I am always upset when I read about things that blame Nigerians for the state that Nigeria is in.
When people say things like ‘Buhari is not the problem, we are,’ I cringe within me. I seethe; it makes me angry.
Gimba Kandada, a Nigerian thinker/scholar wrote something lofty a while back and I quote.
“Nigeria’s civil service has to be the biggest charity organization in the world. Bunch of redundant manpower tasked with showing up at the office to mainly gossip, use the Internet, and accrue huge utility bills while waiting for undeserved credit alerts at the end of the month.”
This peripheral thinking which is unusual with Gimba got my shorts twisted in a bunch.
It is not just him. I have read a million and one stories about the dastardly doings of the bad people called Nigerians.
Their policemen take bribes openly and blatantly.
Their Customs beg passengers for money.
They are dirty and throw dirt on the roads and urinate at will.
They cheat during exams and bribe lecturers.
Everyone is out to fleece everyone else. We all live with our wits.
Hence the ‘civil servants are lazy redundant gossips’ people talk about.
I think we truly believe that Nigerians as a people are fundamentally flawed. People speak about it as though we carry lawlessness in our genes. And that we do not do the right things because we are incapable of doing what is right.
This is why you are bound to hear things like ‘the problem is not the government, it is the people.’
‘The government can do little if the people are unwilling to change.’
And the one that annoys me to no end is the coinage the APC came up with during their campaign in 2015:
‘Change begins with me.’
Why do we keep underestimating how hard it is to live and thrive and do the right thing in this country?
While this is normal life for us, this certainly does not qualify for normal life in many places in the world.
Let me start with the civil servants. Why can’t they be productive? Why won’t they stay at their duty posts from resumption till closing? Why is there truancy? Why do they take bribes to do their jobs?
The minimum wage is N18,000.
Have you any idea how difficult it is to live by the books and take home only N18,000 at the end of the month?
Do you know that this means your kids will attend public schools? What educated person wants that in this country?
Do you know it means you are the mercy of our hospitals/mortuaries?
You will never be able to legitimately build a house on your salary.
You will be in perpetual darkness and will not be able to afford even a car.
I am speaking of junior to mid-level staff.
You must have a hustle if you are a civil servant. And sometimes, that means at your own desk.
Now I am not making excuses for them. I am just explaining.
Have you seen how police barracks are? Dilapidated extraordinaire.
You will now say that they signed up for their jobs and they should quit if it isn’t ok. Quit and go where? In this economy? If they quit and another set of people come, without addressing infrastructural issues, the same thing will keep happening.
Something is fundamentally off about our setting that keeps churning out people who are not concerned about doing what is right,
My friend Niyi once asked this question:
“Which came first? A corrupt government or a corrupt people”
This means did bad Nigerians create a bad government or did a bad government create bad Nigerians?
This is the part where I usually have my little clever quirky theories. Only that I don’t have much today. The Nigerian problem is difficult to diagnose.
One thing I know for sure is that the burden on the paycheck of a Nigerian is very heavy.
We provide our own water.
We provide our electricity.
We have to deal constantly with the wear and tear of bad roads on our vehicles.
We pay for our children’s education and sometimes still take care of them long after they are done with school.
Nothing is free. Very little is subsidized.
When it is time for our kids to enter higher institutions, we pay hefty amounts for them to sit numerous exams. So much so that our JAMB is a profit making venture.
With all these things, we must put a roof over our heads, pay for our food and clothing and generally just subsist.
I was wondering why I easily explode in anger as an adult. I wasn’t this way before having a family.
I am always angry.
After much soul searching, I realised that I would be a better person if the following happened:
1. We had constant electricity. I hate the noisy generators. I hate buying fuel. Right now, our inverter is down to two batteries and they are not cheap. When I think of all the things we could do if we only had electricity bills to pay….
2. Constant water.
3. Better roads. Driving these days especially in Lagos is a chore. The raining season is rounding up and there are potholes everywhere. Our cars are constantly needing work.
4. We had really good public schools. The amount we pay for our kids to be educated is ridiculous. It should only be what rich people do for exclusivity.
5. Well-staffed and fully equipped hospitals. I don’t particularly fancy private hospitals. I just want a good one where I can get urgent quality care when needed. My dad died in a ‘good’ private hospital after prostrate surgery. His kidneys failed and he died in the process of trying to get him to where he could do a dialysis.
If we had a government that dealt with these issues, how won’t I be a better person? It takes a load off my pay check.
We live in a country where our executive government and lawmakers live off our wealth. We scamper around for what falls from their hands. Every project is a way for them to get money back into their own pockets. Their families are comfortable and their kids have dual nationalities and school wherever they want to away from this country.
You cannot ask Nigerians to do the ‘right’ thing.
Not everyone will be good for the sake of goodness.
We will survive even if it means snatching food from one another.