I was in an online chat room having a discussion with friends: one is based in Nigeria and the other one in the United States. The Nigerian based friend mentioned something along the lines of “You know us Nigerians, because of the time difference we are already in tomorrow. This is perhaps the only thing that Nigeria is ahead of the US for”. I immediately put on my thinking cap that there must be some things that Nigerians can be proud of. Those thoughts are the embodiments of this article I have titled Nigeria is best country in the world. Nigeria with all the attendant challenges it faces almost on a per-second basis has a lot to be thankful for. At a minimum, it is pertinent as a country for us Nigerians to underline or build from the scratch a framework of the realities that Nigerians both home and abroad can comfortably say is the reason (s) that they are proud to be Nigerians. This is my contribution to that discourse.
If the United States is the best country in the world in some circles and Nigeria is better than the US in my opinion, Nigeria can then be called the number one country in the planet. In Nigeria when I was growing up and even now, we saved up to be poor! As a man who has lived and schooled in different countries, I have a better appreciation for money and skills. Money and skills I have come to understand is only worth what people will exchange it for. Money is all about trust inscribed in something be it paper, clay etc. provided the receiver believes in it. The root for credit is credo which is Latin for I believe. If opportunities are defined in that strict sense, Nigeria does not have a lot of opportunities. Opportunities cover and go beyond what is believed to what is real and available. In Nigeria, these opportunities comes in the form of family, weather and resources both people and nature. These kind opportunities, Nigeria has in bucket loads
With a range of tribes around the country, the big cities like Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt etc. are beginning to learn how to work together and produce outstanding results like Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, World Trade Center in Abuja and Aba Mega Mall in Aba. In most cities, you will find small eateries called “Bukas” where food from all around the country are sold in different variations of take home and eat in. The quality of some of the food is unlike anywhere else in the world. There are social centres that serve as viewing centres for major sporting events like the English Premier League and Champions League amongst others. The match analysis that goes on in some of the centres can serve as a coaching centre for anybody interested in the sport. The analysis is most often than not fleshed out in technique and history in a way that the egg heads in FIFA will be proud of! Around most street corners are newspapers selling spots. There is the free readers association of Nigeria who read the papers right there and partakes in the discussion of the news with their friends and passersby. It is the most Nigerian thing you ever saw. The community, friendliness, depth of knowledge on free flow is breathtaking. When I see the British Prime Ministers’ Questions, I always raise them the discussions at the newspaper spots. Nigeria has also exported to the world afro-pop and Nollywood in the entertainment industry. A feat we should be more proud of.
In Nigeria, the normal is avoided, the mundane dreaded, clutters are cut through to go the edge in order to do things differently. We dare! Just like the blazing green in our flag we are ready all the time to go. We are loud in our mind for a purpose. We see the dot and the paper; we see the hole and the doughnut. We see the big picture all the time. Every time. There are some shadows to be sure but that is why it is so easy to be a star. The stars just stand at other people’s shoulders and illuminate. We take care of the old and the infirm within the family structure. Aged parents are not farmed to nursing homes. We are full of hope and have embraced religion its purest form. There is a strong sense of community as we are our brothers’ keepers and we love with open hands
Nigeria is more than a place. It is people. It is a movement. It is not a fleeting emotion, it has permanence. You do not just need to see it, you need to understand it. There is more than gold in Nigeria, it is a goldmine. When you see the real Nigerian: the one that has it together, you are thrown by how “food this good can come from that oven” Nigeria as a place is different from any other place on the planet. You have to see it to fully grasp the concept. The only thing wrong with Nigeria is that there is only one of it.
The place Nigeria has its struggles. When poverty kisses you in Nigeria, it is like it is brushing your teeth. The country has been called the superpower without power; lots of scams have been attributed to it; corrupt and frankly incompetent leaders have held sway for a long time. These struggles are not really natural. They are superficial and temporal at their very core. The natural laws like gravity, electricity and thermodynamics operate with mathematical exactitude. There is no variation. The channels of distribution might be corrupted or imperfect. If a bridge falls, we do not pick at the essence of gravity and thermodynamics, if electrical light fails as it often does in Nigeria; the laws of electricity is not the problem. The conclusion is most often than not that the vessels of distribution of these laws need to be studied. The core Nigeria traits that are natural are passion, hope, spirit and love. The medium for the exhibition of these traits are not perfect but we Nigerians are working on it.
Making Nigeria achieve its truest potential is akin to delivering a pizza. It does not matter how fast the delivery service is, if the delivery person cannot find the destination because he does not have the correct address: the payload whether the pizza or development is wasted. If you want your pizza to be delivered on time and hot, you must provide the correct address. If as a country you want development, you must provide your real self and be judged and identified for who you really are. I have not tried to compare the 2 countries side by side as both countries seat in different places in their historical development. This piece is to underline the challenges versus the potential of Nigeria that has birthed a wonderful reality for us who are proud to call it home wherever we may now live. Nigeria does not need to be made great. It is already great. We the citizens just need to know and accept this fact.
Daniel Igbinosun lives in Calgary where he works as a senior IT specialist with Canada’s second biggest Airline