When I think of Independence Day and how it should be natural to feel joy and pride, I don’t feel anything. I feel tired like a tired Nigerian.
To find a system that is still working in Nigeria is a miracle. Something that should be natural seems like a gift. Like when we have power for extended hours, I feel excited; I shower praises at the power company, and it is almost like I witnessed a miracle.
I felt like going on and on about bad governance, lack of basic amenities, greed and all the terrible systems we have, but at the end of the day, what happens?
What happens after reading intelligent articles? What happens to well-articulated publications that state our problems and give detailed solutions? Did we not just read it, nod our head and move on? Did we internalize what we learnt? Did I not forget about it as quickly as I read it?
Today, I refuse to write about those things we curse the government for, those things we say “Nigerians sha” or “I am tired of these Nigerians”. Like we did not just admit that “I am tired of me”. Those things that seem like ‘Nigerians’ are from another planet and we do not know who they are. I know about bad governance and leadership. I know how I say ‘this country is dirty’, like the president threw those plastic bags on my street. It was not aliens that came and dumped a whole compound’s refuse in the gutter, when it starts raining. We get in public and everyone is complaining about these things? Who made it happen then?
I know if everyone listed what they thought Nigeria’s problem to be, the government will one way be traced to every problem. Am I disputing this? Heavens, no! I realized that in writing my problem about this country, I should include myself too.
You should, too. Why?
When I think about this country and ponder on the hope that it would get better, I give up. I move on from that thought. Our problem is overwhelming at times, I am bewildered. I reflected on how in one tiny way, I could make this country better, (I know you thought about PVC) but it is not a magic wand that will transform us to a developed country.
In my reflection, I came to the conclusion that I would never drop anything on the floor, in public or private spaces whether or not I see a bin around. When I try to talk to people about making Nigeria cleaner, they tell me there are no dustbins around. I know, but we can make it work.
In my opinion, one of Nigeria’s greatest problems that we can attach to the government is our lack of care for the environment. I have a theory that when a Nigerian child is born, (s)he automatically will throw dirt on the floor, but I know it is not a genetic problem, it is an environmental problem. The other day, I saw an okada rider drop a sachet drink wrapper on the floor subconsciously. I felt sad, but got bothered when I saw people drop things everywhere even in the university setting. You would think that somehow, education would play a part in people being more conscious of these things, my research is inconclusive, but I do not think it is.
I have heard so many justifications for dropping things on the floor from even educated folks. I have heard ‘Nigeria is already dirty, why try?’
It seems so insignificant to want to make the country better. Everyone thinks our problem is greater than that, but a dirty Nigeria is a problem still – a mentality problem.
The truth is, no matter how much I exchange stories with my friends of wanting to go to a better country with greater infrastructures, I want Nigeria to be better. I say I am tired because I really am, but how can I make it better?
Next time, I might write about another problem but today I am writing about that unconscious nature of throwing things on the floor or messing the whole country up. It sounds cliché but it actually starts with you. It might seem insignificant but a problem is a problem still. Think about it: how many government officials live in your street? Even if they do, are they the one throwing rubbish on the floor? You can’t put this one on the government; maybe blame them for poor waste management.
I am in no way trying to demean publications about better governance or articles that calls out the ills in the society. In fact I think every move to make our country better is significant, but I am tired of the narrative that makes it seem like ‘Nigeria’ is a foreign entity I don’t belong to.
I get tired of this country and it is a struggle to love Nigeria at times. You know when you think of all the problems, it is like a conundrum we have lost our way in. I feel we have reduced our problems to an abstract thing and feel that the only people that can deal with it, is the government. The government is essential in making this country better, I am too. You are too. We will never get anywhere if we feel like we do not have a part to play in it.
I can almost hear someone saying “so, out of all the great problems we have in Nigeria, it is keeping it clean that is next abi”, after reading this. My reply to that thought is, “All the great problems you know, what are you doing about it?”
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