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Nigeria, We Hate Thee By Toyin Dawodu

May 18, 2014

Anytime you hear a Nigerian say, “Damn, I hate this country,” or some variation thereof, trust me when I tell you, it’s not the country they hate. It’s Nigerian leadership.

"Nigeria we hail thee, our own dear fatherland. Though tribes and tongue may differ, in unity we stand.” (Quack!)

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For reasons unknown to me, Nigerians decided to ditch this anthem for a new one 1978. Do Nigerians hate their country? Probably not. But there’s a very good chance they view their leaders with contempt. Yes, many will esteem those in power out of respect for the office they hold, but no Nigerian can overlook the despicable performance of Nigerian leadership.

Their leaders fail them. Their leaders accumulate wealth by questionable means while the average Nigerian citizen lives in poverty. Nigerian leaders are reluctant to act in the best interest of their constituents and slow to react to even the most pressing issues--issues that directly impact the Nigerian quality of life. “Nigeria, we hail thee.” But hate those who lead us.

What country has policies which encourage its leaders to travel abroad to obtain the best medical care while failing to build even basic medical facilities at home?

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Only in Nigeria.

Where else can you find a country that is home to 170 million people and that pumps 2.3 million barrels of oil every single day, yet its leaders chose to import gasoline at a high cost from a tiny country that has virtually no oil at all.

Only in Nigeria.

What other country has four non-functioning oil refineries, all of which have been totally disowned for the past two decades? Every year, the government allocates $500 million to restore refineries that have the capacity to refine 400,000 barrels of oil a day. The refineries are never restored and the money is never returned.

Only in Nigeria.

Where else in the world can a country claim to be so cash poor that it would compromise its own future by shutting down the university education system for more than five months but still allow the same leaders who mismanaged education funds to continue receiving their incomes?

Only in Nigeria.

Where else would you have a Minister in Charge of Electricity beseech the citizens to “pray for electricity” when God has given Nigeria enough natural resources to underwrite the cost of building the infrastructure for a fully functional electrical system? It seems to me God has done his part.

Only in Nigeria.

Where else in the world can you start out with 9,000 megawatts of electricity, wheel and deal away $9 billion in the name of increasing power generation and end up with less 2,800 megawatts of electricity at the end of it all?

Only in Nigeria.

Where can you go to find 60 million citizens having to act as their own utility companies by using generators to run their daily lives and businesses?

Only in Nigeria.

Who else has a Minister in Charge of Aviation who is known to have embezzled more than $1.2 million to buy bulletproof cars for herself and who then turns around and claim Nigeria’s frequent plane crashes are “an act of God”?

Only in Nigeria.

Surely, by now you are beginning to see a pattern. Psychiatrists would call this compulsive, obsessive behavior of embezzlement, cover-ups, and utter disregard a pathology. And this is why many Nigerians despise their Leaders. Anytime you hear a Nigerian say, “Damn, I hate this country,” or some variation thereof, trust me when I tell you, it’s not the country they hate. It’s Nigerian leadership.

Truth be told, I don’t think it’s the leaders who are to blame. It is we who are to blame. We allow the leaders to perpetuate these great injustices on our nation as a whole. As the old saying goes, you cannot solve a problem by enlisting the help of those who caused it. That seems to be just the case with Nigerian leadership.  We have a National Conference to find solutions to Nigeria's problems, but majority of the people in the National Conference are the same people who caused the problems to begin with. Why are we trusting them to fix our problems when our problems are their solutions?

To add insult to injury, we seem to be stuck year after year with the same leaders, some of whom have been in office for nearly three decades. Excuse me for saying it, but I think we need young, smart leaders. Not the old, ignorant ones. If the same leaders of the country have been directing the affairs of the country for almost thirty years, isn't it time we force a change by electing younger and smarter leaders?

How long does it take to build a power plant? Well, if you ask China, it takes about six months to erect a power plant that will deliver 3,000 megawatts of power to its citizens. In Nigeria, it could take ten years just to get the foundation of the plant laid. This is our leaders’ idea of public service.

So to every Nigerian who has dozed off at night to the relaxing hum of an air conditioner only to wake up drenched in sweat with a swirl of mosquitoes around your bed, you understand what the article is about. To every hardworking student who has been plummeted into darkness in the middle of studying and to every mother who suddenly finds out she has no water, I dedicate this article to you.

From this point forward, we will blame our leaders and ourselves. Yes, they are the one who transgress, but we are the ones who allow them to do it repeatedly. You may wonder what you can do about it. The answer is plenty. You can organize. You can protest. You can vote. Start exercising your rights. Don’t waste your breath cursing the darkness. Light a candle. Hold leaders accountable. Start right there with your local government. Start right in your neighborhood then move out to the city government. Next target state officials then target federal officials. Don’t let anyone in leadership slip by without having to give an account for his or her actions and inactions.

Perhaps we should start sorting out the solutions ourselves and forcing government officials to implement our solutions since they seem to have trouble figuring out the difference between problems and solutions on their own. Adopt the mantra: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” If Nigeria is ever going to move forward, it’s absolutely up to us to make that happen. If a leader has a track record of failure and their present performance is less than stellar, we should expect that they will fail us in the future. It’s time for homegrown leaders who have the well-being of Nigerians at heart. When we can raise up local leaders who want what’s best for Nigeria, we will have leaders we can support come hell or high water. That is the only way to help Nigeria. That is the only way to ensure our children and grandchildren will have a better Nigeria to call home.

May God bless Nigeria and purge her leaders.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s  own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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