The Problem with Nigeria

by Ahmed Dodo

To set the record straight, I am very proud to be a Nigerian any day, anytime and anywhere. In fact, I won’t trade this big rich country for any other on earth. I love my country no be small. But, I have, just like many other citizens of this great giant of Africa, long been aware that there are some problems confronting this beloved nation.

To be honest, most of these hitches are ordinary man-made lacuna created by my fellow country men and women over the years since our freedom from our colonial masters who unwillingly imposed themselves and their ways of life on us. How else should we describe a country as big and rich like ours, with abundant human and capital resources, but still lag behind in this 21st century, despite our abundance.

Part of our problems over the decades has always been as a result of greed, self centeredness, myopic reasoning, ethnic sentiment and religion bigotry. I tell you this, go anywhere in Nigeria today, the story is the same everywhere; from the east, south, north, and down to the west. It is all about what tribe you are or what religion you belong. This disgraceful out of date reasoning has eaten so deep into the fabric of our social structure with these prejudices taking over a large chunk in our government ministries and agencies. These government establishments have over the years served as a breeding ground for ethnic and religion segregation, instead of the united settings that they were supposed to be. Just take a prudent study of any of our ministries and you will grab what I mean.

It is no more a hidden fact that the so-called federal character system has contributed to the lapses and division we are witnessing today, with the system encouraging more tribal sentiment everyday in our various places of work. In fact, one would always notice the tribal and religion partition anytime, even in our communities, schools and markets. It is visible in our transport system with some ethnic group having the monopoly of ferrying us across our dilapidated roads. It is equally conspicuous in other professional fields. It is a fact that we have some concentrated numbers of certain tribe as lawyers, doctors, engineers, including our armed forces.

The problem with Nigeria include the over dependence on foreign ideas and our worship of anything from abroad. We always have this shameful habit of rejecting what we have for others from outside. We love globetrotting across the world, marveling at the human and capital development of these other nations and always proud to boast about them. So many Nigerians today would hurriedly forsake this country and change their nationality to become American, British or Canadian citizens if given the opportunity. I tell you, many of my country men and women would abandon their villages, culture and tradition if requested to do so just to travel abroad. Our present generations are so carried away with the materialist life in these purported developed nations that many of them can’t even speak their mother’s tongue. Again, just take your time to study our movies, newspapers, weddings and music and you might understand what I am blabbing about.

Your name and your surname has become the ticket to get you a job, admission into some of our ramshackle schools and promotion in your place of work. God help you, if you work in an establishment and the person heading that place or those with the authority over your salary, wages or promotion don’t subscribe to your faith and name. You either stay stuck at a position for long because of nepotism or find your way out. Promotion and employment is no longer based on merit or qualification, it is now more centered on ethnicity, religion or who you know at the top. Again, God safe you if your name is Audu, and the majority of those in your place of work are the Ukechukwus, Nnamdi, Ngozi or Chinyere. Likewise, pray God to help you if your name is Emeka, and the dominating tribe in your office has name tag like Abubakar, Bello, Aisha or Halima. The same thing if your name is Segun or Bimbo and those holding sway in your place of livelihood are from these two major ethic group, and equally the same story if Mr. Adewale happens to be the oga at the top in these ministries or agencies, then God help those whose name or surname has anything to do with Uche, Onyeka, Sani or Jamila.

Surprisingly, this syndrome has also found its way into our places of worship. Go to some churches and mosques in some part of Nigeria and what you see and hear is all about what part of the country is the pastor, reverend, Imam or sheik from? Or who are the majority tribes in these places. We have seen and witnessed how some pastors and Imams have turned their churches and mosques into political campaign grounds and without the fear of God preach discords among their followers. We’ve seen and heard them shamelessly canvass votes and positions for candidates of their faiths, members of their churches or mosques or any politician with mouth-watering tithe or Zaka to dole out during elections or whenever there are any vacant juicy federal positions.

The problem with Nigeria is part of our famous Nigerian syndrome. Our leaders give us roads, schools, hospitals, and even drinking water based on regional sentiment and other prejudiced calculations. We appoint people into high professional positions based on ethnic bullshit and an outdated federal character disorder, and we expect to get good results. Wrong pegs are fixed into wrong holes everyday and the retrogression continues all across our economy, political and social structures. Funnily, even electricity distribution in the country is also tented with politics. Go to any part of the country and you will hear tales of the ethnic, religion and political manipulation involved in the distribution of ordinary transformer to a deserving community. The people in these areas either tax themselves huge amount of money for NEPA officials or play servant to a serving politician to obtain one, and they are mostly refurbished and outdated ones.

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