What exactly is wrong with Nigeria? Are we so cursed that we have lost direction? Do we disgust God this much that he has left us to be plundered, mocked and dehumanised?
Ever since I understood the role of governance and politics and the interplay there-between, I had been asking the above questions, but after working in government between 2011 and 2014, the answer struck me. God has no hand in our woes in Nigeria, and I dare say the devil too may not, as one may be tempted to ask that which we did to the devil that makes him hate Nigeria so much that he seems to have relocated his throne here and in the heart of almost every one of us, including many of our televangelists.
We complain about everything and fail to take responsibility when it matters and accept our blame wholeheartedly. In this blame, there is no sharing. Spare those in government and the multinationals they bring to this country which continue to exploit us while we, choiceless as we are, lap up to them. And please, the election-conducting body has no part in this blame either.
Blame Buhari for all you want or the PDP’s 16 years’ misrule. Who voted them? Who put them in office? Who campaigned on social media, trading abuses as though our sense took leave of us? Who ferried money across states and local governments to men of questionable characters who will further share to us – the senseless lot whose brains have taken flight?
Please, who shouted "Sai Baba" while they sated their appetite with whatever remained of our brains? Who echoed "PDP, Power!" while present-day, overnight, Damascus road-loathing converts fed in the days of yore? In my home state, a past government muted the idea of an airport, the opposition condemned it. Today, the opposition is in government with the same airport project, only that it calls it cargo airport and the counter-condemnation continues. Who put both the ‘six’ and the ‘half a dozen’ in government?
The truth is that the Nigerian masses are a lazy lot. They may work hard, but they hardly think hard. They are a drama-loving lot whose fickle minds are treated to one drama per week to keep them from asking the right questions. This week it is Aisha Buhari and Fatimah Daura. Who knows what episode we would be treated to in the never-ending season film next week! We are also a greedy lot who ask to be rewarded for everything, especially to perform our civic duties – reason bribery has become our second nature. We take money to attend political meetings. We take money to defend or support government on social media. We take money to vote. We even take money to help malign politicians’ opponents. When we are asked to register for voters’ card, we wait until a politician pays us to go register. If it is the National ID card, we are not interested since no politician is ready to pay us to register, unless it becomes a prerequisite for salary payment or JAMB registration.
We, the Nigerian masses, are the curse of Nigeria. We would stand at newspaper stands and pontificate as though we are saints. Same goes for our radio and TV programmes with many of its washed-out analsyts, gesticulating and sermonizing, accompanied by different theories as though we are better. But when the time to vote comes, we would be the first to malign the seemingly intelligent candidates with our "He has no money" or "He is too stingy" slogans. What have the ones who have money done for us all along? The ones who dole out charm-infested destiny-altering cash like water during primaries and elections…how have they changed our fortunes?
If at elections, we would vote the well-intentioned ones – we all know them even though we pretend otherwise and ask stupid questions to justify our pretence – then we can confidently say the blame is not ours. After all, we didn’t take their money. After all, we didn’t see their incompetence and keep quiet because we worked or ‘chopped’ in their government.
For now, let us accept responsibility for everything that is wrong with Nigeria – yes, we the Nigerian masses because we put this lot in office. You may argue that some of them rigged their way in, but that was made believable because we took money from them.
We, the Nigerian masses, are like the chichidodo bird which hates excrement but feeds on the maggots therefrom. Until we realize that we are not as powerless as government/politicians make us believe and start organizing to wrestle power from them by being effectively part of the process and putting true progressives in government, we would continue to be in bed with these conscienceless progress-mouthing but retrogression-minded ‘aluminium’ that some are still calling ‘gold’.
Oladimeji Daniels is broadcast journalist based in Akure