Is the Nigerian Project Redeemable?

By Babajide Alabi

The Nigerian blood is a special one that flows under an equally thick skin that  takes all sorts of shocks, blows and embarrassments. It is this special blood running in Nigerians that distinguishes us from citizens of other countries, especially in Africa. We are created to absorb shocks, and accept whatever is thrown at us without any complaint.


When the great late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang “Suffering and Smiling”‘in the eighties, he indeed captured the image of average Nigerians. In our sufferings, imposed mainly by the actions and inactions of our political leaders, all we manage as reaction is smile, and muse to ourselves that “this shall also pass”.

We are complacent in all things that happen to us. We, most times, believe in the superficial, rather than face the reality that may stare us in the face. We celebrate when the world is laughing at us. We dance around, when the world stands in awe at our shame. And worse still, we “high-five” each other when descent countries wonder why we are so different and contended with the state with are.

This is how we are wired. So also are our leaders. They are actors who find themselves on stage without any script. They are thrust on the citizens by their tribal, ethnic jingoisms and ability to deceive the electorate. The Nigerian blood runs deep in them.

The leaders care less about the future of the country called Nigeria. They run parallel projects, that are not in the interest of the country, and line their pockets with the proceeds. These leaders, bold and confident, are like junior gods who are accountable to nobody.

Make no mistake that the citizens are not aware these politicians have no genuine wishes for them. But the Nigerian factor of worshiping those in authority for a few crumbs from the table have sentenced most citizens to lifetime of poverty. We hail our representatives when they, rather than legislate, exchange blows while sharing juicy posts or asking each other “who dunnit?” when budgets are padded. Unashamedly, they protect themselves from the prying eyes of the masses, by visiting courts, in solidarity with corrupt officials.

For a Nigerian, it is okay when politicians make so many promises prior to election, but sings a different tune after. Despite all the pre-election promises, we nod our heads in agreement when our leaders remind us  they are not miracle workers, so we should not expect anything different. We shrug our shoulders in resignation when our leaders, contrary to reality, tells us that our lives are better now than it had ever been.

What makes Nigerians, as a people, so resilient and willing to take whatever is thrown at them is still a mystery that will take decades to unravel. It is unbelievable that the  educated and well travelled citizens of this once Giant of Africa can stand aloof while their country is run aground by clueless leaders.

No doubt, the problems confronting the country is derivative from the type of leadership we have. The transformation of a Nigerian politician is a study of how not to represent the masses. They have little or no iota of patriotism in them

This is why they never flinch whenever  they put us in embarrassing situations, which they do often. These leaders, do all they can to put the country top of a compilation of the Most Embarrassing moments in history. They have no scruples in having the best entries for the Guinness Book of Records. For these administrators (including leaders), improper or no plan, mismanagement and corruption are part of the features that make the Giant of Africa so great. From time immemorial, we have not ceased to amaze the world.

How do we explain to a rational mind that a country such as Nigeria, with so much natural and human resources is one of the poorest in the world? We are indeed one of the wonders of the world.

Nobody has been able to explain these complexities in the life of Nigeria as a country. Over fifty odd years after independence, our leaders have permanently made us the laughing stock of the world. It is so sad that Nigeria that should be the shining light of the African continent is unfortunately the butt of jokes in the comity of nations.

The recent bungling of the appearance of the Nigerian “team” in the ongoing Olympics in Rio deJanerio, Brazil is indeed a shame on the nation. Nigeria is noted for her shambolic and haphazard ways in preparing for major sporting competitions in the past. However, we have never had it so bad as this time around.

When the news of athletes soliciting funds to sponsor themselves to the Olympics first broke, many of us were quick to defend the government and the sports administrators involved. This move, on the instruction of the sports administrators, was unfathomable, and a disgrace to the country Nigeria.

Where did we get it wrong? I know it is very easy for the present leaders to blame past administrations for the woes of the country. This has been the sing song for over one year since the inception of this administration. Nigerians can now identify with the logic of the administration that promised change but have been really challenged to deliver.

It is disturbingly obvious after one year that the All Progressive Congress (APC)-led  government is no different from what we have had in the past. Nigerians are tired of the excuse that it will take a while for things to get better.  As things are, it is becoming a reality that the “beautiful ones” to save the Giant of Africa are not yet born.

The shame of being a citizen was a bitter one to swallow when Nigeria became the butt of jokes on prime time television on Cable News Network (CNN). The award winning anchor woman Hala Basha-Gorani and her colleague could not help themselves when they dug into the scandal of the Nigerian Olympic football team stranded in Atlanta USA. It was painful to watch as these two analysed how the nation’s team had to be bailed out by Delta Airlines a few hours to the first match.

What else can be very damaging and embarrassing to a government than what happened to Nigeria’s football team? Stranded in foreign land because the government could not afford to pay for their flight. Yet, the Minister of Sports and his assistants are still sitting pretty in office.

But this is Nigeria where there is no moral value in any public official. The sports minister has demonstrated how inefficient and unpatriotic he is, and by extension, his government, in the handling of citizens’ affairs. It is a shame!

The defeat of the Japan football team a few hours after arriving in Brazil is a further attestation to the fact that we are indeed a unique bunch. The patriotism of those kids for the opportunity to represent the country is a lesson to Nigerian public officers (including the sports minister).

Nigerians may be quiet now, but history is judging these unpatriotic leaders who play “hide and seek” with the good of the country. It is well.



Is the Nigerian Project Redeemable? on Vanguard News.


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