Nigerians: the most foolish people on earth?

           By Idang Alibi

Some three or four years ago, one funny organization came out one day to tell the world one funny story that it had carried out a most funny research whose objective was to find out who the happiest people on earth were. And surprise of all surprises, the organization announced that its finding was that Nigerians were the happiest people on earth.

Many Nigerians were stupefied by this conclusion. How can a people who suffer so much; a majority of whom live in penury in the midst of such plenty, be said to be the happiest people on earth, some asked in all honesty. Perhaps because all humans love words that sound like a compliment, some who had serious doubt about the conclusion of that alleged research nevertheless accepted that Nigerians were indeed the happiest people on earth. If we can not be distinguished in concrete achievements in areas like scientific research, invention, administrative wizardry, etc, it is hard warming to hear something positive said about us even if such sounds more or less like a mockery. That is why, I think, some of my countrymen have accepted that tag of being a people who smile in the face of real suffering as if it were a badge of honour.

I am certain that today, if that same organization which carried out that research or some other one is given a research topic to find out which country has the most foolish people on earth, it will find out that Nigerians are. What are my grounds for saying so?

In December last year, the story about my country Nigeria was that about 78 ships laden with various imported goods were waiting in the high seas to off load their contents for Nigeria but the ports were too congested and there was no where for them to berth and discharge the cargo they were carrying. Till today we are hearing about ports congestion. The matter became so worrisome and so embarrassing that the Federal Government a few days ago set up a committee to decongest the ports.

It is not in my character to use strong words or else I would have said that we are a very stupid people. How can a people who earn the bulk of their foreign exchange from one commodity (oil) whose price is so volatile, use the bulk of that money in importing commodities of every description most of which it can conveniently produce here at home? Is that not the mark of a stupid, foolish people?

If you take the pains to investigate the contents of those ships you are likely to find out that they are carrying mostly consumer products. You will not find any ship bringing in essential raw materials, machines and spare-parts for our industries. You will see tooth picks, serviettes, toilet tissues, canned drinks, rice, baked beans, sardines, textile materials and fully sewn dresses. You will see pants, bras and powder. What a people called Nigerians. They do things that amaze the civilized world.

For me the most amazing part of this sad, scandalous story about 78 ships waiting at the high seas because there is no space for them to disgorge their cargoes which are harmful to the growth and development of our domestic industries, is that very few people are showing outrage. Not even government seems sufficiently angry to do really angry thing about this clear scandal.

In other lands some big heads would have rolled by now. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that ships do not have to be made to wait for unreasonably long time to discharge their contents but who shirked that responsibility to the great harm of this woe-begotten country? What has been done to that man or woman or those men or women?

The more important question is: why must we continue to depend on imports for our survival? Has any law been passed forbidding us from producing or manufacturing goods for ourselves, not to talk of for exports to other less endowed people?

Are we a mentally retarded, physically crippled or challenged people who are also blind to the resources that abound in our country? If it were not so, how come we can not use our heads and our hands to harness the free gifts of nature in our environment to clothe, feed and house ourselves? Why must we forever depend on the foundries and granaries of other nations even for some of our basic need like farming implements and foodstuffs?

Surely, if we are not the most foolish people on earth we must be the most indolent, the laziest people in the use of their God-given faculties to improve their circumstances. 

Since independence some 49 years ago, we have been talking about import substitution mode of industrialisation. Curiously, in the past few years we are hearing less and less about the need to produce things for ourselves. Our industrialization strategy now seems to be: import, import and import all importables. The unspoken philosophy seems to be that we will somehow become industrialised through osmosis! The more you import what others produce; mysteriously, their abilities and creative ingenuity will rub off on you! Shame on Nigeria.

I feel really, really angry because we portray ourselves as unthinking people. Since we have cultivated taste for foreign made goods, why can we not do importation in a manner that will not at least show us to be so stupid? Why must we use our scarce foreign exchange to pay for goods we can produce and then have to pay for foreign ships to wait at the high seas to deliver goods to us?

Two years ago, we were boasting of foreign reserves of 64 billion dollars. Last week we were told that it is now down to about 50 billion dollars. The Naira which for several years had stabilized at about 120 to the dollar has crashed miserably to over 153 to the dollar. Yet 78 ships are waiting to give us more imported goods. 

Given our love for imports and the crash in the world oil market, you need no pessimist to tell you that we have a tough, rough road ahead of us to travel as a nation. Who and where are the people who are paid and well are cared for to think for Nigeria? What are the doing?

Other nations that have oil have the good sense to realize that the black gold is an exhaustible wealth. In Norway, oil money is seen as a bonus and is kept in investments for the future generation. The Arabs are every where in the safe parts of the world investing their oil wealth for a future rainy day. One Arab king has decided to plant millions of date palm trees as an alternative to the black gold which he knows will not last forever as a revenue earner for his country.

But what is Nigeria doing with her oil money? Every month end officials of the Federal Government, the states and the local governments converge on Abuja to share the oil money. After collecting their states' share, some state governors simply move to the black market zone in Wuse Zone 4 to change a large chunk of what they got for the people of their states into dollars and keep for themselves. Local government chairmen go back home, call a few of their officials, find a safe hotel somewhere in their state capitals and share what they got in Abuja. The bulk of our oil money is used to finance frivolous imports.

Nigeria is like a cursed nation. A land that can grow a variety of food crops spends precious foreign exchange importing foodstuffs that it can grow.

Our ministry of agriculture exists to import, allocate and distribute fertilizer. Its officials hold countless meetings to this end. Our ministry of commerce and industry exists to preside over the death of industries. Many textile industries in Kano and Kaduna which employed thousands of Nigerians closed down long before the so-called global economic crisis reached our shores. The commerce ministry watched as cheap textiles imports from Asia killed our own textile industry. Our ministry of finance is there to grant import waivers and to negotiate foreign loans. The ministry of education is not there to orientate our people to love what they can produce by themselves. We have a strange kind of education which teaches us to hate ourselves and to hate the things that are made here.

In other serious countries their defense industries produce jets, arms and ammunitions and contribute substantially to the economy. Our own defense industry corporation in Kaduna produces salt! And then we have to import arms from nations that may become our enemies tomorrow. We are a wonderful people. We truly are. We do things contrary to reason and to common sense. Our mumu is too much.


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Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Icglobalsystem posted on 02-04-2009, 14:00:40 PM
Bravo,what a great write-up!You actually captured the true nature of an irony called Nigeria.Our sense of communal survival is extremely very backward and obselete.We are responsible for our own carnage..I'm so afraid that very soon,Nigeria will disintegrate and it will create a lot of instbility in sub-sahara Africa.
Nigeria is a shame to the black race...period

Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Olu Affairs posted on 02-04-2009, 14:27:29 PM
Right said Fred. Mr Idangi hits bullseye this time. Sadly, the voracious greed of the average Nigerian will keep the contraption called Nigeria ticking over for a while, at least for some time to come.
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Komplete posted on 02-04-2009, 15:24:37 PM
...nice write up,very articulate! bros, after all d analysis, what solution did u profer?
I was reading ur article hoping that after pouring out the venom, u will be kind enough to profer atleast a way out....u were only listing the effect not the cause.
I have said it over and over, Nigerians are not lazy! atleast i refuse to be counted among d nigerian mumus!
I live in Asia and am part of those that make sure that Nigerians still get essential comodities for them to keep a measure of decent life amidst leadership inflicted deprivations.
There are thousands of us here and all over the world who are willing to put up industries to produce those things we import, some years ago, i actually brought home equipments and started a modest factory, but packed up and fled back to Asia, why?......NO ELECTRICITY to power my machines and diseal price was hitting d rooftops when available!
Right now, if there is any effort anywhere to force our leaders to give us even 10 HOURS uninterupted power supply, pls call on me and i will galvanise an army of Nigerians here in Asia to support the effort.
We are not asking for much.......NOT MORE THAN 10 HOURS UNINTERUPTED POWER SUPPLY DAILY! and importation will reduce....drasticaly!
That is the solution.
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Gongo-aso posted on 02-04-2009, 15:38:31 PM

You are part of our problems.

So you know about these problems and obviously the failure of governance in Nigeria with BIG heads like Obasanjo who mismanaged our country for 3 + 8 years and each time FORCEFULLY handing over to mumus YET you told us that Obasanjo did good things.

Yea, this is part of the good things, to import toothpicks and underwears.

In another way, you are right. What do you expect from a country of 140m goats lumped together by Lugard and the Queen of brits?

We all know the way out.

When we retrieve our guts, we will do the right thing. That is, we will build viable nations from this kangaroo arrangements called Nigeria.

Until then, let the mumuism continue
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Olu Affairs posted on 02-04-2009, 16:16:11 PM
Many thanks to Gongo-aso for taking us back to Mr Idangis' article on how OBJ has been the next best thing that happened to 9ija since demallcrazy. He was under the delusion that the sun shines out of Obituary oops meant Obasanjos' stinking rump. As pointed out by earlier posts, has the pot of largesse collected from OBJ run out for Mr Idangi or how did he manage to transpose all that ails Nigeria today beyond and after the years that OBJ was at the helm of affairs.
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Aguabata posted on 02-04-2009, 18:38:50 PM
this writer shows a poor understanding of Nigeria's ability, can Nigeria easily produce those things it imports? my answer is no.The faltering word is 'easily'. the writer is moaning about the symptoms of a failed state, we should channel our energies to fundamental changes. To spell it out a failed state cant fight corruption and ineptitude, and those are on the top list of our problems. Ineptitude is worse than tribalism because if the dominating ethnic group are efficient they will create a successful environment and other ethnic groups could carve out a certain aspect of the economy which they could dominate while clamouring for equality.
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Aneyetonto posted on 02-04-2009, 22:04:49 PM
my broda!
very nice article! our mumu don ripe tay tay! wetin man go do now! dat's why oyibo man say na wew b happiest pple on earth, baba 70 don talk am finish SUFFERING AND SMILING, that's our style why won't they say we're the happiest pple. Until our northern brothers are cut off from nigeria, let dem join CHAD, dat wen we will stop being mumu.
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Leshak posted on 02-04-2009, 22:19:42 PM
Idang Alibi's Mumu article lacks logic. Now, I wouldnt know whether he knows about the famous Liar Paradox. It is about a Cretans who says all Cretans are liars and he himself is also a Cretan. If what he says is true, then it is a lie because as Cretan he is a liar. If what he says it is a lie, then it must be true for the same reason.
So here comes Idang Alibi, a Nigerian saying all Nigerians are mumus. If what he says is true, then he is a mumu himself and so there is no sense reading what a mumu has to say anyway. And if what he says is a lie, so there is no need to read it either because we dont expect less from a mumu.
You need to polish your logic, Idang. When you do this you can then see that Nigerian is blessed with talents, yes great minds even while not denying the possible existence of a sprinkle of indolent heads. Like it is everywhere in this wide world.

If you can check with my name in NVS, you will see that I have made similar complaints without throwing everybody in the same pot which to do so is senseless and in addition to this, suggested solutions. You belong to those
Nigerians I refer to in my Speech as suffering from the complaint bug.

No people are perfect. No person is perfect. No country is perfect. Paradise is yet to be.

What Nigerians as every people in this world need are solutions to the problems facing them and not mumu talk.

Lere Shakunle, Germany
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Iyke posted on 02-05-2009, 02:56:09 AM
Now, I wouldnt know whether he knows about the famous Liar Paradox. It is about a Cretans who says all Cretans are liars and he himself is also a Cretan. If what he says is true, then it is a lie because as Cretan he is a liar. If what he says it is a lie, then it must be true for the same reason.
So here comes Idang Alibi, a Nigerian saying all Nigerians are mumus. If what he says is true, then he is a mumu himself and so there is no sense reading what a mumu has to say anyway. And if what he says is a lie, so there is no need to read it either because we dont expect less from a mumu.

hey we are not in a logic class. you lapsed into sophistry, the article is contextual and must be read as such. when people say Americans or Arabs, we know that the generalization does not capture all. Adorno said that there is always a remainder in the attempt to capture all. so we all understand what the article is talking about and dont distract us from it. Commentators should adress the issue and not distract.
Re: Our Mumu Is Too Much
Olusiji posted on 02-05-2009, 07:23:23 AM
Nigerians are neither foolish nor stupid. They are very gifted people struggling in the chaotic waters of slavery. They are princes and princesses who found themselves governed by slaves. When slaves govern princes, they enslave them all. As a matter of fact, hardly any collection of people parade star quality people like Nigeria. The educated are the most brilliant, the traders are the most aggressive, the fraudsters are the most ingenious. In other Nations, with less blessing, conmen are not allowed to run Nations. Leadership is about vission. In Nigeria, vissions abound, but only conmen pastors see them. And they demand tithes as compensation for the fraudulent dreams they announce. In other Nations of the World. 419 kingpins do not superintend over National Assemblies. In Nigeria, only currency wash wash experts and drug barons perform oversight functions on the President. In Nations we envy, policemen do not run with ballot boxes for fifty Naira. Eve right here in Ghana, sick men do not make Presidents. Because they have to campaign until they drop.In Nigeria, results are declared by godfathers before ballot papers are printed.
Finally, for all those great Nations you see out there, hard work and planning happened years back. If you fail to plan. you plan to fail. The last leader in living memory in Nigeria who sat down to deliberately plan the future of his people was Obafemi Awolowo. Today, you can see the result in the vast majority of its educated citizens. The litmus test of a good leader is the life his memory lives after his earthly life. Awo even planned his mausoleum, his library, how his disciples would organise his memorial lectures. He wrote books leaving the most tiny elements of his thoughts for generations to research. The result is very clear. How come decades after he died that it is only this man we worship like the Gods! We all have a right to be angry because of the failure of the Nigerian promise. But we also have a duty to keep trying our best in our own duties without seeking bribes and shortcuts. That is the only way we can earn the right to be trully angry.
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