It goes without saying that Nigeria is not currently the type of nation that we would envision for ourselves and for our children. It certainly is not the country our parents inherited from theirs.
Our institutions are eroding – as are our roads; morality is taking a deep dive, with the advent of brazen Yahoo Yahoo pop-culture; our government schools are almost entirely abandoned; we currently have the highest maternal mortality ratio in West and Central Africa, and contribute a whopping 14% to the global maternal mortality rate (which means our hospitals are failing).
Of course, one might argue that our leaders are possibly as “bad” as they come. Senators are paid roughly N30 million monthly and have little to show for the work they do in their constituencies. Some of them, in 2019, still consider commissioning a borehole an achievement. It’s cringe-worthy stuff.
I am, however, of the opinion that ordinary Nigerians also have a critical role to play in building a country we can each be proud of. We can point our fingers at the greed and negligence of our “leaders”, but we must also remember, after all, that our leaders emerge from among us. They do not fall from the sky. Which is to say that, unless we fix our society holistically, we will remain where we are.
This often hits close to home, because some of us want to be able to cheat our employers, be cruel to our neighours and the shop attendant, but still point our fingers at our cruel leaders as the cause of the rot. It doesn’t work that way.
Here are three simple ways we can all start to change Nigeria, one day at a time.
The Disdain For Red Lights
The red traffic light means Stop. It doesn’t mean, Look left and right and if there are no vehicles coming, you can proceed. It also doesn’t mean, If the vehicle before you beats the red light, so can you.
Changing Nigeria a day at a time starts with obeying traffic laws and respecting authority – even in the form of an innocuous traffic light.
Treat People With Dignity
Treating your fellow Nigerian with dignity can be done in the simplest of ways.
It is standing in the queue when you walk into the bank, instead of pretending that you didn’t see the queue and marching straight to the front as though you’re the only one in the entire bank with important things to do. It is asking for the stranger’s pen politely, and making sure you return the pen when you’re done with it. It is saying “Thank you”, “Please” and “Excuse me.”
Treating your fellow Nigerian with dignify is making the other person feel respected and not intruding on their personal space.
The gutter by the side of the road is not a public toilet, neither is the wall along the street. If you argue that you’re too pressed to find an eatery or petrol station whose toilet you can use, why not find the nearest police station and urinate at the entrance?
The next generation
Our children are watching our every move. They hear what we say and see what we do. If we want to make Nigeria a better society for our children tomorrow, we have to change our attitude and mentality today.
Ibiene is a writer and an editor. She loves good books and poetry and resides in Lagos.