Nigeria and the danger of minorities
Nigeria is a very big country with diverse citizens, majority of whom are distanced from the decision makers. And this group is where I currently belong. A wide vacuum separates us from the powers that be and we appear too weak to make impacts on our national conducts. Our leaders would become as scarce as crimson diamond immediately after elections. We are always offered dregs of the national cake but we get lion’s share of our national woes. We clamour for a better country but things keep getting worse by the day. This is why many have given up on the nation and their renunciation seems understandable. Despite all these, I am still proud to be one of the “common” Nigerians that help the country maintain her rank as the most populous black nation on earth.
Truth be told, almost everything around us etch a symbol of grief on our nationhood. As a toddler, I was told that Nigeria was a devious arrangement of the colonial masters and it was a poisoned goblet we had no choice but to take. Another popular conception is that one can have immunity against anything but not corruption. I also learnt from history that the quest for independence was most likely the only struggle that reflected true solidarity; all that followed had elements of tribal bigotry. Today, poverty, corruption and terrorism are the frames that hold Nigeria’s image on the world stage. Moreover, vows of bloodsheds have become manifestoes for elections. These are the realities in my country and many were born to believe failure is Nigeria’s birth right.
Considering our numerous problems, it is not unexpected that people throw their hands up in hopelessness. Nevertheless, I see a different image through my telescope. Nigeria is, as a matter of fact, not defective. It is not fair to indict a parent for offence committed by children. If truly Nigeria ought to be our fatherland that should fend for our needs, then even the dumbest would appreciate the kindness bestowed on us. Ours is a fertile land which is also filled with coal, tin, iron ore, gold and limestone. As if they weren’t enough, our crude oil clearly describes what it means to be a lucky citizen. Natural disasters hardly occur in Nigeria and our climate is nothing but awesome. The problem is definitely not with Nigeria; it is with Nigerians. How bad we turned the table and the benefactor now becomes accused. We blame our land for our gross inadequacy to manage the abundant resources. This, indeed, is absurdity in practice.
Amazingly, the problem isn’t with all Nigerians; it is with the minorities, the few people that stand against Nigeria’s progress. They cause havocs on the land and ensure they inspire the coming generations to further render “the labour of our heroes past” in vain. They poisoned the nation with injustice and greed and Nigeria gradually became home of corruption and land of tyranny. Vilfredo Pareto, a foremost 19th century Italian economist, didn’t consider Nigeria in his observations but his 80/20 rule describes our situation quite well. His rule justifies why Nigerians are sadly at the mercy of dangerous minorities.
When a small ideological group started rioting in 2010, it was unknown to millions of people in Borno State that the seemingly innocuous group would later be responsible for the death of about 40,000 people and rendered over two million Nigerians homeless, all within six years. If only the good people of Borno, and by extension good Nigerians, had risen against the atrocities at their dawn, a lot of lives would have been saved and properties preserved. In fact, the arms deal saga, among other harms, would at best be imagined.
Our case is not different from the parable of boiling frog. If a frog is dropped into boiling water, it will quickly jump out. Instead, put the frog into tepid water and boil slowly and it will be oblivious of the imminent danger till it gets cooked to death.
In Nigeria, the presence of terrorists ought not to be a great problem for they are nothing but just a minority. Our governments may err a lot but they can still be cautioned for they are in the minority. Some people may live on bribery and even promote it; they are just too few among the rest. It is very sad that the fate of the majority is being shattered by selfishness of the minority. We have simply granted them too much liberty at our own risk. And the fire is now gradually consuming us as a nation.
Without doubt, our challenges will be surmounted if the common Nigerians could wake up to their responsibilities. It is complacency that led us to this horrible state. If those that have a say lack vision, then let the visionaries struggle for a say. We shouldn’t be silent on matters that affect us. And more importantly, we shouldn’t just “talk the talk” but also “walk the walk.” Everyone must see the Nigeria’s growth as their concern. If all honest Nigerians become hostile to corruption, it will surely find no abode in our governance. If all peace-loving Nigerians could genuinely resist terrorism, it will soon find our land unfriendly. Let virtuous Nigerians rise against all acts of indecency and the bad eggs shall find it fearful to harm the country.
The key to cleansing our mess is with the masses. The Pareto principle could be employed here as it takes only a few upright Nigerians to initiate the transformation. And it begins with you. So, pick up the gauntlet and get to work. Nigeria shall be great!
Abdulganiyy is a computer professional and works in Lagos.