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“I Am a Nigerian” — An Opinion Piece by Muhammad Haruna

Any time, any place, and to anyone, I can proudly say that I AM A NIGERIAN.

I’m not the outgoing, noisy, talkative, or what Nigerians call the sabi-sabi type. But it’s high time somebody talked, delivered, informed, reinformed, explained, and enlightened fellow Nigerians about this critical issue. Whether they appreciate it or not.

Now it’s no longer news that many Nigerians wish that they were not Nigerians, and sadly, for countless times, I have come across a lot of Nigerians saying all sort of horrible things about our Nigeria. To say the least, I have heard and seen Nigerians post things like:

If there is hell on Earth, then Nigeria is Hell“;

Nigeria is not a place to be, if you stay here, you will never make it in life“;

Naija na scam.”

It disgusts me whenever I see or hear Nigerians saying such things about Nigeria; personally, I find it absurd.

There is a popular saying, “If you want people to respect you, then you must respect yourself first.” Ironically, Nigerians who say such odious things about Nigeria want to be respected outside Nigeria—they want to be respected in South Africa, in America, in England, and elsewhere. Nigerians should also know that “He who yells at his own mother should not feel bad when another person throws a stone at her.” The world will only respect Nigerians if Nigerians respect Nigeria.

To clear the smoke, I’m not in anyway saying you should not exercise your franchise to freedom of speech. But just because some of those who go to the mosques or churches are immoral, should we call the mosques or churches immoral places? I guess the answer is no. So why should we call Nigeria a hell, when Nigeria is not to be blamed for whatever problems we have today? In fact, if anyone is to be blamed, then we are the problem of Nigeria. Yes, Nigeria has inhabitants who are making life difficult for others, or who have become so self-centered that “our fatherland now sounds like “my fatherland” to them. And yes there are a lot of bad eggs or unpatriotic individuals in Nigeria, but what country is completely devoid of them?

The bone of contention here is that Nigeria is and was never the problem. If any Nigerian has a problem with the politics, economy or society in Nigeria, then they should be specific when displaying their dislike. If you have a problem with the politics played in Nigeria, don’t say “I hate Nigeria,” for Nigeria is not your problem. But rather say “I dislike the politics played in Nigeria.” They are two different things. If Mr. A, B or C is making your life hell, don’t say “Nigeria is hell,” you should say instead that “Mr. A, B, or C is making life hell in Nigeria.” Let’s not black-paint Nigeria, and leave the next generation to come with a price to pay. As it is already, having the word Nigeria on your social media account, as your country, gives some foreign friends a reason to doubt your honesty.

Nigeria is not as bad as some Nigerians post on social media, and claim in their conversations. Nigeria is not a scam, but a place of resilience. The Nigeria that I know is the home of Chief. M.K.O. Abiola, Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir. Ahmado Bello, and the home of the Zik of Africa—Nnamdi Azikiwe, among many of our past heroes; a place blessed with talented individuals; a place of fertile land, milk, and honey. I don’t know where or how we got it wrong, but if Nigerians are having problems today, then it’s not Nigeria’s fault, so let Nigeria not be at the receiving end of our wrath.

Nigerians will come and go, but Nigeria will remain. Let’s not sit back and use our keyboards to curse Nigeria. Let’s all begin to think, because only thinkers would find the solution to Nigeria’s problem of Nigerians—Nigerians that are detrimental to Nigeria.

Nigeria is not the place we want it to be, yet, I know, but revolting against it will not make it any better. We can always erase the dirt of our mistakes, but let’s not erase the beauty of Nigeria.

Nigeria will be great again!

From a concerned Nigerian.

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