Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Nigerian Factor

In my culture (I spent my first three years on earth with my grandparents, and I actually have vivid, and fond memories from that time) when a person is giving excuses on why he cannot do something, we call him Inyeke! We even have a song for such a fellow, we would sing, and clap,

Inyeke vha ya erah, owe o to mhe!
(Inyeke go fetch firewood,  he responds, my leg hurts!)
Inyeke vha ya eda, owe o to mhe! 
(Inyeke go fetch some water from the stream, he responds, my leg hurts!)
Inyeke vha ya ime, owe o to mhe  
(Inyeke go to the farm, he responds, my leg hurts!)
Inyeke vha l' ema, owe o po! 
(Inyeke come and eat, he responds my leg is healed!)
In Nigeria today, there is one euphemism we use to exculpate ourselves from guilt, and to excuse our failings, and foibles!
And I hate it, each time I hear it. We call it the "Nigerian Factor"

You cannot go through a discussion on why we have underperformed without hearing someone throwing up their arms in frustration, and sighing, and promptly concluding "It is the Nigerian Factor"

It is almost as if we are saying Nigerians are not human, they are not normal, they are some subspecies of homosepiens! Their metabolism, and thought process, is wired differently from the rest of the world!

What is the "Nigerian Factor? Is there an "American Factor" and a "British Factor" too?

How come it is always mentioned with our legendary capacity to underperform? 
So we produce crude oil, and have refineries that do not refine, but instead we import refined petroleum products, we attribute it to the "Nigerian Factor" 

We have hydro electric potentials, but cannot seem to get out acts together to generate, and distribute what we require, it is all down to, you guessed it"the Nigerian Factor!
Our policemen are some of the most corrupt in the world,but when they go out on peacekeeping duties, they are recognized for their utmost professionalism, when you ask why this is so, someone whines "it is the Nigerian Factor!

Our students struggle to pass exams at home, but once you take them to another country, they become first class materials, we sigh "it is the Nigerian Factor!

Is there something that makes us hopelessly useless to ourselves, and the rest of the world, once we have to deal with ourselves, by ourselves, for ourselves? 

We are like Inyeke, the sloth in the folksong above! 

We have an excuse for every inadequacy! It is so bad now, that we have come to expect the worst each time something has to be done by this country! 

We expect our government to be corrupt, we expect people to drive against traffic, we expect elections to be rigged, we expect electricity supply to fail, we expect something bad to happen, because it is "the Nigerian Factor"

The ancient Chinese believe in the Yin and the Yang, the two energies that they say cause everything to happen. It is represented by two tadpole-like designs in a circle. One black, the other white, they seem to be pursuing each other in a never-ending race that has no beginning, or end. They believe one leads to another, just as hot becomes cold, and the cold becomes hot again. The Yin is the black, while the Yang is the white. In our own case, it seems all we have is "Yin and Yin". Which would equate with black and black, or down, and down!

This our seemingly eternal acceptance of our inability for the positive, and anything good, our acceptance of reprobate as our lot in life, is sad! It an admission of failure even before the examination is taken!

It is as if we have accepted that we are incapable of any good, or success!

Our people have had their expectations shattered so many times, that they have become conditioned to expecting the worst!

It is a failure of leadership! Not just leadership from government, but leadership from each of us as individuals! 

What do we do when we see a problem? Many of us turn our eyes away, and cross to the other side of the road like the man in the Biblical story of the good Samaritan. 

We are afraid of what would happen to us if we speak up, we are afraid of loosing our jobs, our friends, or some other thing which does not really define us! Have we ever wondered what this country would be like, if we all spoke out against evil? Have we ever wondered what would happen, if we called all these thieving politicians by their real names, and refused to call them chiefs, but thieves?

Because we have shown that we are comfortable in our oppression, and deprivation, it goes on unabated, and unmitigated! 

People used to steal thousands of naira from the national treasury, but because we did not complain, they moved on to millions, and since we seemed to love it, they have now gone to billions of naira. I suspect that someone is scheming how he would steal trillions tomorrow! And when it happens, what would be our response, that annoying defeatist euphemism, "It is the Nigerian Factor!

It is said that  "people deserve the government they get", I would like to add that they also deserve the country they live in, because they have worked hard doing something, or nothing, to get it to where it is!

As we work towards joining the rest of the world in building a better world, by building a better nation, let us all determine that we would make the "Nigerian Factor" extinct!


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