In Nigeria today, there are complaints and lamentations of past and present administrations on how they have failed the nation and the citizens. Many complain and blame the government of the day for the deplorable state of affairs in virtually every sector of our national life.
Well, though we might have been unlucky to always get a crop of leaders that are lethargic to the needs of the people, it is important for us to realize that, while we criticize and put the blame on the government for the mess we are into, we also contribute to this in our own little ways.
Corruption is seen as the bane of our national development and many would readily blame the government or those in public offices as being responsible for the situation. However, it is important to understand that when a nation is corrupt, it is not just the government that is corrupt, for the government is only a reflection of the people.
There is corruption in the high places just the same way it exists at the grassroots. Transport managers inflate transport fare during festive seasons. Drivers would demand hundred naira for a journey of fifty naira once it is raining. Policemen enforce the giving of fifty naira on drivers not minding whether or not they perform their basic duties. A manager of a company would increase his/her earnings by manipulating figures. A house agent would heap unbelievable amount of money onto the rent under the tag ‘agreement and commission.’
The building developer that is lamenting bad governance uses low quality materials in erecting a building which ends up collapsing and killing innocent occupants. That garri seller that is heaping curses on the people that are cheating the poor masses is measuring the garri he is selling at this moment with fake cup and painters. The civil servant that is reciting the litany of corruption levelled against his director is “sitting on” people’s files because they have not “seen him”. That woman in the village that is abusing senators for stealing from public coffers has just received a huge amount of money from her son, an apprentice. The fast food restaurant that is blaming the government for the high cost of things is using rotten pepper to cook and will, afterwards, sell the food at an exorbitant price.
Don’t be quick to declare yourself a saint. You always lament about bad leadership yet at any party, you are used to collecting souvenir three times under the pretence of having non-existent neighbors beside you. You sight free candies on visiting an office and instead of picking just a piece or two, you fill your purse/pocket to the brim. At a buffet party, you want a taste of everything in large portions to the extent that your plates look scary, even to you. You know fully well that you do not need so much but the greed in you won’t let you give any consideration to the next person because, just like the politicians you criticize, you are an opportunist – always on the lookout for an opportunity to exploit others.
We desire change but we do not intend this change to happen. Our actions often betray our intentions. We say we do not want bad politicians but we still collect money from them and vote them in. If a politician gives out money for the mobilization of thugs, he finds more thugs than he actually paid for. If he gives out money for an election to be rigged, it will be done and he will emerge the winner.
Are we not his accomplices? Are we not as bad as the politicians we criticize and condemn daily? Little wonder, our criticisms do not yield any positive result. It is the case of the kettle calling the pot black!
It is clear that the major challenge we have is leadership problem, however, how long will about 214 million of Nigerians continue to sit in the pavilion of life’s cinema and wait for a handful of people to make our lives better?
Nation-building and national development is not a task for the government alone, but our collective responsibility.
If one person is working to make the system better while another person is destroying it, nothing positive will come out of that effort. This is just to say that we should not expect the government to perform miracles when we, ourselves, have not let go of the practices that cripple growth and development. The government or government officials for example, aren’t the ones who vandalize oil pipelines, remove or steal the streetlights in most of our streets, and pay teachers to sit for exams on behalf of their children or wards.
Each one of us must take responsibility and necessary actions to stop these wrongs. Building the Nigeria of our dream is our collective responsibility. From the top government official to the artisan on the street, we all can make a choice for change. When you do your part and I do mine, we will have a Nigeria we would be happy to bequeath to generations after us.