I just came across a Feb. 1, 2013, New York Times op-ed, ‘’A Nigerian Spring –Long Overdue’’ by May Akabogu Collins. The Prof. says that Nigeria ‘’will not change until we, the people, join in a mass outrage against corruption, demand transparent accounting of our oil revenues and economic justice. Only then will an honest leadership emerge to invest a fair share of the oil revenues in the capital in such a way as to permanently raise the consumption level of the masses. Otherwise, we Nigerian expatriates –the most educated immigrant group in the United States will remain a breeding ground for terrorism’’.
No disrespect, but we’ve heard the same thing a thousand times. So until one of us i.e. ‘’we Nigerian expatriates ‘’ are ready to set ourselves on fire in protest (should it be required), we may be condemned to hiding our heads in shame, denying who we are and where we come from.
But then again, I too I’m guilty of the same thing. I can often be heard proselytizing about Nigeria. I have many brilliant ideas about how to save my country. Unfortunately, I love my comfort too well to do much about it. As for dying for my country, you have to be kidding, the thought never crossed my mind. Never mind that I‘ll be immortalized; that my name will live on forever. I pause for a second thinking of the glory that would be-my name in the history books. But then I remember that I’m Nigerian.
My people have very short memories. Most likely they’ll say what a fool. She went and burnt herself to death and for what? In any case, the publishing industry is in decay. We don’t really have history books anymore. And who will write the text, our education system is in disarray, many of our graduates can’t write properly. Though who knows, it might be different this time my death may actually be catalytic in snapping us out of our catharsis unto a Nigerian spring. But I’m not ready to be the guinea pig. Which one of us is?
No one in my cycle, I don’t think. But we Nigerian expatriates, we talk the loudest. All bark and no bite. It’s about time we put our money where our mouth is. Not to worry, no one is asking us to martyr ourselves on a stake, yet. But let’s at least grow the balls to come back home for a visit.
Come spend some of our dollars here. Fly Arik, when it’s possible. Build a borehole in our village not just in our father’s compound. Sponsor a scholarship for a deserving student not just our relatives. Invest in a business.
Too much? So don’t for a visit. Just be a little proud to be a Nigerian.
Even an iota of pride will go a long way. Think of that thing called soft power- the ability to attract and co-opt as a means of persuasion –which extends beyond operations of the government, to the activities of the private sector, and to society and culture at large.. Let’s not cower in shame when people we meet ask where we come from. Let’s correct those colleagues whom we overhear saying ‘’nothing good’s ever come out of Nigeria’’. Let’s tell them we came out of Nigeria, be the first. Show them the genius that is in us. Perhaps, our example will lead them to interrupt when they overhear other colleagues saying ignorant things about Nigeria. Let us be our country’s ambassadors. So that when others think of us, they’ll remember that we are not all thieves. Let’s make sure they know that there are many, many amazing people where we come from. Let’s be more positive about Nigeria. No one’s asking us to lie, but it’s also an omission to ignore that the words ‘but’ and ‘however’ exist for a reason
And if nothing else, when we worry about headlines, about being kidnapped on our way to see our mothers at home, let’s bear in mind the increasingly familiar. American headline:’’20 children among 26 dead in Connecticut school massacre’’. Let us also be reminded that America would not be what she is today if her people were less proud to be American as we are to be Nigerian.
Balowu, who holds a Ph.D. in Law from the University of California at Berkley, USA, is a public policy analyst and member of the Editorial Advisory Board of The New Diplomat.
Culled from: The New Diplomat Vol. No6