By Stanley Chijioke Osi
Guest Writer Session with Stanley Chijioke Osi
“Bad governance and corruption lie side by side each other like siblings in the process of incest.”
In this review article, the guest author interrogates what it signifies to be a Nigerian.
The twenty-sixth of February, 2019. A relatively calm and rainy day, I was at a friend’s place with his family. It seemed like a family meeting of some sort, only that the television was the convener and with the election results on screen, smiling with false intentions and smelly lies, I could have sworn that being born a Nigerian was either the greatest test from God to me, or a mistake made from heaven which I should try by all possible means to correct.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Nigeria; it is my home, it gave me my last name, and I cannot hate that. It is home to millions of black, young, smart people trying to do what is right. Alongside that, it is home to the sounds of the great Fela’s afrobeat records, the beautiful voice of Tuface Idibia and interesting Pete Edochie and Ramsey Noah’s flicks. Not forgetting that, perhaps, the most beautiful women on the surface of Africa come from Nigeria (I won’t deny this). But the idea of a continuation of an administration that led the previous four years to a place of little or no hope for its future, and its people, got under my skin so bad that I could barely eat without the fear of this environment being the cut throat that will possibly assassinate dreams of the life I envisaged for myself and my kind.
The present era would go down as one of the most defining one for the young average Nigerian. Of course, the older generation have tons of stories about this green and white nation, but it would be pathetic if we read memoirs in the future without a whole tome dedicated to the realities of this period, the harsh weather of Buharinomics with its VAT et al., the soft treatment of Boko Haram, the near murder of the naira, underground corruption, the influence and flow of tribalism and partisanship, and most remarkable being the growing cynicism of Nigerians.
Half the time in Nigeria, government policies and resolutions are great metaphors of social class distinction. It affects who it will, and the other, subaltern classes are OK with it; it changes nothing on their plate. Bad governance and corruption lie side by side each other like siblings in the process of incest. Of course, the average Nigerian isn’t left out of this feast; they also drink from the same wine cup as that of the government. The only difference is that the government drinks from the people while the people feed on themselves.
‘There is no bravery in stomaching oppression.’
Nigeria will probably go down the drain as a nation that failed to live up to its fullest possibility. It strikes me as a heavy joke seeing Nigerians growing in a web of celebrated ignorance disguised with the use of good English and Utopian follies clothed with philosophy. This, you usually find amongst the so-called enlightened Nigerian — clerics, motivational speakers, educators and celebrities, who stay in their comfortable abode with their fingers on various social media platforms, selling bundles of fake dreams and fool’s gold of an ideal Nigerian Dream with no correlation to the realities we see in the streets of Nigeria. Their brand of enlightenment lies in the ideologies and civil propaganda developed in Western climes, and it poses the question of whose interest really matters in the society: the average, proletariat Nigerian or its elitist clan.
People suffer a lot in Nigeria! Poverty is an operative weapon used by the elites to cloud the judgment of the class beneath them. As ugly as it may sound, the Nigerian system is not designed to kick you out of poverty. No! It is meant to keep you there and make you comfortable and happy with it, furnishing you with the impression that you are doing what is morally correct. The average Nigerian is plagued with mental poverty. This mental poverty is what births the denial which has become the cornerstone of their identity. This denial is why you seek comfort in beds of trivialities which provide temporary joy and comfort, but still not an escape from reality. This denial builds walls of negativity in your mind which you may never get to understand.
Of course we’ll love a move to places of greener pastures, secure, better lives and beat out the Nigerian system, but it will be ugly if we fail to understand that identity is like a stigma, and no matter where the legs run to, the stigma is still in you. One cannot be faulted if one is hopeless. The country has failed to live up to its prospect; however, hopelessness should never bring about outright condemnation. An exercise to beat the country generally would be throwing away the baby with the toxic bathwater. Truthfully, it is its leaders and not so much the country that must be flagellated. So, I will be sincere with myself in confessing my hatred of the state of Nigeria and what this current administration has reduced it to, but placing myself to hate the idea of Nigeria and what it represents is akin to hating what I am.
On the path to correction, there lies a need for the awakening of the Nigerian consciousness. This is a path to amendment and adjustment, a typical understanding of humanity and the obligation to understand that Nigeria has no choice but to live up to what it ought to be.
Frankly, I don’t believe democracy should be a major subject or agenda in Nigeria. In terms of information, yes, but on the path to conscious and critical thinking, herd mentality is a major enemy in this part of the world. What is the glory of democracy when the mind is not democratic to knowing what is, and what should be important? The average Nigerian as I said earlier suffers from mental poverty, and in connection with this, a stoic case of herd mentality. People want to follow and not think for themselves, and this poses an important question on the status of our democracy — how free can one get when they cannot think for themselves?
The world is a fast moving ball. The process of learning is unending. Growth and development are what comes with being alive, as a person and as a nation-state. It would only be tongue in cheek if I affirm that Nigeria is moving slowly or is stagnant. In all honesty, the country is moving backward, depriving itself of how great it should be. To the average struggling Nigerian, there exists a pinnacle of hope: a frontline of skills, talent and ambition. We have the blessings of our continental race in our blood. We are strong and totally resilient in the face of frustration, and we yield the will to be greater than where we come from. And through these visions lie a beautiful idea, and ideas change lives for the better, and the better our lives are, the better our nation; but till then, the truth remains…you will always have that stigma in you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stanley Chijioke Osi: thinker, optimist, writer, critic and human. A graduate of the Department of English, University of Lagos, he is a lover of life and an ever-growing human who is keen on developing himself, alongside solving basic human and individual problems through generation of ideas that will serve as solutions to certain issues in the long run.