The other night I was hanging out with one of my friends and I was reading an article on CNN about how Nigeria is one of the biggest oil producers in the world, and yet, they have some of the lowest consumption rates of energy in Africa because of the failure of the government to turn Nigeria’s wealth into practical solutions for the population. Now my friend is fiercely nationalistic. She loves Nigeria with a burning passion and can’t stand to hear negative things about Nigeria, even if they are largely true and commonly agreed upon. This always makes for very interesting discussions.
We were talking about the major problems with Nigeria and how they can be fixed. As it typical of many Nigerians her only solution to Nigeria’s woes is to “pray that God helps us.” Which I think is the laziest most ridiculous solution in the world. And I let her know. It’s not to say that prayer is not something she should do, but to rely on this as your only method to solve the very big problems of your country is just flat out ridiculous. Even if God decided to help Nigeria but snapping his finger and changing things, people still have free will and can continue to muck it up. Prayer will only help when paired with actions to back it up. And I told her all this. Her response is “Well what can we do? We are powerless.” I disagree that Nigerians are powerless though I do realize that starting a massive political movement is unlikely to be fruitful. The ruling party is very powerful, police and military are very corrupt and that is usually a recipe for chaos and civil unrest. However, I said that doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions that Nigerians can figure out in order to help the country. Nigerians need to figure out how to help themselves and their country. She remained doubtful.
I then mentioned that most Nigerians tend to blame only the leadership of the country for being so corrupt, which they are, but they are not the only ones. In fact, corruption runs from the very top to the very bottom in Nigeria. Whether it is cheating someone in the market, lying about any numerous things or cheating on an exam corruption is present everywhere. It is a part of daily life. My friend refused to acknowledge much of this and also said it is different than what the government leaders are doing. It is because everyone finds it acceptable to lie and cheat that the leaders don’t feel bad robbing the people of millions and billions of dollars. Sure it is on a much larger scale but it is still the same principle. She vehemently disagreed and therein lies our problem. Until all Nigerians acknowledge that corruption happens everywhere and that everyone is responsible for changing their own person behavior then Nigeria is going to continue to suffer with corruption and poor leadership. Things will continue to get worse rather than better, and that makes me very, very sad. Nigeria CAN be a great country, but right now I feel that they are lost. It is going to take a major cultural shift in how things are done and what is considered acceptable behavior and practices in this society.