What’s Wrong With Nigeria? Quotations & Questions, Volume 1, by O.B. Simoyan; Ore Publishers Limited, Lagos, Nigeria; 2013; pp98
Nigerian patriots do not come any greater than O (Olaboludele) B (Bamisade) Simoyan. The feisty lady oozes Nigeria from every pore. Though born in Washington DC, USA, she has only one passport – the Nigerian passport. Dual citizenship is not cool by her. I had a first encounter with Simoyan through her earlier two-in-one book, entitled from the front as “The 8th Wonder of the World – Made in Nigeria”, and upside-down from the back as “The 8th Wonder of the World – Made in Naiga.” According to Simoyan, she used her “two-in-one book to crack the code called N-I-G-E-R-I-A!”
Simoyan’s new book What’s Wrong with Nigeria uses quotations and questions to forge her vision for the “New Nigeria” of her dream. The Tom Peters’quote that serves as the Introduction of the book sets the tone, to wit: “Ask dumb questions! ‘How come computer commands all come from keyboards? Somebody asked that one first; hence the mouse.” In the light of using questions to get to the bottom of matters, Simoyan quotes Bernard Mannes Baruch thusly: “I’m not smart. I try to observe. Millions saw the apple fall but Newton was the one who asked why.” Albert Einstein takes the matter further: “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Simoyan stresses that the book is designed “to help us open up our minds to various possibilities and to see solutions, opportunities and answers instead of problems; to help us become creative thinkers; to help us to learn to ask questions and to continuously ask questions; to help us step up to the plate and take up RESPONSIBILITY and take over OWNERSHIP of our nation Nigeria; to help us to see and understand that the buck stops with the people of GOODWILL and as such we must purposely and deliberately take action for the GOOD of our nation daily!”
Rudyard Kipling serves as a guide with the quote: “I keep six honest serving men/They taught me all I knew;/There names are What and Why and When/And How and Where and Who.” In the words of Edmund Burke, “Evil will triumph in any society where men of good will (sic) keep silent in times of moral crisis.” Simoyan on her part follows with posers: “Where are the men and women of good will in Nigeria? And what are we doing in these times of moral crisis? Our silence is deafening! Our voices need to be heard! And more importantly people need to act NOW to reclaim our nation!”
While I can truly vouch for the authenticity of Simoyan’s patriotism, it is crucial that I remind her of the immortal words of Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Simoyan needs to be truly wary of his fellow travellers on the well-worn path of patriotism, or lack thereof.
In the book What’s Wrong with Nigeria, Simoyan quotes from multiform personages such as Lord Byron, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Paine, Plato, Aristotle, Kwame Nkrumah, Frederick Douglass, Ray Comfort, Adlai Stevenson, George Lawrence, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Confucius, Andrew Marvell, William Hazlitt, Emperor Haile Sellassie, Winston Churchill, W.B. Yeats, Alexandr Solzhenitzyn, Juan de Mariana, Francis Bacon, Bob Riley, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Saraj J. Maas, Adolf Hitler, Henry David Thoreau, George Bernard Shaw, Varindra Tarzie Vittachi, Anthony Burgess, Robert Louis Stevenson, Nick Clooney, Obafemi Awolowo, Nelson Mandela, Konrad Lorenz, John Philpot Curran, Carter G. Woodson, Roy Hattersley, J.K. Galbraith, Ursula K. Le Guin, G.K. Chesterton, Ronald Reagan, Julius Nyerere, Ahmadu Bello, Georges Pompidou, Thomas Jefferson, Pearl S. Buck etc. Chinese, Japanese and Indian proverbs are thrown in for good measure.
The author quotes herself as Olaboludele Simoyan thus: “Nations, societies and communities fall into a state of decadence not as a result of the strength of evil but as a result of the weakness of GOOD.”
The quotes can indeed be quite intriguing, like Adolf Hitler saying: “The world belongs to the man with guts! God helps him!” Simoyan follows up with the interesting submission: “Where are the GOOD GUTSY NIGERIANS? The NEW NIGERIA belongs to you and DESTINY is calling you to help build it! Destiny is calling us to help build the NEW NIGERIA! And God will help!” There is little need here reiterating that Hitler’s guts nearly took the world to extinction. Goodness and gutsiness may in the end not be compatible twins.
Simoyan adroitly deploys the words of Plato to undergird the Nigerian scene. According to Plato, “They will cheerfully speak of a bad man as happy and load him with honors and special esteem, provided he be rich and otherwise powerful.” Simoyan poses the question: “Doesn’t that sound so much like the old Nigeria where corrupt Nigerians get awards and chieftaincy titles?” The answer, as Bob Dylan sings, is blowing in the wind…
What’s Wrong with Nigeria? by O.B. Simoyan should be recommended reading for all Nigerian leaders and the masses of followers alike. The time has come to end the defeatist trend of wondering why Nigeria does not work when what is needed is the gusto to make it work.