Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive
– Bill Gates
Casting aspersion on government officials as crooks, corrupt, and the inept is a favorite pastime. It allows us to overlook what really ails Nigeria – the abusive nature of everyday relationships. Take relations between authoritarian parent and child, school pupil and teacher, nurse and patient, oga and driver, clergy and flock, madam and housemaid, boss and subordinate, professor and student, etc. With every inch of leverage one person has over the other, abuse is multiplied. Take the nurse in whose care a pregnant woman is temporarily in a weaker position; rather than care for her patient as professional code dictates, she takes tremendous satisfaction in raining curses on the woman for being promiscuous, crying in pain, and writhing on the floor in labor.
Similarly, many a Nigerian madam believes her servants owe her their lives. The teacher beats the pupil like s/he was conducting an exorcism. And pedophiles roam around beating their chests as they defile the next generation. Likewise, our citadels of learning teem with reprobates in the guise of professors and heads of department.
The consequences of predatory everyday relationships are far-reaching:
- Malignant apathy: from childhood, abused people learn how to abuse others and to hold life in little regard. Nobody cares that able-bodied citizens die daily for no apparent reason. Since nobody cares, no one does anything to change the situation. We say, “na so e be. And a female senator can defend Fulani herdsmen’s general disregard for human life as a protection of what’s most precious to them – cattle! Who knows her backstory? Was her life treated as being of little worth? Was she married off at six to her grandfather’s colleague? Is this what warped her value for human life?
- Disunity: We cannot unite over the most egregious abuses of power because we do not care about one another. Rather, we strut around pretending, “I beta pass my neighbor.” Unfortunately, the Offa terror reminds us no community is far removed from mayhem so long as it is situated in insecure Nigeria.
- Crab Mentality: no one enjoys oppression. Rather, no oppressed person enjoys oppression. Thus, the oppressed do all they can, legal and illegal, to shake off the shackles of oppression. Ipso facto, we have area boys, kidnappers, ritualists, political thugs, armed robbers, religious charlatans, and all manner of crabs struggling to rise beyond their fellows and downtrodden positions. Juxtapose the situation of the poor in Nigeria with those in the developed world or even with their situation in the western region in the 1960s when they had free education, healthcare, etc. Things should be getting better not worse. And until enough of us care to make a difference…
- Perverted Justice: Everyday, criminals get away with heinous crimes and some are never apprehended! Take this issue of exchanging sex for grades, many professors are notorious for scuttling the careers of multitudes of brilliant women (and boys who dared to love them). They do not hide their perversions yet, the harassed women have no recourse or justice. Extend thought to the banking industry which hires female graduates to prostitute themselves in order to attract customers. Talk about workplace sexual abuse!
- Simmering vengeance: Yorubas say, “what you leave on ground, is what you’ll return to.” We say the youth are the future, but we don’t act like it. The professor who preys on students today, will die in the hot sun begging for his pension.
We must strive to create a society where every Nigerian can thrive – male, female, young, old, servant, boss, ethnic, religious, or differently identified. As our former national anthem states, “O God of all creation, grant this our one request, help us to build a nation where no [wo]man is oppressed, and so with peace and plenty, Nigeria may be blessed.