There are several things that can keep you miserable about Nigeria. Like our epileptic power supply – after eight long years of democratic delight, the bad roads that kill people daily, poor facilities that dwindles productivity, I guess we can name a hundred more…
But I’d like to take a big break from being the pessimist so as not to sound like a broken-record, and see some of the things that seem to be ‘working’ in our country. I mean, there’s hardly any land that doesn’t have it’s bonuses. Surely, if you think hard enough, you can come up with a lot of ‘goodies’ that can happen only in this part of the world.
So would you oblige me the pleasure of taking you through this merry trip?
Let’s start with our ceremonies, a typical wedding event. There’s no country that can boast of flamboyant weddings like Nigerians. It’s amazing how two individuals whose combined income will amount to something as ridiculous as sixty thousand naira (monthly) would be able to host a grand wedding lavished with assorted food and meat, drinks, liquor, and creams in an out-of-this world auditorium that can make the queen of England go green with envy. If you go hungry on a Saturday, it may well be your fault. Nigerian weddings are an all-comers affair. No invitation is needed and there’s no gate fee; so you can leisurely walk into any hall nearby and join the happy crowd. You neither need to know who the groom nor the bride is. And for just attempting to look sober and properly dressed, you’d be treated to all the meals available- no brows will raise in suspicion. Isn’t that heavenly?
I have heard of the strangest things happening in places like America, where siblings do not set eyes on each other for years and they live streets apart! That can never happen in Nigeria. Over here, we do not only mingle freely with our loved ones, we even adopt ‘uncles’ and ‘aunts’ who we have no blood relationship with but are fortunate to have met through providence. These ‘uncles’ and ‘aunts’ always turn out to be very rich and generous. We simply stick around them like magnet to steel and help out in every minor detail. Once in a while these bighearted uncles and aunts are glad to grease our palms with those colourful notes that would keep anyone happy for a long time.
The whole idea of informing a relative before visiting their home is totally ridiculous to a Nigerian. How do you ‘collect’ permission from your brother before you can see your little nephew and niece? It’s unthinkable. Everyone is part of every other person’s life. And if at all you try to show some western traits by demanding your mother posts a mail or your brother calls before coming for the weekend, you’d stand out like a sore thumb and be made to repent from your sinful ways.
Isn’t it blissful to live in a place like Lagos? Apart from the comic relief you get with the ‘area boys’, Lagos is like having a four year old child in a room full of his favourite toys and chocolate and TV all to himself- complete paradise! Anything goes in Lagos. You can just alight from your vehicle in broad daylight and decide to ease yourself right beside your car in traffic jam!
Around here, you can park your car just about anywhere. There’s no way in hell a policeman will give you a ticket (ok maybe that’s stretching it too far considering the role of LASTMA). But what’s a ticket anyway? In Nigeria the only tickets we are used to are those for a show where you’d have Tuface, Modenine, and Basket mouth performing. Good ticketing if you ask me.
It’s amazing how many people bother to go to school in Nigeria. I mean what’s the point anyway? They all go to school, graduate, and cannot differentiate a triangle from a rectangle. Mediocrity reigns supreme on our shores. It’s okay for a twenty-five year old lady to have no ambition but that of dreaming of settling down with Mr. Right. No one’s going to make her feel like her life isn’t directed towards anywhere. It’s really alright for a thirty year old male to wake up every morning analyzing the country with his neighbours till dusk. Nobody bothers him for not making any attempt to do something (else) with his life.
Right here you can perch with your parents for as long as you want. We do not have the ‘above 18’ clause hanging over our heads. A healthy guy at thirty-five can still decide to stay in his father’s house and no one’s going to show him the exit door as long as he remains daddy’s good boy.
While youths in places like the United States break their backs with multiple jobs while studying for a degree, over here being a student is a fulltime employment. You are not expected to try anything else except concentrate on your studies. And with all the strikes and delays in our institutions, some people can spend three decades on earth without ever having to make a dime for themselves.
Ah! This one right here is one of the biggest reasons why we love being Nigerians: isn’t it incredible how Nigerians become celebrities with many houses scattered all over the world, fleet of cars, and no one knows or bothers to question what they do for a living? It must be sheer bliss to be a fraudster in a land where all they care about is the acquisition and display of wealth and not in the source of such wealth.
I hear in other countries even churches are probed and men of God are made to account for any form of extraordinary ostentatious lifestyle. Here in Nigeria, a man of God owns the souls of his congregation and if anyone dares to question how he came about the Mercedes E-class in his garage (considering the fact that he has no job except that of shepherding God’s people), such a person will have the rest of the church members label him the Anti-Christ.
There’s no better place to be a woman than in Nigeria. In some places women are expected to do so much. They are turned into breadwinners while their husbands sit on their lazy behinds giving orders; in some other places women have too many rights. If your husband upsets you, you can call the cops and demand he be arrested. In Nigeria, we may not have the liberty to get our men arrested (you wish!), but at least we are allowed to be dull, helpless, and useless without a man. It’s soothing being a Nigerian woman, all you need to wish for is a husband and many children. Nobody is going to worry you over getting a job, or going to school, or even learning a skill. You’d be surprised how many women fantasize with this idea, life couldn’t be better!
As a Nigerian man, you can have as many wives as you want (did I just hear you scream in delight?). You may be charged for bigamy in most parts of the world, but on this soil, you reign as king for acquiring as many wives as you desire. The traditional marriage ceremony makes this eternally possible.
Surely you must admit it is liberating being a Nigerian- no winter that wrinkles and freezes your ears; no hurricanes that lives you homeless, no guns in your neighbours’ compartment that can be used to threaten or blow your head off if you create a nuisance; no regulations as to where and when you can hold an ‘owambe’ party; no serious competition in any sector- anybody dogged enough to make it surely will; no self-discipline- a lot of factors (remember the ‘no light’, ‘no good roads’ factors?) makes excuses a part of our lives.
So, are you excited, or is your head buried in shame? If all of this is just a big laugh to you, then I’m sorry for you. But if it gives you cause to worry, then I guess you are one of the few who may just bring about a change (no matter how little) in our deplorable society. We have to learn to do things the right way. Stand for what is right; and it may well start with the coming elections- vote for the right candidates. Do not sell your vote and your dignity for a few naira notes or empty promises. Do what is right in the sight of God and man. Our dream Nigeria is all in our hands – let’s make it work.