I think of Nigeria as home. A home that has stuff scattered all over the place but is still home. To understand the way Nigeria gets on my nerves, you have to know that I am something of a neat freak, I want things to be in their rightful place around me. I want things to work, and most times I don’t mind pitching in to ensure that they do. In the case of Nigeria, it is sometimes so bad that one would be forgiven for thinking that all hope was lost. I don’t buy that, never have and most probably never will.
Let me start from the beginning. I was born in Nigeria and grew up there. I did primary, secondary and first degree in Nigeria. I did not travel out of the country, even for visits, till I was over 25 years old. Some may say that this makes me blinded in a way to the faults of Nigeria. I agree but I do acknowledge that Nigeria has a long way to go. If I compare it to some of the more developed countries, I could even say we’ll never get there. This is not true of course and one only has to look around to see that.
We were never rich, at best I’ll class my family as lower middle class. We interacted widely and with all manner of people on a daily basis. As I grew up, I straddled that divide between the Ajebos and the Ajekpakos. I did not get to see just the good and at the same time, I did not see just the bad. I have noticed that in that middle, it is easier to come to terms with Nigeria. “Abroad” loses that appellation of escape it is to people at the different ends of the spectrum. The poor want to escape the squalor, and the elites want to escape the insecurity. Those that remain find crooked means to achieve a semblance of normalcy for themselves either by stealing (for the poor) or by corruption and patronage (for the elites)
I often blame the Nigerian people and not the political leaders for the way things are, and it is for this very reason. However, I also know that if there will be any changes, it will be from us, the people. I think at this time of the golden jubilee, it is time to ask ourselves questions individually. Is there something we’re doing that we’re not supposed to. And is there something we could do that we’re not? In this way, we can begin to identify the problems and determine how we can be part of the solution.
I am not very political but I do believe in policy; building systems and structures that will outlast the politicians. And it is in this sphere that I have the biggest hope for Nigeria. One only has to look at the telecoms sector. It was started in the mid-nineties in the time of Abacha but continues to balloon. Several administrations have come and gone but the communications development marches on, creating more and more of that very important middle class. And as this group continues to increase, I believe we’ll get to that critical mass required for an economic revolution.
I look forward to that time, and God willing, it is not too far now. Nigeria is in a state of flux and it is our actions that will decide the balance of probabilities. I may be out of the country but I want to be part of it. I also don’t think anyone should be left behind, in fact, the more the merrier. So as we enter 2013, I do not think of what Nigeria can do for me but what I can do for Nigeria. I’m not doing it for GEJ or the NAS but for the people on the street, in the markets, churches, mosques, villages, and settlements. History will not forget me if I make a mark now, and I know opportunities like times such as these don’t come around often.
So I dream of leaving footprints in the sands of time. This year, and the ones to come, will surely be better than the ones gone by.