Any Room For Personal Responsibility?

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

“99% of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” (George Washington Carver)

In this season of holiday, I have been ruminating on the achievements, pitfalls and successes of the year coming to an end. In the same breathe; I have also been considering the state of my great country Nigeria. Nigeria is a great country even though some of my readers will disagree, but the greatness of Nigeria arises not from its intellectual, developmental or even technological achievements; neither does the state of our nation’s infrastructure that crushes young souls in transit between two major cities in one of our many flying coffins a thing to be proud of either. What make Nigeria great is her people. Undeniably, it is neither the brown soil nor the dreary air of our country that makes up Nigeria; it is the people that in the face of terror and calamity are often able to hold up tenaciously devising various methods to overcome and achieve in rather difficult circumstances that distinguish the most population black nation on mother earth- Nigeria.

For this reason, the theme of this piece will be centered on the Nigerian. Nigerians are in one vein optimistic and on the other cynical. We are one of the most religious yet the most corrupt nation on planet earth. Nigerians are very cynical of their government yet deeply political. In Nigeria, we breathe, sleep and eat politics. Most Nigerians are professional political critics that will cringe on the first sight of a ballot box! It is these character traits that make personal responsibility a theoretical subject in the nation we live in. For everything that goes wrong in Nigeria we blame the government. If our wife does not have children, Obasanjo is to be blamed. After all, modern medicine has made it possible for barren women to produce children but with LUTH in disarray IVF remains a fantasy to most Nigerians. In Nigeria, if our children under perform in school because of our lack of due diligence, it is always never us but the government or better still the school. So what do we do? We transfer the little boy from this school to another, and yet to another and yet to the next until he himself have lost track of his personal responsibility to study and work harder at his books instead of watching home videos and playing violent video games!

Nigerians often complain loudly of how deeply corrupt the government is. Yet in our individual daily lives, most Nigerians cut corners and drive at the median of the road. We deeply resent Lagos traffic, but yet we obstruct other road users and disobey simple traffic rules. Your guess is as good as mine as to who is at fault. It is always Tinubu! That useless governor that used Chicago certificate to litter our garbage dumps and stick refuse in our gutters causing us modern day misery and sorrow nko? If Lagosians will bring out their shovel, dispose their refuse properly and drive conscientiously as they do when they travel to Atlanta or London, half of Lagos problems will be solved overnight!

Is it not true that when Nigerians leave the Murtala Mohammed Airport they are suddenly transformed to law abiding citizens? In Ghana, Nigerians represent about ten percent of the population, yet these have not turned Accra to a city of chaos like any major Nigerian cities. The street lights are obeyed; traffic rules followed and market places are kept clean. Haba! In our taxis and molues daily we complain of NEPA and NITEL inefficiencies yet many people cannot even remember when they paid their bills last. We bribe the next NEPA official after the next NITEL sales representative just made away with a little Awo or a little crisp Zik note in his pocket. Shame on us! The police are definitely our best friend in Nigeria. Most of us don’t know the license office, we bribe someone there to issue us a drivers license and pay the touts to secure vehicle registration for us, yet when our children are slaughtered on the roads by a drunk or reckless driver that used exactly the same route to obtain license we are quick to blame Obasanjo for the bad roads. Certainly, when the next election comes around you sell off your votes and support that rich man from PDP; after all he is your cousin. God have mercy!

When we go abroad we loathe the bad image Nigeria have. We resent the way we are treated at the customs post in the United States or at Heathrow. We hate the government for not doing anything about it. We wonder why our government is not shelling billions on publicity or image laundering abroad. But when our next white friend or akata friend asks about our nation or our government we bad mouth the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We predict the next war, the next crisis or the next bail jumping. On internet message boards we slaughter anyone who dares points out what is going well with Nigeria. More so, we quickly fix two fake social security numbers for ourselves, marry one akata and divorce the next while claiming to be gaming the system. And when we are caught, we sheepishly admit we are Nigerians and wonder why the embassy has not come for us. Chikena!

Chief of our lack of personal responsibility is the issue of our national politics and our individual participation. Most of us are self appointed arm chair critics that will never raise a finger to help our next neighbor in need or give succor to the helpless when we can. We do not see anything good about Nigeria or our fellow men. We are backbiters; funny thing is that backbiters shall always remain at the back! When our friends ask us how we expect to transform our utopian ideas to real agendas for the development of Nigeria, we chicken out by claiming politics is dirty. Is it not true that it was the same dirty politics that produced the wonders of the world? These wonders are speak about are not in Greece or Egypt, they are in Ibadan, Enugu, Lagos and Kano. The wonders that turned chicken change from cocoa, groundnuts and oil palm to universities, TV stations, gigantic stadiums, prosperous conglomerates and thriving commercial enterprises! And yet, we claim it cannot be done.

Indeed, it is the same lack of personal responsibility that have made a minister that have overseen three plane crashes to hold on tenaciously to office and another Governor indicted for money laundering hold on to power as well. In Tokyo, the stock exchange chief resigned because a computer glitch caused momentary loss of trading capability and money, yet in my country Nigeria the minister has the support of his President after all and the Governor his people. God is definite

ly in control!

To cut long story short, not until individual Nigerians see themselves as part of a larger community that can build and destroy the future and reputation of our great country we all labor in vain. The top to down approach to our nation’s problem will never work, what will work is an individual commitment to breed for Nigeria good children that will not steal, raise for our society great minds that will not serve the rich to hurt the poor, secure for a our nation a great future that will make us all proud and build a strong and secure family unit that will form the cell of our moral fiber. These will create strong and purpose filled nation devoid of cynical and phenomenally voracious individual that presently dominate the national debate. As we enter the New Year, let us rededicate ourselves to a Nigeria that truly works because we want it to, a Nigeria of Nigerians not of Obasanjo or the government. Obasanjo is not the problem, you are the problem. If I may add, please declare all contrabands next time you enter Nigeria and make sure you pay your taxes in full and on time too. Period.

Last Line

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Dietrich Bonhoffer

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Anonymous December 24, 2005 - 4:06 pm

Very good article. This is probably the way we all need to look at the problems of the country. I agree with the previous poster, Nigerians are generally not patriotic (just pathetic).

Anonymous December 24, 2005 - 2:18 pm

wow! You really got Nigerians, every Nigerian should read this. The funny thing is that- most Nigerians are not conciously aware of the bad things they do, yet if someone does the same bad thing they did, they will point fingers. The part about the traffic rules; oooh! that is so true… lol

Anonymous December 21, 2005 - 2:11 pm

well,your article is quite interesting and i pray nigeria would be a better place to live one of these days

Anonymous December 21, 2005 - 10:04 am

This is an excellent (A) article. You are one clear voice in the crazy wilderness. Nigerians seem to know the problems but no one wants to solve them. I was told recently that Nigerians would rather vote for a totally corrupt politician than a truthful-reformer-developer individual. I visited Nigeria early this year and interviewed many people, I wish I could write all my findings here. Many are simply pathetic. While few have progressive mentality, the majority have retrogressive mindset. There are some Nigerians who talk about progressive ideas and once in the position to do something, turned out be more fraudulent than those they were criticizing. Nigerians in general are not patriotic. Nigeria has never had a truly concerned patriotic progressive Godfearing leader(s). However I noticed that you have quoted from G.W. Carver (American) to D. Bonhoffer (German) but none from a Nigerian (or an African). Please read more of Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo, Jomo Kenyatta, etc books and you would notice that they have said many quotable statements that are applicable to contemporary Nigerian (African) hegemony, patriotism, politics, technology, etc.

Anonymous December 20, 2005 - 1:34 pm

Well written article indeed although I object to the akata phrasing which simply could have been our African-American or Black-American friends but you did use the word friend so I guess that lessens impact.

Goddy December 20, 2005 - 11:32 am

The first guy to comment on this article described it as "very good" and yet awarded it ony 3 stars…haba!

This article is EXCELLENT!!

Anonymous December 20, 2005 - 8:27 am

Very good points


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