Apart from being very resilient people, Nigerians are generalists. We are quick to display our ignorant and over sentimentalised bias from one-side of the story. We hate to logically think things through or even read/research to understand before we form opinions.
Nigeria and Nigerians are going through a change, a change for the better. Re-engineering takes time, especially when you’re dealing with human minds, it takes patience and a lot of communication to be able to achieve the change we desire.
I have tried in my little way to tell the people I meet every day that the change we desire has to start from us. If I don’t throw specks of dirt on the road for instance, besides having a clean environment, the younger people who look up to me will also emulate that. But you see the human mind is always looking for the easy way out, and will also do the contrary when no one is looking. Even in Singapore, one of the cleanest countries in the world, the Police are very vigilant, especially with tourists, because they understand how the human mind works.
Our journey to having the country of our dreams is only just beginning, and the changes are hard on us because it has to be.
I remember the first time I visited Accra about 10 years ago, I took a road trip because I wanted that experience. The first person to win me over was the taxi driver taking me to my hotel. We waited for the green light at the traffic, late in the night, with no cars coming, and no police or LASTMA there to enforce and ensure the citizens comply with traffic rules. In my disbelief, I had to ask him why he waited? His response was simple “Charley, you no dey see the red light?” That is the difference between the average Nigerian who rather than create the same impression when a foreigner visits, will be the first to tell the foreigner how useless the country is while breaking traffic rules.
Who are we fooling? Ourselves of course. If we can’t perform simple tasks as citizens, how do we expect the same citizens to perform when they ascend to positions of power?
The problems of this country, are not just leadership: the leaders act the way they do because we enable them. We are enablers. Enablers because we will do worse if given the same opportunity. To change the country, we have to be open-minded first and understand that change is constant. To state another example, the recent cashless policy designed to ease transactions was met with criticism, instead of open-mindedness as should have been.
Over the last couple of weeks, my fight or quarrels have been with individuals who say, Nigeria is rotten and irredeemable. I find that quite disturbing. Like the Bible says, there is power in the tongue. If Nigerians don’t see the good in Nigeria and all we do is create a negative perception, what then are we going to sell to the world?
Fortune 500 CEOs are visiting Nigeria in their numbers looking for a way to invest or own a piece of our great country. Nigeria is the most valuable brand in Africa overtaken South Africa not just on brand but by the number of investors and also has the largest economy.
That alone should count as something. I am hopeful this country will take its rightful place in the league of great nations. Whether they like it or not, we are a country after God’s own heart. God bless Nigeria and her people.