This VERY honest, and objectively written blog titled “A Brutally Honest Account of my Life in Nigeria” (by a female blogger using the pen name “Fulani-Nigerian in England”) resonates greatly with me.
Every word of it speaks my mind.
She perfectly captured my view of Nigeria – especially the contradictions and complications of living in the social space that THAT name refers to. That’s why I share the URL here (click to open in a new window), recommending it to others. And that includes non-Nigerians/Africans who want to KNOW the real truth about what it’s like to live in Nigeria.
Before you go over however, you may wish to read below, my outline of Five (5) Painful Truths About Nigeria, that I believe reading her article can help you realize.
I mention and discuss them here to get you to pay closer attention, when you read her article.
Truth No. 1: You have to LIVE for a long enough period in Nigeria, to UNDERSTAND for what life is really like there!
For me, an EXTENDED period that would be enough, would be a minimum of 12 months (i.e. 1 year).
So, you would not be coming in for 2 to 4 week or even 2 month long visits in which you rarely have time to stop and really pay attention to details!
I will add that it would also depend on the how and where you live during that extended period e.g people chauffeured between lush living quarters, and classy corporate workplaces, punctuated with visits to upscale locations, may not get “enough” dose of the “real” Nigeria, to guide their assessment.
That is the only way, in my experience based estimation, to afford yourself adequate exposure to a reasonable spectrum of what Nigeria throws at its citizens on daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.
This is why the best persons to give you accurate insight into what life is really like in Nigeria will RARELY be those who visit once in a while – be they Nigerian or expatriate.
Truth No. 2: Fela Was Right – Everything is Upside Down, and Disorganized in Nigeria!
People do NOT care to follow the rules in relating with one another. So, very little effort is made to treat one another fairly, or to observe basic etiquette etc.
Funny enough, those able to get used to living that way, get ahead of unwilling, law abiding, honest dealing/considerate others!
For instance, if you’re too “nice”, you’re most likely to get used, and manipulated by others, including those you hire/pay to serve you e.g. your driver (as our Fulani in England blogger notes).
Little wonder many Nigerans act VERY emotionally unintelligent. They’re not bothered about how their actions affect others. The attitude of most people is often “Me, myself and I – Every other person can perish for all I care!”
Truth No. 3: Formal Schooling Is Often Stressful In Nigeria, But It Still Won’t Guarantee Job-Hunting Success, If You Lack Connections In The Right Places!
Conditions under which studying is done from nursery to tertiary levels in many institutions, especially public, ones tend to he quite harsh, and even traumatizing.
This is just one of many realities accepted as normal in Nigeria, by Nigerians. People choose to go through the motions of getting formal schooling, so lack of it is not used as a excuse to deny them job opportunities.
But most of them also know they will most likely need more than the required qualifications.
So they go the extra mile to build connections with those in positions that can influence the hiring process. Many times this means giving in to various corrupt advances by those they seek help from.
Those who cannot do the above, no matter how brilliantly qualified they are, frequently end up without employment – or have to settle for grossly underpaid work, that they are overqualified for.
Truth No. 4: Many Geniuses Are Being Stifled In Nigeria’s Harsh Environment, Who Would Flourish If Given Access to Better Organized Societies!
Nigerians jokingly point this out to themselves all the time.
I once heard someone argue that if ALL Nigerians were moved to Japan, and ALL Japanese people moved to Nigeria, that the Japanese would transform Nigeria into a superpower within 5 years, while Nigerians would reduce Japan to a shadow of itself in LESS than that time.
To be honest, I could NOT fault that analogy. For me, it was/is painfully accurate!
Many true stories abound, of gifted and highly competent individuals who started out struggling for survival in Nigeria, despite their abilities, but later found their way to developed societies where they got all they needed to actualize their full potentials.
Today, many such individuals are celebrated by Nigerians back home, including – ironically – some of those who made life difficult for them before they succeeded in leaving for more favorable climes!
Examples include many of Nigeria’s male and female sports-persons who today win laurels for foreign nations like Germany, Greece etc ahead of their colleagues wearing Nigerian colors!
Truth No. 5: Be Careful Who You Ask if/How Nigeria Is improving: Those Benefiting From The Status Quo Often LIE to Justify Being “OK”
This is one of the saddest aspects of the Nigerian problem. Some members of the elite Nigerian class – and greedy foreigners who rub shoulders with them (!) – enjoy privileged access to benefits that enable them profit or stay largely insulated from a lot of the negative factors in Nigeria.
They readily compromise, cut corners, and/or leverage crooked connections with corrupt others in and out of government, to profit at what they do, regardless of the erratic turns the Nigerian situation takes.
So you don’t hear them complaining. Instead they rationalize that it takes time and that people complaining need to be patient, since Rome was not built in a day, plus America has been around much longer than Nigeria
But they conveniently forget that nations like Singapore and India used to be called under-developed alongside Nigeria, not too many decades ago.
These people are often, by virtue of the visibility and influence they enjoy, in a position that makes them get asked by outsiders to comment on issues affecting the country.
Not surprisingly, they typically try to create the impression that things are working well, or better, so that their seeming “success” does not cause eyebrows to be raised by those asking them for opinions.
Too many times I’ve seen such individuals tell the uninitiated foreigner that those “complaining” are “exaggerating”…and that “things are not as bad as that” or that “those used to happen in the past, and today, it’s not longer business as usual”.
But every honest and right thinking Nigerian knows that the opposite of what they say is the REALITY in Nigeria: and they can be heard on Radio and TV voicing their frustrations!
This is why you must be careful who you ask if Nigeria is improving. Like our Fulani-Nigerian lady noted in her piece, such people, if they happen to be your hosts, WILL LIE to you!
It goes without saying therefore, that you need to do your own research – like she has done, and is doing!