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MY PROBLEM WITH NIGERIANS

We all woke up one morning to have our already-unsmiling faces slapped with news that made our heads spin. NIGERIA IS OFFICIALLY IN RECESSION! – the pages screamed at us. Wow! Have things really gotten this bad? Our chronic inability to properly steer the Nigerian ship has taken us to the dire straits of bitter economic hardship. Foreign companies are leaving Nigeria, local businesses are sitting down, and people are losing their jobs in droves. How sad!

But the stage is all set. Enter Nigerians.

It’s common to hear people use the word “responsible” when they describe human traits or qualities that are desirable. But I have come to realise that the majority do not have the slightest clue what the word means. Its vaguest meaning is “well-behaved”. For some, a responsible man is one who provides for his family. Or owns up when he knocks some girl up. (Sigh. Please don’t even get me started on this).

Friends, there are two kinds of people in this world as regards taking responsibility. Those who accept blame when things go wrong and those who blame everything and everyone except themselves. I will call the latter BLAMERS. And sadly, Nigeria is bursting at the seams with them.

The attitude of Nigerians towards our economic woes, especially on social media, saddens me. Almost everyone is perched on some high horse, pontificating their omniscience about Nigeria’s problem. What they do in one word – BLAMING.

Nigeria has been ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world by several international polls. We may not be the most corrupt, but corrupt we are. And very much so. Say this and everyone will agree. But you see, each person has somehow extricated himself or herself from responsibility for this corruption problem. Somehow, it’s something OUT THERE, namely the government, that is corrupt. We forget that governments are put in place by the Nigerian people and are made up 100% by Nigerians. After all, it’s a democracy; a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Geddit? BY THE PEOPLE.

Before you start blaming and telling me how the corrupt election process doesn’t empower the ordinary Nigerian, I will remind you that corrupt or not, these leaders were helped to ascend into government by PEOPLE. Not Cameroonian people, or Ghanaian people or Lake Chad people. They were put there by Nigerian people – our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, sons and daughters. We did this. And thinking THUS, my friends, is how to THINK RESPONSIBLY.

I learnt a beautiful phrase that has lived with me since my days in the catholic secondary school I attended – Mea culpa! A Latin exclamation that literally means “through my fault”, an admission of guilt or wrong doing. This is what it means to be responsible. A responsible person is not like the blamer whose head is constantly abuzz with thoughts of whodunit. A blamer is always ready to regale you with long tales of woes and then back them up with a long list of who is to blame. Their focus is always the WHO, not even the WHAT. They blame everything and everyone for problems, except God and themselves. Sad that a Nigeria in recession is FULL of blamers and not people who are willing to say Mea culpa!

And you want to know why there are always so many blamers?

Because it’s easy to blame. Blaming is the art of the slothful. When faced with failure, blaming is the laziest thing to do. That’s why the world is filled and near bursting with blamers. Blaming everyone but yourself frees you from GUILT (and you know how we like to be happy with ourselves, even if we concoct lies and swallow them faithfully like vitamins), and frees you from doing anything! Hurray! You can just take the stage, show us how brilliant you are able to apportion blame, and then go home. If you think it is easy to come up with creative solutions to problems, why don’t you try it?

Interestingly, the blaming phenomenon has been researched by behavioural experts. The tendency to blame everyone and everything but one’s self is a trait that has been called “external locus of control”. On the other hand, people with an internal locus of control believe that they can influence events and their outcomes and take responsibility for successes and failures. Research has shown that students with an internal locus of control are more successful in their academics. They are more solution oriented. Why shouldn’t they be more successful?

You may have not directly caused Nigeria’s problem. Still, responsible people take charge not only when they are to blame, but also just because they can. They are interested in problems because they want to bring solutions to the table. And there is something beautiful about taking responsibility. When you embrace a challenge and own it, you put yourself under pressure to be innovative.

Necessity they say is the mother of invention. Because you suddenly need to do something, you find that you stop blaming and you begin to THINK. And oh, how RARELY do we pause to really think about how we can personally fix Nigeria! Thinking alone would be a beautiful and much-needed first step. Maybe after thinking a little, you realize you cannot do it alone. Soon, you realize you need other people who are willing like you. Now you need a strategy on how to attract like minds. At that point, the creative, intelligent being that you are begins to shine forth like the brilliance of dawn. You then become not a prophet of doom but a fixer of worlds. Such a state of being does merit to Homo sapiens, intelligent man and woman that you are.

Blaming on the other hand is lazy, reflexive and unintelligent. It calls forth no innovation and doesn’t require creativity. They say that men, like rivers, always take the path of least resistance. That’s why so many blame. And funny enough, not only do we blame everyone but ourselves for the problems in government, we also play the same “blame game” everywhere. In our offices, in our relationships, in our personal lives, we see people literally straining, investing so much energy to ensure that the blame does not get to their table. And in failing to take responsibility, we miss the opportunity to stand face to face with our personal inadequacies. And failing to accept the wake-up call to responsibility, we continue to live and believe a lie about who we are. When you do not accept your fault, how can you ever fix it? Irresponsibility, a failure to accept blame, will only keep you stunted. You remain the sorry self you have always been, because you have failed to take responsibility

Same applies to Nigeria. Same applies to your personal life. I dream of a country that’s filled with people, young and old, huddled in corners here and there, planning and plotting, pushing forth creative solution after creative solution that will take us out our economic mess. A people who are a beacon of light, who are always deliberating on the way forward, brainstorming on how to fix Nigeria. And not only that: who support their brilliant ideas with INTELLIGENT ACTION. We have always prided ourselves to be filled with super intelligent people. Now here is our challenge, oh country so smart. A Nigeria in recession. It is time to prove ourselves.

And fix it!

Written by Manny


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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8 comments

  1. Yessur yessur! 😀

  2. so much attention we (people) pay to government. beyond electing them, like all relationships, we teach people how to treat us by how we are and what we allow in our own personal space. i agree. the answer to a nation’s issues isn’t solely in making wiser election choices but in being wiser people. the people have a lot more power than they realize, it seems.

  3. Manny, I see your point. And it’s very sound. But there’s something Chimamanda Adichie said that struck me, something about the audacity to expect much from a people when you haven’t given them much. The point why some Nigerians blame the government is to call them out on their ineptitude. With the kind of apathy we know our government is capable of, keeping quiet translates to endorsement and encouragement of them taking advantage of the Nigerian people. And carrying on with doing what you can for the country and ignoring the government feels like you’re absolving them of accountability.
    That is why this ‘change begins with you’ nonsense is galling. Of course we are all the change but our government doesn’t seem to recognise that as an act of nobility but as a way of shirking their responsibility.
    And really, how can a people do their best for the country when the government is disinclined to pull its own weight?

    • I get your point. There is room for criticism. But that seems to be all we are doing! We are investing almost all of our energy in trading blame. Talk with the youth on the streets, I mean the future governors and presidents. They blame and say they have given up. Rarely do you hear anyone these days talk with passion about Nigeria or declare a personal commitment to the cause. We are not any better than our government it seems!

  4. Its one thing to criticise the government, make sure they hear, they take notice. It’s another to sit in the privacy of our kitchens, bedrooms and beer palours and blame the government for everything, from the mosquito that bites in the room to the flooded gutters outside.
    Lemme do what I have to do first, then I ll be able to hold government accountable for their lapses.
    Thanks Manny.

  5. “Don’t ask for what your country will do for you, rather ask for what you will do for your country.”
    And sure we’ve been doing a lot for this country like looting her treasures, milking her dry, and plunging her into recession.

  6. Be the change you seek.

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