I think today being the anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence would be the best day to answer the question I have been thinking of for the better part of the last one year.
What is at the core of Nigeria’s problems?
The core problem of Nigeria is citizenship. The ratio of Nigerian residents to citizens is unhealthy for any nation that intends to be great.
Unlike popular belief and Achebe, I do not think corruption or bad leadership is the core of our problem. Those are just symptoms.
I will try to explain my view below.
Citizens unlike residents believe and behave like their future and that of their descendants is in the country of their citizenship and will always act based on her interests. Residents on the other hand are in a country for what they can benefit and are ready to move when the going gets tough.
Nigeria is the only country I know where sending your children to live away from the country of their ancestors is a badge of honour. The longer the time away, the more prestigious the badge. When the people charged with controlling the future of us and our country are asked about their children , they respond “they are not around” with so much pride in their hearts.
How on earth do you expect our leaders to give their best to our country when they have the option of an alternative future for themselves and their children?
It is not only our ‘leaders’ who are guilty of this resident mentality. We the pseudo-citizens are guilty too. 90% of us would not need a second to decide if we are given the opportunity to “leave this country” (I and many Nigerians who have willingly returned home have had to assure friends and family of our good mental state when we made the decision to return).
With ‘citizens like ours who are always in the survival mode until we can “get out of this place”, resident ‘leaders’ have a field day.
The number one symptom of resident Nigerian leaders is what I call treasonable corruption. Treasonable corruption is corruption that weakens the state and its citizens. This story below will show the difference between corruption and treasonable corruption.
There were two politician friends. The one from Nigeria called OJBee and the Italian called Belunisco.
OJBee went to visit Belunisco in Italy who showed him his great wealth. Belunisco showed him his flashy cars, his lush houses and his latest private jet. “This year alone, 30 million dollars” Belunisco said smiling. OJBee asked, “Ahhh! How you do it?” Belunisco smiled and said, “I will show you”
Belunisco then took OJBee to the 30th floor penthouse of his latest luxury apartment and pointed far away and said “You see that bridge over there?” OJBee responded “Yes, Yes, Yes”. Belunisco replied, “15%”.
OJBee thanked Belunisco and invited him to visit Nigeria in 18months. “I will retaliate” were OJBee’s parting words.
In 18 months, Belunisco visited Nigeria and retaliate OJBee did!
OJBee showed him his latest Estates “Do not mind these useless bad roads” as they galloped in OJBees latest jeep. “I have 7 more jeeps in case this one spoils. I spent $1 million on big generators and I have diesel supply for the next ten years. “I made $100million in 18 months.” OJBee said smiling.
“How did you make all this money?” Belunisco asked. “I learnt from you o” OJBee replied. “Come let me show you”
They took a helicopter ride to Onitsha.
“You see that second Niger bridge?” OJBee asked. Belunisco replied, “No”.
OJBee said, “100%”.
That my friend is treasonable corruption. While Belunisco is corrupt, OJBee is treasonably corrupt. Corruption is everywhere in the world and does not lead to underdevelopment. Treasonable corruption does.
Corrupt citizens do not practice treasonable corruption. Corrupt residents do.
Like I stated in my previous post, knowing the right thing to do has never been a problem for Nigeria’s ‘leaders’.
Does it not surprise you that people who run their businesses excellently run their states into the ground? Mr Gbenga Daniel is a 1st class graduate of Civil Engineering and had a successful engineering company before being Governor. Go and look at the roads he left in Ogun State after 8 YEARS!
When people can create alternative environments (outside Nigeria) for themselves and their families or at least think they can, they do not need to give their very best.
That is a problem.
When I asked my very passive friends if they would allow a stranger to come into their house and take their property. They replied “How can?” Stating they are willing to risk their lives to defend their property.
When it comes to that of Nigeria, they cower. because it does not concern them. *resident mode*
What about Religion and Tribe?
While I concede that we to believe in the entity Nigeria to believe in her, I do not think our tribal differences is responsible for such backwardness in a country with so much potential. I would be glad if our leaders were loyal and biased towards their tribes and religions. The South West would have benefited from the 8 years of OBJ. The congregations would have benefited from their Imams and Pastors.
Every great country has citizen minded and resident minded people and the citizens are overwhelmingly in the majority. Here in Nigeria, the reverse is the case. And worse of all, residents are the ones in leadership positions.
The good news though is that a vast majority Nigerians do not behave like residents deliberately. Just look at the way we come together when we play football or when we are attacked. But return to ‘resident mode’ when what we have come to accept as normalcy returns. As my people say “na condition make crayfish bend”.
It easiest way to sort this mess Nigeria is in would be to get citizens to leadership position and inspire the populace to act as citizens. But how?
That is the question!
I pledge to Nigeria my country
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity and uphold her honor and glory
So help me God.