• Monday, March 04, 2024
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BusinessDay

How Nigerians are switching off national lights

middle class Nigerians

I love my country very much but there are so many warts we need to talk about. As we approach another four-year term for governance and accountability, let’s pause a little bit and see where the citizens have a role.

I have visited many countries in the world and although Nigeria has many unique qualities which I cherish, nowhere have I found so much blame game and so much hate especially online. I am at my wits end when I run into a conversation on ethnicity where there are bullish positions about an ethnic nationality. These positions are often not based on any empirical evidence or knowledge of the people. It is often based on hearsay, warped narratives from an older generation, whole slices of untruth and largely based on emotions. We live by generalisations, rumours and gist about certain peoples and communities. We live by suspicion. And even when we find out the true state of things, we continue on our falsehood trajectory because it pays us politically and can assist us to whip up the emotions of our people and gain us popularity and political currency.

There are so many truths left unsaid, recreated or whitewashed and those responsible are feeding fat on the destruction of our national psyche. This whole conundrum is getting more worrisome because some of our elite are partaking in this unfortunate destruction by telling stories that can easily be called to question and some of our intelligentsia and academics have followed suit for a mess of pottage. It is tragic. Those who are not so educated in our communities consider the literate their role models and these educated persons have turned against their nation in the most ignoble manner. They shout wolf where there is none, they play high stake ethnic cards and are in any committee or organisation for the beer. All of this while the youth are lost, depressed and committing suicide. There is no nation where I find so much disconnect and bootlegging. People do not really care about the next person and humanity has taken a vacation. Selfishness and immorality seems to have eaten deep into our national ethos and all people can think about is “What is in this for me?”

A few years ago, a diplomat friend of mine told me that we run Nigeria like a deal rather than like a business. I was quite offended but when he broke it down, nothing was amiss. He told me he loved Nigeria, the food, the culture, the people, the hospitality but it’s been managed like a pirate’s ship, everything is done not through process but by way of “man know man”. He said a lot of decisions taken in an office space that should be done publicly is done secretly by a small group of people and everything is addressed like a backroom deal. While I was crest fallen, there was nothing to take away. I have seen those kinds of behaviour first hand and I have been dealt a bad hand by these persons who abhor efficiency and due process. Unfortunately, these are the same persons and sometimes the worst of them who have been taking bribes to deliver a file to you or who demand money at airports who end up holding important positions in the future. They form themselves into a cabal and reward themselves with these positions. In the end you are stuck with the guy who never gives change after a purchase, whose religion is nepotism, an ethnic jingoist, who has no knowledge of the job and bought his degree while in school. You know them and their antics. Then They are now your boss or representing you. They are arrogant empty vessels and again Nigeria takes a nosedive.

Nigeria has very many bright lights, brilliant people who can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world but we are throwing up the worst of us and they are representing us everywhere and the same tar brush is used to judge us all when a Nigerian not worth his salt has to attend meetings on behalf of all of us elsewhere in the world. Any school, scholarship or opportunity that comes our way, we do not think professionalism, we think my brother, my daughter, my brother’s wife etcetera. Everything is a deal. Any wonder then that slowly we are becoming a laughing stock in many spheres.

I love my country but I wonder about those who have been switching off our national lights and getting away with it. Here are some of the ways you have been contributing to national darkness and please do not ascribe it to your Governor or the president or the MD. I am not excusing them in their leadership roles and responsibilities but we have a part to play and we are abdicating and doing what we know how to do best. Playing the blame game. You switch off our national lights when

  1. you break traffic lights and someone dies or gets hurt.
  2. you carry fake news on line or tell an untruth online, sometimes people die.
  3. you give a job to your wife’s sister even if she was not qualified, you just darkened the nation.
  4. you spoil your children, feed them fat on stolen money and tell them no one other than them matter. You have held down the national switch.
  5. you doctor an office report to favour you.
  6. When you seek for your tribes’ man even when there are already four of them in your office and you just give them the job just because, you have killed a job seekers joy.

These are just a few ways in which we do things without a care in the world and hurt other people because of our selfishness and new arrogance to boot while doing the wrong things or perfecting emotional bullying in offices when you all know the truth. A Nigerian bank has just introduced random kindness as a mantra. I salute you. You just turned on some megawatts of the national light. Enough said.

 

Eugenia Abu