It took me five good drafts to get a moderate version that will retain the philosophy of this piece, and at the same time discarding the initial construct adjudged too controversial by a colleague. I hope this still pass across the intended message.
As a young boy, I grew up among traditional politicians and political analysts alike on the streets of Ibadan; traditional places such as Fòkò, Pópóyemoja, Ìdí-Arere, Sàkápénà, Ìsàlè-Ìjèbù and the environs. Trust me; in these places you get raw, factual, and unbridled analysis of issues both within context and out of context. Someone is saying this boy is an original Ibadan boy. While these analysis and arguments are going on, one common denominator I could always spot is a particular popular line: “our government is irresponsible…” It does not actually end there as they go on to use all sorts of unprintable adjectives to qualify this imaginary person called government. So your guess is as good as the truth; I grew up as a young boy who sees the government as a slaves master and we all as slaves and that the slaves master should provide all the needs of his slave. I grew up thinking this government is an alien from another planet with supernatural powers. I grew up thinking I have no obligations whatsoever towards this superman, rather, he owes me everything.
However, over a decade thereafter, I began to see things differently. I began to realize that I am that government whom my fathers have always criticized with so much candor and vigor. I began to see that government as my walking stick towards which my unflagging direction is required. I began to see the perceived flaws of the so called government as a sheer reflection of own irresponsibility and indiscipline.
It is so pathetic that Nigerians wanted a better score card of the nation at 51; yet, the score card of our duties and obligations as presupposed good citizens towards the country is disappointing. The country is blessed with so much wealthy citizens, though Forbes list-pursuing, who sit s atop colossal investments and companies, who could have through genuine CSR efforts help out in the areas of infrastructural developments in their environs. Help out with the provision of basic health facilities, a little investment in the education sector. I recently read in one of our national dailies about a particular dilapidated secondary school in the V.I, VGC, and Lekki axis of Lagos. The pathetic caption on the front page of the newspaper reads “a poor school in a rich neighborhood.”
Our sense of decency and modesty as a people has been pathetically replaced by a culture of materialism. A Swiss friend once chide me over the internet saying “…you Nigerians are superrich people. We read in our newspaper here that our banks are filled with cash from your people…” our way of life puts so much pressure on the nation. An average Nigerian wants all amenities provided, but he does not want to pay his tax; all he says is “the money will end up been embezzled.” We forget so quickly that it is only in the dictionary that success comes before work, privilege before responsibility, and right before sacrifice! An average Nigerian youth’s definition of success is quick riches, while their formula to achieving this is corrupt practices. I give kudos to those young revolutionaries, whom in their numbers are getting involved in social and development works, setting up NGOs and initiatives with the aim of effecting positive change in the country. And by this I do not mean the ones who delved into such endeavors, seeing it as another perfect trick to achieving their get-rich-quick ambition.
It is only human for Nigerians to want to pass the buck of a “national failure” to the government. Admittedly, an irresponsible government imposes a lot of difficulties on its citizens; these difficulties notwithstanding, we all must not develop a wrong impression that there are magical alternatives to sacrifice. We must realize a bad followership equals a bad leadership. Study all the major revolutions that has taken place in history both in the 17/18th centuries, and the ones recently experienced all around the world; be it intellectual, social, economic or political, you will clearly see a common denominator; good citizenship.
Perhaps I should end on this note by saying, as much as we will like to see our population of 150 million people, and almost innumerable mineral and natural resources as a blessing, it could well mean a curse if we all do not turn a responsible and disciplined people.
Long live Nigeria.
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