Can Nigeria Be Fixed?

Ajibola Lawal
Aug 19 · 3 min read

It’s a question on the minds of every person that seems to have a Stake in Nigeria — from those of Nigerian origin to people who have a horse in the race in Nigeria, for what ever reason.

For most, the answer is no. There are two types of people for whom the answer is no. The ones who have voted with their geographical mobility and have moved, or are working toward moving away. Then there’s a separate group who believe the answer is no. And they have not moved away. Like Glencore, they are mining, pillaging and raping the entity for raw materials that they can convert to $ and live their best lives elsewhere in the world.

It is a question I no longer ask myself, because I am concerned that the answer stares me right in the face. I only have to look. In my large nuclear family, I seem to be the only one left. Both my parents still partly live here, because well they are old and this is the world they know. But even their choice is apparent in how they only spend short quanta of time within Nigeria.

Then there’s me.

A few years ago, if you had asked me, my answer would not be what it is today: Silence.

But I digress.

What exactly is the problem with Nigeria? The easy answers would pour forth. Oh it’s the Dutch Curse. No, it’s corruption! No no, it’s incompetence! Yet another would tell you that it started with Biafra. Some yet still would tell you that it is the absence of infrastructure and an elite that invested in seeing the country continue to be subjugated. Others yet still, will leave it at the door of Colonialism.

They are all correct.

And yet, they are all wrong.

Everything we think is the problem with Nigeria is simply a symptom. Here’s a thought experiment for you. Let’s assume you have headaches, general malaise and you are running a fever. Is a fever your problem? Or do you have anything from either the garden variety malaria, Typhoid Fever or maybe someone is slowly trying to kill you with Arsenic? (True personal story).

How do we know this?

If Corruption were simply the problem, then having an organisation like the EFCC would fix that issue. It hasn’t.

What really is/are the problem, then?

They are surprisingly simple and very few in number. In fact, they are down to two things:

  1. An absence of a unified and mutually enforceable value system
  2. An absence of a unified communal social identity.

Corruption is the logical firstborn of Nr. 1, there is no need to say more. Nr. 1 is why there is a gradual acceptance of Internet Fraudsters in mainstream Nigerian culture, in spite of how much damage these felons do, to our communal image.

You cannot build a team that achieves anything, if there isn’t something that binds you all together. You can’t have a relationship without a thread that binds the members of the relationship together. It is this simple. It is in this thread that trust comes from. Very simply put, we do not have this as Nigerians.

To test for Nr. 2. Find a news article, any news article make sure it’s one that has any particular ethnic group from Nigeria here, here or here; show that article to a Nigerian and say oh, see what your fellow countryman has done. Make sure the article is about someone from an ethnic group that the person you are speaking to, isn’t from. Watch their reaction. Watch them tell you that while they are Nigerian, the person is from X ethnic group (“Oh well look at his name. Oghenero, that’s definitely an Urhobo man”).

It would have been bad enough if we had an issue with Nr. 1 OR Nr. 2 but having issues with both at the same time, is how you can have a twilight zone entity like this country of ours. This bothers me. I couldn’t eat this morning thinking about this.

I was even thinking about something else entirely (trying to fix for the existential end that we’re piling ourselves to, as a planet (I talk about this, in my Cancer of The Earth series)). And it bothered me because it’s almost as if there’s no fixing the problem, unless we have a hard reset. Hard resets require so much blood, and life. And that’s just costly.

Help me out here, do you know any bloodless ways we can fix for these two?

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