BY CHIKE NWODO
It is realistically an impossible event that Nigeria can be great as it is. In all of its public sociopolitical discourse, Nigeria exudes a shouting lack of the mental capacity to evolve its society into a great civilisation. Listening to many public speakers and analysts on TV and radio, reading the dailies, listening to many public opinions, you get the feeling that the mindsets driving Nigeria’s socialisation totally lack the refinement, the enlightenment, the illumination. The mindsets totally lack the advanced intellectual capacity to drive this space to existential greatness. It is the reason why professors, PhD holders, lawyers, educated people refer to a president of the country as “the father of the nation” so he should do this or do that. Such a mindset is from an unconscious mental disposition of lowness.
This absence of a refined mindset of civilisation is why more than a century after amalgamation and over 60 years after independence, the minds driving development in Nigeria have not been able to solve a single human problem; it is why Nigeria’s politics is a contest of power and not politics of development.
Let’s speak in simple terms; can anyone reasonably explain why generation after generation in Nigeria, the language of socialisation still includes the lexical statement that someone has “gone to fetch water?” What sort of complex thinking does it require for government to open up the grounds and drill out water to every single household in Nigeria? Why do people not feel ashamed that in the year 2021, kids still travel to “go to fetch water” just like their forefathers and foremothers did, in a country where crude oil pipelines run from southern to northern Nigeria? Why would any human being who has led a government, whether at the state or federal level proudly say he was a success without shame when human beings in 2021 still “go to fetch water?”
Regrettably sad, the question is not about science and tech, it is not even about electricity that has become a mentally acquiesced enigmatic problem for Nigeria’s leadership, the question is that Nigerians still fetch drinking water in 2021 even in Nigeria’s capital city. Nigerians still hawk sachet water ironically dubbed “pure water” as a business in 2021; the most basic of human needs in a world where less endowed societies have taps on street sidewalks for thirsty passers-by including animals. I don’t know how anyone sees it, but it should be sobering that black Africans, typified by Nigeria’s density of humans, find it impossible to provide just one basic human need. It is mindboggling.
The mentality that pervades social discourse in Nigeria has progressively become too crude, the reason some derogatorily refer to it as a zoo, but a calm examination of prevailing reality reveals that Nigeria even lacks the entrenched order and organisation that define a zoo as a society of tamed and ‘civilised’ animals not lacking care and welfare.
Accordingly, it is wholesomely imperative to state that, to begin to move Nigeria out of this existential darkness that has persisted now for six decades and counting, a lot of newness in both thinking and action has to begin happening; especially in northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria has been an albatross on Nigeria’s search for newness, for a change of illuminating direction; largely because the northern voices of social authority continue to speak too much coarseness. No society that wants to steadily climb the social ladder of growth will preoccupy themselves with building so many walls of religious inhibitions around themselves; so many social walls of inhibition that continuously lock them out of progressive insights.
For instance, Europe is currently the summit of human civilisation because of its calm and unique systems of politics, its smart and intelligent reading of shifting social realities, its gritty concern with the continuous demand for their people’s social welfare. The United Kingdom continues to be a pristine example. How can a people run a system that has survived for over 300 hundred years as a first world society, such that even Scotland could not leave it through a legal referendum, if such people are not a study in human wisdom and social intelligence?
Conversely, why is it impossible for Nigeria to become a semblance of the United Kingdom? Parochial mentality! Why the preoccupation with grazing routes in 2021 when societies with lesser number of cattle supply us milk and dairy products? Blinkered mentality! Why are people much more preoccupied with destroying beer businesses in name of religion? Retrogressive mentality! Why do politicians unashamedly cut tapes to celebrate a borehole project in the middle of a town with no household having any channel to the borehole? Crude mentality! Why do people feel they’ve done society a favour by increasing electricity hours by one hour in months? A mentality subsumed in shouting mediocrity! Why are state governments unable to see that supplying water to every household in their state is a potential goldmine capable of enriching the state far more than oil money? Pathetic backward thinking! Why do people think a 3-year course must be studied for 5, 6, 7 years? A mentality deeply steeped in the romance of suffering!
Nigeria needs a total mental shift to newness, to refinement, to pristine intellectual elevation for her to get out of her persisting human social dilapidation.
Chike Nwodo is an academic and social analyst.