Tuesday, 11 October 2011 19:02

Nigeria and moral issues @51: Has the world judged her citizens right?

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Once again comes that time of the year for national evaluation of the most popular and populous country in Africa that gained her political independence from Great Britain in 1960, and a civil war 6 years after: then oil boom in early seventies; followed by world Bank  instigated Structural Adjustment program; the crumbling of industries and institutions of Higher learning; the spiral inflation and irreversible drop on standard of living; the struggle for survival with attendant moral and economic failures; the unrestrained migration into Europe, and even other smaller African countries; the so called era of brain drain and the ultimate collapse of cherished  traditional  moral  values.

The rat race for survival sent professors short changing academic ethics; politicians looting national, state and council treasuries, young women forced to national and international prostitution to pay college fee and help families, unemployed college graduate and desperate young men took up arms to terrorize already down trodden Nigerians, forcing out last pennies from victims leaving thousands dead for confessing bankruptcy in their homes and on the roads. As computer age emerged, crime took an international dimension in the name of advanced fee fraud. (Aka.419).

International victims ( who are also not so innocent) started to scream against fellow victims of a  near failed society and the world took it  unjustly from there without comparative study of difference between Nigerians at home and those abroad; between crimes and factors that precipitated such crimes; between Nigeria and the rest of restless countries with similar socio-political problems. Now they are wrongly at the verging of killing someone who is even honest, hardworking and productive even in Europe or any other place in the world just because she or she is a Nigeria. Yet more horrible stuff happens in countries rated  above Nigeria crime wise.

Come to think of it, with out forgiving most Nigerian politicians, one can trace the complexity of the national problem to the poor foundation of the so called Independence Euro-grandfathers and mothers. I am not going into that for lack of competence,  just call a junior lecturer in any Nigerian university, department of political science and you get shock of your life on the subtle kind of political foundation, ‘gracious colonial masters “ left behind..or did they forget to hand over the right package to a loyal colony or sneaked in some cracked foundation bound to fail?  Should they have done the amalgamation in the first place? Could n’t Nigeria be separately colonized , and separately republic?  I am not educated enough to go into details. Call the professor oF political science from Africa, not from America or Britain.

Then who sponsors IMF and rigorous loan systems? Who sold guns to enhance the civil war just 6 years after Independence? Who buys the oil with helping with advice on revenue sharing? Who want to buy off gold, oils, diamond..any good thing from the continent? If there are no craving buyers of crude oil from illegal individuals, there would be no advance fee fraud. So the problem Nigeria carries is too heavy that one wonders how she managed to keep together as a nation. So she first deserves some cheers for coming from such a rough beginning and acute middle. She has seen more disloyalty from all angles since inception, not just from her desperate citizens. I am not supporting adopting wrong solution to problem  solving but a balance evaluation at a nation going through so much from inception.

Yes it is time for a resounding 51 happy cheers for this geographic mother and home of great men and women of some Africans resident in almost any part of the world, working very hard to support world economy!  Show me a virgin in a maternity ward and I would show you the country in the world where there is no honest struggling Nigerian! Nigeria is the home of winners not quitters; Home of the most educated Africans and daring business men that ever existed.   Where is that college or university in America and indeed anywhere in the world that does not host class “A” professors, authors and students of Nigeria origin?

She is also home of most respectful and smart children that can compete at the same academic pedestal any where in the world. Aged Nigerian women come into America communicating very well in English because of the dynamism of the society they were coming from. They need not interpreters at American hospitals and always could read signs hence they never get lost and wait for media to show case confused faces for identification. Nigeria speak impeccable English with traditional accent and there is no apologies for that. People reflect their background through language even in America. The Southerners speaks so deep that I could hardly understand them.

Nigeria is the home of marriageable women. I mean women who meet the 21 st century  family survival requirement.  From North to south, of Niger are most pretty and adoring women, who combines perfect culinary skills with  fashion sophistication and brilliance that tops all in Africa and beyond! Nigeria women  attractively stand out in any crowd in America, yet  they  are likely the  most educated African women, the only  from that continent that want to do it better than the white European women , if she is challenged. She is nicely arrogant and there is nothing wrong about it..flout it if you've got it!  She comes to America and does not get  stuck with menial job syndrome, unlike women from other parts of Africa who are mostly ok with the preliminary dollars tied to some unwholesome classless jobs. Nigeria sisters move on and America is home of those who want to move at any time.

I mean marriage failures or widowhood do not provide feminine excuses for the average Nigerian women victim to fail herself , her  children or community. Even as a single parent she sets her goal right and achieves them. Her child goes to the best colleges and schools. She rides nice cars and live in her own affordable homes. Project apartments that tend to breed social irresponsibility is never  a permanent choice for average Nigerian mothers o matter what peripheral  benefits..

America is booming with agile Nigerian nurses who spend as many hours as their hospitals want on their feet, working for America’s health care.

Some of our women have distinguished themselves so much so that they earn outstanding  American Awards on rare zones of achievement. Nigerians are  American immigrants with benefits!

So how come the world in quote sees only insignificant percentage of Nigerian crooks? How come a group of hard working people are defined by the black sheep of the family? Who  qualifies to define a nation negatively or sniff at her citizens based on any form of biasness? Why would even other Africans who benefits from Nigeria in one way or the other join the racial world to deride Nigerians?

By the way, do people  of the world who judge Nigeria and Nigerians terribly  bad know that Nigeria does not even show up in the first ten  most corrupt countries by Transparency International?

I just checked the moral and political statuesque of this sinful world and the countries that hit first top ten most   corrupt include:

1; Newzealand;  (9.4)  2: Denmark;(9.3) 3. Somalia ( Hardly qualifies as a nation with terrible piracy record and endless war)4: Egypt, India;  Indonesia: Morocco: Pakistan, Iran,  ( where more than 60% of executive agree they have been solicited for bribes…Most of these countries are resting on ‘opaque financial structures’. Others include: The Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Madagascar, and Niger..these scored lower in 2010. US slopped into 19th position of most corrupt countries even though the congress is blamed for the lowered score last year for political tussle that slows down decision making.

One can see that in the corruption perception index (CPI), many countries that rated high a few years ago come down on the scale of 1-10 due to world financial crises.

Invariably one can rightly see the effect of poverty and deprivation leadership and citizenship of any country. Crime rate rose in countires with low wage incomes as unemployment tripled in the last decade in most places.

For Africa and Africans, poverty and deprivation is like a way of life but does not necessarily raise crime waves as it does in palces that know better life.

A jolly  Mexican handy man who works for us always got drunk in a nearby restaurant. So one day the owner refused to sell him liquor after a couple of bottles. He became furious and screamed at the woman; “ Please sell me liquor  because I made my money and I finish it…It is no boby’e business…In Mrxico I made $2 per week for entire family and here and here I make over $600 a week and what would I be doing with so much money than to get drunk daily and enjoy my money…I could not afford one bottle a week, except we work for a rich man who offered us a bottle to share…” 

“Corruption is hardly a victimless crime” observed Transparency International. Like the above Mexican, who lived in one of the most corrupt countries of South America, poverty to the tune he experienced was daily reality in his community. Now in America, he makes  it a way of life to get tipsy every weekend to celebrate upgraded social status and income , courtesy of America. In Philippine and other such places poverty is at all time high with high level of national illiteracy, child prostitution, and domestic violence. They say that philipino men sleep on gambling, evidence of frustration, courtesy of super corrupt government that leaves citizens at zero source of income. Most men in such situation get tripped psychologically beyond repair and they seek solace in gambling, drinking and irresponsible fatherhood.

Down to Africa, official corruption has rubbed off badly too on people as it does on other places, but all the time Africa is focused on by the international media.   CBN’s documentary on a Nigerian scam guy has been repeated several times. Oprah Winfrey’ s documentation became the nail on the coffin too. With all these every Nigerian is a scam artist and credit card fraudster in the eyes of these biased beholders.

Not even  a place like Columbia gets such sniffing as does Nigeria. I cousin of mine went to visit with his inlaw at Columbia. His wife and her family literarily hid him I the house till he left after two weeks. He cut short his visit because he could no longer hide from expectant kidnappers and robbers. Life in such drug ridden places, life is  a nightmare, yet they never get a full fledged documentary on scam and  corruption   in America’s media.

So  one wonders if The overt and covert sniffing at Nigerians abroad is just a normal denunciation of evil or something else. Let me leave it at this for now as Nigeria celebrates 51st Independence, For  “he that brings in ant- infested faggot should not complain  when the ants pay homage.  To say that Over twelve governments that ruled Nigeria since 1960 have done really poorly is an understatement. Nigerians have shown great patient with leadership all these decades. 

Nigeria is the home of most patient and painstaking species of human beings. From North to South the average life of a Nigerian that is not related to power points is characterized by avoidable suffering,  Most Nigerian men ( leaders) have danced really too long shamefully in the village square causing situation that makes victims of those criticized by the unfair international community, , who does not vilify citizens of other countries with similar governments. No sane person would excuse Nigerian leaders for the humiliation people undergo out side the country.

Sure Nigerians have the potential to wait for the coming of the lord…they can wait for ever for change…and they  are not violent to  politicians or leadership….all they can do is to curse politicians on line or throw stones at them during election campaigns or take money from them to vote for them or  even fight one another to  protect their darling candidates. Nigerians always believe “God is in charge so let the politicians be till Christ remove or change them.” That is why they are surveyed to be one of the happiest people in the world.  Honestly speaking, it takes  just the flashing of long withheld  electricity to make the whole street shout for joy or  news of water running in the pipe on the adjacent street. I watched these phenomenon at home on my street, when one day the water  tap  in our compound was running and most of those in the street were not perhaps their pipes needed some clean out but my father used to make extra arrangement for private plumbers to check out our pipes from time to time so we do get some clear water when ever the tap ran. On that day the neighbors from more than 5five streets in front and behind us were lined up I our compound and were blocking traffic. My relatives were not happy and started getting harsh and rude to these water beggars, pushing away buckets and water cans, telling them to go.  When I came down from a taxi from work, they knew I work with the press and felt more uncomfortable. I stopped my cousins from chasing them away, and they were so happy when I asked all my cousins to go into the house and never come out they fetched all their cans. Do you know that before I could change my clothe and come out, they women were already dancing and singing with my name, saying God will bless me and I must go to America, Britain, Germany and all the good places in the world because I love  to help…

Look  we laughed and laughed and the next day in the office I called the water corporation to find out why some places had water and most places did not. The usual answer was ” the pipes were blocked and our workers have been dispatched to correct matters” I never saw any workers from water department on my way to  or from work through out that week but  perhaps they sent ghost workers with out supervision. In the news room, we always chatt about all these ….how nothing gets supervised until nothing gets done and all the invested money get wasted  and the insensitive people dance around any politician who manage to come to church or honor any public invitation. Oh if your politician relative ever come to your daughter’s or son’s wedding, he or she attracts more attention and honor than the celebrants.

Women would kneel down to serve them food; special gone shots are released in their honor; If they ever shake your hands, you want to tell everybody who shake your phalanges or whose daughter is in your class. Even spoilt children of politicians attract same respect from their fellow class or school mates. When I was a graduate assistant at the Enugu campus of the University of Nigeria, teaching GS 101 (The Use of English) to law students. In one of my classes, I had daughter of then state  governor, and few children of top Nigerian politicians, including a daughter a minister for mines and industry. Some how they were the movers and shakers of the campus and rode In push cars in relatively middle class environment, intimidating students and even some lecturers. They got all they wanted so they were  exerting their ruthless powers on nearly everybody. We offered them free lecture hand outs every Friday. Students used to line up in front of our shared office and receive the hand out. We ensured no body gets two copies. On that eventful Friday, I was distributing the hand out and discovered that all the four daughters of politicians were just chatting in their car out side while some students favorites lined up for them.

I had  a list and cross checked the names and never gave any body whose name was not there a copy. In a minute some one informed them and they arrogantly walked in to get their copies. Behold, all the students cleared out of line for them to get their hand out. I looked up and said to the governor’s daughter, “are you part  of this excecise…and you ..and you” they nodded their heads and I said “Ok just go to the end of the line cue appropriately”. She screamed “why?”. I said to her. “That is why your father is the governor,, to instill discipline in the society and you should be a worthy ambassador…all of you “ She was shocked that I made reference to her father and wanted  to talk back at me. Then I stopped handing out the papers until  she submitted an apology the next day. That was a no, no for Nigerians then. All the junior workers who ministered for her came to my office begging me n ot  to go that far. I could not believe how brain washed they all had gotten. They volunteered to take the hand out and send to government house for her. They said our department , the GS would get query and so on and that I am young and ignorant of  the implication of my action.

I grew up mostly in the university environment and so saw them as irritating as the spoilt girls.

Our Head of Department, a woman, knew the governor’s wife and upheld my action. The next morning the teenager came into my office with her apology and even a second one from her mother, the first lady. I gave her the hand out and got my “thank you “. When ever I entered their class she would be ready and never disturbed. I was the youngest lecturer and they know I was a graduate student ‘who deserve less respect’. So I made sure they cued up, did all my seminars and exams and never let any one come to my office to check grades until it is pasted. No letters from any big man or woman telling me to take care of his child. I usually announced my stand at the beginning of the session. In fact non of them ever got an A because they were not A students but the rumor was that they were getting an A from all the male lecturers in the faculty.. Oh they called me names.

One day I could not get a ride back to main campus at Nsukka and was walking down to bus stop when the governor’s daughter pulled by with her top friends in a Messsdes Benz beckoning to drive me all the way to Nsukka campus. I declined. She offered to pay cab to do same I declined too nicely. On the bus stop ten minutes later, a state car pulled by with her and a note from her mother, urging me to let the driver drop me off. I wrote a thank you back and refused still. The bus was  leaving so they could not go on urging me . 2 years later I was out of university, working in the State Newspaper and was posted to cover ministry of women Affairs etc.

In one of the women ceremonies outings, I met many prominent women and was introduced by the chairperson as the journalist covering the event. One of the women came over my seat and gave me a business  card, she was that girls’s mother and former  first lady and but they were no more in the office. She gave  a nice speech. At the end she stressed the need for teachers, office heads and people to treat children of rich or privilege class same way they treat other children and said that she was impressed by “this young woman ‘s action 2 years ago and my daughter never forget that experience”.  She narrated the story and people clapped hands in applause.

So fear of the rich and mighty is one thing that Nigerians chronically suffer even such fear was absolutely unnecessary. Our citizens have been so badly beaten by powers that be that even the necessary urging that shakes senses into leaders and arrogant people eludes Nigerian tops and it is not their fault. It is the fault of the culture that celebrates even ill gotten  affluence. Otherwise It takes nothing to make Nigerians happy and they are the hardest workers in the world. A London CNN documentary acknowledged this fact. A Nigerian is ready to do any mean job to keep family alive anywhere in the world. We are people’s people. We reach out to generations of our people. We share our  honest wealth in original contest. Most Nigerians are great people!

. The problem is the troubled leadership. This is what I read in Alex Kaba’s travelogue series; Ekerete Udoh’s “Nigeria at 51” and lots of stuff in the NET. Everybody is worried about inability of powers that be to restore peace, security  and basic amenities to nice suffering masses of a great country.  We still keep the hope alive.

I have been reading tons of national and intra national evaluations on Nigeria this time around. It seems to me that it is all about what went wrong or what SHE  did and continue to do wrong or  how irreparable Nigerian politicians have reached; who and who did what at so time and   why there is no hope for  her citizens…

Not all politicians are rotten. Some emerging younger politicians seem to be acting differently. Logos state. Akwa Ibom and few others have been nicely reported upon with regard to development and restoration of public trust. Lagos is reportedly clean and people are proud to declare it abroad. There seem to be on throne a president with agenda. He is a PHD president, one that stands out in the political history of that nation. Many Politicians have paraded blurred certificates and perhaps the IQ and education were not just there. No body have bothered to do  scientific studies( or they would not like to sponsor that?) to report on IQs of African leaders. Their consistent under functioning as leaders could be explained in this regard if dependable studies prove most of them  genetically lack traits that generates guts to operate in that capacities. Some questionable research said Africans have lowest IQ of 70. While we question this finding we also question why our leaders are flip flopping too long with out messiahs in sight..

The  over stated research indicates that countries with leaders with High IQ do better than those with low IQs. Vice chancellor Angela Marckel of Germany (a woman believed not to be naturally smart by most  traditional men of African and beyound) was  rated above 200 IQ alongside President Barack Obama. She is a PHD atomic science holder with chains of degrees in other  sciences . She  declared herself   agnostic. Chinese  were rated 115 IQ. Could it be reason for their unprecedented economic advancement? Jews rated 110 and the Americas 100. The story of Jews at holocaust and what they became now in the US is a daily reality of people with high IQ.

Could it be  that African scientists need to go into this research area and seek means of improving IQs or draw lines on minimum IQ acceptable for presidential and congressional  candidates? This is the age of science..Perhaps that could help. Africans must wake up to the reality of failed leaders syndrome. The world is leaving us far behind. A sarong willed congress can stop all the nonsense that have given Nigeria bad name. Same could a great judiciary, tough police force … . Nigerian child should be pitied, not hated and rejected by the outside world. All these Nigerian youths caught up in international crimes are just  victims of failed system. We need some political messiahs to pay the ransom for our great people. We need political heroes to rebrand Nigeria.

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Chinyere Ojide

Chinyere Elvi Ojide, a journalist. columnist and budding author of 2 books simultaneously. Chinyere writes in most African news papers in New York and a few American print press too; a regular columnist of "Sound off". very capitivating column in USIMMIGRATION news. She is a member of the Association of Africam women scholars USA. Sje earned masters degree from University of Nigeria Nsukka and diploma in journalism; she is currently student of Information science in New York. her bit is mainly on family, woman and womanhood, having worked briefly as assistan woman editor in Nigeria before coming to US. How ever she versatile and up to date with current issues in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.