Falling in Love with Nigeria (2)

Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Is it possible to love a hateful, corrupt and villainous individual? Is it advisable to prolong a relationship steeped in suspicion, treachery, sabotage and all sorts of abuses? It is probably understandable that no one desires to stay long in a loveless relationship where the prospect of possible change or improvement seems a mirage. Of course, all the agonising scenarios posed above are common and possible in human relationships. However, dealing with the diverse and disparate inter-relatedness between individual Nigerians and their country, Nigeria is wildly beyond contemplation – an absolute nightmare. 

Yet, we need to isolate ourselves even at the darkest periods of our existence as a community of peoples hedged by geographical encumbrance with our complex and distinct socio-cultural worldviews and dispositions…and seek to relate with our environment, irrespective of its foundational imbalance and storied iniquities. We have to perform this ritual in a way that shows that we have common sense, and we understand that in finding the natural attributes and goodness of the country we call Nigeria, is our road to redemption and revival. We must find reasons to fall in love with Nigeria; and there are quite a lot of reasons to do so effortlessly if we dig deep within ourselves, to shun the Russian roulette of blame game, revisionism, nostalgic self hate, tribal slurs, ethnic parochialism, and such defeatist claims and counterclaims.

 Let us look at the divine orchestration of Nigeria’s physical location at the trigger crux of the African continent, with a fairly elaborate kiss of the Atlantic Ocean. We often read of great and devastatingly destructive natural tragedies like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and such tropical storms that terrorise coastal nations and even landlocked ones. For several decades, we merely read about them, watch the extent of their devastations on televisions, and we sympathise effusively. Sometimes we send relief materials without truly appreciating the concept of empathy with the ill-fated inhabitants of those countries, because we have been shielded from such calamities. In such moments, we ought to pause in our quarrels and complaints to thank God for placing us in Nigeria – the authentic God’s own country. How blessed are we to avoid such fates considering our state of infrastructures and our abject maintenance culture.

  As if being a cocoon of safety is not enough, Nigeria is blessed with natural resources, that even in our profligate and senseless misuse, siphoning, misappropriation, and all sorts of looting, we are blessed with reserves of immeasurable resources buried deep under our feet that it may take several generations to exhaust; and even more overground yet to encounter. Apart from petroleum, marine life and fertile land, Nigeria is so embarrassingly blessed in solid minerals – mostly yet unexploited – all across its 36 states (and Abuja) that a list of it seems like a careless exaggeration! Let us tick a fraction: Marble, Tantalite, Bentonite, Gold, Cassiterite (tine ore), Columbite, Gypsum, Wolfram, Barite, Clay, Coal, Gemstone, Iron-Ore, Lead/Zinc, Limestone, Salt, Diatomite, Hydro-carbon, Kaolin, Lignite, Marcasite, Manganese, Uranium, Butyles, Amethyst, Asbestos, Flosper, Graphite, Hyanite, Mica, Rock Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, Superntinite, Tentalime, Copper, Glass-Sand, Pyrochinre, Bauxite, Bismuth, Emerald, Fluoride, Molybdenite, Phosphate, Potash, Silica Sand, Soda Ash, and much more. (Source: Embassy of Nigeria, Hague).

With that impressive list of solid minerals languishing underneath us, all we need is a proactive, intelligent and committed leadership willing to work hard and smart in the even development of the ‘nations’ that make up this country, and provoke emotional and patriotic attachments amongst its citizens. What is more, we have a huge population, loosely recommended to be over 200 million, which makes us a capitalist’s dreamland of unlimited manpower and buying power resources. With the right leadership, well thought-out action plans, and some sort of messianic zeal to jumpstart the creative and economic imperatives of dragging Nigeria into the global club of high-achieving prosperous countries, Nigeria will become a source of pride – a signpost of glory – that all shall be thrilled to not only claim as theirs, but work hard to be a part of its enduring success.

Our country is beautiful and enchanting – in spite of the discomforting hands our political leaders and interlopers have dealt us. We remain upbeat and ennobling, relishing every opportunity to showcase and celebrate our diverse cultures, traditional ceremonies, festivals, folklores, and such colourful representations of our civilisation and sophistication. We are a happy, hard working and industrious lot, with the right encouragement, progressive leadership, intelligently entrenched institutions, and an unyielding culture of self representation, and resolute democratic observance…a highly mobile and influential middle class shall re-emerge to energise the necessary socio-economic live wires.

When we venture into the nebulous zone of spirituality, there is a tendency to scratch the side of the head that inhabits the realm of doubt, unbelief, dissonance, and such incredulous elements. Yet, it is clear that there is some spiritual ambience, or at least, peculiar circumstance that makes our Nigerian parents produce offspring with mostly high levels of intelligence and irrepressible drive to succeed and thrive, irrespective of the physical or mental situations and encumbrances. Clearly, our genetic pedigree, even without empirical experimentation, is arguably verging on the precocious.

  Look around you with dispassionate clarity, you will notice that Nigerians can thrive and evolve stoutly in any location, profession or fields of human undertakings. All we need really is the right mix of hard work, perseverance, attention to details, humility to learn and unlearn, and thereafter, almost any Nigerian can touch the mountain tops of any profession, occupation or vocation – and erect his or her own tent thereupon. 

This is a clarion call to all Nigerians to quit the self-degrading notion that “nothing good can come out of Nigeria”, or that “Nigeria happening to anyone” is some sort of tragic or horrific entanglement. Shorn of current and age long  animosities, frustrations, disappointments and serial acts of unpatriotic and criminal nature at every level of the Nigerian entity, there are millions of other heartwarming acts and accomplishments of incredible Nigerians who have broken through the barriers erected by undesirable elements to stamp the name of our country on global platforms. Let us focus on the great acts and illustrious attainments of the best of us, and use that as “prayer points” for the survival, revival and the upliftment of our country. 

Frankly, with evil, greedy, bungling and irredeemably corrupt leaders (and their ignoble enablers and sycophants) out of our way and lives, what is not to love about Nigeria?

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