That Nigerians very dearly love Nigeria will come as a surprise to many Nigerians. But if you take a closer look, you will see how and why. One must of course separate words from actions. Words are cheap. Actions are expensive.
Here are the words you hear:
Nigeria is a corrupt place. President Jonathan is the worst thing that has happened to mankind since Lucifer. Ms Okonjo-Iweala does not know much of anything good. Anambra would be well served if they get rid of Governor Obi. The Igbo cannot be saved; they are too far gone. The country should be broken into parts: the Muslim north should be separated from the Christian south. The senate should arrest Ms. Okonjo-Iweala. The Yoruba are cowards and looters. The Osman Dan Fodio’s interrupted match to dip the Koran in the sea should be resumed. After 40 years of Hausa/Fulani misrule Nigeria is headed to the dustbin of history. You Igbo deserve all you are getting. Awolowo was an arch tribalist. Zik plotted the January 1966 coup in conjunction with his fellow Igbo. Yoruba were the brains behind the pogrom and have continued their hatred of Ndiigbo. Emeka Ugwuonye stole $1.594 million and have plunged Nigeria into the worst fiscal crises since independence. Bolaji Aluko is directly and personally responsible for death of Igbo philanthropy and enterprise. The vicious animal, Chukwuma Agwunobi, has yet to meet an Ngbati he would like.
These are just a few. And the contributors to this type of literature include the best PhD’s from the topmost universities around the world. They have their degrees in chemical engineering, in psychology, in linguistics and all the points in between. They hold down prestigious jobs and speak for presidential candidates and aspiring presidential candidates. They speak for political parties and governors.
They are not illiterate.
The people missing in the debate are the mechanics, and carpenters; the traders in Ochanja market in Onitsha; the PWD worker in Ogbete Enugu, the safe water peddler in Ojota, Lagos; the suya vendor on a Kaduna street, the amala madam at her joint in Ibadan. These people are too busy keeping the economy humming and feeding their families to waste time on idle gossips of lawyers, MD’s, vice chancellors, accountants/financial analysts or, other under utilized highly paid, big ego patriots.
Talk is cheap.
These talkers occupy every place you go to. If you enter a restaurant and encounter two Nigerians, the first topic and the last would be Nigeria is going nowhere fast. If they meet in a street corner in Boston, the same subject would prop up. Of course if you log into NigerianID, Arewa. NaijaObserver, Naijapolitics, NigerianWorldForum, etc, you will have an ear full.
But once you extract yourself from these places and tune off the loud mouths, you will observe a nation struggling (no doubt about that) to move ahead. This summer go to any airport anywhere in the world and go to the departure points for Nigerian bound planes. You would be over run by Diaspora Nigerians trying to get back to Nigeria for a week, a week end or even for a month. Go to any domestic airport in Nigeria and you will find Igbo trying to get to a city in the North and West; Yoruba doing the same thing or Hausa/Fulani doing that exact same thing. They talk to each other and seek business contacts.
If you choose to go to the places where ordinary people meet, such as isi-ewu joints the same things you saw at the airports are taking place. Most often the joint owner (say, a suya peddler) is from one tribe and the majority of the patrons are from a “hostile” tribe as reported by our loud mouths. Go to youth corps dormitory and you will see the Efik Christian going out on a date with a pretty Kanuri lady. Go to a church in Bauchi and you will see the Berom, Igbo, Yoruba, even Hausa at worship and feeding the collection plate.
The participants in these events number in the millions as opposed to the hundreds of false prophets occupying the NigerianWorldForum. I know that Val Ojo sleeps with an Igbo lady and most likely does not treat her the way Odumakin treated Opara. I will not be too surprised if Afis has an Igbo friend, Wharf Snake by his residence in Idi-Oro must have shared one or two meals with the much hated Ngbati.
Action speaks much louder than words
The silver lining in all these is that there are more one Nigerianists than the haters. There are many, who though they may only love Yoruba, or Tiv, or Annang, who would not like to see the country split into 240 nationalities. Increasingly more and more people are coming out in condemnation of terrorists such as Boko Haram or kidnappers. There are more and more people who take issues with corruption.
These voices are growing and with some luck would drown out the voices of the nattering nabobs of negativity.