Thursday, February 5, 2009

The following is a comment made by Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister, Ojo Madueke in January 2009.

"This is the home of the devil himself. Nothing is right about this country. Neither the politicians or even the media, the church leaders, nobody is doing it right here. We must keep learning from them everywhere. I am sick and tired of that. This is a beautiful country of wonderful people, of great possibilities and great traditions. All we have to do is for all of us to feel that we have a stake here and organise ourselves as stakeholders and hold the people we have elected accountable," [sic]

"We are [a] work in progress. We are correcting our faults. We have one great virtue which sometimes can be a vice. We are very self-critical. Nobody can criticise Nigeria like Nigerians themselves. That is a good thing but when we overdo it, it becomes self destructive, and at the end of the day outsiders will use the very thing we are saying to undermine us. So, for goodness sake, we wish Ghana well. We congratulate them we need not draw any lessons from Ghana all the lessons we need are here in Nigeria and we are making use of those lessons." [sic]
I commend the Minister for being so frank. It is rare to see those in the Nigerian government share their opinions so blatantly, regardless of whether they are right or wrong. While I can only imagine the pressure he and others are under to perform to expectation, Nigerians have a right to be impatient and thus question, comment or criticize those they feel are expected to produce.  After all they are only human. Some would even argue that such discourse, which can be heated at times, is an indicator of a strengthening democracy, but that is not an issue I will delve into today.

Madueke's frankness forces some questions to be considered. Some of these are -
  1. Is he correct when he sarcastically suggests that Nigerians do not believe there is anything good in Nigeria? 
  2. At what point do discussions about Nigeria become detrimental criticism? 
  3. Can Nigeria learn anything from other countries, or is Madueke correct that "all the lessons we need are here in Nigeria"? 
  4. And, what about his point that "outsiders will use the very thing we are saying to undermine us"?
I know what I think about this comment and the questions they raise, but frankly, I wonder what others think about the important issues Madueke raises.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Keeping It Real
- Why I Blog About Africa
- I think Nigeria Needs A Revolution
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Significance of Persistent Psychological Paralysis

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Anonymous said...

We have one great virtue which sometimes can be a vice. will be written up in history books as the paradox of Foreign Affairs Minister Ojo Madueke. Unlike the Socratic Paradoxes this seemed devoid of analysis. Who hates his/her country enough to talk it down? Perhaps the question should be why talk it down in the first place? Or just blame the speech writers.

A distorted Chinese whisper form of information is how Nigeria runs in the age of Facebook, no wonder it has regressed but acting tough and arresting citizen journalists will not endear her. It will only erode the path to progress (if any). A sense of true community includes freedom of expression. Sticks and stones versus words?

About washing our dirt in public, well, the speech writers had better inform the minister about the fundamental principles of cynicism, the linen you wash might yet make you clean. Yes, it is all about virture, it is the only goal of a society.

The Activist said...

This is damn frank!

All we can do is make genuine effort from our mistakes as a nation and move forward and then, something good will come out Nigeria

Saheed said...

1) The best way to answer this is to take a national poll, which i dont think we do frequently enough, if ever...my opinion, however, is Yes and No (the question needs to be more specific)
2)When we discuss it and fight over it, but never propose solutions or execute proposed solutions
3)We already know what to do, we just don't do it. PPP???
4)Outsiders can only do what you allow them to do to you. Case Study: China makes clothes and imports them to Nigeria tagged 'Made in Nigeria'; thereby, undermining local cloth manufacturers...We can fine the Chinese companies or kindly return the cheap imports to China, but I dont know if its that simple for the authorities that be.

wellsbaba said...

well,frank talk!but like he said we are very good at criticising ourselves(including him) anybody can talk for me the question really is what is anybody really doing to stop all this?what are the practical steps he has taken to make nigeria a better nation?
to answer one of your questions I think theres a lot we can learn from outside but I think the point he was trying to raise is that theres so much to be learnt here that we havent even exhausted.....I miss this place.I am just rushing to read and comment cos I dont have much time anymore like before

Omodudu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Madueke is a smart man with a very mischievous intent. He is making excuses for Nigeria and trying to deflect the criticism that arises when you compare Ghana's successes to Nigeria's. He is doing it very tactically. I forgot the exact name for this strategy in game theory o. I would use this technique too if I were in his shoes. But that does not stop me for calling this guy one vile and sneaky dude.
Nigeria needs to compare as much as possible learn as much as possible, criticize as much as possible as long as it is backed up with some action. There is nothing technical here, a silly child deserves the criticisms, down talking and even self loathing that comes his way. If he is uncomfortable with these, he needs to change. Opari.

Anonymous said...

The minister is a public servant and public service exists solely for one reason - to serve the people! When the people are not well served they will and should speak up, and the servant ought to listen and make corrections.

So what is the minister saying?

That we shouldn't assert our rights as citizens of Nigeria? That we should keep overlooking the recklessness and laxity of the government and political class?

To address your questions:

1. Nigerians used to be very patriotic, and many are still. Patriotism is earned, not given. Nigerian officials need to double-up their acts if they want to see more patriotic citizens.

2. Criticism can never become detrimental. Simple. As long as Nigeria keeps on stumbling, the criticism will keep flowing.

3. Nigeria has a rich history, the problem is we tend to develop selective memory at will. Nigerian are the ones that will develop the solutions to their problems, sure we can borrow ideas for elsewhere, but we must be ready to shoulder the task.

4. It appears we worry to much about "outsiders". Will the outsiders do more harm than we are doing to ourselves and nation at the moment? Who are these outsiders self? There are reasons for saying what we say. When those reasons are addressed, the 'talk' will reduce.

If I may add, Nigerians need to do more than just talk. We all know what the problems are. What we need is solution, or at the very least a pragmatic and sincere means of addressing our problems.

Jinta said...

an unusually lucid moment from someone in govt. who has temporarily escaped from the insanity of the effects of corruption

Afronuts said...

1. I think he is partially correct. A lot of people don’t. I see it around me everyday.
2. That I can’t really say
3. I disagree. There’s a benefit of learning some things from other countries and seeing how it can work for us. Exposure is a good thing.
4. I guess that means we should be careful what we say because Nigeria still has a lot to learn and should we run our mouth anyhowz, we could shoot ourselves in the foot.

NneomaMD said...

I wonder if Maduekwe is reacting to some of the criticisms that he has received....

And it seems like Maduekwe has changed his position on Nigeria's over-reliance on other nations....I attended a talk sometime ago hosted at my alma mater in which his advice to someone concerned about the Chinese invasion in Nigeria was that the US should work harder to out-compete the Chinese....

And if the solutions to Nigeria lie within Nigeria - is he not a Nigerian - how come during his tenure as transportation minister he could not implement such home-grown solutions (maybe you will accuse of me of the ever-growing self-critical nature of Nigerians)....sorry, but in all honesty, Maduekwe is a bit of a disappointment....will get back to you on your questions....

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