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Hiya! Just a quick intro :) I lived in Nigeria for more than half of my life (so far) before moving to England and I have seen the best and the worst of both worlds. I was greatly inspired by the #OccupyNigeria protests and this blog is my way of #occupying. A lot of us compare African countries to the Western countries and I will mainly be talking about the positive things that I have observed and learnt in my few years of living here. Payme’s 2Cents is for all who dare to dream to see changes in their lifetime. It is for those who dream to see environments where 'helping' thrives. I will be giving my2cents worth on how we can work towards getting things to change for better. It would be great to know your opinions, so please leave comments. Remember to keep sharing posts that you enjoy. Follow @payme_my2cents. Thanks a lot for visiting!!! Enjoy my2cents :).

Friday, 6 January 2012

Nigeria's Clutch System

"Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear" Albert Camus

I am a Christian and I would like to think of myself as a committed and born-again Christian. However, there are times that I think as a nation, we hide behind religion be it Christianity or Islam. 

As a Nigerian child, one of the most important values I was thought was to obey and honour my parents and older people. Well even if I didn’t want to, they had the keys to my survival – food, clothes, housing, pocket money, school fees e.t.c. Most university graduates still depend on their parents not to talk of a child like me. I count myself as one of the few blessed ones as my parents have always been quite liberal and do actively encourage me to voice out my opinions and feelings. However, not all parents are like this and children end up finding it difficult to build opinions about issues and even when they manage to do so, they get repressed because they have little or no way of expressing them out of the fear of having people upset with them and losing benefits such as pocket money.  The effects of this repression play out in our adult lives. 

Students in schools and universities have to go out of their way to suck up to officials in charge of their education be it the school messengers, teachers, lecturers e.t.c. They help with carrying their teachers’ books or bags, help to babysit their kids when they are brought to ‘work with mummy’ or help them mark the exam scripts of junior students e.t.c. I am all for chivalry but in all honesty, not all of these helpful stances are voluntary. I have had teachers that I genuinely liked and I have also had ones that I just had to do things for so as not to be in their bad books. There was always the horrible feeling of “what would he/she think if I don’t?”, "What if I need their help later and they decide not to be helpful?". It is like storing up good deeds for rainy days because usually, the academic personnel are not professional enough to think that their jobs include rendering all possible assistance to students.

 Then by the time we get jobs, it is in a place with little or no professionalism and we have to continue sucking up to our bosses even with petty things like calling them “mummy or daddy” because failure to do so at times results in being tagged disrespectful. A lot of people (kids and adults), who manage to voice out their opinions and refuse to follow this culture are tagged as rebels and are accused of trying to ‘rock the otherwise calm boat’. 

Why do we need to bother with changing these mindsets? Why do we have to encourage 'healthy' freedom of expression so early on in a child's life? Well in my opinion, sticking with the old mindset means that Nigeria as a whole will always be stuck in a rut. I recognise that Nigeria is a massive country and not just a family business that an individual can decide to start steering in a different direction. However, changes in individual attitudes would go a long way. 

 When company managers and bosses start to see themselves as people whose professional responsibilities are to manage the office and company’s businesses and not turn junior officials into glorified house or office maids, and the employees learn to value their worth and demand respect; When teachers realise that they are paid for their services and stick to teaching, and students can solely focus on learning without having to figure out which teachers they should avoid as their bags are usually as heavy as travelling bags; When professionalism  finds its way back into grass root levels in Nigeria and not just the foreign companies – then and only then can we start trying to improve the lives of citizens by trying to shape how the country is governed.

 A mixture of this culture of repression and religion usually results in a lethal cocktail. Prayer works but in my bible, “Faith without works is dead”. STOP HIDING BEHIND RELIGION! That I believe God for a good job does not mean I should sit at home and not actually do anything about distributing my CVs. We have been oppressed for so long as a nation that we have been left without a voice. Crazy decisions like ordering 1600 buses to cushion the effect of doubling fuel prices for millions of Nigerians get taken everyday and we become so shocked and flabbergasted that we end up with nothing to say or do but retreat in our rooms and as usual ‘PRAY’.  And when we are not praying, we are trying to find different places to lay the blames – “oh why are people complaining when they did not vote for Buhari” PLEASE! What are the choices that Nigerians have when it comes to leaders? Each leader brings his own dysfunction to the already complex situation in the country albeit in slightly different ways. Who is to say what Buhari's own plans are? How about looking at ourselves and accepting that we have allowed things to get so bad by not voicing our opinions and demanding what we want.

In no way do I support violence. Actually, I find it very sad that Nigeria is at the stage that the public believe that the only way to get the government's attention is through force. What I do believe in is that everybody needs to learn how to be firm, decisive and voice out their different opinions while being civil and respectful - without fear. If people's confidence are built up and there is true freedom of expression allowed at the home front, in schools, at work e.t.c, then all these would reflect at higher levels and we would know how to stand up for what we believe in to a higher body (the government). All in all, I believe that Nigeria's fundamental problem has to do with our mindsets. If we can correct those, we would be on our way to being free!

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Image from www.fearless-child.com


Akinyombo Oluwagbenga said...

Very good write up, and factual. But the issue of respect in places of work and schools should b viewd frm two angles; individuals' motives of showing such respects. Moreso, one of d major factors that make a Nigerian(yoruba) different from all other tribes is d respect we show to people who are older than us, irrespective of whether we have any favour to gain from them or not. Leave that out, then u ll c us being who we are not. Funny enough that's the begining of FAILURE

Payme's Cents said...

Gbenga, I get your point..even outside of culture, simply seeing someone struggling to carrying things that we could help with should be enough to draw help from us either we like them or not..I was not trying to overlook respect and I also mentioned that we still have to be respectful while trying to voice our opinions. My issue is when respect turns to fear and I think almost all Nigerian children have had an experience of that fear.

timmy obaseki said...

All the systems in Nigeria are built around teaching people (kids, young adults and adults alike) what and not how to think ! I see this as the fundamental cause for the systemic failure we presently experience ! Two thumbs up for this straight-to-the-point analysis. in my own opinion, u hit the bull's eye