That I frequently hear Nigerians, educated and exposed, make illogical excuses for Nigeria is unexplainable. This weird idea of rebuffing anybody who dares to ask why Nigeria, in spite of her natural and human endowments, is not sitting up the ladder of developed countries is first of all sycophancy of the first degree. Like all sycophants from ancient times till date, they are quick to lecture you in History 101 on how the United Kingdom was never colonized and how the United States had been independent for more than two hundred years. One quack historian once told me the U.S has been independent for the past four hundred years!
Indeed to measure oneself and aim to jump down and rejoice with those who made it down the ladder is madness and an incitement to mediocrity. Alas we can find these debates on-going amongst our elites in politics, business and every strata of Nigerian society. And this makes the debate to take a troubling dimension. Or how can you tell the direction a country with a population with such mindset will take. Hola, failed statehood here we come, I will anticipate the preamble!
We make excuses for why we fail exams, why accidents happen, why we did not attend the best schools, but must we make excuses why we are not an influential force even among our peers? A friend recently told me that Nigeria’s Defense Industry complex was set up at the same time as that of Brazil, but while the Brazilians are shouting loud for everyone to know that they deserve a place in the soon-to-be expanded United Nations Security Council, because of their growth in sectors like the economy and even militarily, Nigeria’s defense Industries Corporation was lying dormant, building furnishings for homes. What rights have we to call the shots amongst the comity of nations if we cannot boast of a military muscle that can rival those of other nations already in the most powerful arm of the UN setup? Oh yes, it boils down to who has the military capabilities that calls the shots. Answer this: what do the U.S, China, France, Great Britain and Russia have in common?
Comparisons are bound to arise in everything humans do, because goals are set not only to be reached, but to reach them within a time limit, and when there is chronological limit, who reaches there first matters. Does the term rat race or nuclear arms race ring a bell to those who do not want Nigeria compared to any country at all? I do not subscribe to amassing a stockpile of destructive weapons by any country at all; that is not the point am trying make here. The thing is that even among our so called leaders are opponents of the anti-comparison-with-developed-countries debate. I guess they would rather Nigeria is compared with failed states like Somalia or even a country held by the jugular by world class terrorists like Afghanistan? Why not…Haiti?
Curiously, Haiti is a good case study in every instance or from whichever prism one wants to view the raging debate. Here is a country that gained independence in 1804 from France, yet it has succeeded in working its way to the unenviable rank of the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The United States, which became independent twenty-eight years earlier and is only seven hundred and fifty miles (a1 207.008 kilometers) away from the Haitien capital of Port-au-Prince, should have presented a good example as a peer, in terms of years of nation hood. But Haiti is in the same league as countries like Niger, Bhutan, Chad, Guinea Bissau, Bangladesh, etc. If that is the case, should one then go on harping about years of independence as the number one criterion for measuring a country’s place on the list of the world’s developed countries? If it was that simple, Ethiopians would have since graduated from the UN’s list of people in Least Developed Countries (LDC) by right, because they were never colonized.
Malaysia, on the other hand, gained independence in 1956 and is today competing with countries hundred years older than she is. We are peers by virtue of their being four years ‘older’ but we have so failed that our citizens are there (in Malaysia) accessing quality education, health care and technology. Our goals and aspiration should be to decide, today, which steps to take to get us beyond the point they have attained, educationally, economically and other parameters by which successful nations are marked.
From the examples above, Nigerians (especially leaders) should not invent excuses for not achieving greatness that God has graciously bestowed on our seemingly unwilling shoulders. Leaders who are saddled with the responsibility of making those decisions and taking a place in the frontline of our match to a developed country status should not be found bringing these absurd reasons to the table, as I heard a member of the sixth House of Representative from Katsina state doing in an interview with a foreign media house. This article is a response to his sanctimonious outburst that he feels outraged whenever Nigerians compare this country with the likes of Britain, France and the United States. For that reason, I suppose, they (Nigerian politicians of this republic) have gone to the dictionary and brought out that snaky word, ‘’nascent’’ amalgamated it with democracy and development and now hurl it at us anytime we question why we are where we are. The term nascent democracy and young nation should not be used in hoodwinking our people into believing we are not matured for the cutting edge advances we see on our screens. We consume other people’s ideas and offer none; the parasitic nature of the mediocrity that we have excusably foisted on ourselves- is the most appalling, to say the least.