We live in one of the most important nations of the world by many standards. A nation of 170 million of some of the smartest people on the face of the earth… Natural resources of every kind from precious metals to natural harbors and breathtaking coastlines. A strong and growing army of digital natives. We have everything and our people are doing incredibly innovative things; for example we are at the moment developing perhaps the most sophisticated animations technology expertise in Africa. A group of young people are doing that. Our music and entertainment industry is the fastest growing in the world. Nigerian writers have won every prize in literature, from the Nobel Prize and just recently to the Pulitzer… only last year, a Nigerian girl won a gold medal at the Olympics, Moralake Akin Oshun. Last Saturday, a Nigerian boxer, Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua won the WBA title becoming the boxing champion of the world. Last year, a Nigerian doctor Oluyinka Olutoye, a Nigerian surgeon successfully took out a baby from her mother’s womb, operated on the womb and put the baby back in and the baby lasted full term and was born completely naturally. A feat previously unheard of in surgery. And of course, nobody is as funny as Nigerians…
Those were some of the words of Nigeria’s vice president recently. Great words coined to appeal to vulnerable Nigerians and make them think that all is well. I have heard lots of people say “ I am proud to be a Nigerian, I am proud of Nigeria”. Really!!! But why?
While serving Nigeria few years ago in Daura, Daura Local Government Area of Katsina State, my zonal inspector (ZI) Michael Oketade always said: we should not make any negative comments about a land we found ourselves otherwise we shall not prosper in that land. He also mentioned that he has decided to speak good about Nigeria so that Nigeria will be good to him. I love my ZI, he is a troubleshooter, a focused and determined personae. Oketade Ifeolu Michael made us believe that he is a successful man because he has never ‘cursed’ Nigeria or speak about Nigeria in a demeaning manner.
In 1983, Chinua Achebe in his book titled “The Trouble with Nigeria” has these to say about Nigeria:
Nigeria is not a great country. It is one of the most disorderly nations in the world. It is one of the most corrupt, insensitive, inefficient places under the sun. It is one of the most expensive countries and one of those that give least value for money. It is dirty, callous, noisy, ostentatious, dishonest and vulgar. In short, it is among the most unpleasant places on earth.
Wow!!! Achebe did not curse Nigeria. Achebe did not speak ill of Nigeria. He only said it just the way it is. My ZI must agree with me that Achebe is not a failure. Compared to Achebe, my Zonal Inspector is the person who Nigeria is yet to bless. No disrespect meant. Chinua Achebe said all that in total disagreement with our leaders who always referred to Nigeria in their speeches as “this great country of ours”. When Achebe made this statement, Yemi Osinbajo was just 26years old. As Nigeria’s serving vice president, Yemi has spoken like those leaders who lived in self-denial. This is the same person who became a lecturer at 23, a professor at 33 and couldn’t afford a brand new car till he was 48years old. Window cleaners in developed economies purchase brand new trucks every now and then.
On Saturday, April the 6th 2017, Ogbo Godfrey a classmate of mine who I respect tremendously posted on his Facebook wall: there’s nothing infinitesimally good about Nigeria save her bulging population of misinformed, ill-informed educated folks and the sheepish illiterates who are docile and annoyingly religious and who have evolved a culture of replacing wit with fantasies that bare up their insatiable lusts. Hope my gut isn’t offending—Nigeria is cursed and is fated for doom. Ouuchh!!! That hurts I guess. This wasn’t the first time Godfrey uttered this. I remember vividly in 300Level at the university, Godfrey said a similar thing and our ‘religious’ classmates wanted to crucify him. The truth is not an insult. It is not a curse. Only men of noble character speak the truth.
Ninety five percent of my classmates who graduated from the university since 2011 are either underemployed or unemployed. I hope they are proud. My grandmother has not seen power in her house for more than two years. I hope she is proud. You who could not get a job or a contract simply because you don’t know somebody who knows somebody, I hope you are proud. A country that abhors meritocracy is not one to be proud of.
Let this sink in. There is a difference between these concepts: I am proud of Nigeria. I am proud to be a Nigerian. I am a proud Nigerian.
I cannot be proud of a country which celebrates criminality, ill-gotten wealth and are comfortable with backwardness. I am not proud to be a citizen of a country where citizens comfort don’t count, social justice neglected.
I am just a proud Nigerian, proud because I am not a thief. I have not given or collected bribe. By obtaining a university degree, I have added to the literate population of Nigeria. I have not given birth to children I cannot cater for thereby adding to the nuisance of the society. Most preciously, I am a proud Nigerian because I have said and will continue to say the truth. If we express our discomfort with our conditions, I believe we shall find ways to make head way. Don’t tell me every country have their worries. That is the sound of self-pity. If you are proud of this Nigeria and proud to be from this Nigeria, then you are the problem of Nigeria.