All, or almost all Nigerians are complicit and therefore guilty in the undoing of the country called Nigeria.
Well, may you raise the objection that, “If truly the entire nation is guilty as charged, what gives you the moral grounds to pronounce this judgement since you are also a citizen of this country?” It is not compulsory for a writer levelling such an accusation to make a no less dishonest claim that he himself is none other than a paragon of innocence. At the end of this article you will see that this is true and for all Nigerians, only as we begin to look into the depth of our souls and begin to purge ourselves will the nation move forward.
In 2016, I caught sight of the mobile graffiti at the back of another tricycle popularly called keke napep while riding in one. At the back of the one just ahead of my ride were emblazoned with some characters partially peeled off, the inscription reads; “GUILTY NATION”
It turns out, Guilty Nation, is the title of a Nigerian (Nollywood) film that debuted in 2014. I only got to know of it via a Google search while drafting this piece. Ours is like that of an incorrigible miscreant who after taking the last position in his examination gave an ingenious false report to his dad. Clever by half he told his dad that he took the first position. His dad looked at his report in alarm as the chap insisted, “Yes dad, I took first position from behind.”
These days, there seems to be no end in sight to tales of unflattering reports about Nigeria. Ranging from the high down to the low, unabashedly, ours has been transformed into a culture that blatantly tolerate unimaginable perversions. Our country is now the headquarter of everything uncomplimentary about the Black race if not of the entire human race.
The following account on the web attributed to one John Zibiri about Nigeria is a largely correct assertion.
“I worked and lived in Abuja for 18 years. I ran my own private company from 2001 until 2014. Two million of the likes of Bihari cannot change Nigeria. Everything is wrong with Nigeria. The Director won’t give you contract except you pay up front. The banks won’t give you loan except you concede a certain percentage. The man supervising the contract won’t pass the job except you play ball. The clerk won’t pass your file for payment except you rob his palm. The accounts department won’t raise your payment voucher or cheque unless you see them. I can go on and on.
The worst thing is that it has become a norm that nobody sees anything wrong with. If you think otherwise, they begin to think you are sick and not normal. If you try to stand in their way, you put your life at risk. If you get killed there is no justice system in place to seek redress and bring the perpetrators to book. The police is corrupt , the Judiciary is the same. Even the religious circle is not spared.
Everything in Nigeria revolves around corruption. Nobody cares about anybody. No law and order. I looked from my left to right, everybody is only desperate about one thing “money”. They will kill anybody and anything that stand between them and money. I am an electrical engineer with MNSE and COREN. The system don’t care about my qualifications. Distribution and transmission jobs are given to alhajis, pastors, friends and relatives without any basic skills.
I started asking myself, how do I convince my kids that education and hard work is rewarding? When fools, agberos and touts are running the country from the local government to the Presidency.
Is this what my four sons will also go through? In 2014, I decided I have had enough. I decided I was leaving. I migrated to Australia with my family. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way for any reason.
Try starting a gate house in your village, everybody wants to profiteer from it. The bricklayer, the carpenter, the mason and even your brother who claim to be supervising on your behalf. They are corrupt, morally bankrupt and selfish. Everybody there thinks about himself and nobody is thinking about Nigeria.”
The fall out is that a lot of law abiding citizens suffer at home and abroad. I know of a successful business man whose company was denied the chance to bid for a business opportunity just for having a Nigerian company name. All emails from his Nigerian company were blacklisted through by foreign company’s email server as “419 Scammer”.
But this is a honest man with testimonies of successfully executed honest businesses in Nigeria and abroad. Another freelancer was edged out of an outsourced software project deal worth thousands of United States dollar, just because he is a Nigerian. At home and abroad, honest Nigerians suffer because of the worldwide infamous reputation of a few Nigerians.
How then do we make progress?
As Nigerians, we must first accept that things are still terribly depressing with no sign of light or an end to the dark and deep tunnel we dug ourselves into. Till today, we still do not have a common definition of what is right and wrong in this country. We have all become apostles of doublespeak as issues are adjudged right or wrong depending on the extent to which they benefit us and our immediate families. Most of our people accept crumbs at the hand of politicians and rulers who short change them without regards for others or for the nation at large.
Our politicians lure the electorate with promises of “service to the people”. At election times, they promise “service the people” but in their minds, they secretly nurse the nefarious agenda of what one of my former colleague openly confessed to, “… but when I get there, I will steal small o.” How can we survive as a nation when our presumed leaders of the future insist on “stealing very small when I get there.”? To paraphrase the words of Frederick Douglass the great African American abolitionist, “What changes do we expect in a society where former slaves insist on keeping slaves as soon as they regain their own freedom?” Is it any wonder that we are sinking deeper into an irredeemable morass of corruption while other nations are making progress?
Many of our politicians go into government with the mind-set of, “When I get there, I will steal and soil my hands with a little corruption and afterwards clean up my act.” When they finally get there, they find themselves unable to recover from a siphoning cesspool of filthy lucre triggered by the initial “small corruption”. And our people edge them on, calling evil good and good evil.
According to Professor Clayton Christensen and others, it is easier to be true to your convictions 100% of the time than it is to be true to them 99% of the time. This being so because you never can tell where that 1% compromise will lead you to.
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
~ The Holy Bible
To hear Nigerians talk about corruption, you will think that this nation is solely inhabited by angels. Everyone is quick to see the corruption in other fellows — the police, the politicians, government officials, etc. Majority of our people never stop to turn the searchlights on their own selves. They never reflect on how their personal actions and choices are in a death by a million cuts fashion speeding our nation into the precipice. We were exhorted that, “When you point one finger of accusation at others, the other four fingers of same hand are pointing back at your conscience.” We apply this to others but never to ourselves.
The average Nigerian doesn’t believe that this nation can move forward. Most of the time, he acts as if he doesn’t wants our country to get better. Throwing aside personal responsibility, they smother their consciences wrongly concluding that, “everyone is doing it.” To make matters worse, many of the people in government say one thing and repeatedly act in ways that are diametrically opposite to probity, equity, progress and unity.
Just go to the street and eavesdrop on any group of Nigerians chit chatting. The average Nigerian will blame OBJ, GEJ, PMB and all the others for our nation’s woes. He will deliberately refuse to acknowledge how complicit he has been in all the ills that has been bedeviling this nation. Thus, he never see or make efforts to remove the moth in his own eyes.
Are you still wondering why we are where we are? That, we are all responsible for this hell of a sh*thole we find ourselves in? I am in no way exonerating any of our past or present rulers who in various ways contributed towards landing our nation in her present precarious state. But we all know the enemies of this tethering nation called Nigeria. Our enemies are right in our midst. We are our own worst enemies.
Nigerians complain that threir rulers are bad, that the security and law enforcement agencies operate like an army of occupation. All these accusations are largely true. We conveniently overlook an equally great tragedy, that, so long as they can get away with “murder”, many ordinary Nigerians treat their fellow citizens worse than the police and Nigerian soldiers they vilify daily.
We conveniently overlook an equally great tragedy, that, so long as they can get away with murder, many ordinary Nigerians treat their fellow citizens worse than the police and Nigerian soldiers they vilify daily. Click To Tweet
As, I said before, let us all start expunging the evil of corruption in our individual hearts one by one. Remove the mote in your eyes
Check your, heart. Check your conscience? Check your ways. I’ve been doing that since.
© 2012 by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon; How Will You Measure Your Life?, HarperCollins
Another version of this story was first published on Medium