A Twitter user and popular comedian, Debo Macaroni (@mrmacaronii), sent up a post that tore his followers and fans into two. In this post, Mr. Macaroni tweeted, “Honest Question: Since you were born into this country, can you mention one thing that the government has done for you? Personally, I can’t mention one. I don’t know about you.”
As usual, the young ones came up with curses, abuses and statements on how useless the country is. They clamped down on people that recounted what they have benefitted from being in Nigeria and made it look like the country has nothing good to offer. The more I read the comments attracted by that post, the more I realised that many people don’t really know what they are enjoying in this country.
This is not a propaganda essay, as many always assumed. This essay borders on personal experiences. It does not mean that Nigeria is a perfect country, but we won’t also say that it is all bad in the country.
Well, three responses to Debo Macaroni’s post caught my attention. There are so many others but I believe these three will help to make us grateful for what we have even as we ask for more.
The first response is from Dr. Dipo Awojide (@OgbeniDipo), who retweeted the post with this remark, “If you attended Command, Army Secondary Schools, Airforce Schools, Nigeria Navy Schools, NMS or NDA, you cannot say Nigerian government hasn’t done anything for you. You probably enjoyed the best education and educational infrastructure Nigeria had to offer between 1990 – 2005.”
In his second retweet to this same post, Dr. Dipo said, “Cheap University education. My tuition was around N10,000 per year between 2004 – 2008. This is one of the reasons I give back and will continue to do so. If you graduated from a federal university in Nigeria, you cannot say the Nigerian government hasn’t done anything for you.”
The third response that I wish to bring here is from Kayode Ogundamisi (@ogundamisi), who stated, “Degree in Political Science UNIJOS was highly subsidized by Nigeria. Total cost not up to 30k naira. My entire secondary education was free with free textbooks and writing materials. Thanks to UPN and Jakande. Nigeria can do better but I am thankful for the opportunity.”
Well, that tells those of us that went to federal tertiary institutions that we owe Nigeria our certificates. Even those that went to state owned institutions still have to be grateful for answering “graduates” because we all know what private owned higher institutions cost. So to be honest here, it is easy to become a graduate in Nigeria. All that is needed is extra hardwork to be able to gain admission into those subsidised institutions.
But let’s leave the education sector and come to health. Many of us are alive and hearty today because we have primary, secondary and tertiary hospitals. Most of our mothers delivered us free of charge in government owned hospitals. Today we have primary health centres, where some of these millennials were born. We have general hospitals, where we see general practitioners and specialists for medical attention. We have tertiary institutions, where we are referred to when our medical conditions could not be handled by general hospitals. And how much do we pay for all these – close to nothing. All we do is “buy a card” with two hundred naira, or even less, and then sit down to wait for doctors. Can that money do anything for you in a private hospital?
Still in the health sector, many people do not really know that the government has paid for their children’s immunisation until they go to private hospitals for it. The only money I spent to immunise my children was the charges for injection syringe; and this was when I used a missionary hospital. From what I learnt, the government supplied the vaccines to the hospital but did not buy syringes for them. Grudgingly, I paid for the syringe at the cashier’s desk, grumbling as I did so. I became super thankful when people that went to private hospitals told me how much they had to pay.
There is no need looking into other sectors to prove that there are a lot of subsidies we enjoy in this country. For instance, a lot of people did not know that fertiliser was subsidised until middlemen came in and it became a business venture. Before, fertiliser was sold at very cheap rates at government offices but I don’t even know if that is obtainable now. This was also the case with improved crops and seedlings. These things wouldn’t have been available at cheap prices if the government did not play a role to affect that.
The truth we also have to bear in mind is that Nigeria as an entity is not the problem. The issue is not with Nigeria but with Nigerians. We are always quick to condemn without looking inwards to ask ourselves certain questions. Nigeria will not be in trouble if Nigerians – both the government and the citizenry – are not in trouble themselves. We point at the leadership but we forget that they reflect who we are. We want them to work and stop squandering money but we are diverting funds in our various offices for personal uses. We accuse them of padding budgets yet the list we presented to our husbands and to our bosses are triple the actual amount. Let’s face the truth, we all are Nigeria’s problem – either by commission or by omission.
All I am trying to say here is, never say that Nigeria government has not done anything for you because you are actually the one owning the country. Even if you claim you haven’t benefited directly, you have indirectly. At least, that your teacher and family doctor are existing today is because Nigeria gave them the opportunity. Let’s be grateful for what we have as we fight to get better things.