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This is Nigeria

14 March 2014, 10:58

Nigeria: a great country, a great nation, a nation well blessed and favoured by the Almighty God. A nation blessed with abundant natural and human resources. A giant whose potentials continue to be dwarfed by attitudinal anomalies of her leaders and followers. More important than constitutional reforms is attitudinal reforms. We may have the best constitution in the world; but we can only achieve greatness, if we have the right leaders with the right attitudes to implement the constitutional provisions.

When you do things right as should be done; when you challenge what is wrong and attempt to have the right things done; you are reminded of being too American or ‘Oyiboish’. You are reminded that: "This is Nigeria". I studied and lived in the US. What is already part of me, can only remain of me! I can only compare events in our societies with better ones where I have previously lived.

In the US and other developed societies, accountability in governance is ensured by all citizens. The fundamental rights of citizens are guaranteed. The citizens do not troop to the roads as we do in Nigeria to celebrate the constructions of boreholes, passable roads, pedestrian bridges, ‘model’ primary and secondary schools, ‘ultramodern international’ markets, glorified health centres called general hospitals or poorly-equipped tertiary institutions. These are public amenities already taken for granted. The citizens are rather focused on ground-breaking scientific endeavours, the conquest of space, the best technology–driven economical and socio-political sectors.

The Nigerian economy is road-driven, yet transportation cost remains high and most of our roads will clearly pass for death traps. The absence of good roads to aid the transportation of goods and services continue to encourage rural-urban migration. With increased rural-urban migration drift comes sustained insecurity of lives and properties amidst rising unemployment opportunities. The railway system is poorly developed. Trailers and allies continue to kill our people on a regular basis. Security agents who are to maintain security on our roads, who have accepted to lay down their lives for us and our nation are poorly motivated. The salaries and welfare schemes are just too bad! No sustainable pension policy! No life insurance! Expectedly, there are anomalies in service delivery! THIS IS NIGERIA!

MT African pride (Russian oil tanker ship) disappeared on Nigeria sea since 2004. Oil theft continues to rise and poorly checked! Billions of dollars of (49, 12, 10.8 or 20?) unaccounted for, pension funds are missing. Rasheed Maina of the pension reforms scheme who was said to have diverted 20 billion naira was invited by the Senate. He was seen in Abuja well protected. Soon we were told, he had disappeared into thin air. Faruq Lawan and Femi Otedola produced a Nollywood movie on $620,000 sometimes ago. Nothing happened substantially. Fuel subsidies running into billions of naira were paid to importers for knowing the right people and not for importing fuel. There were some dramatic parades of prosecution of fake importers by EFCC. Today, no show! One wonders, what left out the public officials who colluded with the importers to steal endlessly. The list is endless! Yet, the same officials under whose watch the anomalies took place either remain in office or are honoured with national awards, religious and societal titles when out of office. THIS IS NIGERIA!

Fundamental rights of citizens are not guaranteed. Law abiding citizens are sometimes arrested during raids illegally. Police officers and convoys of public officials drive recklessly without obeying traffic rules. The siren continues to be used without moderation. In developed societies, security agents obey traffic rules and whenever they use the siren, all becomes alert and responsive. In Nigeria, the siren is used irregularly, thus affecting our clear response to security alerts. When security agents give instructions that clearly violate the rights of others, we obey and help to encourage lawlessness and the culture of impunity. Sometimes ago, I submitted a petition to the National Human Rights Commission. The receipt of the petition was acknowledged quite late. The letter of acknowledgement was via a Microsoft word document (not on a letter-head paper) and without any signature. The document only said Signed along with the name of the official who responded on behalf of the NHRC. The response raised some technical issues which were clearly responded to same day. Three weeks after, no official communications from the agency. We do not respect ourselves and consequently, other nationals have little respect for us. THIS IS NIGERIA!

Imported goods to Nigeria are of poor standard compared to other countries. Deliberately, importers sometimes ask companies to manufacture goods of less quality for Nigeria. I know of a citizen who bought a new Kia car for his comfort. Standard features provided for in the accompanied manual are not available on his car. Those features are too standard for Nigeria since we did not demand for them! The car is well serviced. While driving on the road, the car suddenly stopped. Later, the clutch system was said to have malfunctioned six months before the expected time. Yet, the same individual rather than being compensated for the inconveniences he went through was asked to pay for the replaced items. Such a thought can only happen because THIS IS NIGERIA!

I listened to a programme on FM 100.5 (Raypower FM) on 12th March, 2014 on why Nigerians travel to India and other countries for medical treatment. One of the callers provided a personal experience of his wife who was asked to go for Caesarean Surgery during her first delivery. They were asked to go for CS the second time and they opted to seek treatment elsewhere. It was discovered that the decision to have the CS in the first instance was wrong. I have also listened to Gov. Oshiomhole talking about a professional medical doctor who was absent in the General Hospital when needed; only to be found working in his private hospital where he now attends to the same patients he ought to have attended to in public hospitals! What is the fate of poor Nigerians who cannot pay the high fees demanded by private hospitals? Medical ethics are sometimes violated. When issues involve doctors, doctors stand for themselves in clear violation of medical ethics. Same goes for other professionals. When complaints are also made to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, they are not promptly attended to. Imagine a petition sent to the MDCN without any clear response on progress update for close to two months. THIS IS NIGERIA!

Teachers and lecturers are poorly motivated with inadequate welfare schemes and facilities. Consequently, the educational sector which is the bedrock of societal development needs radical surgical reconstruction itself! Students of tertiary institutions passed WAEC, SSCE or UTME by paying for it, registering in special centres or through other corruptive methods. How can such students be of the right quality after graduation? Admission opportunities are grossly inadequate. The government responded rightly by establishing more universities but wrongly by not adequately expanding the existing ones. Alternative to Practicals abound in place of real skills acquisition. Facilities are either absent or obsolete. Officials are laws unto themselves. Primary and Secondary school teachers are in most cases not qualified ab initio for the jobs they are asked to do. Most students of teaching institutions only became teachers because they could not gain admissions into preferred choices of careers. Primarily, the interest is not there! Faculties of Education also ask students to choose majors/minors. Thus a student of Chemistry/Biology may neither have a clear grasp of Chemistry nor Biology because he/she would have offered lesser number of courses in Chemistry or Biology compared to the Science majors.

Lecturers and teachers are products of the same system. Lecturers sometimes come late to classes or are absent till few weeks to examination periods. High Grades can be purchased either in kind or cash. Postgraduate supervisors want to be worshiped as semi-gods. Where teachers are trained abroad, they come back home unable to realize their full potentials as they are consumed by the poorly organized system. And since you cannot give what you do not have, no Nigerian university is among the best 1000 in the world. Some universities such as the University of Ilorin encourage scholarship by asking outstanding students not to pay tuition or school fees. This is greatly commendable. However, this must be replicated across the country. Most graduates look for salaried jobs because they have no skills with which they can exist on their own. It is clearly impossible to provide employments opportunities for all even in the best developed societies. The sustained insecurity in the polity can only be mitigated by a sound educational system that provides graduates of any institution with the skills required to survive the competitive job market.

Public officials steal our commonwealth. When queried, the responses of Nigerians are varied on the basis of ethnicity or religion. The public official quickly reminds his ‘people’ (in reality the only people he knows is his pocket) that he is being persecuted because he epitomizes their interests. That his ‘people’ must fight for him to remain in power or get back to power. Read the various responses in the social media on Sanusi/Jonathan, Amaechi/Jonathan, Suntai/Umar and many others. You will be amazed that our responses are neither based on objectivity nor steps to move the nation forward but on primordial sentiments. We then remain perpetually subjugated by the same forces of darkness that continue to steal our resources blind. When we vote during elections, it also based on parochial sentiments. Is the candidate Hausa, Ibo or Yoruba? Is he a Muslim or Christian? We all complain of poverty and infrastructural deficiencies. Yet, we keep voting for the same elements that have deprived us of democratic dividends. As election periods approach, we are happily bribed with flags-off of constructions of bridges and roads, bags of rice and few thousands of naira. On election days, we are ready to die for our political captors! Of course, THIS IS NIGERIA!

Presently, the Presidency is committed to more useless wastage of our resources on the National Conference. One wonders what will be said now that has not been said before! What happened to the implementations of the reports of previous conferences? The wasted billions can do a lot to revive our public sectors for good. Definitely, some of the delegates are great Nigerians. However, some of them contributed significantly to the systemic rot in place today. It is foolhardy asking the same individuals with entrenched interests to restructure and fix Nigeria.

In all fairness, there are several Nigerians (professionals or otherwise) who are great people and can stand tall anywhere in the world. Individual efforts cannot make a nation great unless when accompanied by a system that guarantees collective efforts towards national greatness. The political will to radically restructure the system is lacking, because the same individuals with entrenched interests are either in leadership or brought the leadership to power! Lets all embrace attitudinal reforms, discard the degrading ideology of THIS IS NIGERIA! and embrace A NIGERIA WHERE THINGS WORK!

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