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A Triptych: The trouble with Nigeria in three stories

While I have been away, unplugged from everything and everyone except my family, Naija Twitter has been on a roll. So much to catch up…

While I have been away, unplugged from everything and everyone except my family, Naija Twitter has been on a roll. So much to catch up on! First, there’s a distressing BBC documentary about the late TB Joshua. I have seen drips of it on Twitter and I am not sure I have the stomach to watch all of it. In 2024, I am protecting my mental health jealously. However, one of those clips being shared is one in which a man who’s come with his family to TB’s church, tells him that his daughter got pregnant after being raped by someone who worked for him (the man). TB interjects and says dismissively that the young woman wasn’t raped. What she has, per TB, “Is the spirit of temptation.” That was hard to hear. I don’t know that if I was her parent, and I believed my daughter was raped, I’d be quiet while her truth (and her trauma) was being so casually dismissed. In a society where rapists get away with their crimes because of the culture of silence and victim blaming, this really upset me. TB implies that the girl was a flirt. She might have confessed to that, there isn’t enough in the clip for me to know. However, flirting isn’t an invitation to be sexually assaulted. Nothing is. If you are in full control of your faculties, you don’t put food up your nose, you don’t poop and then stuff your face with your excreta, you don’t walk up to your boss and slap them, you can control yourself. Period. There’s no excuse for rape. 

Allegedly, a certain minister attempted to divert huge funds into her own private account. She says it was all legal, others say it wasn’t. Ironically, her portfolio is humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation. If true, what a massive shame, and so on. There’s everything wrong with corruption and with corruption on such a huge scale. There is also everything wrong with those who believe that she did steal it but say they don’t care because “Men have been stealing us dry in this country.”   Equity isn’t having as many groups as possible accessing public funds and diverting them to their own pockets. If she did do this, no excuse vindicates her. It is the same as nothing vindicates the men who have stolen before her. We should be striving to hold our public servants accountable, not making excuses for bad behaviour. There is no excuse for corruption.

Someone shared that a priest in some rural community without clean drinking water used his private funds to install solar-powered boreholes. On the day of the commissioning, all six pumps were stolen – ostensibly by folks from the same community, most likely to sell. Rather than have the community, including themselves enjoy the water, the thief (or thieves) preferred to rob everyone of that convenience for their own selfish gain. How much would they even make sef? This is the kind of selfishness that is holding us back from being great, and there is no excuse for it. Not poverty. Nothing. Someone once said that the analogy they’d use for the trouble with Nigeria was of a man who built a house near a market, in a village where it was always either pouring heavily or it was so hot in the sun. The man was very wealthy, and this house was one of many. He built a veranda wide enough to shield passersby from the elements should they need it, installed a refrigerator with drinks for those who might need it, and so on. Rather than enjoying the goodies, one of those passersby burnt the house down not only for being bigger and better than his but also for giving everyone, including his enemies access to relative luxury. There is no excuse for such selfish self-sabotage.

According to the great Achebe, the trouble with Nigeria is one of leadership. Ergo, the trouble with Nigeria is one of its citizenry. Our leaders do not come from Mars. They come from within us. Judging from our actions, we suffer from an acute crisis of values and accountability. We must reject the status quo and be intentional about doing all we can, whenever we can, however we can to dismantle the barriers standing between our Naija and the Naija of our dreams. There is no excuse for not wanting a better nation.

 

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