Nexim

Who will fix our broken country?

2 weeks ago | 209


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ExxonMobil

 

THE recent trending situation is that Nigeria is not a place to be and most Nigerians want to run away. The embassies are busy processing our applications. Some have made it to the US and the UK, but the most preferred country of destination is Canada. Doctors are running, nurses are running; PhDs are running, highly skilled professionals are running, even political leaders and powerful civil servants have relocated their kids. While a lot has got there over the last few years, a large number is in the process of finding their ways to get there.

Imagine that even the leaders are not comfortable keeping their kids in the country they are leading.

Nigeria is actually in a mess. Life is becoming unbearable to an average Nigerian from failed leadership to failed followership. Unfortunately, while everyone wants Nigeria to be like Canada, virtually everyone is making no effort to make Nigeria be like Canada. Our leaders are terrible just like Nigeria. But it was not the leader that made you jump the queue because you think you are the only one in haste. It was not the leader that made you dump the package of the sachet water you just finished drinking on the street of Nigeria. It’s definitely not the government that made you bypass your electricity meter in Nigeria to avoid paying electricity bills.

I was in a queue to use ATM a few years back and a young man (a student) came to meet us. Instead of joining the queue, he walked to the next person to use the machine, talked to his ear, and handed him his card. Everyone was looking without saying anything. After a few minutes, I walked to the guy in the queue and talked to his ear that if he did not return the card, I am assuring him that he won’t use the machine for himself. He called the guy and returned the card. The same person is lamenting that Nigeria is not working.

The groundnut seller will hide the bad ones underneath and cover them up with the good ones. When you want to buy the groundnut, she measures from the bad ones that were arranged underneath. So, education is not the issue. Those not educated also want to cheat.

I sometimes wonder who will save the country from this mess. Then, academics came to my mind. The intellectuals are, in the real sense, believed to be the torchbearers of every nation. They should ordinarily be able to lead us out of challenging situations. At least, that was my thinking before I joined that academic group. When there are challenges, they reach out to the universities and their scientists and researchers. For example, when COVID-19 was ravaging the world, researchers in serious countries were in the lab working to develop solutions.

It is not certain if the solutions to our challenges in Nigeria are in our universities and research institutes. There are several agencies and are headed by professors. So, why are we making no difference or progress? There are several research centres in Nigeria, headed by academics, but no research output. I got more confused. Are we the problem or the system?

There are stories from some universities where colleagues were padding their submission for the Earned Academic Allowance (EAA). It was unbelievable. Academics trying to claim what they did not work for? This got me more confused. Who really are we? If academics that are meant to be searching for the truth and training skilled workforces and tomorrow leaders are involved in padding a meagre allowance like EAA, then what will they do if they get to the National Assembly or the presidency?

Nigeria is facing serious economic and technological challenges and no functional research in our institutes to find a solution. Are the political leaders not reaching out to the supposed intellectuals of the country for solutions? That calls for a reflection. The managers of the country possibly think that we have got nothing to offer and can’t help in changing the narrative. Are they right about us?

Prof. Ibrahim Bello Kano’s recent statement got me thinking. He said: “The university atmosphere in virtually all Nigerian campuses is now heavy with the air of officialdom, office-seeking, and clique groups. The culture of office-taking is threatening to take over the academic and research endeavours of colleagues”. We have abandoned our primary responsibilities and investing is much energy in getting administrative positions, a secondary activity.

All of us want to be Heads of Departments, Deans, Directors, etc. for personal benefits. We want to become professors as a ticket to get those top positions at all costs for the luxury and benefits attached to it. Nigerian academics of those days run away from administrative responsibility as they are perceived to slow down their scholarly activities. These days, we lobby so hard for such responsibilities. We sometimes become subservient to people we think could get us there. The union of academics is not different. You must belong to a clique to be part of the excos or to make the union’s list for elective positions. The fight to be VCs, rectors, and provosts is on another level.

Those who are heads don’t want to leave. If they have a choice just like Nigerian politicians, they want to be there for life. Since they can’t, they lobby to move from one position to another to sustain their relevance at all times. We decide to choose the secondary activities and move from one meeting to another instead of trying to be scholars and be academically productive. And the system is making no progress.

A lot of us at the middle and lower levels are not different. We are not even interested in the system. We are possibly even worse than our senior colleagues. We are also looking for that platform to catch an opportunity from within or outside. So, is the body language of the managers of the country correct about us?

The political leaders intend to cheat the system, the groundnut seller want to cheat the buyer, the mechanic wants to cheat the car owner, the man walking on the street is merciless to the street, the non-academic staff wants to take from his colleagues to do the job he was paid to do, the academic, the supposed torchbearers, want to exploit the system for personal gains. But Nigeria is unfortunately blamed by these same people that have messed up the country and everyone wants to run away. So, who will fix Nigeria? Aliens?

All is surely not well with Nigeria. Several atrocities and little prosecution. Weak rewards and punishment system in Nigeria. But who is the problem? PDP and APC are just political parties and are never our problems else we won’t have former PDP stakeholders in APC, holding sensitive positions. If PDP is not the problem, then APC cannot be the solution. The problems are the individuals in the political parties that are working daily to destroy Nigeria, the economy, the institutions for their personal benefits.

The university is not the problem but the people in the universities fighting very hard for selfish interests. Nigeria will only make progress if we invest more energy in our primary responsibility and start asking the “how?” and “why?” questions and provide the right environment to get answers to these questions.

The current leaders are from among us looking for an opportunity to exploit Nigeria. So, why are their actions surprising you? A country with weak institutions but filled with selfish and unpatriotic individuals will always take one step forward and 10 steps backward. No one will jump the queue if everyone knows that the law will not spare him. The leaders at all levels will take you serious if they know that you are responsible enough to hold them to account for their every deed rather than praise-singing.

Nigerians are talented and talent is life’s greatest gift. It separates you from the rest of the pack. It gives you a head start on others. But it is never enough to succeed except you discover the choices that will take you beyond the talent. Imagine the new Rwanda that is attracting praises from Nigerians and the rest of the world. Africans are talented, but Rwandans made the choices that have taken them beyond their talent. We can do the same.

Patriots that believe in the potential of their countries made countries like Canada and Rwanda to be what they are today. We made Nigeria to be what it is today and we can also fix it and make it to be like Canada and you won’t have to run away. The entire system is broken, broken by us. It is our collective responsibility to get Nigeria fixed. The repair needs to start from the family system. We must de-emphasize shortcuts to success from home. We need the fight against the materialistic evil in us (Jihad al-nafs). How can you loot money that you and your family can never spend your entire life? Are you sick? We can strategically bend the dry fish without breaking it to make headway. flag

The Nation.
 

JAN. 12, 2022 @ 08:53 GMT |

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