Still thinking about our foolish ways
When God gave me the inspiration to write and draw our attention to some of the foolish things we do which have kept us from becoming a developed nation, I thought of executing the idea in a 12-part series of articles. But I reasoned with myself that even in a society with a high reading culture, no writer, no matter how insightful and engaging he may be, can hold readers' attention for 12 continuous weeks with a weekly preachment on the same related theme. They will sooner or later get bored and your effort will be a fruitless one.
And in Nigeria where the reading culture is poor and our attention span is short, if not flitting, no one will follow you to the end if you inflict a 12-part series on them.
I had planned to do the series with the following headings: the first part which was published last week with the title Nigerians: the most foolish people on Earth? was originally planned to be titled Nigeria and Economic AIDS( Acquired Imports Dependency Syndrome). In it, I would preach against our excessive love for importation of things we can very well produce here even at comparative advantage as we saw last week.
The second one would be GSM: Go Spend Money. In it, I would preach against how Nigerians burn their money making frivolous calls. Part three would have been titled I am a Man U Fan, Rubbish! How a foolish and soccer-crazy nation with immensely gifted footballers celebrate the football of other nations while neglecting the development of their own even more exciting football.
The fourth would have been How Many ‘Deckings' Do You Have? Here, we would have exposed how the Igbos of Nigeria's south east spend millions of Naira to build multi-storied mansions, palatial buildings or what they call ‘befitting edifices' in their villages and hamlets only for rats and rabbits to inhabit them while they themselves dwell in the shanty parts of the cities where they live and do business.
The fifth part would have been headed It's Party Time! Here, I would have drawn attention to how the Yorubas of Nigeria's south west spend hard-earned money on ‘house warming' (as if a new house is icy cold), naming and wedding ceremonies and prestige burials. The most ridiculous is the pointless burials whereby the celebrant tells his friends and well wishers that he is about to ‘turn' the side of an ancestor who has been dead and buried for several years ago because he has been lying on that side for too long!
The sixth part would have been Five Cars, Four Wives and a Few Concubines. As you may guess, here I would have lamented how in some part of Nigeria north of the River Niger, wealth is expressed through the acquisition of assorted exotic cars, plenty wives and concubines. Money that should be spent in setting up industries that would create employment and raise the standard of living of the people is spent in servicing cars, women and innumerable children.
The seventh part of the series would have been tiled POOR (Passing Over Opportunities Repeatedly). In this one, I would have lamented how Nigeria has passed over many opportunities to become great repeatedly. God has bestowed on us the free gift of the black gold. We have witnessed many booms but soon after, we go through austerity because we have refused to plan.
I had planned that the eighth part would be titled Mr. Biggs and Mr. Smalls. Here I would have explored the theme of how an indisciplined and gluttonous people spend their money on a high-calorie and high cholesterol junk foods served by Mr. Biggs and its imitators. I would have pointed out that while some of my countrymen and women burn their money on some of these unhealthy foods, they get bloated in size as their pockets get depleted. And while Mr. Biggs' purse gets bigger and bigger, their gets smaller and smaller.
The ninth part would have been headed GMC (Grumbling, Murmuring and Complaining). How Nigerians waste irreplaceable time in endless grumblings, murmuring and complaining about everything under the sun instead of utilizing their time to do valuable things that can improve their lives and that of their country.
The tenth piece would have carried the title The Ways of Nigerian Governments. Since the 80s when political gimmickry became a part of the way we are governed, a kind of set pattern has emerged in the way our governments behave. You can almost predict that every government would do the following: attempt some form of visioning for Nigeria, amend or review the country's constitution, probe a past administration, pledge to give Nigeria steady power supply, pledge solemnly to give Nigeria a modern railway system, promise to address the Niger Delta problem, set up an economic advisory team and at the end of the day, it will not achieve any real transformation of the country.
The eleventh part of the series would have dwelled on Spiritual Pilgrimages. This one would have addressed the issue of the love of Christians and Muslims to burn their country's money in what looks like a competition to see which group is more dedicated in showing spirituality by going on holy pilgrimages to the Holy Lands of Mecca and Jerusalem.
In the past, it was usually the Muslims who were known to go on pilgrimage to Mecca because the Koran urges them to do so once in their life time, with however a proviso that if they can afford it. The Christians are not told any where in the Bible to go to Jerusalem but because of the totally unproductive religious politics that has helped a great deal to undermine our nation, Christians now go in droves to Jerusalem. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
Certificates without Skills or Schooling without being schooled would have been the title of the twelfth part of this serial. This one would have taken on the kind of education our system is offering that people come out of the school system as educated illiterates. As it is now, I will look for sponsors to be able to express this idea in a book form. For now, the proposed titles of the envisaged articles and the brief summaries of each given here should suffice in letting us know some of the things we are doing that have kept us down like a defeated or conquered people. No one has conquered us. We have conquered ourselves through the doing of silly, pointless and unprofitable things.
It is heart-warming to me that last week's piece elicited such a positive response from readers. I thought that some would write and denounce me, accusing me of trying to run down our country. I am happy that many saw the patriotic pain in my heart. I love this country so much and believe that it has so much potential to be great that I will not dare run it down.
I think that we should begin to seriously tell ourselves some home truths. The world is laughing at our stupidity. As I never tire of saying, many serious nations see us not as a people but as a potential market for the selling of all manners of goods.
I love the story about the witty Mohammed Ali who popularized and glamourised boxing. I think it was Sonny Liston who knocked Ali down. While on the floor Ali said he asked himself: what was I doing on the floor? I am a champion and champions are not supposed to be on the floor. With that question and reasoning with himself, Ali lifted his own spirit. And the next thing he did was that he lifted himself on to his feet and proceeded to rain blows on his opponent with venomous rage until he knocked him out. I believe that Nigeria was designed by God to be a champion or great country. But we have exhibited so much foolishness which is why we now find ourselves on the floor.
I want Nigerians to ask themselves what our nation is doing on the floor. With all our potential, why are we so underdeveloped? We need to take a critical look at our social, political and economic habits that have made us become prostrate. We must resolve to reform our ways. We should rise up and tell ourselves that our mumu don do.