Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Nigerian Government: A True Reflection of the Prevailing Mindset in the Land —by Daniel Okwufulueze

  • 29 May 2018 

Since our independence in October of 1960, how can we honestly assess our country? Have we really progressed beyond our pre-1960 situation? Are we still the Giant of Africa? How advanced are we scientifically, technologically, economically, and nationally? And what about the pencils?

We've had coup upon coup, each coming to power on the wings of "Change". They each pointed to the mismanagement, impunity, and incompetence of their predecessors, only to be toppled by a successor citing the same societal ills.

We thought a return to democracy was the solution. Same realities abound after trying. So, what, one may ask, is the problem with Nigeria?

In my opinion, the prevailing mindset in the land is the problem. Every government reflects her people's mental attitude. For example, who is elected to represent a people if not someone from that set of people? Who becomes the President of a country if not a citizen of the country? Can a people's representative be any different from the majority of the people? If a representative were different from the majority, would the majority have voted him/her as a representative? I don't think so.

Nigeria is a country blessed with both natural and human resources. But, this is a country where thieves are celebrated, unnecessaries are rewarded with millions of Naira, but ingenuity, genius, and even a First Class degree are dismissed with a wave of hand or rewarded with a paltry ₦ 10,000.

This is a country where some adults still throw trash on the streets and defend themselves with a funny reasoning that goes something like "no be dis my pure water nylon wan block gutter." What would children learn from one of these adults who doesn't see his actions as contributory to national development, stagnation, or retrogression? How would such an adult see looting of the Nigerian treasury? Methinks he'll say "no be dis small money whey I tif wan dabaru dat power project." 

This is a country where examination malpractices have become normal in schools. Reading is now an abomination, studies are for the naïve and ignorant, dignity in hard-work is nonexistent. Even teachers and lecturers expect you to "sort" or to "know the way". What crop of professionals do we expect to produce from a set of students who approach education this way? If they ever make it to the leadership of our country, where would their priorities lie as it relates to education?

This is a country where some drivers invade oncoming traffic because their lane is experiencing a hold-up, thereby blocking both lanes without any form of consideration for their countrymen who also need to pass. If any of those drivers make it to the Nigerian government, can he really show consideration for his suffering countrymen, or would he make their situation worse if that's what it takes for him to be comfortable? I think he'll immediately make decisions to the detriment of Nigerians if he stands to gain from such decisions.

This is a country where some civil servants ask Nigerians on a queue to wait under the sun or pay a bribe in order to be attended to. How would one of such civil servants who makes it to the leadership of our country treat awards of Federal Government contracts? He'll award any contractor who gives the highest bribe whether or not the contractor is well suited for the job.

This is a country where some men in uniform intimidate armless civilians, even murdering some as a way of asserting their authority, an authority they derived from the same people they now persecute. How would one of these men in uniform fare as a leader of Nigeria? I think he'll lord it over his own people, summarily executing anyone with a voice of dissent or criticism.

This is a country where some business people defraud unsuspecting fellow countrymen without batting an eyelid. Instead of defending their victims, some praise these conmen and scold the victims for not "shining" their eyes. If these dubious business people or their defenders make it to the leadership of Nigeria, how would they treat the majority of Nigerians who trusted in them and voted for them? Well, since they have a history of hating, trusting and unsuspecting people, they'll hate their own country for trusting in them and loot the treasury dry as punishment.

This is a country where some people hold up having passed through "hard times" as a trophy, literally shutting protesters against bad governance down with statements like "you no suffer reach me na, that one na suffer? You never even see anything, you don dey complain." Some go as far as criticizing others who demand good governance, calling them lazy and citing the hard times they passed through as a reason the criticized mustn't demand better times. Almost literally saying "if I passed through worse, why should you hope to have it easier?" How would such negative individuals treat Nigerians' welfare if they make it to Government? They obviously have a lesson to teach their countrymen – a lesson in hardship.

This is a country where some families see their children in Government as a reason they're entitled to a share of the "national cake" – whatever that means. They literally expect the family member in Government to steal, reminding him that so and so family built a mansion when their son was there. So, to them, governance isn't about the people, but about you and your family.

This is a country where noodles are exchanged for votes. If people collect noodles in order to vote the giver, what would the giver think he owes the people if not food?

This is a country where some people argue, not to make any point or say anything in particular, but to sound witty or controversial. If these people become senators, what would be their reason for speaking up at plenary?

Looking carefully at a typical day's experience in Nigeria, one can easily see the attitude of our leaders in some of us. This isn't much of a surprise as the leaders emerged from among us. They were once with us. We cannot produce anything better than ourselves. The disposition of those we elect into positions of responsibility tells a lot about the mentality of the majority of us. If we think we didn't elect them, that they were foisted upon us, our collective silence since 1960 is also telling.
Indeed, we have the country we deserve!

Of course, developed nations have some of these problems, but in what number? The fact that certain acts of corruption or malpractices constitute a scandal in developed countries suggests that the majority frown upon such acts and kick against them. We currently celebrate thieves, and oppress whistleblowers, we reward mediocrity and discourage ingenuity. It's so bad that foreign countries have prosecuted some Nigerians that we found nothing against here. The point is this: the prevailing mindset either makes or mars a country.

But all hope is not lost, or so it seems. We can begin to change our mindset for the better. We can begin to value sensibleness, orderliness, discipline, and hard work. We can begin to teach children the right thing especially by good examples. We can love our neighbours as ourselves. We can show patriotism in our speech and actions.

Nigeria can still succeed, but it's in our hands. We must change our mindset for the better.

Daniel Okwufulueze
Is a Social Commentator

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