Proudly Nigerian!

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ELEVATING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

I have had the privilege of travelling across several African countries in recent times and have to tell you that, it is great to be a Nigerian and I am a proud one too! We tend to disparage this country a lot, which is excellent as we must never be comfortable at any level and must continually strive to be better at all times in all areas of life, especially in the areas of corruption, infrastructure, politics, education, etc.

However, at the back of our minds we must continue or start to thank God for who we are and what we have. The thing is that, other African countries have these same problems listed above and many do not have what we have. We must start to change the narrative about this country. As Nigerians, we tend to say so many negative things about the country and its people that it is no wonder, we are viewed with suspicion everywhere we go. Below are reasons why you must continue to proudly extol your country:

We run our economy. Nigerians own this economy and have a strong say in how their economy will run. Conglomerates, Industries, Banks, Sectors are powered by Nigerian businesses and owned by Nigerians who also employ a large chunk of the populace to work in these organisations, industries, etc. We have also taken many of our companies and products globally and to other African countries and are contributing our quota to these countries, with our brands. You see FBN, Access, UBA, Dangote internationally and in many African countries. The story is not exactly the same for many African countries, where the nationals are not the heartbeat of their economies for various reasons.

Our music. Everywhere you go, you hear Nigerian music. Our Davido, WizKid, Falz, Burma Boy, Patoranking, DBanj, Simi, Tiwa Savage, Adekunle Gold, Psquare, Flavour, etc are enjoyed by many in diaspora. You hear our music in hotel lobbies, restaurants, people’s cars, etc. Even when the people do not speak English as a national language, you still hear them playing our music and singing our songs. Of course we also appreciate the songs of other African countries too!
Nollywood. They say that after Hollywood and Bollywood, the next wood is Nollywood. Nollywood has done a good job of entertaining the world and Africa especially. Our movies have been sub-titled in countries where English is not their national language and our movie stars are revered and talked about in these countries, like you would talk about a Hollywood star. Our movie stars are invited as national dignitaries to state events. The other day, I saw that Omotola was invited to the inauguration and swearing in of the new Liberian President, George Weah and accorded state dignitary protocol.

Education. While I agree, that our education is nowhere near the standards we want it to be and must continue to strive for better. We should acknowledge the strides we are making in Education. We have several universities, private and government owned, a world acclaimed business school with global accreditation, several initiatives to improve our vocational skills, and education along key national initiatives like agriculture. Again, we must improve what we have and continue to press on for more initiatives in various areas.

We are industrious and resilient. I remember my first trip to South Africa, many years ago. A colleague asked me, I hear in Nigeria many people do not have access to housing and car loans, yet a lot of you own your house and car. My response was, “we work hard and are ambitious”. Many Nigerians do not have the luxury of getting financing nor social security allowance from the government. We work hard for our achievements and want to achieve. What I see in other countries which may be good or bad, depending on how you view it, is that many people wait for government, to solve all of their problems and do not develop entrepreneurial desire nor skills. We need to continue to encourage our SME’s in this country, because they are doing a lot to keep the spirit of this nation going and are a big component of our economy and culture.

We have food. Some of you will say, this is trivial, but it is not! We really have variety and we can cook. If like me you’ve been traveling a lot, you will appreciate this fact. One thing I suffer, when I travel is not having well prepared Nigerian food. I love my Nigerian food. Despite the fact that I stay in good hotels with access to well cooked food, there is a limit to how much bread and salads you can eat. I have tasted variants of our soups and fufu (eba, etc) and must tell you and this is attested to by other African’s who have traveled across the continent, they love Nigerian food. Kudos to our rich culture of foods from different tribes.

We have freedom. This we must really cherish. We have the freedom to say what we like and what we do not like. Many have been agitating for change in one form or another politically and doing so publicly. We have young men like Fela Durotoye and Omoyeli Sowore, who have declared they want to be President, despite not having any political footprint and have gained followership. We can tell our leaders that we are not happy about policy decisions and changes we want to see regarding these policies. Social media is agog with all kinds of comments. These kinds of freedom are nonexistent in many African countries.
Please my people, let us be proud of who we are and what we have achieved as a nation. I agree that we still have a very long way to go and must continue to agitate and fight for improvement. We should just try not to forget what we have and keep the Nigerian flag flying!