What Is Right With Nigeria

by Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai

Nigeria is geographically well located. As a result, we have sunshine all the year round. We do not suffer from earthquakes, floods that carry away humans, monsoons that cause people to sweat profusely, blistering cold winters that chill the marrow, tornadoes that uproot tall, century-old trees, which crash into human habitats rendering them homeless within a jiffy.

In all these and more, we are blessed. Having travelled through the five continents on Planet Earth, and having lived among various races, I rely on acquired life’s experience to examine what is right with Nigeria.

Our people are ambitious, dynamic, capable, long-suffering, judgmental, and intolerant of laziness and slothfulness. They are self-governing. They dig their bore-holes until they pump up water. They buy their own generators. Nigerians are good traders. Even those compatriots, who never studied economics, make incredible returns on their investments. What a people!

Every Friday, our Muslim faithful troop to the Mosques. On Sundays, our Christians march to their Churches. They sing, they pray until the HOLY GHOST comes down. The Almighty and Eternal Father is always pleased with them all.

Unlike those races, who worship idols, Nigerians acknowledge the Triune GOD, who, in turn makes our oil and gas to multiply. Although Nigeria’s wealth has been usurped by various “khakistocracies”, the people always manage to celebrate marriages, funerals and various “owambe parties” to the delight of all. In all my travels, I have never come across a race with our unique resilience and avant-gardism.

Nigerians can joke with any situation. They can be very sarcastic .If you have the impudence to misbehave; Nigerians will not hesitate to tell you off and are ready to fight. They would, first of all, carefully remove their shirts or babanriga. Fellow Nigerians would watch the combat with relish until good Samaritans come to the rescue of the pugilists.

We are our brothers’ keepers and we value friendships a lot. There is no other country I have lived in where a friend, on his own, invites his own friends on behalf of his friends to attend a function, without informing his friend that he is coming his with own crowd. The host invariably will receive them all with equanimity and effervescent magnanimity.

Before military manners destroyed the civic and humanitarian disposition of Nigerians, we were very humane and caring people. Our neighbours were part of family. As American educated Nigerians increased in number and started to come home, the pursuit of wealth, the American way, unleashed the Hey Men attitude. The military “unamikots” and political “idiotrikots” took Nigeria down the misery lane.

Nigerians are generally very forgiving. After the civil war, it took a very short time for ordinary Nigerians to let bye be bygones, only the hegemonists and irredentists prolonged the antagonism, in their own interests.

Today, everybody feels at home in most parts of the country. No country that fought a civil war had ever achieved integration like it happened in Nigeria. It is true that some people still do not feel that they belong fully yet.

Nigerians like merriments. There must be a reason for celebration. It is only in Nigeria that people visit the bereaved with smiling faces and crave for photo opportunity with the “former this and former that”, a very shameless culture.

Nigerians love education and the young ones would go anywhere to learn, including multiple foreign languages. Our people aspire very highly. This is one country where every semi-literate, illiterate, title-brandishing and people with fake degrees and unearned academic titles, would not bat an eye to contest for the presidency! Most Nigerians are clever except that many put their ingenuity to bad use (419 deceptions etc).

My country men and women like the goods things of life. They always ask for the “latest and original”. However they forget that if they continue to rely on the Innovativeness of Euro- American scientists, our nation will never be great or respected.

Nigerians love to travel to the United Kingdom and the USA, as a result of the brain-washing they were subjected to during the colonial days of “Rule Britannia rules the waves” and “God Save the Queen”. Hollywood movies, beautiful sights in major Euro-American cities, created the subsisting illusion that all is golden and perfect, in those climes.

Thanks to contemporary information technology, the television and satellites that beam the squalor in those out-of-the-way places into our homes, we now know better. In spite of this, some still want to go and take a look. We spend billions of dollars all year round visiting other states, but we do not retain what we have seen in other climes in order to implement some of the projects. The sooner we practice the good things in other cultures, the better we shall be.

Nigerians love to dress up. Men wear expensive Seville Row suits like the English wear in the City of London. The women tie long-winding headgears “gele”. It is only in my country that people spend an awful lot on clothes and are proud of it. Some drive million -Naira cars. You wonder how they manage to acquire them. It is only recently that the EFCC probes and other revelations have given us some insights that “all that glitters is not gold”. We are yet to learn more, about how our wealth was squandered.

The new Chairman of EFCC will teach Nigerians the appropriate colour of trenchant police justice. The Waziris are upright people. She has my unflinching support. I know what I am talking about because I grew up in many police barracks all over Nigeria. It will be a good idea if all primary school children are taken on excursions to police cells and prison yards so that the shock they receive may keep them out of criminal behaviour for the rest of their lives.

Nigerians tend to ignore what their leaders do, because experience has taught them that you can shout till you lose your voice and nothing is likely to change. So, who cares about what leaders should do but do not do? However, we take solace from the fact that history will always document their ignoble ends and stress to the aspirant, the powerlessness of power. Karma is real. It now plays out in one life-time. All those who relish corrupt kedgeree will evacuate, in due course.

Developments are visible in Abuja and in other cities but my people want only the best and are ever in a hurry. This is healthy. Who wants to live in dark towns, where they light up the kerosene lamps and breathe in smoke-filled rooms in 2008?

Nigerians are active contributors to press discussions. The only problem is that they fear to speak out when a leader is on seat and is misgoverning. Some oppose governments but “experts” manifest with vociferous diatribe when the leader is down and out. This attitude must change because there is no need crying over spilt milk. We should emulate Professor Ayodele Awojobi, Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka, and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, men who are precious to us. They are the salt of the nation.

I do not subscribe to the strongly held view that the present government is slow. A hasty government often takes two steps forward in hurried eagerness, only to take three steps backward. Recently, this government recovered 450 billion Naira unspent money from the various ministries. A hasty government would have hurried on to the next budget. How much went undetected in the last eight years? The days of the “action governors” have receded into history. The Romans believe that it is wise to make haste slowly. The English say “much haste less speed”, The Russians hold that if you move slowly, you will get far.

My mother, Madam Aminetu Esiemokhai, told me the story of how the tortoise slowly, but surely defeated the hare in a race. In governance, one well-thought out project lasts longer than the “JAKANDE Houses” in Lagos State. On the whole, there are more positive attributes, which our people have than what we are yet to improve upon. We are not worse than others.

We enjoy self-criticisms. These make for national reflections. However, if we only harp on the negative, we could be cursing our nation inadvertently. There is power in the mouth and in spoken words. So countrymen, begin to think positively about Nigeria and its blessed people.

There are many signs of positive things to come. The primitive politics of the past, which played out crudely in the hands of untutored men with primordial and uncivilized dispositions, are being buried, with no hope of resurrection.

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1 comment

juicy May 21, 2008 - 12:40 pm


More problems than good. Just throw out the Oil companies and kill off the Leaders and Nigeria will be Africa’s beacon of hope. Right now, Nigeria is a over-populated SLUM! Allowing Corporations to pimp her.


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