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‘You will be fine as long as you have money in Nigeria!’


How many times have I heard this statement? Far too many for my liking. Apart from humanly uninhabitable places in the world, you’ll be fine anywhere as long as you have vast amounts of money. But can one really be comfortable living like a king when you have desperately poor people in the same vicinity? Can you really be OK with turning on your generator when the electricity is cut-off, for the fourth time that day, when down the road people will have to make do with candles and lamps?

When you’re in a medical emergency and can afford the best hospital care one can buy, will you really be able to sleep at night knowing that others are dying from curable illnesses and diseases all over the country? Well I suppose for many, the answer to these questions is ‘yes’. Yes – people can deal with the fact that they are OK and others are not.

However, the saying that ‘no man is an island’ rings true for every nation in the world. There are some things that money cannot buy. Such as, police who will carry out their duties without expecting a bribe; and police who will question suspects without beating them to near-death to force a confession. Ministers who will provide basic services that a developed nation needs. Schools complete with equipment and teachers who do not expect anything from their female students in return for a good grade. Safe roads. A working transport system. Hospitals, and everything else an efficient health service needs. In short, infrastructure.

Nigeria celebrated its 50th birthday this year – representing 50 years of independence from British rule. Since then, Nigeria’s political landscape has been largely dominated by military rule, assassinations, a civil war, and oil. The discovery of oil in the delta region in 1956, had offered hope of prosperity for the new country, but instead it fueled violence and corruption.

According to the IMF, 7 out of 10 Nigerians live on less than $1 a day, and the life expectancy of the average Nigerian is in the mid 40s. In a country so rich in resources, something has gone horribly wrong. Yes, the government is to blame, but so is the wider society. From observing Nigerian relatives, it seems that far too many are at ease with ‘playing the game’. Handing over money to corrupt police men on the road to be able to finish your journey is one thing; but bribing the head of the national university acceptance exam board is another. This is not just accepting the system, but saying that this is fine. This is the way I, as a citizen, wish to live.

Where is the collective mentality? Where is the social consciousness? Human beings, are by nature selfish creatures, but we have to have some compassion for our peers otherwise nothing works, nothing functions.