Friday, May 28, 2010

The following is a guest post written by fellow blogger, No Limit.

I recently went to Nigeria on a mission. My mission was to pay close attention to my family members, friends and anyone I came in contact with. After my visit, I concluded, corruption is not Nigeria's problem. Selfishness, on the other hand, is our problem. The get all you can and sit on it attitude is in 99.9% of us. Loving one's self and wanting the best for one's life is not in itself a bad thing. Afterall, you can't give what you don't have thus, you have to love yourself to be able to show the same love to your neighbor. When that love turns to self obsession, things get complicated.

I met a man from northern Nigeria to whom I expressed my disdain for former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida. Unbeknown to me, this man was an acquaintance of Babangida's. During our conversation, he cautioned me against speaking badly about Babangida and eventually informed me that  he had been beneficiary to houses, cars and lucrative contracts during the regime.

The conversation left me upset, not because of the supposed benefits he gained but because he was thinking of his belly alone. Babangida singlehandedly caused the crippling of a whole nation. Yet, this man was willing to praise the former dictator simply because of what he could gain. Sadly, I think the likes of this man make up a majority in Nigeria.
Another example of how selfish we've become as individuals and a nation lies in what I was told by a friend about her boss's daughter's wedding. She told me that hundreds of millions of Naira were spent on the wedding  Frankly, that did not bother me as I believe people should be able to enjoy their hard-earned money. My attitude soon changed when she told me that this same boss had neglected to contribute to the medical fund of an employee suffering from cancer and in need of N12 million.

All I could think to myself was, "Is this what human life is worth to us?" Based on what I learned about my friend's boss, a contribution of 12 million, or at least half of that, would not leave a dent in his pocket.

Even worse, is that in Nigeria, people generally do not care how got their money. As long as that person spends it on them, the dubious source of the funds are irrelevant. That is why politicians, public figures and other officials can plunder with no shame. This leads me to what is the way forward for the country?

I asked a few friends and family members, and two individuals suggested that all politicians need to be killed. As tempting as that might seem for some, we all know this is not necessarily the way forward. Other participants in my informal poll argued that we need to change the mentality of the people and discourage the attitude that encourages the plundering of public goods by officials. Another suggestion was that Nigerians use their voting power to remove corrupt politicians by making sure each vote counts. A Gambian friend recommended that each state become autonomous. Although this option has both advantages and disadvantages, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. For instance, good governance in a successful state can become good practice for the others. I particularly support the suggestion that we reform government and reinstate leaders that will be bound by contractual terms. Politicians would have to work hard if they had actual contracts to live up to. Finally, a family member told me that we need to renew the people's mindset and encourage individuals to be patriotic citizens.  When we become better citizens collectively, then we will see a better Nigeria.

I'm not sure what the solution to Nigeria's 'selfish' problem is, but I remember the words of another of my close friends who said the mindset of the people needs to be changed before any obvious positive change can be appreciated.

Long live Nigeria…

Much thanks to No Limit for contributing to Nigerian Curiosity as an Honorary Guest Writer of May 2010. She is a highly respected blogger who writes primarily about her observances, and experiences.

If you would like to be a Guest Writer for Nigerian Curiosity, please use the 'Contact' button above to reach SolomonSydelle, the blog administrator. 

Please read other contributions from previous Nigerian Curiosity Guest Writers -
- Dr. Joseph Okpaku's Barack Obama & America: Who Needs Who More 
- Osize's 'Economics of Nollywood: Price'
- Aloofar's 'When Will Nigerians Have Enough?'
- Tosin's 'Fantasy Federal Executive Council Team'
- Temie's 'Sweetening Motherhood' 

10 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

tininu said...

i think this spot on!, while some might try and judge the integrity of her observation and the sample( friends, family and a random man) in which she has used to generalise across nigeria.. She still has a might fine point.

Chxta said...

When I wrote that Corruption is not our problem I was almost slaughtered...

Ms Afropolitan said...

I think selfishness and corruption sort of fit together, and we have a problem with both. A selfish person is more easily corrupted and vice versa. We certainly have more than one problem in our beloved nation. Interesting thoughts on state autonomy and contracts

F said...

I think this was well said. Selfishness is the root of corruption, though, since those in power would rather subvert due process for selfish gains than let things run transparently.

Tosin said...

I read a wonderful, fresh, and dangerous idea. I know you wrote "each state should be autonomous" which we usually read to mean it's not ALL for the Federal level, allow the states some share of the responsibility. Today I read it as each state should be truly and completely independent. And I got very excited. Imagine: if you are tired of life in Anambra, say, or Lagos, you could just up and move to Akwa Ibom, or Kwara, and like moving to a different country, it would be a different set of rules, leadership, and systems. That just might do the trick, because our country is rotten and the good people are fucking disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Corruption is Nigeria's problem. We corrupt in our homes, in our places of work, with or relatives, corrupt in our churches, musques, shrines, temples, street, parliament and even corrupt in our hearts. We are corruptians.

We should stop fooling ourselves and we must stop being in denial. It is corruption to say "Corruption is not Nigeria's problem" ... Corruption is what got Nigeria in the financial mess that it is in. 99.9% of Nigeria's leaders are rotten and corrupt and worst than armed robbers. Even the so called religious leaders are rotten, corrupt and have turned places of worship into money making ventures. We should stop fooling ourselves and face the truth.

Many foreign investors and entrepreneurs shy away from doing business with us not because Nigeria have a bad reputation, but because corruption is endemic in Nigeria and among our people. It is very shameful. We must stop pretending that it is not so.

Billions of dollars are being stollen from Nigeria each month directly from oil revenue and indirectly through tax avoidance by the rich who use offshore banking and Trusts to rob Nigeria blind on a daily basis.


Kim Jong-il
North Korea

eMJOY Mayowa said...

selfishness is corruption in character.
I profer: Let YOUR VOTE count in order to get rid of the old and rotten to make way for the new. A campaign will come around the nation to inspire our mentality and minds unto the patriotic act of voting and making sure it counts. good stuff...

Olufunke said...

Corruption is part of our problem, and like the others have said, selfishness is one of the roots of corruption, greed, wickedness etc are also the banes of the Nigerian society.

I would like to say, , but for Nigeria, we lack VALUES: its a country where, anything goes, we do not live for any ideals, the average Nigerian only lives to make money, get money, if you can steal money, spend it and then die.

The average human being is selfish, we all know the selfish reasons behind most of the wars in the middle-east .... but society in those western societies work, because they value other things in life....integrity, honesty, being humane, service, life, health etc , but we sadly cannot say the same for Nigeria.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you guys for this wonderful topic, I told my friends that CORRUPTION is not our problem rather VALUE SYSTEM
A human being is created to shine, in develop society what determines who is important is the person's positive impact to his society, but in my dear country is how much money you have that determines, that is what leads to CORRUPTION. Every society has the choice to decide what makes someone important; my dear country has decided that is all about money. Referring to the author example, I do not blame the man for not contributing to medical bill because everyone will like to do what matters in a society or what the society values so that he will be recognize, throwing expensive party is what will give him recognition. In Nigeria is not our value system to reach out for people and be of help to them.

NG said...

I agree with the article, but I do not believe that selfishness is in the Nigerian DNA, but instead, that it is a thing that grows upon any inidividual living in such conditions.

One way or the other, poverty causes many people to stop thinking of others, how do you have time to be moral when you are being badly done by and not given what you deserve and sometimes what you are entitled to, every single day?

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