Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ask some Nigerians what it is about their country that they would change and many would say, "Everything." Others argue that corruption is the key problem that underlies every other issue faced by the country. In response to this belief that tackling corruption would help solve other issues, various tactics have been employed by the Nigerian government, expending money, time and the goodwill of citizens and foreigners alike. But, what if the emphasis on corruption has been misplaced? What if there is a different 'problem' whose solution could ease the quest for development and advancement across the Nigerian spectrum?

This writer previously argued that corruption is the common denominator to all Nigeria's problems, but acknowledged that other factors such as the national psyche, personal/national security and adequate electricity supply (#lightupnigeria) play a role in remedying many of the issues Nigeria needs to overcome. However, a recent discussion with a mentor suggested the possibility of an overarching Nigeria-specific obstacle that is yet to receive adequate attention.

Is it possible that there is an overarching issue, yet to be fully identified and tackled, that hinders Nigerian progress? This proposition could explain why despite all the solutions that have been thrown at various problems, like corruption, malaria, maternal and pediatric health, a solution still appears far away. After all, some have gone as far as to attribute the slow progress on major issues to demons, hidden groups/organizations, and other ilk. And, so far, despite the prayers, high hopes and many examples of success in various parts of the nation, its government and people continue to face significant challenges.

If there is any validity to this approach to improving Nigeria - an acknowledgment that the nation's 'problem(s)' remains misdiagnosed - then maybe now is as good a time as any to identify the hidden problem(s). Based on their experience, organizations like the World Bank and others, have come to various conclusions about what needs to be changed in Nigeria and other African countries. Likewise Nigerians, and many Africans, have equally determined that solving certain issues will clear the way for progress. But, what if these conclusions have all been wrong? What if something has been overlooked? The reality is that money has been thrown at many an issue and in some parts of Nigeria there has not been enough success. Determining the 'hidden issue' would allow for the creation of potentially more efficient and effective solutions. More importantly, having a better idea of what exactly is wrong could actually produce verifiable results. That, in turn,would limit the disappointment of most Nigerians, frustrated with the lack of progress, and refocus minds on finding solutions to the key problems previously left unaddressed in a nation yet to fully achieve its potential.

I can admit that I do not have a definite answer to the questions I am asking. I can even admit that there might be an already identified problem yet to receive adequate attention. And, I can admit that there possibly is no unique problem that needs to be solved for other issues to be remedied. However, the very possibility that Nigeria's issues have been misdiagnosed is intriguing and presents a compelling challenge worth considering. At the end of the day, there are many things that need to happen in Nigeria at a federal government level, at a state government level and just as importantly, at an individual level, to overcome the difficulties all well meaning individuals want resolved. Sometimes, thinking outside the conventional box helps identify and solve those issues and hopefully, Nigeria, and other similar countries, will do so very soon.

What do you think? Of the many problems attributed to Nigeria, is there one more important than the others? Or, do you think there might be another issue, yet to be addressed that plays a part in staling Nigeria's progress?

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15 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

tobenna said...

I do not think our problem has been misdiagnosed.
The mon(ies) that have been spent to treat the already identified issues found their ways to bank accounts of our leaders.
So, the treatment has never been completed.
But, wait a minute.
What if our problem is democracy?
Is democracy really a one size fits all solution to underdeveloped countries?
Should Nigeria be democratic to develop and cater for her citizens?

Beauty said...

Your questions are not unlike the ones that led to the conclusions of the Nobel Laureate, Dr James Watson. The answers would be too complex and as such, lead to  other problems that might dwaft the original. "What if there is a different 'problem' whose solution could ease the quest for development and advancement across the Nigerian spectrum?" cannot help us today since the fire is already raging and we in the middle, it must to put it out now.

Obama went to Ghana but the humour is not lost on Nairaland´s Obama In Nigeria, Oh Sorry, Ghana!, “I guess he doesn’t want to be kidnapped  by Militants”, an eyeopener and great education. The problem is, nobody is doing! We are not building remarkable infrastructure nor keeping our educated workforce. We are using our treasuries like personal piggy banks and listening to the likes of Jeffrey Sachs.

NaijaBabe said...

Not misdiagnosed in its entirety, cos I think all those problems are valid. But I think starting points have been missed. Change comes from within. If we are saying our roads are dirty, we need bins on the orads and people to pick up the litter...what about educating ourselves on not dropping litter in inappropriate places?

N.I.M.M.O said...


All our problems stem from our insincerity as a people. We all pay lip-service but do very little; we pledge and vow to do our best but turn around and blame it on the country.

I have said it several times, 'Nigeria has no problems; but Nigerians ... our problems are myriad'.

We are our own problems.

Al said...

I think our problem main problem is Accountability.

I agree with N.I.M.M.O 100%. It's not Nigeria that has the problem, but us Nigerians. For example, we cry of corruption, but many of us still take part in it.

Considering Tobenna's post, that's a really good question. Even in elections, I doubt it's the one who gets the highest number of votes that always get elected.

I just feel that there are some people currently in Government who need to LEAVE, like, disappear from the surface of this earth. I don't know how, but they really need to get lost.

imnakoya said...

You ask an interesting question.

The shackles that have kept Nigeria deep in the dodo pit are all linked to absence of Real LEADERS. And I'm not just talking about political leadership; we are all leaders in our rights, really.

Nigeria has to find a way to MAKE it own leaders, somehow.

The only viable venture in Nigeria at the moment -- with any tangible social capital -- are the religious institutions, and they can help lead the way in this regard.

Imagine if all across the land, there are unified messages and practical teachings on leadership just for one month. Imagine the impact at the local level?

I believe if a collaborative agenda can be worked out between the major religious groups, Nigeria may start seeing major turnaround with 5 years.

Beauty said...

@N.I.M.M.O - Even though them and us is frown on in problem solving but it is clear that the general "we" is not applicable in this thread. We are our own problems? How? An example would be grand. Here is a story from one of my links,

"Two years ago I drove the Attorney General of Nigeria from Heathrow to Cheltenham where his children are in a private school. Harvard educated, highly intelligent and a natural leader who commands respect. In my opinion, a brilliant man.

I asked him how the country can be in such a mess with people like him in charge…In short his reply was.

1.0 It will take time. It’s not long since independance
2.0 His masters are not like him and he needs to be very careful (AG is a political appointment)
3.0 He is positive about change …it will happen he says!!!

Didn’t know if I should laugh or cry but man, he was about a million times better than any of the other moronic leaders I’ve come across in Africa"

So, how do "we" feature is this story?

Anonymous said...

I think that a problem that I don't hear much about is the rituals leaders take to 'protect' themselves amongst other things. I believe aside from the fears of being killed the consequences of meddling with the path of the rituals is also an issue to people deciding whether they should oppose or not.

I don't know how you would tackle an issue like that but perhaps all the hard work into counteracting all the corruption and other things is counteracted by whatever it is these leaders do to 'protect' what they want to do...

Aside from that education is definitely high on the priority list. A nation can't prosper without education. Good education will enable all sorts of progress.


@ Tobenna: Thanks for swinging by! True, misdiagnosis might not be the issue if the solution was not applied. But, for the sake of arguments, what if that in itself reflects a misdiagnosis - in that the 'solution' failed to take into account the actual problem that led to the follow up problems such as failure to apply solutions? Hope this makes sense, its 4 in the morning and I have already been up for an hour. Don't ask...

As to your comment on democracy, it is very valid. Catwalq raised a similar question some weeks ago. I like to think democracy, when tailored to acknowledge the uniqueness that is Nigeria, can work. Some argue that pre-colonialism, democracy was alive and well in certain parts of the country. Nevertheless, it is possible that the nation's political system might be a misdiagnosed issue. Lots of food for thought.

Thanks for getting the conversation started.

@ Beauty: I see your point about being in the thick of fire and needing to put it out, regardless of any misdiagnosis issues. Yet, I can't help but wonder if taking the time to consider the possibility of a 'national misdiagnosis' could be influential in putting out said fire?

On your second point about 'failure to launch' (that's stuck in my head), I can't disagree that in many parts of the country (some will argue all), there is a stagnation that is preventing even those with the best of intentions from 'doing'. But, we must note that despite this apparent stagnation, money continues to roll into Nigeria. Someone still believes that the country is a good bet, despite its problems. I just wish some of that money wouldn't, as you say, end up in "personal piggy banks".

Thanks for sharing the links.

@ Naijababe: "starting points have been missed"

Hmmm...I am sitting here nodding vehemently as I read your analysis of things. Maybe I am biased, because I strongly believe that there are issues of national psyche (aka PPP) that play a role in how we see problems and thus attack them. It is quite possible that changes in a people's psychology will happen naturally over time, but I wonder if Nigeria has the luxury of waiting? Anyway, I cannot disagree with your approach, it is very sound.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this discussion. As always, your opinion is much appreciated.

@ N.I.M.M.O.: Interesting. The problem boils down to Nigerians being insincere? Hmmm... I can definitely acknowledge that there is some disconnect between our complaining and our 'doing'. That is why I find it hard to believe that there aren't more forceful expressions of discontent and organized solution creations on the ground. Imnakoya had a short post that drove the point home very well recently, when he pointed out some water problems in Kano and the apparent lack of crafty entrepreneurs to solve it and satisfy a need. We must ask ourselves what factors create that problem - lack of solution to an obviously fixable problem.

Anyway, I can only explain this 'disconnect' as a psychological issue. As I have said in the past, the nation's psyche needs addressing and those 'doing' something to that end should be supported.

Anyway, your point is definitely interesting. I must ask, do you see any solution to this "insincerity" issue you raise? As always, thanks for swinging by. Your opinion is always appreciated.


@ Al: Thanks for joining the conversation. Accountability is definitely an issue in Nigeria. It wasn't always as prominent a problem, but it has become the natural result of certain aspects of our nation's history. And, yes, Naija democracy,a t least in its present form, hasn't done enough to make things better.

I was recently asked what I would do if I was granted sole permission to 'fix' Nigeria. It was an interesting question, but my answer lacked any hesitation. "I would isolate all with the power/influence to prevent progress." I was told that sounded a tad extreme, but it was a spontaneous answer and even after thinking about it some more, I don't think it's too far off from what is necessary.

Anyway, thanks for swinging by and please, return.

@ Imnakoya: Hmmm...again, I am nodding vehemently...

Leadership. Good leadership doesn't just happen, and like you suggest, there are very good ways to encourage and foster it in the country. We have traditionally had the means to foster leadership, but somehow, with military rule (guns = power), corruption (stolen money = power) and the resulting problems, we are all so concerned on getting through the day that grooming our leaders might be falling by the wayside. This is not to say that there are not programs/parents/ churches and other organizations doing this already, but as you suggest, the scale could definitely be larger.

"...if a collaborative agenda can be worked out between the major religious groups, Nigeria may start seeing major turnaround with 5 years"

I have to say I thoroughly agree with this suggested solution to an obvious problem. I will pass this along to some folks that run leadership orgs and the like in Nigeria. maybe they can take advantage of your suggestion if they haven't already. And as always, thanks for taking the time to share your opinion. Much appreciated.

@ AMM: Respect for the metaphysical world is definitely a significant part of Nigerian (and in fact, African) culture. As such, it plays a major role in how we see problems and how we attack them. There have been rumors for a very long time that many of Nigeria's most powerful men are members of certain secret societies that use 'juju' for protection and to increase their wealth and influence.

Whether this is true or not, I can acknowledge that the way we see the metaphysical, and the fears many have of the possible consequences for going against that 'realm' can impact whether or not we individuals collectively solve our problems.

An interesting point to raise, and I thank you fro bringing it up. It has me thinking about some follow up discussions. Thank you so much!

ooj said...

I think part of d problem at least is the culture of impunity- one too many 'leaders' in d past have done things and yet gone scot free. The next chap out there gunning for political office usually views it as a means to line his pockets. until an over arching structure of checks and balances, backed up by real action to punish offenders is in place, d mindset of the average chap on d street will always b one of resignation, whilke dat of d man in govt will b to line his pockets. Btw is there anything dat binds us together as a nation? I think part if d problem is the lack of a national ethos.

Lati said...


Hana Njau-Okolo said...

Yes there are a lot of problems in Nigeria, as in the rest of Africa. But I believe most of these problems can be solved if a couple key things can be taken care of:
1) good leadership and
2) controlling corruption (because it never can be eliminated)
3) alleviation of poverty.

You mention that money has been thrown to the problems, that is not entirely true. We all know what happens when money is appropriated to various projects. Case in point, the money thrown into improving electrical supply under OBJ...

All the problems are symptoms of bad leadership and corruption. Take care of those things, everything else will fall into place. We need dedicated fearless benevolent leaders.

Anonymous said...

All the yorubas pls wake up , too much injustice
in our country Nigeria. Nature have made us great
and let move along with greatness of our 4fathers.we have all it take to stay as a country,south east can make a country and let forget about Abuja and come home and face our own.Awolowo did it , let his labour not be in vain otherwise we will be cursed.

Anonymous said...

Who are these folks proclaiming that Nigeria does not have a problem? Nigeria as a country sure has lots of problems. The first problem we have is that the Nigerian people(150 million strong) has allowed a few elitist to stir our ship in a wrong direction. Fear has been created in our minds and we have been made to believe that it is not a wise idea to challenge authority. Everything is wrong with Nigeria. Nigeria is like an old building that is outdated and needs to be knocked down in order to make room for a more modern and efficient one.

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