A Call to Action! Let’s Put a Stop to Passivity

Few years ago I was with a group of fellow Nigerian students and we were discussing the sorry state of the country. As usual we started blaming our leaders for all the problems in the country, accusing them of being insensitive to the plight of Nigerians. As we shared our different stories, I noticed an Oyibo (European) classmate listening intently. And from nowhere, he just asked the most annoying question ever:
But why do you people allow your leaders get away with this?

We all looked at him like he was crazy and then attempted to explain that our leaders were among the most selfish, unconcerned, and wicked types the world has ever produced. But the Oyibo boy paid no heed, he just continued:
You Nigerians are among the most traveled, educated and passionate people in the world, I have no doubts that if you really put your minds to it, you can make your country work.

Again, we tried to defend ourselves and explain that we couldn’t make the necessary changes because our leaders were bad, corrupt, wicked…

Several years later, I realised that my European classmate was right after all: the problem with Nigeria is not really her leaders, but the collective passivity of her citizens. The Oxford dictionary defines being passive as “accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.” This definition is captured very well in late Fela’s song “suffering and smiling.” We have simply become desensitized to things that should cause a national outrage. Look around you, the number of women dying during childbirth is not getting lower, the number of people dying in road accidents is on the increase. Unemployment rates are higher than before, insecurity is on the rise, …etc
Instead of confronting these sad issues, we have become experts at saying things like “one day one day, e go better”, without making any concrete efforts to make things better. Sadly, as events in recent times have proven, when we don’t do anything about a problem, it doesn’t just magically go away, it gets worse.

How did we get to this sorry state? Well we all know the answer: a refusal to take a stand. We would rather dance, party, engage in silly debates about celebrities, run commentaries about red carpet events, than make any tangible efforts to effect change. We get emotional when we hear sad stories of avoidable tragedies suffered by our fellow countrymen and women (sometimes even children) and then proceed to write an obligatory “R.I.P” or some other sentimental message. It ends there, when we are called to try and do something about it, we make excuses. When someone gets bold enough to do something about a societal problem, some of us make comments like:
ah…it will not work!” “This is not America o!” “Our leaders won’t listen!

And for those who eventually get convinced to join a cause, they get easily tired after a few weeks or months of waiting. They won’t lift a finger to go the extra mile, they are just happy to say a word in support or sign an online petition. They would rather watch and see what happens. If nothing happens after a while, they say “I no talk am? Nothing go happen jare!

Why do we find it very difficult to go the extra mile to achieve any goal that is for the greater good of others, unless we stand to gain somehow? Why do we defend our lack of enthusiasm with recycled lame excuses? Why do we even bring up stories of people who tried something similar in the past but did not succeed without finding out why they failed? Why don’t we learn how to do things differently? Why do we continue to bleat about the same leaders, year in year out, generation after generation?

Now I don’t mean to be overly critical or act like I am better, this is also a message to me. I know very well that change is a very hard thing to achieve. We only need to look at the likes of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jnr and other great men and women to see the costly sacrifices they made. But alongside those sacrifices came great honour. The honour of seeing a better society, the honour of knowing their children would be spared the pain of their experiences, the honour of doing the right thing and the honour of being role models to millions around the world. There can be no honour without sacrifice: of time, resources or even comfort.

Our society is getting progressively worse and no one but us can change it. This change will not come easy or fast, but with determination and purpose it will surely come. We only need to look at the Egyptians and other countries involved in the Arab Spring to know this fact. I am by no means advocating chaos and mass rallies, I think there are other safer routes to achieve societal improvements and hold our leaders accountable.

Unlike our parents who were too terrified of the military dictatorships in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to demand for changes, we have the advantage of a democracy. We also have the advantage of social media to get our voices heard. All we need to do is use those voices to speak up, not just swap pictures of our latest hair-dos or entertainment gossip. We cannot continue to remain passive and pray. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves!

Nigerians, we are a great people. Our future is bright, we have the legacy of great men and women who fought hard to give us an independent nation. We are among the best in the world, we are enterprising, we are intelligent, we are hardworking, we are simply outstanding! We the youths, can harness all our talents and make this nation great again. We can replicate in this country what we enjoy in other nations: safer roads, better healthcare, improved educational standards, etc. This is the 21st century, we have many things in our favour. All we need is determination and a refusal to give up easily. We cannot afford to do otherwise; posterity will not judge us kindly if allow passivity consume us.

As my own way of holding the Federal Road Safety Corps accountable for the high statistics of fatal road accidents, I have started an online campaign. Please join this campaign and help by giving suggestions on this links, thank you:
https://www.facebook.com/StopFuelTankerAccidentsNow
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/please-ban-the-daytime-movement-of-fuel-tankers-and-trailers

In conclusion, I leave this comment by MIT professor and modern-day philosopher Noam Chomsky:
Passivity may be the easy course, but it is hardly the honourable one.

Photo Credit
: clutchmagonline.com

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Theresa Omoronyia is a trained business analyst and has degrees in Management Science and Computer Science. She lives in Glasgow, UK with her husband and son. Theresa enjoys being with people and her passion is to help those who are hurting. She has worked as a volunteer in orphanages, and as a peer educator and music tutor to secondary school students in Nigeria.

37 Comments on A Call to Action! Let’s Put a Stop to Passivity
  • Lami July 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Enough is Enough!!! I feel you
    iamfar.com

  • Hurperyermie July 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    HMMMMMM it is well Nigerians have a very bad attitude if you instigate them to protest when you get to where you are going and you look behind you, you will realise you are the only one standing so i believe we are not suffering yet when we start suffering we will speak up

  • AlabamaU2 Blog July 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Small! Small Oh!!!

  • Motun July 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    If Only…

  • C for Berry July 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Like seriously enough is enough! It is so annoying, sad and pathetic. Our voices need to be heard and our actions match our words! It irks me too that just because someone is older than you and does something wrong no one speaks up and when you do, you are rude! When pple can’t even tell their “friends or acquaintances what is wrong without being judged and bullshitted!
    I have decided, I have a voice, not for gossip but for speaking out! Enough of being passive without achieving anything. Why don’t we try something else?

  • linjust July 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    nice one . Very Informative.

  • Sotay July 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    If I had a N100.00 for every time I’ve read an op-ed like this, I would be a millionaire by now. You think we like that our leader take advantage of us? All the #lightupnigeria and protests over fuel hikes have gotten us to where? We can shout from the rooftops from now until tomorrow, the truth is Nigeria is in the grips of a few and they are unwilling to let go.

  • Damie July 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Like you said (or implied), violent revolutions are not the way forward. Egypt is worse off for it. Simple things such as not letting religion or tribalism cloud your judgment when voting can go a long way. It’s annoying when people can’t see that.

  • Tolu July 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    ”Unlike our parents who were too terrified of the military dictatorships in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to demand for changes, we have the advantage of a democracy”

    I agree with your assertion but except you have not seen political thugs in live action or uniformed police men in action performing very obvious acts of wrong doing then you will realise that our parents had it good.
    With the military you knew to keep your mouth shut outside your house but today, well…., just drive round Lagos for a week.

  • madman July 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Let’s not stop talking…. no one wants to die for Nigeria.

    • Abana July 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      No one wants to die for Nigeria because everyone is comfortable. Even the man begging on the roadside is comfortable in his penury. If we were to be made truly uncomfortable, people will rise up. If I decide enough is enough and start to protest outside Alausa, what happens to me? If I find enough people to believe in my cause and organise a peaceful protest, what happens to us? Would I be assured of my safety? I could easily be arrested for sedition. Notice I am not even talking about online petitions because they hardly work in our society.
      At the rate Nigeria is going, our best bet for a change is either in numbers (en masse protests and campaigns) or with the army (bloodless coup by someone who actually wants to see positive change). Either way, it starts with one person. One person ready to lay down his or her life.

      • madman July 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm

        well stated. Until then, let’s keep talking until we are really and truly tired. But we’ are not tired of it all yet.

      • madman July 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm

        We are still interested in fashion, drinking, instagram photos, and luxury… that forces the “outside” world to describe us as “middle class” when in reality we are “suffering and smiling.”

  • cledges July 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I agree with you dear writer, We can start with ourselves in making little changes. little things like going out to vote, and most importantly by voting the right candidate into power would make a huge difference, but you will be amazed at the comments young people say, “my vote no matter, them don decide winner” why not vote first. Naija matter tire me, jare.

  • AA July 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    @Sotay, you are one of the people the author is complaining about. I have stopped blaming our leaders. Nigeria is a mess because of you and me. We have allowed the leaders to get away with it for too long and we just sit and moan and groan. Our young men and women only care about making money, no matter how. I agree with the person who made the comment that we have not yet suffered. When we are truly suffering, we will know what to do. Until then, I don’t want to hear any more sad stories of suffering from Nigerians again. I am done with your stupid passivity!!!

    • Sotay July 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Oya now, continue shouting up and down on the internet, let’s see how far that takes you.
      I’m not saying the author of this article is wrong. I’m saying that I’m tired of reading about calls to action. I’ve been reading it in Guardian and Punch newspapers since I was in primary school in the 80’s.

  • pynk July 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    talk talk talk. Charity begins at home. Have you simply tried being kind and proper to your neighbor? Change isnt necessarily a big revolution, it starts with the simple things. Truth is the average Nigerian is too selfish to consider anyone but themselves, thats why you can see a rich commissioner for education who has refused to rehabilitate public schools or an LGA chairman asking why vaccine cold rooms to be situated in his neighborhood cant be used for his joint “ice block” making ventures. He doesnt think of what the lack of sanitary vaccines can mean for his constituency. WE ARE OUR LEADERS – THEY ARENT ALIENS! be the change you want to see. simple.

  • nich July 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    good right up….but my friend no such freedom can ever come without bloodshed…….the united states and europe also sacrificed blood. i would want to ask you if you are ready to die? then it would be easier to know at that point if you truly want change………….there is no such thing as freedom without blood as the price……mandela was ready to die and so was martin luther king….
    Egyp and the arab spring was able to remove their leaders because they are ready to die……the breath and live in jihad and martyrdom……..some boko haram members as i believe that you have read admitted to being sponsored by some politicians but prefer to die rather than release the names of their sponsors………….christians value live and in nigeria it is hard for what took place in egypt to happen in nigeria. However freedom is possible to achieve in nigeria still…………….i wil give you too ideas of how you can start..

    1. form a group of 20 people either men, women or youths comprising of people from the north, south east and west of nigeria who believe in democracy and the future of nigeria.
    2. compile a list of 10 people who are in politics now and based on their record of leadership in their home states or constituency have compassion for their fellow country men and are inspired to develope this country. This 4 people must be in that list……fashola, apbabio, oshomole, rochas, ribadu…………….i will tell you the rest on ur website……good luck

    • Tess July 11, 2013 at 11:23 am

      I don’t believe I have to die to make changes in Nigeria. No one has to die and no bloodshed is required at all. All we need is commitment to a specific cause and a strong and unwavering determination not to give up. Yes it may take longer than expected, but it will certainly come. The struggle to end Apartheid did not come in a day, neither did the end of segregation of blacks in America. All social changes take time, as long as people remain committed they will see it happen.

      Our leaders are not our problem, we are the problem. We don’t hold them accountable and allow them get away with anything. Even if there is a coup again in Nigeria, I can assure you, the military will not be any better. Even if you bring an angel from heaven to lead Nigeria, it will only be a matter of time before he gets corrupt, because of absolute power. The reason why our leaders behave the way they do is because we have refused to ask questions and demand better leadership.

    • Funmi September 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      I agree with you if people like Fashola and the likes that you mentioned can take the lead for the change Nigerian will give their full support.

  • debutante July 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Can u die for Nigeria?
    Until at least 40% of Nigerians can answer “yes” to this question (and really mean it), we will never experience that revolution which will bring about the change we so desperately need.
    But then again if we are not yet ready to die for our beloved country, we can start with simple things, such as vowing never to let tribal and religious sentiments becloud our judgement again.

    • Idak July 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      You have you died yet for Nigeria?

      • debutante July 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm

        Nope, I’m not ready to die for Nigeria YET. But I am making positive changes in the way I think and speak and act!

      • debutante July 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm

        …..And I’m not recommending that people should start laying down their lives for Nigeria, I’m only stating that a revolution is not happening soon in Nigeria because we have not developed that kind of liver yet. But even if we can’t have a revolution, we can still change our country by committing ourselves to changing our negative mentality.

  • hiss July 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    get a life. x

  • nene July 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    preach!!! nigerians like to talk, but we don’t act on what we say.

  • Olulu July 10, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    word!!!!

  • mo July 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    All i know is that Karl Max’s theory of revolution will take place in naija at some point. And when it happens, it won’t be people like you and me who still live comfortably and have access to the internet,(heck! we just need to send our kids abroad) it’ll be the people of what we call ‘the ghetto’ who are really suffering and have no hope, those people will be the ones who will lay down their lives for their children’s sake!

  • Priddyboy July 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    what frustrate’s me the most is, Nigerians who go abroad to study or go on vacation and see how things are runned and see how the system is working, behave like normal citizens in that country and then come back. The first you do at Murtala Airport is to bribe one of the airport attendants so you can jump queue.

    Its Madness I tell you (300!!!)
    We have a disgusting attitude

  • Efe G July 10, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    My thoughts exactly. We need to stop blaming and do something!

    reviewnaija.com/

  • Dutchess July 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Very funny comment and unrealisable post.. Lol..

  • Dutchess July 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Passing by to passitivity.. I no fit shout.. Truth is this politicians No Send U.. If u shout too much, they send their soldiers and thugs to strangle you.. Watch it

    • madman July 11, 2013 at 10:34 am

      loool

      • madman July 11, 2013 at 10:35 am

        loool – and what’s wrong in being strangled for your country….

  • Faith Kel. July 11, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Nice write-up!
    faithkel.com

  • Tess July 11, 2013 at 11:03 am

    The idea of this article is to get us all to think of ways we can collectively make changes. Change doesn’t have to cost us our lives via mass protests neither does change have to be sudden via coups. People have said that online campaigns do not work, I bet you when Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr. staged peaceful protests, many people initially said the same thing. But with perseverance, we all know they achieved what they wanted. Online campaigns can work if we will remain committed to the vision. The ‘Oga at the top’ saga gained momentum because of social media. Imagine what would happen if Nigerian youths take to social media to campaign for positive changes in the society. Sadly many people are more concerned about entertainment than reducing maternal mortality or reducing road carnage.

    What we forget is that the same thing that happens to others often has a way of happening back to us. We are all inter-connected in a society, it is not only the poor who die in accidents or who die while giving birth. It could be anyone. Unless we all demand accountability from our leaders, they will continue to treat us as dogs and we will continue to suffer unnecessarily.

  • Donald July 12, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    If you are ready,reach me:chibuezemadueke@yahoo.com

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