country, we make of ourselves.
The fecundity of a place most times depends on how willing we are to tend it. I strongly believe we can plant our seed anywhere, water and tend it, and watch it grow. Nigeria is not arid of opportunities.
There is a species of Nigerians we overlook. The naturalised Nigerians – Lebanese, Indians, Turks, and Chinese who are making a killing from Nigeria and enjoying the comfort it offers, while aboriginal citizens run down their own country with caustic tongues.
‘’May Nigeria happen to you’’ should not connote misery or misfortune. It should reverberate giving, brotherhood, peace, harmony, unity, the Nigerian dream, and blessings. We must correct this mis-synonymification of Nigeria. Nigeria is not a place of multitude woes; the goodness of the land is boundless. And we shall eat thereof.
So, when I say, ‘’May Nigeria happen to me’’; I am only telling myself, ‘’May blessings follow me’’ – in our accustomed lingo.
May Nigeria happen to us.