Why Nigerians are special By Reuben Abati
Whatever problem we may have in Nigeria at this or any other time, this country is sustained by the fact that we are indeed a very special people. We have been described as the happiest people on earth, we have also described ourselves as resilient, gifted and determined, and in one report, Nigerians are said to have the strongest shock absorber against some of the deadliest diseases in the world. If anyone doubted this last point, well, recall that we won the battle over Ebola virus, and polio.
The more you look at it, the more it seems as if there is something in the Nigerian DNA that defies defeat, that automatically deletes any virus that can result in system shut down, there is that X-factor in our affairs that rises when hope seems lost, and life seems tragic. Somehow, the Nigerian spirit regenerates, recreates and reinvents itself, turns failure into possibilities, pessimism into new expectations, and tomorrow into an anchor for renewal.
We are at such a crossroad, right now. But in the midst of the despair, the listlessness, the anxiety, the what-happened-to-us and what-the hell-is-going-on, you can’t miss the fact that the average Nigerian has not lost his bounce. The biggest tragedies that can hobble other nations happen here and we just shrug them off. Boko Haram alone has claimed thousands of lives. Hun hun. Herdsmen have killed men and women in their hundreds. Hun hun. More lives have been lost to vehicle accidents on our poorly made, badly maintained roads. Well, hun hun. Many fingers have been caught in the national cookie jar. Ha. What is this? Who dunnit? But, o ma se o. hun hun. The national leaky bucket has a thousand holes. Ha, no country can live with this? Still, hen hun hun. We voted and there were promises of a new spirit of the age. But that spirit is yet to manifest. So? Nothing good comes easy, therefore. No miracles in the new agenda. So, ni igba yen wa n ko? So, life goes on.
Whatever life throws at the average Nigerian, he protests, he complains, but he accommodates it. It is the reason why nobody will throw stones because power supply is at the worst level in years. It is the reason why workers who have not been paid for months after months will still see the same Governor who is responsible for their misery, after collecting Federal money to help them, and has refused to deliver and they will still scream: “My Excellency, sir.” When workers go on strike, someone calls them together, says something nice, provides something nice and everything falls nicely in place. The late Chief MKO Abiola was quoted saying “eto ni gbogbo e”, that is anything in Nigeria can be arranged nicely.
The June 12 debacle sadly could not be arranged nicely. It cost the Chief of native wisdom and martyr of Nigerian democracy his life, but many lessons have been learnt. And one key lesson is that in this country, the people are determined to live no matter what. They can grumble as they wish about the public space but Nigerians are not ready to give up their will to live, their right to live and their understanding of how to live. And if you put your neck on the line on their behalf, you will be shocked that you will the subject of memes and what’s app jokes. The people laugh at martyrs and heroes because they see no reason why anyone should commit suicide, defending Nigeria, when there is so much life to be enjoyed.
Nigeria is probably the global headquarters of enjoyment. The way the ordinary man has complained in recent times, about political change and the socio-cultural changes it has brought, you would think Nigerians are in serious trouble. But that is not the case. The foreign exchange market has gone into a crazy overdrive impoverishing the whole nation. Parents whose children are schooling abroad are afraid that they may no longer be able to pay fees. The manufacturing sector is abusing the Minister of Finance-what’s-that-her-name……