Each time you listen in to a conversation among Nigerians the theme seems always to be that Nigeriais a rotten place. This thesis statement is followed by a litany of what is wrong with the country: officers not on their desks; people late at meetings, people who lie all the time; nothing works; cheating of the masses by people entrusted to take care of the people; gunning the system, etc. most things on the list are unfortunately true.
After the enumeration of the ills, every once in a while somebody asks why is this so? Then one hears some tepid explanations such as too much poverty, uneducated followers being led by uneducated leaders, lack of patriotism, tribalism; religious differences; etc.
If you are lucky you might hear some less thought through answers on how to solve the problems. But this seldom happens. What usually follows is a deafening silence on the solution with the implied understanding that the speakers know what to do and how to rectify the problem.
But do they? Do they know what to do?
My answer is look at the behavior of Diaspora Nigeria for evidence that they may have an answer. My review shows otherwise. Nigerians live in large numbers in US, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa and several other countries. In these places they have organizations run exclusively by Nigerians for Nigerians. The Nigerians that run these institutions are most often educated abroad usually in the countries they live in. Their education is likely to be anything beyond high school and climbing all the way to PhD, in many cases. Their followers usually have comparable education, so that the case of the blind leading the blind does not arise.
· They come to meetings late
· They steal from the associations
· They conduct fraudulent elections
· They do nor exit offices freely, but sit tight or refuse to call elections at all: a one man, one vote, one time, and type of democracy.
· They do not abide by their constitution or bylaws
· They do not execute projects as directed by the members or as promised during the campaigns
· They lavish public funds on meaningless white elephants like jamborees to their states in the form of medical missions
· They collude with well know thieves in the governments at home with a view to landing appointments or contracts very much like the politicians at home working with foreign enterprises for the exploitation of our own dear native land
· They live in affluence: riding the late model expensive cars not justified by their known income and throw wild parties
· They sleep with other peoples’ wives and husbands just like the brothers at home and they abuse their own spouses and neglect their children.
So the question is can the loud complaining Diaspora Nigerians be able actually to fix Nigerian problems? Can they do it without fixing the problems in Diaspora first? Do we have any right to point out the speck in Nigeria’s eyes without removing the large ball in our eyes first?
Can we cast the first stone?
My guess is that charity must start at home which in this case is where we live now, where the existing infrastructure would make it easy to run an efficient organization and where the laws are made and implemented by law enforcement officers as intended.
When we have demonstrated our abilities to get things done where we live we can then proceed to go back and do likewise.
These are my thoughts. What are yours?
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
May 1, 2012