Dear fellow Nigerian millennial, here we are, listening to the stories of our nation’s glory days, wondering what miracle we can ever work to restore the wreck we have been handed.
Our journey is clearly going to be long and tough and we need to be more, way more than our predecessors ever were.
We need to question the choices that have been made here and figure out how to fix all that has been broken.
So let’s take the first step, you and me, let’s figure this out. Let’s talk.
How to be smart
Today, let’s talk about the Nigerian definition of a smart person. And how that definition is very, very wrong for us.
Notice I said smart, not intelligent.
I remember standing on a BRT queue in Lagos one time. Someone cut in the line quite dubiously and wouldn’t move an inch despite being cussed out in different languages by the people he had displaced. Dude waited out the outrage that predictably, died down soon and jokingly started patting himself on the back to the hearing of whoever would listen. He was just being smart he said.
“Unless you are smart, you cannot survive in this Nigeria oh!”.
This Nigerian smartness is a widely accepted concept. It seems to be the understanding that success requires many short cuts, and not all of them through well lit roads.
So much so, that a politician who leaves office without hastily amassed wealth is the topic of many bar table conversations about his complete lack of ‘smartness’.
The idealist who insists that he cannot pay a bribe in order to get things done for him by pubic servants, who refuse to do their jobs without added incentive, is also often considered stupid.
How else do you explain the willingness to endure untold discomforts because they want to avoid the tiny expense that would have greased the pocket of their ‘helper’?
This widely accepted definition of smartness unfortunately, hasn’t quite paid off in national development or international growth. It has however neted us a reputation as a people whose penchant for deception is unparalleled. Deception so widely acknowledged, that our national identity is a synonym for fraud the world over.
Here we are, a nation of such remarkably smart people duping ourselves into poverty and third world regression.
Clearly, fellow Nigerian millennial. It’s time to review. Time to review this dubious smartness and try another one.
My suggestion is that this replacement smarts take into account the many failures of the previous model.
How our blatant disregard for due process has simply created a public system that is useless to us all.
How our smart young men have abused the opportunity the internet afforded us so much that now our country is not allowed to trade with many vendors.
How our smartness has caused the Nigerian passport to be an invitation for suspicion and disrespect even at our own airports.
Let’s remember all that and try a new model.
A model based less on deception and more on common sense.
Perhaps one that understands that rules and law are there for a very good reason and seeks to defend that understanding.
A smartness that involves patriotism, enough to know that every act of fraud is a blight on our national identity.
The smartness of a people with vision, one that seeks less to favour one person to the detriment of all others. A smartness that understands that “Dog eat Dog” eventually leaves everyone injured.
Fellow Nigerian Millennial