Nigeria And Nigerians: A World Of Disconnect And Discontentment

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

We have a country that is infested with all manner of unemployment (seasonal, cyclical, frictional, and structural), yet some states would rather hire foreign medical doctors and foreign medical practitioners rather than hire Nigerian trained doctors and medical practitioners. As if that wasn’t dumb enough, the Kwara State government of Dr. Olusola Saraki, under the guise of Foreign Direct Investment, is in the process of allocating farmlands and other resources to White Farmers from Zimbabwe. What is this nonsense; and what is the message? That Kwarans do not have the know-how to be productive farmers? Yet, you have a Dr. Femi Ajayi singing the governor’s praise to high-heaven.

Our political system is flawed; and our politicians are undeserving of their positions. And the Nigerian electorates are so gullible; or should I say they allow themselves to be short-changed by politicians. It is sickening that we allow ethnic and religious cleavages, regional differences, and primordial sentiments to cloud our judgment when we go to the polls. It seems to me most Nigerians are not normal (in the political sense of the word).

If Nigeria and Nigerians were/are politically normal we wouldn’t have voted for 90% of those currently in power or in government. We all know the vagabonds, the thieves, the crooks and all those who have been dipping their fingers into the national treasury; yet, we voted for them and we reward them with chieftaincy titles and sing their praises. You can steal as much as you want in today’s Nigeria and still find an imam, a babalawo, a pastor, or any of the so-called men of God to pray for you (and cover your behind).

In Nigeria, anyone who is bold enough and crazy enough to want to buckle and help change the Nigerian system will be ostracized by his immediate family, will be excommunicated by the Church or the Mosque, will be harassed, intimidated, bribed, or co-opted by the system or agents of the system. And if all else fails – assassination is usually the final solution. In this regard, only a few men have escaped the claws of corruption, intimidation or murder – men like the brave and the great Chief Gani Fawehinmi. It will take God and all his angels and prophets and beloved sons and daughters at least half-a-century to normalize Nigeria.

We don’t have a normal country and a normal society. Solutions that have worked in other countries will fail and do fail in Nigeria. The best business plans will go haywire in Nigeria. A virgin will lose her virginity upon stepping on our soil. A Bishop will lose his robes upon arriving in Nigeria. And anybody with a decent reputation will lose it all after seven-day and seven-nights in Nigeria. Why? That is because we infest others with our indecency. We corrupt people’s soul. We trivialize prized attributes and characteristics. No institution in Nigeria is too sacred to be corrupted. Not even the media houses. We have no method to our madness. The world thinks of us as crooks and thieves and cheats and as unruly. We are fast becoming a gangster nation.

Take a look at all the commentators, essayists and critics in all the Websites devoted to Nigeria and Nigerian affairs – 95% of them live in the West. And that includes me. Most of us are content writing about irrelevant and meaningless subjects; and we find it “empowering” criticizing the government and public servants back home. It is an ego thing. Pay close attention, and one will quickly realize that most of us, most of these Web-critics are full of bull, full of nonsense; “full of sound and fury signifying nothing”; and most of us are so self-absorbed that we write with an air of aggrandizement and self-importance. And then there are those who write because they are currying favors from their state government….they want to be compensated with political appointments.

However, there are those Web-columnists, living abroad, who write without ulterior motives, at least so it appears – the purists: Banjo Odutola, Remi Oyeyemi, Sola Osofisan, Tonye David-West, and a few others. One need not agree with their viewpoint or world-view; but they write with such passion and with such intelligence that it gladdens my heart. But having said all that: why can’t we all return home, home to Nigeria and contribute to the development process instead of toiling for America and other countries?

Why can’t we return home? What are we afraid of? We use America and whichever country we live in; but more than that, we have becomes hired-hands and slaves in the countries we live in. Most Nigerians in the Western world live in the margins: barely above the fray and barely above the poverty line making just enough to survive.

We give our host countries our blood and sweat and talent and skills and future. We have voluntarily become slaves. We beg to come here and then become slaves. We give to this and other countries our youth and the best in us; and in our old-age we return to our roots and leave our children here to continue in our footsteps. A slave begets a slave. We are Nigerians. We have a country. Unfortunately, it is a country most of us don’t want to return to because of the mess we help created.

There are Indians, Pakistanis, Lebanese, French, and nationals of virtually every country on earth living in Nigeria. The Indians and the Lebanese especially have a higher standard of living than 85% of Nigerians. They have investments and own properties and “create” jobs. In our own country, we are hired-hands; we are laborers to our guests. And for those of us in America, in India or elsewhere we are in the same both as our country men: we are hired-hands – slaving and toiling for the benefit and the enrichment of others.

The Lebanese, Indians and Pakistanis do not, as a matter of religious or cultural reasons marry our women. Sure they “employ” our girls as mistresses and as providers of sexual favors; but they never find our girls good enough for marriage and good enough as life partners. They have erotic dreams and sexual fantasies and have them fulfilled by our girls. Majority of them know how to cook the books and send home or send to the West their profits. Rarely do they reinvest in the local economy. In situations were they are not bold enough to cook the books; they simply find willing Nigerian officials to help with their foreign exchange scams. We help in developing other countries and other societies; but we help others to defraud our country and our society.

There are Nigerians etching out legitimate and illegal living in every nooks and corners of the world. There are Nigerians in war zones, in lawless countries, and in countries poorer than some local government areas of Nigeria. Nigerians would rather live in Afghanistan, in Kurdistan, in Bangladesh, the jungles of Colombia and in some of the deepest trenches of God’s forgotten and forsaken lands – than live in Nigeria. What are we running away from? What is it about our country that repulses us? What are the pull-push factors that’s beckons us to self-imposed exile?

For those of us who would like to return – what are the necessary preparations we need to be ready for a society we are likely to be “strangers” in? The idea of retuning (permanently) is a scary thought for most of us; and it is a conversation most are not ready or willing to partake in. And so, we remain and stay behind in a society most of us are not truly in tuned to…a foreign land!

Most of our countrymen (and women) back in Nigeria cannot find jobs or realize their true potentials. Beaten and broken and subjugated by the few at the top — they leave for the unknown. And for those of us in the land of the unknown, we are afraid to return because of the unknown. And so we stay and stay and stay and while away our life and our future. It’s so sad, isn’t it? And so I wonder: What is becoming of Nigeria, and Nigerians? I wonder… It’s sad, so very sad, isn’t it? But:

“When at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us — recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state — our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions: were we truly men of courage … were we truly men of judgment … were we truly men of integrity … were we truly men of dedication?” J.F Kennedy

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