Written by Chu Nwagbogu
You! Yes you! are the problem with Nigeria. I will try to explain this fact as quickly as possible because we are all too lazy to read now, and I want as many people as possible to read this. Please continue. Don’t stop, because I know I am very correct about this very obvious and simple truth I stumbled on. While we wait for our “leaders” whichever party they may come from to turn this country around, I would like to establish that like it or not, our leaders are a representation of ourselves as a nation and statically, as individuals.
On the average, each leader displays the traits, inclinations and thought patterns of you and I. If this were not true, real change would have come by now. We as a people have developed our own unwritten laws about certain bad habits we have refused to change and this has led to what we call “Nigeria”. We somehow fail to see how the flawed thought patterns behind our individual actions are magnified by our leaders. The only difference is in manifestation and degree of impact.
For example, our general attitude to lateness. To work. Meetings, weddings etc. The general rule we use is “they always start late”, “nobody goes for church”, “even though they said 5 we know 15 minutes is for settling down” and on and on. I know there are punctual people, but as a people, as a whole, do we have a culture of respecting time? No! Every number counts, me and you and every other person makes up the 160 million and until we get this right in our head, we won’t change. It is not the leaders that need to change, it is us!!!
Our general attitude to getting jobs? “na who you sabi”, “they already have their people”, while this may be true in some cases, we use this to validate laziness, failure to improve oneself and an inability to seek out employment where there is a dearth of skills. When the average Nigerian has this orientation, why are we surprised when legal cases are usually determined on a “discretionary basis”? It is not the action I refer to. It is the rationale. That you as an individual, thinks the same way a Judge acts, is the point I am trying to make.
Some of us pay our drivers what we know can barely sustain them and give them the opportunity to save and become more. Our rule is “this is what my colleagues pay drivers, at least we feed him”, “what was he even doing before I found him, abeg, he should be grateful”, “how much are they paying me sef?”etc. Now I know some of us cannot afford to pay more than we pay our domestic staff and treat them as fair as is possible, but how concerned and aware of their welfare and their future development generally as employers? My point here is the exploitive nature of the average Nigerian towards domestic help from the village and people who are below us in the social ladder or people who we can get away with whatever we do to them, is replicated by our leaders also.
We as a people are so competitive and want to come out of every scenario as winners no matter what, even while driving on the road. It is this trait that makes us adulate people who rather than being in jail, are using street cunnings and showmanship to hold on to power because they know that is what the average Nigerian responds to internally.
We question the rationality of billions of Naira being stored in soak aways, we question the sanity and ridiculousness of a grown father and decorated public leader dressing up as a woman to escape travel authorities but we rarely question our own individual sanity. We would rather wait three years to get married even though we have found the right person because we are all saving for “the type of wedding people expect”, we can barely pay the rent and have many other viable projects to invest in but we must give birth to our children in Yankee? How is this particular action consistent with individuals who have the best interest of their country at heart? Where is the individual commitment to change?
If you had hope and were driven, each and every single one of us changing our thought pattern is all the change we need.
We abuse the greed and pomp of politicians, but someone with N220k in his account will pop 100k champagne in one night, someone who bought a tokunbo G-wagon will customize the plates with extra N50k cost, girls who need recharge card carrying 80k Brazilian hair, and on and on. We are a bundle of individual fiscal irrationality. The rules in such scenarios of extravagance? “YOLO”, “I had to turn up for my guy”, “You go need change (your perfectly working) car because? E don reach 2 years haba. “e good to spend money sometimes, make e no be like say you no get”, “it is our culture”. The irrationality of wasting money that could be put to so many other good uses simply because it is what is expected by society (after all, it’s my money), is what politicians simply magnify for us on a grander scale. We as a people generally live beyond our means to meet societal standards. If this rational didn’t hold on a unit level, it would be unable to thrive on a macro level.
That is why it is harder to be corrupt in certain societies, apart from good or bad leadership, individuals are accountable – return change, return lost items, wait their turn, etc because they understand certain national ideals form the foundation of their national identity and their continued existence. Sustainability for their children.
My economic history reminds me that general economic growth is driven by a strong national identity which, yes are mapped out by leaders, but are shaped around the values those societies extol. “Asian tigers”, “German efficiency”, “Swiss timing” did not come from nowhere. I am basically saying, your ability to grow is a function of the ideals that you have as a nation and the commitment each and every member of that society’s lifestyle is aligned to the nationalist sentiment.
How is your lifestyle contributing to the general perception that is Nigeria? The lady complaining about poor customer service at GLO, MTN or Airtel just slapped her driver a few minutes before. The woman who hates how people drive in Lagos knows a law where it was stated “after 10 O’clock on the island, nobody uses traffic lights’. The person calling Jonathan a thief, did not inform his bank when they credited him twice in error. While being driven, you tell your boss you are in CMS meanwhile you haven’t climbed Eko bridge and the next time your driver is late you “short” his pay. We can use one way when “the traffic was just TOO bad”, we can “work” our NYSC to wherever we want, we can get into certain schools by benefiting from ancestral friendships, You are mad when some party blocks the street, but when it is your guys wedding you hashtag #shuttinggididown #nomovement#lookatus etc. We are individually badly behaved and indisciplined. We would almost all commit a crime that benefitted us, if we could get away with it. The only difference between us and politicians is that they are bolder to act on a grander stage.
Ask yourself, this trait this politician exhibited, do I in any way replicate this in my life? If the answer is yes, you now need to leave Buhari alone and pick up a book on Purpose. Until we find our purpose as individuals and start projecting the positive values we have left as a nation, we will soon see that the ultimate end of people who cannot evolve, will be the future of Nigeria. Death. Leave Buhari alone, face yourself! Wasting money and time cannot be a culture to be proud of.