Africa

What can be done about being Nigerian

Sometimes I wonder why I was born a Nigerian. But is there really any thing that can change that? Maybe if my parents had gone on a honey moon out of country before my birth (like is common nowadays), I would have been born in Germany, Alaska, United Kingdom, Russia or Ottawa. I would have been a confirmed “butty” or “ajebutter”. Since they preferred to focus on “local content”, I was born in Naija! Even if I renounce and change my nationality, it would not cut off the links I have with my paternal and maternal fore fathers or the Nigerian blood that flows in my veins. It would not quench the desire for fufu, pounded yam, fried rice, akara, moin moin and Sunday afternoon rice and stew.  

I have been living in this country for over 27 years. So at least having not eloped like not a few, I should at least have a basic idea of what living in Nigeria is and possibly too, what it ought to be.

I have been robbed some minutes to 7am on my street on the way to work with people passing by. My neighbour and another friend recently joined the list and in a country where it is said that the police is your friend, this seems to be a regular occurrence. The Police is your friend? Maybe? Especially when you are not driving with your driver’s license or your fire extinguisher is conspicuously absent from your car. In most cases in fact, it seems your friend shows up several moments after harm has been done. I have heard several other cries early in the morning of people being robbed. A lot of victims are either afraid or not confident of reporting to the Police. In most robbery incidents they seem to come very much later after the harm has been done. They are usually more effective in checking who has his papers complete by noon day when fewer of the crimes are committed.  (At least with the exception of traffic crimes). At major bus stops crime could be worse. Area boys at Oshodi, touts at Computer village, robbers along Apongbon and others along the Badagry Express way. I keep hearing about societal change, national development and Visions 2000,  2010, 2025 and more but the average “agbero” still seems to be very much active and busy on the road. At times I do not blame the Police as I wonder why in a country with so much resources, our Policemen’s artillery in most cases cannot compete with that of Bank or highway robbers or prominent cult groups in our tertiary institutions.

In small discussion groups, it seems in the home of every Nigerian is one solution provider for one or more of our nation’s myriad of problems.  The problems are said to be so much and at times intertwined. But at least we must gradually start from somewhere. If the average Police Officer for instance earns at least Forty Thousand Naira monthly, the kind of human resources that would be drawn to the Police Force would be quite qualitative. Just think about what it would be with graduates of Law, Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology and Criminology in the Police Force! When merit and academic distinction are upheld as a basis for induction into the Force all sections of the country would have to sit up to enjoy sizable representation and this would enhance literacy and productivity in the nation as a whole.  

The government should help with the street lighting too. Lack of it enhances crime. Lagos State Government must be commended for her wonderful initiatives as regards street lighting as well as the high technology security mechanisms like cameras to help check crime. Some of these issues however need federal involvement. There had been a state of emergency on the power sector at the federal level but even as NEPA’s name was changed to PHCN it seemed to degenerate from poor to worse. It is so bad that certain households rely on generators to iron their clothes. Some others that wait for PHCN to perform her duties, at times hold boxing matches or athletic events to determine who gets the first chance to iron 1 week’s set of clothes. Several experts have given their opinion. Options are enormous. Solar energy for one is an option. Though analysts have mentioned that it is capital intensive, in the long term it seems suitable. Leasing institutions and banks could include it into their 12 month installment consumer products for customers to help out. They seem to focus rather on luxury items or not o essential goods. It seems the issue of non availability of power goes far beyond knowledge of what to do. Some are wont to believe that it is a fall out of a sabotage effort. There are several billions strolling around in the generator sales, repair and servicing industry. If PHCN does her work well, there would be no need for this problem solving industry. But if PHCN does her work well, what would happen to it? Extinction?
The answer derived here is why several have listed insincerity of those in power and corruption as one of our greatest problems.  But are people so corrupt? Would people rather live to see others die than sacrifice personal gains for the common good? When will this stop? Will it ever stop?

Whilst I do not think I will join the wagon of those who have escaped, there are several things that point to a bright side of our nation’s development. Though in most cases their scripts and story lines are predictable, our movies are coming up on the international arena. They also provide employment to quite a number of people. Though the music industry is plagued by piracy that results in original cds coming in less qualitative packages than our foreign counterparts, it is enjoying a major boom, experiencing highly remunerated artistes and an encouragement for upcoming talent. Football and sports in general are huge streams of income for some families and a means of Western Union Foreign exchange for some families.

Though currently hit possibly by the global financial crisis, the stock market last year for some wise investors brought forth some good returns. For some I said. It is hoped however that the price slide reverse this year to the encouragement and relief of not a few who partook in the stock wagon attempt especially in the banking and insurance sectors. The Banking consolidation has however done well for the economy by increasing depositor’s confidence, improving efficiency and of course creating employment.

Private universities are springing up and it is believed that the standards of education are improving to those who can afford it however. Democracy has brought about positive change in Lagos, Ogun and Cross River States for instance in infrastructure, housing, transport and tourism. It is expected that more would shuffle in and across other states too. Though for many investors Transcorp was a terrible experience, the deregulation of the telecommunications industry for instance has offered attractive employment to many. Not to mention the introduction of Etisalat and Visafone as well.

What can be done about being Nigerian? A change of attitudes for the better, a conviction that all is well, a never die spirit, seeing opportunities where others see adversities and taking practical and pragmatic effort rather than moaning, nagging and bewailing one’s fate.

At least when there is life there is hope. At least we are not being bombarded by air bombs and rockets. We are not experiencing tsunamis, terrorist attacks or earthquakes. If I have complained, I am just human but more importantly with an optimistic yet realistic and pragmatic look I make bold to say that for me (as it is a matter of choice not of imposition) the future is bright and needless to say- I am proudly Nigerian.

 
Akintobi kehinde akindele

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