“I was ashamed of myself when I realized that life was a costume party; and I attended with my real face” (Franz Kafka).
The Nigerian condition aptly depicts the true meaning of the above statement. Nigeria is structured as a costume party wherein bad behaviour runs good behaviour out of circulation. Coming with a patriotic mind will pitch you against a corrupt hegemony.
If there is any region of the world in which the incoming child looks mostly dazed and hopeless and crying loudly, it is Nigeria.
From birth to adulthood and to death the climate of misery hovers around the Nigerian children, especially those whose parents are poor. The implication is that poverty growing children will grow into poverty addictive adult—and it becomes a vicious cycle of hopelessness. Once you are born a Nigerian, three options are before you:
(1) Give your heart to religion and become uncritical of reality,
(2) Embrace poverty and be silent or
(3) Become corrupt and accumulate criminal wealth.
Nigeria is a country whose citizens do not only regale in ignorance but equally take extreme delight in iniquity. The youth demographics that would ordinarily serve as bastion of a degrading Nigerian society have been reduced to a conurbation of irrational educated lots. We have lost it all as a country.
The kind of development a country sought to attain correlates highly positively with the prevailing national value system. Nigeria is a country that doesn’t understand that development is impossible if the core value of the country is not such that will support development thinking. Leadership at all levels can help redefine and reshape the redemption of our weird and warped value system.
Give Your Heart to Religion and Become Uncritical of Reality
Religion is the human search for unknown God with heaven as the ultimate pursuit. I believe that religion is a lubricant of the primitive level of the spiritual self in the sense that human beings have unlimited mental freedom to think anything and everything, including to extend imagination to the existent of some supernatural power above the sky. Even scientists think and conduct researches in furtherance of invention aimed at finding solutions to human needs. Religion is heaven bound, science is human-need bound.
In Nigeria, there hasn’t been any attempt to bring science into the equation of development question. Nigeria leaders have been busy praying since 1960 for God to grant development to the country. You don’t get amazed when you hear your Governor say, after presenting budget of the year that, with God we will get money to run the State as “everything dey God hand”. The leader gets allocation from the national wallet and shares along his cabinets and cronies, leaving civil servants and pensioners with starvation emolument.
Religion in Nigeria is a mitigating factor of unemployment. No doubt, religion has provided employment to Nigerians, especially young motivational speakers who take to the pulpit to propagate a message of how to banish poverty and become very wealthy through the kingdom’s principles of appreciation, mild-arrogance and praise.
When the political elite can fund the building of churches and mosques in return for spiritual blessings of personal nature, it becomes evidence of a people lacking incentives for development.
Today, the UAE is home to corrupt Nigerian elite irrespective of religious affiliation on the ground that the city of Dubai is highly developed. Pastors and Imams are touring the UAE but never asked whether today’s UAE is a product of the 1980’s prayers of their founding fathers. The answer is: the UAE is outcome of a purposeful and sustained visionary leadership of the country that has created a culture of development weaved around a robust national value. The UAE didn’t develop by daily shouting Allahu Akbar or Jesus is Lord. It developed out of critical thinking, national imagination, patriotic spirit, aggregate value orientation and good politics.
A fiery catholic cleric and founder of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Father Ejike Mbaka was right when he said that he needs to collect money from politicians who visit his ministry because he is the person providing jobs and welfare for the teeming worshippers and that is not the work of the holy spirit to run a factory.
The implication is since government has notoriously failed to create jobs for citizens but only runs to religious homes for spiritual upgrade; clerics like Mbaka are justified demanding money from politician to provide welfare for church members who are generally poor. And this is one of the dangers of being a Nigerian.
Embrace Poverty and be Silent
Poverty in Nigeria is under reported. The reality is that Nigeria commands over 50% unemployment rate with over 69% youth unemployment. If you are poor, that is, if you can’t take care of your welfare or even eat up to 500 naira daily, then Nigeria has finally happened to you. One of the dangers of being a Nigerian is that if your parents are unable to lay for you a foundation of wealth, you may end up sharing dormitory with poverty.
There is virtually no opportunity for personal development in Nigeria. Our education system has been degraded and scholarship turned frauduship. Once you fall into poverty or you inherited poverty you are required to be silent to avoid being mistreated by the law. Poverty will become case number two if you eventually find yourself in Nigerian court over a simple one count offence.
Poverty alleviation as peddled by government policy paper is strictly a gambit to further extend the poverty trap. If government is serious about addressing unemployment scourge in the country, the fundamental step to take is funding education together with standing as mirror of national values. A political culture that is rooted on fraud and treasury looting is likely to create irresponsible national attitude, more poverty and all forms of terrorism. The danger of being a Nigerian is that you are a potential terrorist wearing the national criminal gab.
Become Corrupt and Accumulate Criminal Wealth
Nigeria is a shamelessly corrupt polity. It is even difficult to see a wealthy Nigerian these days that can come clean to defend such wealth, especially the young millionaires. The reason is that Nigeria has made wealth accumulation an end in itself, not a means to a better society. The new idea is that you can become rich through any means and expect national honors and traditional laurels. Alhaji Buba Galadima, a critic and politician from Yobe State, stated in an interview that over 98% of persons on the 2022 national honors list are supposed to be in prison. This means we are dishing out national honors to questionable characters. This is one danger of being a Nigeria.
If you don’t steal money or commit criminal acts you may find yourself in poverty with its attendant social isolation. Some have chosen to become wealthy and use some percentage of their wealth to engage senior lawyers, mobilize ethnic sentiment and pay for favourable mediatisation. This is one of the dangers of being a Nigerian because you will have no choice than to steal for yourself, your children, and grandchildren.
There is fear of Nigeria’s tomorrow in view of the pervading cloud of despair given that the crop of leaders today are likely to be worse than the forebears.
Finally, there is a relationship of religion, poverty embrace, and government corruption. The Nigerian data shows that the relationship of these variables is direct. Thus, the presence of these variables in higher proportion in Nigeria is the danger one faces for being a Nigerian.