All Nigerians dream of the day when Nigeria will be a functional country that provides its citizens with higher standard of living and equal opportunities, but will that day ever come? Nigeria has a slew of problems but the bigger issue is that there seems to be no end in sight to these problems. There is nothing more disturbing than a seemingly nonchalant president with no clear plan and citizens that are almost ungovernable. Talking about Nigeria’s problems is played-out, I think it is time for us to start talking solutions. For Nigeria (the country) to get off the hamster wheel of what seems to be an uphill battle Nigerians (the people) need to change their mindset. True change rests in the hands of the citizens.
If an average Nigerian is tired of sitting on the sidelines and watching the glamorous life of the rich and famous play out on Bellanaija, or in Ovation et al he or she will have to start asking serious questions of himself or herself. An average person in Nigeria does not have a shot at success unless they know someone on the corridors of power or unless they cut corners. This needs to change and this cannot continue to be an excuse for the poor to stay poor. Take your destiny into your own hands and think outside the box because help is not coming from the government. Decide as an individual that you will not cut corners and that you will be the absolute best at what you do. It is possible and it will pay-off, I have seen it happen (and not I am not talking Olajumoke – that was sheer luck and the chances of that happening again is literarily one in a million).
A young man came to work for my family when I was a kid and his story inspires me. I am from a polygamous home and we all lived together, we had so many people going and coming at our house it was hard to keep track. However, this young man stood out. Technically he was a “house boy” but he never carried himself as such. He was always dressed in business casual regardless of the task. He spoke pretty good English and he could carry on a conversation with anyone. He was a student at the University of Lagos that needed the extra cash. He was simply amazing, he took initiative, he always volunteered to help outside the regular house chores and his help was always welcomed because he had a great attitude. My family is Christian but we never used to go to church but this young man actually sold the entire house on the idea of going to church. I remember we were so nervous about our first service that we had coolers of rice and drinks in the trunk of the cars because my dad was worried we (the children) could be hungry before the service was over (lol). It was awesome. The point is that this young man is not from an influential family but he made the best of his situation, he did not cut corners and he successfully paid his way through school. If the entire country will take the same approach towards everything they do, we will have a better country.
Nigerians complain about a lot of issues in Nigeria when they have never lifted a finger to do anything positive for anyone but themselves and family. What have you done to clean-up your neighborhood? Do you make efforts to beautify your property, outside the gate of your house? Do you throw trash out of your window as you drive? Do you give to your local food bank (or plan on starting a food bank)? Do you volunteer or give towards an initiative that benefits your community, ever? The citizens of Nigeria need to take initiative and realize that there is nowhere to run. Nigeria will always be home. The countries they plan on running to are not as glamorous as they seem. Blacks in countries around the world are crying racism and an average Nigerians grand plan is to leave Nigeria to go join minority groups in other countries. Why not take simple initiative to make the best of what you have? If nobody fixes the issue in Nigeria, there will be no change. I think we can all agree that the government (APC or PDP) cannot have as much impact as the citizens. Even if the government installs new facilities and infrastructures, if the citizens continue their shabby way of life the so call change will not last. Real healing needs to come from the core. We the citizens need to upgrade our mentality.
Let’s stop hoping and wishing, true change is in our hands and we are on our time now. The sooner we start to improve as a people, the better for us. America and other great countries did not become great because of the government, they became great because of the people. Citizens of the United States invest time in their neighborhood, in their community and in themselves. The government cannot impact every life even if they try. As citizens everything we do has a ripple effect. For example if you steal (time or items) from your employer, that employer’s cost goes up and the entire country has to pay more for that employer’s service. If everyone on your street decides not to beautify the outside of their properties, guess what you end up with an ugly neighborhood. That is not the government’s fault. In the United States home owners do not only beautify their properties, they take serious pride in the task of making their property look good. When Nigerians visit these beautiful neighborhoods abroad they enjoy the scenery but they need to understand that the government has little or nothing to do with the beauty.
We the people have the power to make significant change to Nigeria, we don’t need to wait on the government.
By Lola Fajemirokun