Nigerians are not sufficiently deprived
Sometime ago, in the not too distant past, following an international research report, Nigerians were described as the happiest people on planet earth. This had agitated the minds of many people if there was any semblance of truth in that survey. This derives from the myriad of unending issues that have continually harassed the mind of the average Nigerian virtually on daily basis. It was not until later it was revealed that what informed such declaration was Nigerians’ absorptive capacity in handling the serial crisis that keep tormenting their psyche. Nigerians are indeed unrivalled in the practice of suffering and smiling.
We are adepts in managing untoward situations and making any form of abnormality appear normal. Even up to breaking point our coping strategies have always made the worst of situations look ordinary. Nothing seems to worry us so long we can find our ways out of the woods. Does it surprise you that as the authorities are fashioning out policies to address issues of national concern Nigerians are ingeniously fashioning out their own strategies to sabotage such efforts if they are not comfortable with it.
Honestly, you will need to ask if there is anything that Nigerians do not take advantage of. The unending corrupt tendencies at every level of our national life are only responses and coping strategies to navigate out of the dreaded drowning economic situations which the authorities have no solution to. Unfortunately we have institutionalized it leading to the destruction of the country itself. In our land patriotism is a stranger.
When Nigerians are confronted with certain conditions they gladly accept same if they feel the only way they can go around it is passing it on to others. If the price of any product, for example, petroleum products is upped, the effect cycles to increase every other thing as people strive to shift the incidence. Most often, wage and salary earners including those at the lower rungs of the society are not equally favoured because of the challenges involved in frequently asking for increments in emoluments. They groan seriously and are weighed down to death because of the difficulties of meeting some basic needs.
Interestingly and shockingly, Nigeria is a country with myriads of contradictions. It is only in Nigeria that its soil can boast of natural resources that are the envy of most nations yet it is lacking in financial resources that can transform the lives of its citizens. Where else but Nigeria would you find a group of treasury looters known to the citizens who are freely walking tall and with impunity in the land? In some cases they even secure the acclaim and applause of some others. If not Nigeria where else can you find strange happenings that would almost pass for sacrilege in other climes but are shrugged off here as normal and life moves on.
Are you still shocked that Nigeria is a country that ranks among top producers of petroleum resources yet its citizens continue to waddle in the lack of petroleum products endlessly. If this is not the case they will be subjected to suffocating prices that has gone beyond the roof tops for a product nature has generously blessed the nation with.
Have you bothered to ask why scarcity or the price of the liquid gold has remained an intractable problem in spite of the abundance of the human resources and management experts? It becomes clearer then at this point why the former governor of the old Imo state fondly dubbed the weeping governor, Late Chief Sam Mbakwe, had called for a return of the British colonial rule because according to him we are not yet ripe for self governance.
As odd as the call may sound you can pick out some meaning when you compare the effectiveness and efficiency level of organizations run and managed by our indigenous experts and those of expatriate/multinational firms. No doubt there is more discipline, better administration and high performance of enterprises managed by foreigners even though such businesses are staffed by Nigerians. Attitude simply accounts for the difference. Some people still strongly hold the opinion that if we allow the expatriates to solely manage our petroleum business we will see an end to the perennial scarcity of petroleum products or the soaring prices.
I make bold to say that Nigerians are not sufficiently deprived and that is the reason things have moved on the way it is. We are more than sufficiently blessed with abundance of resources and perhaps that has accounted for the abundance of wastages we indulge in and so do not bother when we are deprived or denied the enjoyment of certain provisions. If we are lacking in resources as most other countries we would have been more prudent in the use of what we have. The state of scarcity would infuse in all a sense of discipline and creativity to make the best use of what is available. Again we would be so intolerant of our thieving leaders who ride roughshod over us with impunity.
I can still recall sometime in the early 90’s or so the price of sugar was increased in Sudan by an equivalent of our one kobo, the whole country erupted in violent protest as the citizens took to the streets. The outcome was that the increase was promptly reversed and there was peace again. Nigerians I say again are not sufficiently deprived. I bet you all the lack we have been subjected to will promptly end the day Nigerians will courageously mobilize themselves and shut down the enclave called Nigeria by sitting at home in protest.
Do you think our roguish leaders would not have a change of heart if all of us irrespective of tribal leanings, all students and pupils, all workers both in private and public sectors, all market women, all transporters, civil society groups, indeed everybody with one voice sits at home for days until the government meets the need of the people. We are not sufficiently deprived. This is the reason we don’t hold leadership accountable for all their periods of stewardship. It is because there are no ways the so called leaders are made to account for their performance they flagrantly plunder the common wealth.
On top of the insult which they get away with, they come back armed with their loot and seek to perpetuate themselves in office. Little wonder some of them see the positions they hold as birth right while yet others anoint themselves as god fathers who must dictate who should lead. Here all sorts of mundane factors are brought to choose who the servant of others becomes and sometimes this is done at the highest bidder. It is a matter of cash and carry. For us to move forward we must get leadership to account for its effort. It must no longer be business as usual.
At various levels the leaders should be made to tell us what they have done with our resources entrusted in their care. The people should ask questions regularly. It is very clear most of those we entrust our destiny into their hands have no iota of vision of what the people want or idea of what they can do for the people. When we become sufficiently deprived we will begin to ask questions and strive to change the status quo.
It is long known that one of the greatest impediments to our march forward is bad leadership encouraged by poor followership. When the leaders have emptied the till (our common wealth) they impoverish and weaken the citizens who now run around them for the crumbs if anything to keep heads above water. The leaders now begin to play God, dictating what happens to them and seeking to rule forever.
Our inability to challenge the ills that stem from bad leadership is indications that we give support to what we are experiencing and so are partners in crime in a way. This is the reason things are the way they are today. Like many other situations nothing lasts forever and change remains the only permanent factor in life. Our leaders should be wary of taking things for granted because their misrule is now felt in the bone everywhere in the land and the North African experience that swept through their land like hurricane is not unlikely here one day.