Open Letter to the Nigerian People
From your beloved country, Nigeria!
By Temie Giwa
WE NEED TO TALK!
There is so much we need to discuss, but you are rarely around, you are always off talking about how horrible I am doing and how much I am not giving you what you need. How I don’t give you electricity, and how I am destroyed beyond repair. Seriously you do realize that this hurts my feelings, right?
It’s so painful to have to listen to you complain about how I never fulfill any of your needs, provide for you at all, and how you wish to leave me. It hurts so much. Our relationship cannot continue like this. Something has to change. Don’t be scared. This note is just for us to have a better relationship; it’s for our future. We need to clarify where we are going with this relationship and develop a strategy of getting there.
We were the happiest people on earth a while ago but now we just fight all the time. You never compliment me anymore. It’s so depressing. Even when I tried to use some money to throw us a 50th anniversary party so that we can rekindle our love (wink wink) you decided that I was being wasteful and you complained and called me all sorts of name. I mean I am trying here, you know, just making an effort.
Honestly, When was the last time you said, Oh Nigeria, you look so wonderful? Have you lost weight? When? Haba. One cannot sustain a relationship like this.
Everywhere I go, I read something about how awful I am.
How decayed my roads are.
How my educational system is atrocious.
How the health system is not even in existence (Gasp).
How completely ridiculous my government is.
How my citizen, the people I am meant to serve, are living in dumps.
You talk about my unsustainable dependence on oil revenue and inability to provide basic electricity for my people.
I mean you are destroying my self-esteem here.
Now I am not saying some of these things aren’t true, but you should know that Nation building is a complex process. It takes time…a very long time and many sacrifices. We cannot build a perfect marriage in a day. You cannot build a fully functioning state in 50 years. It takes a lot of trials and errors and correcting previous errors until we reach a semblance of peace and prosperity. I mean even the United States and her citizens are still trying to work things out. And get this; they have been together for 223 years. She is still struggling with corrupt leaders, a very sick economy, an increasingly ignorant population, and two wars. As great and matured that she is, She is struggling. God bless America!
Yes, it would be unnecessarily naïve and unrealistic to propose to you, my dearest gorgeous, super smart citizens that we do not have loads of problems that we need to solve ASAP. However, it would be equally naïve to insist that we have not made significant progress in the last decade.
Our corruption corporations have recovered loads of money (N5 billion) from our former leaders. Look at Lagos state, they have been able to accomplish quite a lot with a little leadership and a GREAT DEAL OF SUPPORT by her citizens. The only way to sustain this trend is to know what your responsibilities are and what you should expect from me.
I am not doing my part that I know, however, I must point out that you aren’t doing your part either. Before you can begin to demand better from me, you must be willing to do better yourself. You must say NO to corruption in your life, no matter how difficult, no matter how it inconveniences you. Know that if you give a policeman that 20 naira; you are enforcing a system; you are giving your personal stamp of approval to a system that will cost you your life, honor, or dignity.
I need you to stand up everyday and do the hard things. You must sweep your yard. You must protest and you must VOTE. It takes quite a lot of bravery to demand better, to stay committed to demanding better. But there is no way out but that. There is no short cut or quick fixes. You must work hard to make sure that I provide for you what you need. You cannot bribe and cheat everyday and expect me to just suddenly change my ways. I take my cues from you. The “leadership culture” is created through your daily actions. You cannot eat potato chips everyday and then get upset at your tummy to lose the fat you inevitably will gain. Everything is connected.
These leaders you complain about, well, they are a part of you and me. They are the offspring of a system we both created. They were not sent from mars. They had mothers and fathers that were Nigerian. Most of them were raised in Nigeria. They got their values from the world we created; it is not just my fault. I did not become like this overnight and yes, you were complacent, you allowed me to become what I am. You must admit your part; and change your ways so we can begin to change our marriage. And yes, even those of you who have migrated to greener pasture, you have a part to play. And until you begin to do the hard things, sacrifice things that matter to you for your country, you will keep making the same noise forever. Even you, yes you, must pitch in.
So, I think once we both understand our roles we can begin to make the necessary changes for the good of our partnership, and our world.
Your loving partner, Nigeria.