Reading the heading, you would think I just insulted my own country. Never that. Be rest assured, I am still a patriotic Nigerian. It is a reference to when in the Bible when one of Jesus’ disciples met him and then went to his friend to tell him he met the messiah from Nazareth and then his friend responds, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I just find myself becoming more and more pessimistic about my country’s future that even if you told me you found the solution to all our country’s problems I would look at you like a nincompoop, an idiot of the infinite order. I used to be simply cynical (read here) which meant that despite being skeptical about a lot of things and not sure about the direction our future was going to take, I held a lot of hope for Nigeria. I still hold a glimmer of hope. I have no doubt that I will make it in Nigeria some day but will Nigeria make it?
Do I really need to spell out why I am currently feeling very negative about my beloved nation? I urge you to read news about Nigeria. It looks like the country is going to implode. If I was one of those apocalyptic preachers, I will predict that the end was near going by events in our country. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” People are dying left and right. Not just from crime or terrorism. There are still road accidents, disease and poverty, 3 potent killers in their own right. The Nigerian populace is not safe anymore. Brigands and Misguided ideologists act with impunity and for the most part go unpunished. There have been massive layoffs in the banking sector which is significant because aside from the petroleum sector and possibly telecommunications, the banking and financial sector is one of the biggest employers of labor in Nigeria today. Youth unemployment is at an all time high. The cost of living is going up while income of the average Nigerian is not going up as well. Day by day, the average Nigerian is being impoverished by the system of oppression disguised as democracy.
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days when the Son of Man returns. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”
While all the chaos and turmoil is going on in our country, for most people who are not directly affected by these things it is business as usual. Corruption is still as rampant as ever, they have just found more advanced ways to do it. People are still singing about spending money and “balling” while the populace cheers them on. This same populace will cheer them and go back to their homes and barely manage to have one square meal a day. Senators are still riding around in big cars while the people in the constituency are hungry. Educated and uneducated youths are walking around and not living their dreams. They are working at places they do not want to work, why? “Na condition wey make crayfish bend.” They are not angry at the policy makers, on the contrary there is something Nigerian about appreciating your sorry position because you feel that there are people who have it way worse. This assumption is definitely right, there are people who have it worse but is that why the Engineering graduate who now imports and sells shoes while patiently praying and fasting for his “breakthrough” is not angry with the government? He is, he is just angry on the inside and thankful for the fact that he has some form of livelihood.
Speaking of breakthrough, if ever Marx was right about religion being the opium of the masses he was right in Nigeria. I have written about how I feel about prosperity gospel in detail, here. The poorer people of our society see wealth as a blessing from God and as such many people pray and bring the house down waiting for their financial breakthrough. If you are unfamiliar with Pentecostal jargon, Breakthrough is like “Deus Ex Machina”, basically the story of a person’s life is sad and thoroughly wretched. He keeps being faithful and praying for God to intervene in his life and eventually, magically the man with no discernible skills whatsoever makes it big. He becomes wealthy. How you say? Did he start a company or business? Often times in Nigeria’s patronage based society where large sums of money are in the hands of individuals, in addition to praying and fasting this man was basically a groupie/yes man to a wealthy man who decided to use this “faithful” servant as the vessel for his money laundering and allow him to keep some profits from said interaction. These are the men and women who come to the church podium and give testimony about the inexplicable contract they got given even when they had no qualification whatsoever. This hope of making it big and experiencing breakthrough is one of the reasons the poor people have not lynched the wealthier people in our society. They are waiting for the wealthy man to recognize their loyalty and “bless” them or they are waiting for inexplicable wealth from God to become manifest because much like manifest destiny, it is everyone’s destiny to be rich according to the pastors we have in our country.
“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” There are rumors of the imminent break up of the entity we call Nigeria. Frankly I doubt that will happen. Nigerians might mistrust each other but there is a unity in misery. We are all suffering and smiling together and weirdly it is this joint misery that brings us together. Whichever part of the country you are from, you can sit down with another person from another part of the country and insult your senator or governor, why? Because for the most part the government is underachieving to say it politely. Nigeria as the next Somalia? Possible but not going to happen.
In conclusion, Can anything good come out of Nigeria? There are a lot of good things to come out of Nigeria. There are a lot of great minds that a Nigerian. Our music and movie industry are booming. We are exporting our culture to the world. There are a lot of talented Nigerian writers. Nigeria has a lot of potential. I know this. I have heard this since I was in elementary/primary school from my Ghanaian teachers nonetheless. Now Nigeria watched for the most part with envy as Ghana is going through massive development. Nigeria has so much to give the world. It is blessed with resources. We already give the world lots of crude oil. This is not a problem. The real question should be, Can Nigeria do anything good for itself?
Suffering and Smiling by Fela Kuti