From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics

From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics

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I have previously published, here on NVS, an ode to my dear country titled "Nigeria: Love it or Leave it". With my heart now palpitating, as Valentine's Day approaches, my vocal chord resonates, once again, in tandem with my love song for my dear country.

In my heart, as well as in my head, perhaps because I have an unorthodox approach to critical analyses and empirical verification, I believe that Nigeria is the best country in the world. I respect your desire to run away from her. But for me, my heart belongs to her.

I live and work in the capital of the United States of America. I live here by choice. I work here by choice. Right here I have seen the corridors of power up close. I have seen the movement of dollars, by legitimate governmental process, through congressional bills, congressional debates, congressional approval, and finally the official appropriation, disbursement, and consumption of the public funds. It is smooth, transparent, and devoid of the intrigue of midnight deals and Ghana-must-go bags. You get the feeling that the law and obedience to it equalizes all citizens. It is a thing of joy. It makes for a peaceful life. But, in the midst of all of these, I still miss the uncertainties of my Nigeria.

Right here, I have seen, up close, the political newsmakers, without bodyguards, and without the usual makeup and airbrushing of news-magazines and television news. It is indeed a humanizing experience that reminds me that the mighty and the low are, when the masks are taken off, all the same. In Nigeria, I don't get to see the mighty so close. But I still want to go home.

Right here, I walk into the courthouse, and the same lawyer who was just on television representing Monica Lewinsky of the Clinton indiscretion fame, is my opposing counsel; but the judge only sees two lawyers; the judge does not see one senior and one junior lawyer; there are no special privileges for him; there are no caravan of praise-singers behind him. I am happy that I don't have to bow to him. He is just another lawyer, just like me. He is not a SAN (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) to be worshipped and feared. Wouldn't you think that I would like to remain here? No way. I want to go home.

Right here, I personally walked into a conference room of the Grand Hyatt Hotel to shake hands with the great Zik of Africa, just one year before he died. He came with just his wife for a reception. I pinched myself to assure myself that I was not dreaming as he regaled us, my friends and I, with stories of his days as a student here in the United States; he told us how, during his school days, the white man, unable to pronounce Azikiwe, nicknamed him Zik, and the name henceforth stuck. He told us all the menial jobs he held and tricks he used to survive as a student here. To put my awe and joy in perspective, you should know that Zik was already in his forties before my father was born. Zik was older than my grandfather. You would think, therefore, that Washington, which allows the high and the low to mix on equal footing, would be where I want to be. No, I want to be in Nigeria.

Right here, I have walked, and you can walk, into receptions for Nigerian governors and ministers, without the usual Nigerian style roadblocks, red tapes, bigmanism, and busybodies that obstruct your access to public servants. It was right here that I saw some of the prominent actors of the Nigerian theater including Soyinka, Achebe, OBJ, El-Rufai, Orji Kalu, Udenwa, minor Ministers, and several Chief Judges of the Nigerian states who came for judicial conferences. I did not have to bow to any and none had to bow to me. The great equalizer is one of the nicknames of the United States and the equalization of all people is done mostly here in the nations capital. You would think that I should sit comfortably here. No way, sir. No way, madam. Nigeria is where my heart is. 

I want to go home because the critics have failed, some miserably, in their logic, their reasoning, to educate me on why Nigeria, my Nigeria, is not the best place in the world. The critics are confused in their logic of equating every bad Nigerian with the nation of Nigeria.

To criticize individual Nigerians (that is civilians and specific government officials) is healthy. But to confuse the individual subject of the critic with Nigerians in general or with the sovereign entity Nigeria, is a common mistake that, invariably, leads to faulty reasoning and illogical conclusions. With the exception of a few intentionally mischievous sophists, I believe many of those guilty of these intellectual infractions are merely negligent or simply in a hurry.

First example: Your foreign friend, in London, Washington, Madrid, praises you by saying: "Tunde. I like you because you are honest, hardworking, trustworthy, unlike other Nigerians that I have met, all engaged in fraud. I like you because you don't behave like Nigerians". No kidding. In the euphoric spirit of accepting the compliment of your praise-singer, you smile from ear to ear, hug or shake his hands and, in the process, surrender your reasoning to a faulty and dangerous conclusion. Sure your friend may logically conclude that you do not behave like the Nigerians that he knew but what he said was that you do not behave like Nigerians. In other words, Nigerians are bad but you are the exception. Why did he not say: "Tunde, you are a true Nigerian: all the other fools from your country whom I met behave like (criminals? Indians? Americans? Mexicans?).

If you were not in a hurry to accept the compliment of your friend, and you took the time to reason, you should have said to him: "Mr. Powell, did it occur to you that I may very well be the first Nigerian that you have ever met who has authentic Nigeria attributes; and that the previous ones you had the misfortune to meet were those whose activities are the exceptions to the virtuous Nigerians? How many of the 140 million Nigerians have you met? ".

Second example: Obasanjo, the president, is alleged to have trampled upon the rights of politicians X, Y, and Z, made life miserable for his political enemies, enthroned and incorporated corruption in high places; therefore, says the critic, Nigerians are corrupt and Nigeria is a bad country. Really? Sure the president of a country is a symbol of that country, but the lazy critic has failed to provide a necessary factual ingredient for the validity of his conclusion, which is: that all Nigerians engage in or support the vices attributed to the president. (If the factual premise, that Obasanjo committed those alleged vices, is the only predicate, without more, the logical conclusion should be only that OBJ is bad and corrupt, period.). Leave Nigerians and Nigeria alone from your faulty logic.

Therefore, the critics having failed, and myself having seen the top of the mountain, I am eternally persuaded that Nigeria is the best place for me and for you. I will send thirty-six e-roses in anticipation of Valentine's Day, Nigeria.

WayoGuy@aol.com

(a Washington, D.C. attorney)

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Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Tanibaba posted on 02-03-2007, 02:17:06 AM
Wayo Guy

You have done it again. This is extra-ordinarily beautiful.

For me I have no other country than Nigeria and somehow I am grateful that I am a Nigerian. I love this country and it is part of what defines me. Who am i? What are my intrinsic values? What are my aspirations? Who are my role models or who are those that inspire me? In what ways has my environment and my citizenship of this great country contributed to or adversely affected my being.

Even the advanced countries have their own problems including that of good quality and educated youths.

Is Nigeria offering me an opportunity to excel? To be "a light that shines out of darkness"

So many things are going through my mind as I try to discover myself.

I thank God for making me a Nigerian and you can count on me as one of the passengers on the train that you have just boarded.

once again this is excellent. your hausa man and is dog is a rib cracker anyday

keep it up

taslim
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Marin posted on 02-03-2007, 02:41:37 AM
Wayoguy,
I did do it... once a senior manager in the company where I work decided to compliment me by saying in the course of a conversation during lunch " of course, you are very unusual for a Nigerian, there are not many like you around". To which I responded by saying " on the contrary, there are many people like me, in fact many more accomplished than I am." " How many Nigerians do you personally know in order to ba able to make that sort of generalisation?". He was shocked into silence and the table went silent, then he answered after a while " yes, you are certainly right, some of these things have to do with our prejudices"....and he avoided me like a plague ever after! I still don't know where I got the courage that day though, because he was a big oga - I guess I was just sick and tired of being hailed, little nobody me o!
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Tola Odejayi posted on 02-03-2007, 04:10:27 AM
Wayo Guy,

If the news media reported a particular group of people as being dishonest;

If my friends and family reported the same particular group of people as being dishonest;

If my few experiences with members of this group had shown them to be dishonest;

What conclusion would you expect me to draw if I came across another member of this group?



Of course, the conclusion I arrive at is not necessarily factually correct - the media may be sensationalist, my friends and family might be prejudiced or influenced by the same sensationalist media, and I might just have been unlucky to meet a few bad eggs of that group. Nevertheless, it is important to understand why people do come to these conclusions in the first place.
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Leshak posted on 02-03-2007, 17:12:21 PM
Wao Guy, My Salut!

I love this! In the wilderness of Nigeria bashing, talent bashing, bashing values and reducing all the good and the great and the grand ones of Nigeria into liliputians that tenant the brains of the bashers and so there is no sense expecting any other thing from them than the inhabitants of Liliput, it is refreshing that in spite of everything, home regains its place of honour.

See, terrible and as the end-of-the-world as she has been potrayed to be by those who
condemn Nigeria and go to the market to shout inanities at her and so doing fattening
illogicality that parades itself as logic, I think, and I agree with you, that it is the unpredicatable aspects of Nigeria or anything at all that makes it an invitation to a mind that likes to explore.

If a mathematics is totally predictable, it becomes completely uninteresting. If you can say beforehand ALL that could be expected of a logic problem, then you can forget it. Life derives its suspense and joy from the fact that it is fundamentally unpredictable. The next moment is not ours to see. And the fact that Newtonian physics is losing its hold on minds that love adventure has to do with that if I throw a stone and it makes a projectile from Lagos to Moscow, I can predict where and when it will land there. There is no aha thing about that. But if I am confronted with a stone which has to traverse the universe naturally using a natural path, free, like a bird in the sky, then life becomes interesting because the journey of such a stone is packed with the predictable and unpredicable which require a mathematics that is embedded in nature to handle.

American politics suddenly because interesting because Clinton and Lewinsky introduced a new paramater that veers it from same as every year into it to makes it become like a suspense-packed novel.

So, I agree with you that life is tougher in Nigeria because of her many parameters of unpredictability. But this country is resilient all the same. Look at what she has passed through since independence without breaking into pieces and with Nigerians still holding together as a people.

Now to a personal story. I went to Moscow on the invitation of a Russian colleague to recruit Russian students to my private university, The Matran School in 2000. At the airport, five Nigerians were waiting to receive me. I was so happy. One of them was doing his doctorate in economics. He would like to join my university after completion but he had to go back to Nigeria first because he was on government scholarship. After his course he went back to Nigeria. When he got home he wrote to say that he would like to come back to Europe straightaway. I told him not to yet. I said, look here friend, the country you want to leave forever is the same country where as a young person I made my mark as a journalist rising from a reporter to sub-editor, to editor and to editor-in-chief and co-publisher within a short time. Yes, that all this happened to me in Nigeria. I asked him to stay because Today he is not just at the apex of his career but he is being sent out to represent Nigeria on matters concerning inter-university co-operation between Nigerian and foreign universities.

Yes, life is tough in Nigeria but if you have something to give which is predicated on knowing what you want and dutifully and honourably pursuing it, you will get that which you want - make sure it is good for you and others - and even transcend it and this done, you can serve your country and humanity.

One more time, Thanks for this Voice in the Wilderness which encapsulates what most of us hold dear without any form of jaundiced nationalism and which ends not as a lonely voice but our voice and that of every innocent Nigeria - born and unborn.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

Lere Shakunle
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Leshak posted on 02-03-2007, 17:19:42 PM
Fellow Villages,

Sorry for some typos such as Because appearing where Become should be and also Because appearing where there should be Full-stop. I typed it online in the eery hours of the day.

LOS
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Malcolm12398 posted on 02-03-2007, 17:23:51 PM
This is what we have been telling all the haters. The fact that a few Nigerians are bad does not necessarily mean Nigerians are bad, because someone perceived OBJ as bad does not mean all Yorubas are bad, the fact that IBB and his criminal friends are bad does not make all Northerners bad and the fact that Uba and some other crimnals are bad does not make Igbo man bad. This shows the difference between someone who is learned in logic and who is not. Soon we shall know the real thinkers in my opinion, you are one of them. A great work of logic

Michael Ewetuga
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
WayoGuy posted on 02-03-2007, 17:49:06 PM
QUOTE:
Wayo Guy,

If the news media reported a particular group of people as being dishonest;

If my friends and family reported the same particular group of people as being dishonest;

If my few experiences with members of this group had shown them to be dishonest;

What conclusion would you expect me to draw if I came across another member of this group?



Of course, the conclusion I arrive at is not necessarily factually correct - the media may be sensationalist, my friends and family might be prejudiced or influenced by the same sensationalist media, and I might just have been unlucky to meet a few bad eggs of that group. Nevertheless, it is important to understand why people do come to these conclusions in the first place.


SLB,

In the scenario that you postulated, the logical method of reasoning called syllogism which involves the use of (a) premise, (b) predicate, and © conclusion, would, at first glance, appear to support the conclusion that the member of the group you came across is corrupt. Syllogistically, your argument would be:

(A) All members of group X are dishonest (premise);
(B) Mr. Tunde is a member of group X (predicate);
© Therefore, Tunde is dishonest (conclusion).

By the rules of logic, you would be correct. But, as you already pointed out, you are not necessarily factually correct because the premise and its foundation can easily be shown to lack empirical support and, even worse, shown to be false.

As all students of logic and epistemology know, logical correctness is not equivalent to factual correctness. The conclusion can be correct while the premise is false.

But SBS, the irony of your postulation is this: If we follow your line of argument, and apply the example I gave in the article above, you will find that the critic should have come to the conclusion that Tunde is dishonest. (Syllogism does not allow for exceptions once you start with a sweeping premise. If there is an exception, then the premise is wrong).

Now you see why the critic, who has discovered Tunde, an honest Nigerian, is wrong when, in the face of that discovery, he still went ahead with his faulty conclusion that Nigerians are bad.
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Oguguo Yakere posted on 02-03-2007, 22:36:28 PM
Tunde,

I chose to call you Tunde advertently. I prefer that, to your handle which negates your good article. By using "Wayo Guy" as your handle even in a good article such as this, you tend to lend credence to the critics you are disagreeing with who don't draw same conclusion with you after all you said before stating that you love it. By that one can suspect that you agree that by extension, Nigerians are "wayo guys". That happens to be in consonance with a recent (or should one say "as usual") report on Nigeria by CNN. I for one I am not a "wayo guy". So you need to reconsider your handle or still leave it as is, if your article is meant to serve as a paradox.

Again, I enjoyed this your article and can say that I share your experience of meeting and interacting with men and women of high renoun in the corridor of power in my neck of woods here in the US. As you rightly alluded in your article interaction with the so called leaders in Nigeria is hard out of share pompousity and many time emptiness. Performance in that country hardly takes you anywhere unless you "join them".

On the other hand, what one was unable to read in this your submission is the reasons why you so love Nigeria. You don't have to hate it but you need to tell us why you so love it that you are against its critics. You also have not told us why you have remained over here instead of going home to the Nigeria you love so much.

Everything you wrote about "here" that does not obtain "there" seems to me a good reason to love "here" more than (if not only) in lieu of "there".

One is tempted to say that you would have been more credible if you had written this article as a Ghanaian. I personally wonder if your write up was meant to be an innuendo.

Anyhow, I am one of those who believe that there is no basis for comparison between Nigeria and the Unite States of America. One of the many reasons for such a position is that America was designed and built by Americans. They believed in the tenets of the union called United States of America. Its name describes what it is and they live what they are. A good thing started in the forming of the nation when the people agreed to do so, joined together to building it during when others saw and joined one after the other to eventually make up the fity-one states we have today. They have kept the union going because of what it has meant to them as a people. You and I know that we cannot say that about Nigeria. Even the Soviet Union which tried their own union by force have today failed.

Although one must add that there are some other territories that were purchased from France or conquered from Spain. In a nut shell, small nations joined the good union of other nations that emmerged after the nefarious British were defeated and the American Independence achieved unlike our forced marriage irespective of our peoples' uniqueness and the so called (unreal) independence.

American decide what goes on in their country through the ballot box and fair representation at the top. Is that what goes on in Nigeria? Ofcourse not. The citizens of America have since then enjoyed the benefits of their constitutional government. They have freedom, respect for the rule of law. They at leasat try to make the level plain for evrybody. The equity in the value of the life of their citizens is non-pareil compared to any other nation. Here nobody worships anybody, no "Baba Ke" or "Ranka Dede", or the new found "Igwe" or "Obi" there is no "na my brother be the minister O" and the list goes on. Since you have been in this country have you heard anybody say to you "do you know who Iam". I believe these are some of the reasons Americans are proud of their country anytime anywhere.

What reasons do we have other than "East or West home is the best" love for Nigeria.
The saying that "experience is the best teacher is still true" and no logic or factual premises defies the reality of that cliche. You don't have to be a wizard in philosophy to have this common sense wisdom, that at the moment our love for "there" is an emotional rather than substantial one.

I love my home and my place of origin even as it is being *******ized.

People who refer to the GSM as an achievement by OBJ make me laugh. If any leader in Africa in this day and age cannot provide that service for its people when the people in Kalahari desert have been using it, then that leader must be dead.

Let us just be fair and compare Nigeria to Ghana where a Gahanaian would been a more appropriate author of your article.

Yakere
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
AfricaWest1 posted on 02-04-2007, 02:06:56 AM
Yakere

Thanks for your pragmatic approach to Nigeria question.

Wayoguy

You see, I am perturbed that you love Nigeria so much but yet, prefer "by choice" to live
in the U.S. I am afraid, but I see your piece as an example of the 'Nigeria hypocrisy' that seems to know no bounds. You seem capable - like some other villagers - to love and romantise Nigeria from afar, but not close up. My brother, tell me, how could I take you seriously?

My response to you could be summed up in the following way: 'the voice of majority requires no proof.' Casting the various explanations aside for a moment, it is a fact that Nigerians are generally seen as a people without honour, intergrity and honest values.
It beats my imagination when I see people who call themselves 'lovers of Nigeria' pretend that the perception of Nigeria/Nigerians as very corrupt is: 90% fiction/10% fact.

I am of Igbo heritage - and no, I am not Biafran or a member of MOSSOB. It is simply, self-evident that the African contraption/state called Nigeria is extremely corrupt and deeply troubled. Like you, I live in the diaspora, however, will not defend Nigeria/Nigerians out of a misplaced emotional outlook.

AW.
Re: From Washington with Love: A Critique of Nigerian Critics
Tola Odejayi posted on 02-04-2007, 04:48:19 AM
Hello Wayo Guy.

Your description of the reasoning applied by the non-Nigerian to decide whether Tunde is honest is as follows

QUOTE:
(A) All members of group X are dishonest (premise);
(B) Mr. Tunde is a member of group X (predicate);
© Therefore, Tunde is dishonest (conclusion).


(where group X represents Nigerians.)

Therefore (you say), the non-Nigerian should conclude that Tunde is dishonest, even though the evidence before his eyes (the display of Tunde's honesty) contradicts this.

(Which one we go do now? Logic versus Evidence? )

However, I think that his reasoning is slightly different from the way you describe - instead of using precise logic involving all-or-nothing sweeping statements, he uses a kind of rough statistical analysis, like this:

QUOTE:
(A) Most members of group X are dishonest (premise);
(B) Mr. Tunde is a member of group X (predicate);
© Therefore, Tunde is likely to be dishonest (conclusion).


(Note the bolded bits.)

The use of probability here (by the use of the phrase 'is likely to be') allows for the possibility that Tunde is not actually dishonest, and it allows the non-Nigerian to preserve his belief about Nigerians' dishonesty while excluding Tunde from being dishonest.

Like I said, I don't think it's factually correct to make these judgments - but I think many people do this, including Nigerians. Here's [url=http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/shokos-mixed-bag/the-witch-cried-yesterday-4.html]an article I wrote exploring the phenomenon[/url] a while back.

Cheers,

Shoko
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