Nigerians Suffering

The people of Nigeria are united in suffering. We tend to draw strength from the fact that we are not alone in the avoidable misery and hardship we face daily; from the scarcity of fuel, to the expensive and epileptic power supply and the many other demons we have to contend with as a people. We are untied in our belief that if ever the sky falls, it is not a problem as long as it is falling on us all.

There is something paradoxical about the spirit of the Nigerian people. We have been described as energetic, passionate, enterprising, aggressive, and purpose driven. Nigerians all over the world bring so much energy and zeal to the things they do. You will find a high number of Nigerians at the pinnacle of a number of fields and industries: from professional football, the film industry in Hollywood, the boardrooms of many Fortune 500 companies, to the core management of grant technology companies like Facebook, etc. Let’s not forget the giant strides recorded at home by the likes of Dangote, the many Nigerian banks and blue chips that are conquering the African business space. We can leave for another day the domineering force of our entertainment industry on the continent. But when it comes to relating or dealing with our political leaders, Nigerians are lily-livered, biased and pussyfoot about issues.

The political space appears to be one place where our “Nigerian-ess” turns from positive energy to a depressing and passive one. Nigeria shows profound leadership in all other fields of human endeavour, except when it comes to politics. It will appear like we end up having the worst of us leading the rest of us. The paradox here is when we elect successful businessmen who built great businesses into public office, with the expectation that they will transform public service delivery, they tend to turn around and say they are not magicians or miracle workers. One begins to imagine if there is a force in public service that corrupts and makes smart people clueless.

Another thing I have come to see is when some persons take it upon themselves to lead a movement to make government accountable. The people, whose interest they are trying to protect, go all out to fight them and call them names. You will hear people say that they are disgruntled because they were not given political appointments. This clearly shows the divide existing amongst our people as a result of the collective distrust traceable to the divide-and-rule strategy of the colonial masters.

The story of Nigeria is one that has witnessed a series of clueless and useless political classes come with every succeeding government. On one hand, a government assumes office promising heaven and earth, and on the other hand blaming the preceding government for poor service delivery. The silliest excuse is when politicians feign ignorance of the poor state of affairs prior to assuming office. The political class in Nigeria can get away with anything in Nigeria, unlike in places like Iceland, where the people have a mindset more in tune with transparency and accountability in governance. We the people have not been able to bring our collective energies and drive to bear in holding our governments accountable. The reason why we still import petroleum is because our leaders are not accountable to the people. This is why a man who built a great business will fail in politics because he knows that as a business executive, he is accountable to shareholders who have the power to displace him.

Another thing I have come to see is when some persons take it upon themselves to lead a movement to make government accountable. The people, whose interest they are trying to protect, go all out to fight them and call them names. You will hear people say that they are disgruntled because they were not given political appointments. This clearly shows the divide existing amongst our people as a result of the collective distrust traceable to the divide-and-rule strategy of the colonial masters. This “colo” mentality was made worse by the many years of military rule and dictatorship. This mindset elevates members of the political class to an imperial and infallible status. In the minds of Nigerians, the President cannot be wrong, and when he builds roads or bridges, he is doing us a favour, therefore we should be grateful that he is doing something, even if the cost is inflated a thousand times.

We have learnt to thrive without government. How I wish to God that we can turn these energies towards peaceful efforts that would make our government work. It is my prayer that one day, we would be united in the knowledge that politicians are the people employed by the people for the common good of the people.

The people of Nigeria are united in suffering. We tend to draw strength from the fact that we are not alone in the avoidable misery and hardship we face daily; from the scarcity of fuel, to the expensive and epileptic power supply and the many other demons we have to contend with as a people. We are untied in our belief that if ever the sky falls, it is not a problem as long as it is falling on us all. Another thing not helping us is we have devised survival strategies. Every home has become its own government; we generate our own power, supply our own water, provide private or estate security for ourselves, dispose our waste and set up private schools at all levels.

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We have learnt to thrive without government. How I wish to God that we can turn these energies towards peaceful efforts that would make our government work. It is my prayer that one day, we would be united in the knowledge that politicians are the people employed by the people for the common good of the people. We must turn this collective suffering into kinetic energy. We must learn from the Lepers by the Gate of Samaria in times like these: They united in suffering, mobilised and started out on the way to a solution. Who knows if the heaven would amplify our efforts and cause our enemies to flee. Until then, the suffering and smiling mantra would remain our identity.

Sunday Ogidigbo is the Lead Pastor of Holyhill Church, Abuja. You can send him an email at: psun@holyhillchurch.org, or connect with him via Twitter @SOgidgbo or visit www.sogidgbo.com.