It is obvious that Nigerians suffer a lot. And while a great number of them are oblivious of their suffering, some simply choose not to acknowledge it. Yet the suffering persists in various forms. Imagine a country which is among the top highest crude oil producers/exporters in the world, yet its citizens wallow in abject poverty. They struggle every day to afford the basic necessities of life, including petroleum products for which they have to queue for. Across the country currently, there are long queues extending to major main streets and obstructing traffic, even as motorists fight among themselves all in a desperate bid to get some litres of petrol.
Perhaps the discovery of crude oil became our curse! After all, a time was when agrarian Nigeria produced enough food to feed the country as well as export. A mere consultation of the history books will reveal how the groundnut pyramids in the north, palm trees of the South East and cocoa farms of the West helped Nigeria to earn needful foreign exchange; money that was put into good use need I say. The money earned by Nigeria back then through agro-based exports (which was nothing by the way compared to what would later be earned by crude oil exports), was enough to construct many roads, bridges, and even build major universities such as my Alma Mater, the University of Ibadan. As a matter of fact, most of the infrastructure we still used till date were built courtesy of revenue earned through agriculture. And then came the oil boom, coinciding with our independence and the rise of corruption. Nigeria has never been the same since then.
For years on end, we have been punished by the political elite who also double as the economic elite. These set of people deliberately make policies that stifle the advancement of the average Nigerian. How then do one explain their apparent refusal to transform Nigeria into the paradise it ought to be? There is no gainsaying the fact that we have all the resources we need to make Nigeria great. We are so endowed, so much so that most of the Asian tigers cannot compare in terms of natural resources. Yet look where they are and where we are. In less than a hundred year period, Indonesia and the likes have gone from under-developed to developed countries. But here is Nigeria, categorised as a developing state, when in fact it is nothing but a stagnant, undeveloped geographical entity.
Our leaders are our curse and punishment. What we have in excess in terms of natural resources, we lack in terms of good leaders and policymakers. Little wonder our Commonwealth has been continually mismanaged by a group of people who think that they alone are entitled to what we all should enjoy. They treat public office as their personal affair, and in so doing embezzle our money; albeit flagrantly. Nigeria is perhaps the only oil producing-country where proceeds from oil exports are simply shared among the ruling class, while the masses are left struggling for the crumbs that fall off their high tables. And with their corruption money, they build luxury mansions in gated communities with much security where the masses cannot get to them. They buy the latest automobiles from Europe and America with which they easily ply the bad roads while the masses are stuck trying to navigate. And then they send their children to the best schools in North America and Europe, even as the children of the average Nigerian manage the mostly useless schools. Meanwhile, as though to forestall any likely protest of the gross injustice, religion is aptly used by them to silence most people into submission.
Nigeria’s unemployment rate today stands at an appalling 18.8 percent. Yet to the powers that be, this is not an issue of national concern. But Nigerian youths are anxious to survive; so desperate to the extent that some of the unthinkable things such as crossing the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean sea just to get to Europe. Most die in the process by the way, while those that survive risk being enslaved.
All of these unfortunate things that can only happen in places like Nigeria begs the question- what is our sin, the reason why we are so cursed and punished? Well the answer is simple; our sin is our Nigerianness. But does this therefore mean that for as long as we keep being Nigerians, we will facing these myriads of challenges? That I cannot be sure of. But i do hope (for goodness’ sake) that this isn’t the case.