Great Nigerians! Yes. We are a special breed. Don’t ask me why? I have tried severally to find out what makes a Nigerian different in all aspects of life? Is it the colour, but we are not the only black people in Africa? Is it the Sun? But the Sun does not shine only over Nigeria? Is it the climate, or the topography? I wonder. May be it is the way we do our things, our style, which is peculiar and second to none. But Nigeria is one of those countries in the world that could be said to be most blessed; beautiful green vegetation, and abundant mineral deposit in all parts of the country.
You must be wondering what makes a Nigerian tick. Well, here I am early in the morning rushing off to work, already behind schedule. But my neighbor calls out; hello my friend! Are you going to town? (Knowing fully well that Iam dressed for work and running late). He doesn’t wait for an answer, and he jumps into the car; “let me ride with you”, unmindful of my destination. Definitely, we are heading towards different directions. “I hope you will pass through Federal Secretariat?” he noted, without any courtesies, as I left Gudu a district in the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja.
My office is in Asokoro, this he knows quite well. In fact it is public knowledge among my neighbours, thus I have no reason going through Federal Secretariat, especially when I am almost late for work. But as it were, I am faced with no option but to take my dear neighbour to Federal Secretariat, else, I may draw the wrath of the “tongues,” especially with my bad record of poor comradeship in the neighborhood. So off we go towards secretariat. Oh! Look at Mrs. B he exclaimed as we moved on. Don’t you remember her? She lived in the estate before. Let’s give her a lift! As I tried to remind my neighbour of my need to get to work on time, he waived my excuses and tried to juggle my memory about the lady’s niceties which does not, in any remote way, concern me. Must we always displease ourselves to satisfy others?
If you are yet to change to a pre-paid meter then pray hard for God to deliver you from some elements in PHCN. I went to pay my Bills into the Bank recently and I was advised not to do that again. Why? “The payments may likely not reflect in subsequent bills.” What do I do? I was informed that it is better to always pay directly to the cashier in my Zone. So why the instruction on the bill that, “if you are paying more than one thousand pay into the bank.”?
Have you noticed how we sweat to keep up with cable operators? Most times we pay for services not rendered. When are you at home during the week to watch DSTV? Maybe in the Night or sometimes during weekends. But the service has been paid for, in most cases for a month- it could be for a year in some cases. It’s so funny that no one feels that something is wrong somewhere.
With all these issues, there is no place like home. You can easily show affluence that you have arrived with a few thousand Naira. Although, we have situations where some millionaires struggle for right of way with governors. After all, “who sponsored the governor’s election into office?”
Have you ever found yourselves at the bus stop waiting for a vehicle, I mean those long Molues in Lagos? Do you ever look around to see dear co – commuters who are all well dressed, but may not be going anywhere? A careful study of one or two people around you at the Bus Stop, will definitely reveal what I mean. There are some people who just loiter around pretending to be in a hurry to get to one office or place of work. Alas, the Bus Stop is their office where they make their daily bread from those of us who are penny wise pound foolish. Yes! Pound foolish! This is because sometimes the hassles could easily be avoided. If you don’t agree with me, then what is the rationale for taking care of two other ladies (or as the case may be, any known person), “by all means,” in the bus? That is a Nigerian for you.
I travel a lot. As a matter of fact travelling is top on the list of my hobbies. I meet a lot of Nigerians both in African countries and in Europe. You will never know that these are Nigerians. Why? They behave themselves; take turns at the pay phones or at the cash points; queue up at bus Stops for tickets; pay the correct fares always; and never rush into Buses. Yes these are Nigerians! Many times too I have had cause to fly back home with many of these great Nigerians. Everything goes on well until we approach the African airspace. All courtesies would be discarded. It is either the consumption of drinks becomes increased or the usage of foul words takes over. And as soon as the plane touches down to taxi, my fellow countrymen will waste no time in jolting back my memory that we are back in Nigeria. You see them get up to pick their bags from the cabins oblivious that the plane is still taxing. What amuses me most is that even those in high position in government do this. Imagine somebody in an economy class compartment rushing to get out of a moving plane that is yet to perform its final runs? Meanwhile the same person must wait for those privileged elites in the first class cabins to disembark before he could take his turn. That is a Nigerian for you.
Well a lot has been written and said about Nigeria and Nigerians. Despite some of the negative things said about my country and countrymen I am still proud to be a Nigerian. The only thing that bothers me sometimes is the way Nigerians are always in a hurry about everything. Imagine, the slogan today is “the President is slow.” What magic do Nigerians want President Yar’Adua to perform, barely a year in office? There can be no short cut to cleaning the mess gathered over the years. With all highlighted above, is it the president that will step out of office to render services at the filling stations so that you and I will not be cheated? Is it the Vice President that will go into every office to ensure that the appropriate person is given the job?
Interestingly, this administration so far has exhibited great zeal and willingness to put things right. In fact President Yar’Adua’s commitment to the rule of law, zero tolerance for corruption and penchant for due process has been demonstrated severally. The strict adherences to appeal court orders as it is today are part of the legacies towards political development.
Some foreign missions are fond of dissuading their nationals from visiting the country, based on imaginary dangers. I looked around and came to the conclusion that Nigeria is like Heaven compared to the dangers of notorious psychopaths and serial killers in most of these countries abroad. In fact in many of these countries the sound of gun shorts and emergency sirens are all part of normal daily activities (at least it is only when a high government official or the Naira is being moved around that you hear the siren). This is about one of the few countries in Africa that foreign expatriates love to come. The so called expatriates likes to work in Nigeria because, here they are treated like kings. Even an ordinary reporter from any obscure part of the world working for an organization with less credibility than any of the usual soft sell magazine in the country, on arrival in the country, would immediately request not only to speak with the Ministers but His Excellencies; the Vice President or the President. Do journalists from Nigeria, receive such reciprocity abroad? How often can you meet George Bush, Gordon Brown or Thabo Mbeki, If Mugabe may not be a right example for now? What makes me angry sometimes is the way these (freelance) “journalists” are pampered and courted by some government officials, compared to my dear colleagues who are regarded as local journalists.
This does not only happen in the journalism sector but also in other sectors. “Expatriates” who know next to nothing are given precedence over well qualified Nigerians. The so called expatriates drive around town in exotic cars and often times they lack the required papers to drive on our roads. But who wants to stop an ‘Oyinbo’ man, especially with a company car or Diplomatic plate number on the road? Well, sometimes in the nearest future I’ll talk more on this.
Why am I proud to be a Nigerian? Look around you Nigeria is a great country with the right weather, abundant resources, both in human and material, great Tourist destination waiting to be harnessed and the only place you don’t have racism. Even when the going gets tough you‘ll still have a shoulder to cry on – you don’t get that in foreign lands. On the other hand you find Nigerians blazing the trail in all areas of Human endeavors at home and abroad; the Philip Emegwali’s, the Okonjo Iweala’s; and the Dora Akunyili’s. The likes of Kanu Nwankwos’ Jay Jay Okochas and many more. We have great entrepreneurs like Otunba Mike Adenuga of Globacom; the Dangotes; the A.C. Okochas; and pople like Otunba Shubomi Balogun. Bankers and industrialists of high repute; like Gamaliel Onosode, the Ibrus; and great literary minds like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and the Osundares. In Journalism we have so many living testimonies like the Enahoros and the likes of Olojede, so many Deles and Rays and many more too numerous to mention.
The lives of all these great Nigerians who have excelled in their chosen fields over so many other great minds all over the world and who continue to be a source of inspiration to others like me, give me the assurance that Nigeria will one day be the best place to be on Earth; with our fast developing tourism sector; the development of the Niger Delta, and the successful implementation of the V 20-2020 in line with the seven point agenda of this administration. And Nigerians, ooh Nigerians! My beloved Nigerians, will one day be the best people on earth.
Adebayo Thomas, Garki, Abuja