There have been statements that if anyone can survive in Nigeria, such a person can survive anywhere in the world. Perhaps, there are good reasons for saying this.
Nigeria has the largest population in the African continent, and one of the largest in the world. It is also an endowed nation as almost all the states have abundant natural resources. These resources include crude oil, coal, tin, uranium, lead, and so many others. The country has arable land as well which enables her to grow different crops such as yam, cassava, maize, millet, sorghum, tomato, cabbage, carrot, beans, oil palm, rice, etc, as the list is inexhaustive. This makes the country one of the best places to live in, and Africa’s top economy by GDP.
However, the same country has been bedeviled by conflicts, corruption, and abuse of power in recent years. These conflicts range from religious to ethnic conflicts. There are the Farmer – Herdsmen clashes which had left thousands dead, and many communities destroyed. This, the government has blamed on foreign nomads while the people affected claim they are Nigerians. Of course, we do not know who is saying the truth and who is not.
There have been so many accusations against the government in recent years for disregarding court judgments and being insensitive to the plight of the citizens. Of course, we understand that the government cannot be everywhere at the same time. As it is said, ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.’ However, the arrest of some activists by government security agencies even without trial, in recent times, is a strong point the citizens have against the government. Citizens are afraid to speak up against government policies to avoid arrest, making it more difficult for one to be a Nigerian.
The issue of corruption has become an integral part of the system, from the Executive, to the Legislature and Judiciary. Successive governments have come up with policies to tackle corruption, but it has been a herculean task , as its taproot is as old as the country itself. Therefore, it would need the effort of both the government at all levels and citizens to tackle. The country has been labelled as one of the most corrupt countries by international ratings. It is more outrageous because while we blame our leaders in our country for being corrupt, foreigners blame the citizens. It used to be embezzlement of funds and money laundering by political leaders (elected and nominated).
Now, it is human trafficking, drug trafficking, and internet scams. How about the issue of bias in recruitment into federal jobs or schools? There has been a public outcry , of the government’s special treatment to a particular tribe or region over others in key selections/appointments. The sound of this allegation is getting louder and louder by the day, as there is a trend. Hence, the clamour for certain groups for a restructuring of the entire process in the country, from security to fund allocation, so as to enable every region develop at their own pace, with the resources they have. This is still debated, and would be a determining factor in the future case for the continual existence of Nigeria as a country.
Being Nigerian is not so easy, as we have to work hard to make decent wages in a country that has one of the lowest minimum wage structures in the world for her workers, and one of the highest pay structures for her legislators. Of course, it is laughable.
At foreign airports, being Nigerian is associated with crime such as fraud. Although we have great citizens who make us proud overseas, we still have to grapple with the negative information the International press has labelled the country with, due to the activities of fraudulent fellows. Therefore, outsiders look at us with an extra lens. While other nationals are given a free pass, we are searched multiple times. They have been put on a red alert, and so do not believe that good people still exist here.
Of course, growing in a country such as this , you will get to experience the effect of corruption on the system. From the security officials on our highways demanding bribes, to the lecturers in our higher institutions demanding for one form of compensation or another to give you your score. How about those who demand a huge amount of money to give you a school admission that you deserve? Or the public service workers who want to be generously rewarded before they approve your request or process your documents? While we blame our political leaders for accepting bribes for contracts awarded, the same scenario is playing out in our communities as people resell land that belong to others, so as to cart away with their money.
As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to be a Nigerian. It’s no wonder some Nigerians emigrate to other countries to be sane, because day by day, we are losing our sanity. Everyday, we try to remind foreigners that we are nice people, hospitable people, when amongst us, we slander one another , and even stigmatise based on tribe and religion.
In other words, being Nigerian has become a stigma as some of our African brothers drive us out of their countries. We cry for fairness, equality and justice in our country. It is not surprising why our leaders send their children to foreign schools…they do not believe in our educational system anymore. They understand what it means to be a Nigerian, and do not want their families or wards to experience the same, for it could be traumatising.