The Nigerian Mindset of Preconception 

By Now, everyone across the globe that has read about Nigerians (Nigerians inclusive) must have reached a unanimous opinion that the worst disease among Nigerians is corruption. Well, management experts had told us that when a problem is identified, it's 50% solved. Whether this concept applies to Nigerians would be left for another's discussion. 

What about the problem that has taken the second row to corruption? Call it prejudice, bias, or preconceived notion. Its root is all about me or me first. This second in command disease has eaten deep into Nigerian societal fiber to the extent that most times individual decisions are made without any form of soul-searching. Indeed, majority of Nigeria's decision makers are far-away from being scrupulous. The consequence of preconception inevitably destroys the objective thoughts of a people thereby making national development extremely difficult. If Nigeria have to move forward, both the leadership and those being led have the responsibilities to apply their right mindset towards purposeful thoughts. The 21st century should be the era of realistic views, and not praise, praise; thus, the usual "my mama soup is sweet," even when it's egregious. 

Government (govt) is a continuation of governance, so govt-to-govt should not be the cynicism of previous govt whereby even the good ideas of the previous govt are discarded out of mere prejudice. Look at how the General Babangida administration deliberately killed Saturday's environmental sanitation introduced by General Buhari, his (Babangida) predecessor. Can any right thinking person give any reason why it was/is wrong to clean the environment and reduce malaria fever in Nigeria? The bias of Babangida against Gen. Buhari made his administration to neglect that useful exercise. While Babangida in his weird thoughts believed he was undoing Gen. Buhari by frustrating the cleaning exercise, he didn't realize he was inflecting malaria fever into the people he supposedly took over power to protect. Because you would be provoked, don't bother to know the huge amount the economy spends yearly to treat malaria fever when there are many areas of humanity not attended to due to inadequate financial capital. Regardless of your antipathy towards your predecessor, a normal leader should take an x-ray of previous programs with a view to adopt and continue with the ones beneficial to the people as well as introduce new and better programs. 

There are dozens of neglected projects in each of the local govts in Nigeria. Principal reason for this nonsense is the bias of one govt against the other. The result is uncompleted roads, bridges, etc across the country. It would benefit the people to have two completed projects versus 20 uncompleted projects that are useless to the communities. When leaders are contemplating what decisions to make, they must be objective enough not to allow their bias override what would benefit the masses. Thus, it's difficult to see an infallible person, just as this writer opines that there could be something good about any terrible human being. As cruel as General Sani Abacha, whose death brought forth jubilation across Nigeria, his failed bank decree was a great idea. The failed bank decree made the insurance company to recover substantial part of the frivolous debts owed to the banks, and these were used to pay depositors whose funds were trapped in the failed banks. You can bet that without the failed bank decree, the smart financial thieves would have enjoyed the bank loots at the expense of the bank depositors. It was reasonable for Abacha's successor to continue with that decree which was helpful to the plights of many Nigerians. In essence, successive govts should continue with any of the previous program(s) that would enhance the lives of the people. 

Viewed from another perspective, the issue of bias manifested in the recent Supreme Court (SC) judgment on Rivers State. In a bid to tear down "godfatherism" in Nigeria's politics and cripple Chief Obasanjo's (OBJ) political empire, the SC judges became maudlin and ended up with judicial clairvoyance. The SC learned judges as individuals living in Nigeria had seen all the excesses of OBJ and certainly had their bias. However, what the SC judges forgot was that their pronouncements are laws in itself that would be referenced now and by future generations. Rather than stay within the judicial ambit in their judgment, they inadvertently appointed a governor by judicial fiat. This matter in question is not about how to undo OBJ, but the legacy that has been laid in the governorship race across Nigeria. 

A preposterous mindset is wrecking havoc on Nigerian society, resulting in irrational behavior and under-development. Otherwise, how would anyone explain a situation whereby a competitor believes that he must be a winner at the polls or in any game? The mess of being biased has degenerated to the extent that politicians do not accept defeat at the polls. Most of them think it is a do-or-die affair. On the other hand, it's disgusting to know that even in sports tournament, the powers to be want their candidate fielded against national interest. Of course, the end result is catastrophic and shameful to the nation as the team often gets a merciless defeat. 

How then can Nigerians cure this horrible disease? The old adage says, "the rottenness of the fish starts from the head", so the cure to this second in command disease have to start from Abuja, the center of power in Nigeria. Because govt's influence in the lives of the people is high, it's recommended that President Yar'Adua takes the lead. He should go on national broadcast to send the message to Nigerians and ensure that there is no disconnect between the federal executive council and the local govt (grass-root) in seeing to the war against any form of bias. The message is imminent for the nation's development, and the emphasis should be on, reduce national waste by directing that all viable abandoned projects be completed as soon as possible. Secondly, all govt. officers must as a necessity embrace objectivity and discard prejudice in the interest of the people. 

Besides corruption, preconception has been an impediment to the nation's development. 

Tosan Okotie 

Lives in Texas, USA 

November 4, 2007