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E O EkeWednesday, April 23, 2014
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THE HOPE OF NIGERIA IS NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA

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any people who postulate in Nigerian forum often know very little about the areas they make dogmatic comments. They substitute what they believe for facts and truth, and argue from a position of belief instead of facts. Many continue to peddle as truth ancient understanding of the transcendence rooted in ignorance and prejudices. They think something is true because they believe it is true and constantly misrepresent facts to sustain false beliefs and believe that they are making logical argument for their position. They quote their holy books oblivious of the context and what has changed since its truism was ascertained. They are unaware that their truth of God is wisdom of time past frozen in time and see in dogma evidence of all truth. No wonder their creed divides the world and make it a worse and unsafe place. In their wisdom, they find the reasons for their hatred, wars, discrimination bigotry and intolerance in the scriptures, oblivious that the god they claim to know will say to them go away I never knew for indeed their works though done in the name of God is evil . They are blind but think that they see and therefore delude themselves that they are of God, while doing the work of the devil.

In 2011, I had a debate with a London based lawyer who is of Yoruba extraction and his position was that Nigerian problem is structural and that only the balkanisation of Nigeria will suffice. I argued that Nigerian problems are human and unless the human problems are address, nothing will work either in Nigeria or any ethnic nation that would come out of Nigeria. With the way and manner the leader fan the flame of ethnic and religious prejudices and the government failure to provide the needed leadership, Nigeria may break up, but not because the ethnic nations cannot live peacefully together, but because the ruling elites are too stupid, narrow minded, corrupt and prejudiced to build a united and multi-ethnic nations based on civil values, justice, equality and the rule of law. I have seen dogs living peacefully cats and lion domesticated to live with sheep. There is no reason why Muslims cannot live peacefully with Christians, or muslims of another sect, and Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Ibibios Effiks Ijaws, Birions etc., cannot live peacefully together as human beings. Nigeria can still succeed, if we try.

What many describe as north-south or Nigerian living in Nigeria and Nigerians in diaspora problems are seen in north, south, East and west. They are seen in all countries of the world. The real problem of Nigeria is that the Nigerian ruling elites exploit the system in inhuman, insensitive and corrupt manner and are afraid of Nigerians in diaspora who are aware that their behaviour is both criminal and unacceptable in developed societies.

Many Nigerian middle class who can afford to live well in Nigeria, avoid paying tax, do not seem to understand why a nation taxes its citizens, why it is right to pay taxes, are exploitative in the practice of their professions, benefit from corruption and do not care that there are Nigerians who cannot send their children to school, or pay for their healthcare, while they can afford annual holidays abroad with their families from their illegitimate earnings. They are rarely involved in charity work. They attend churches to secure customers and exploit the church to further their personal interests. The doctor in the church expects all church members to patronise him and the lawyer also expects the same. Woe betide you, if you are poor in the church and do not patronise them. They care very little about Nigeria as long as they can exploit the system to make as much money as possible. At the same time, they cannot protest, criticise the government for fear of being arrested or provide the much needed initiative and leadership that is lacking, since they are living in Nigeria. Yet, they have the audacity to 'mouth' Nigerian in diaspora who can afford to speak out and risk everything to do so. This is being a dog in a manger and the worst thing any human being can do to her country, to say the least.

As Frantz Fanon said, “The future will have no pity for those who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes cold complicity”. The Nigeria middle class have blood in their hands. The laboratory technician who exploits the people by practicing medicine is dishonest and worse than an armed robbery. The doctor who tells patients that they have typhoid fever when they have badly treated malaria is like the kidnapper. The ones who claim that people have appendicitis and gives them buscopan and cut their skin and suture them up is worse than Boko Haram. The civil servant who collects bribes and gives driving licence to those who have not learnt to drive and passed driving test is a murderer. The drug peddler who sales drugs he does not know its active ingredient for diseases it does not cure, is a criminal. He kills the people with his treatment. The lawyer, who prefers to bribe the police rather than defending and ascertaining the right of his clients is a coward and a pest and the civil servant who would not render the service he is paid unless he is given a bribe is a scum. The church or ministry which build schools and hospitals where only those who can pay can go is not doing the work of God but stealing from the people and serving the belle of the pastors who own them. The Muslim who insists on Sharia law for all is intolerant, ignorant and bigoted. These are the people who determine the cvulture and morality of a country and they have all sold out to greed, and selfishness, prejudice and sectarianism in Nigeria. This is the true tragedy of Nigeria.

It is rare to find a Nigeria middle class who is not in business, oil industry or banking, who survives on his legitimate earnings, who can afford what some of the people who claim that Nigeria is heaven and that Nigerian in diaspora are the problem can afford. I know of doctors who use government hospital to see private patients, and still collect salaries from government. They practice and live their lives in dihoest way and manner and still have the audacity to go on strike and allow patients to die, when their salaries are not paid or their demands not met. What moral authority do they have for their demand, when they are doing their job honestly? Whatever happens to coming to equity with clean hands? I know of teachers who run their business during school hours and still collect salaries and at the same time lament the fall in standard of education. They engage in criminals behaviours and wonder why Nigeria is not working. Who do they expect to enthrone a culture of honesty, due process and accountability in Nigeria?

Many Nigerian middle class, one way or another, benefit from the pervasive corruption which is destroying Nigeria. I know because I once worked with an honest doctor who found it difficult to survive and drove the same car for many years. He built only one house and his hospital and trained all his children in Nigeria. He could not afford a holiday abroad even though he studied in London. He borrowed money from the bank to build his hospital and paid it off just few years before he died from overwork which made him to neglect his own health. Those who are claiming that Nigeria is heaven, should explain how they earn their living in honest and sincere way and manner to justify that honest people can survive in Nigeria the way they survive abroad.

To survive, the doctor worked in the general hospital for three days and two days in his private hospital in addition to running an evening clinic in his private hospital everyday 5 days a week, including calls. I shared the calls and covered his hospital for some hours when he is not there. It was some of what I saw of his life as a doctor in Nigeria that contributed in my decision not to open my own private hospital. I felt that to attempt to run a hospital alone is simply madness to say the least. One needs to be very greedy and sufficiently motivate to earn money at all cost to do it. I did not find many people who were doing it in honest way and manner. One day, I told him that I have observed that most of the owners of the private hospitals in Aba died young. He said he knows, from overwork, and we started to laugh. He died at 65 from overwork.

The problem of Nigeria is not Nigerians in diaspora, it was Dora Akuliyi when she was a minister, while launching her rebranding of Nigeria, who said that the problem of Nigeria is Nigerians in diaspora. Today we know that the hope of Nigeria is Nigerians in diaspora, if they do not figure a way to help Nigeria, Nigeria will be history.

Responsible Nigerians in diaspora know how civil societies should be organised because they live in one. They understand that respect for civil values and the rule of law is everything and that retribution for breaking the law should be swift, certain and proportionate and according to due process. All these are lacking in Nigeria at the moment and we know those who are exploiting it get rich and comfortable. The children of the politicians who their parents give good education with stolen money will be too afraid to go home. In the end, Nigeria's corrupt elites are cutting their noses to spite their faces. Many of the best of Nigerians will always find ways to escape the madness, some will compromise to survive and a few will remain honest no matter the odds, like my mentor Dr R N A Ubani Ukoma. This is what happens in any country destroyed in the way corruption, and sectarianism has destroyed Nigeria. Therefore, anybody who generalises about Nigerians is simply exposing his ignorance and prejudice. Nigeria needs a moral revolution.

As regards children of Nigerian in diaspora, it is a terrible thing to teach a child to focus on a place he knows very little about. It often makes it difficult for the child to acquire the right attitude toward the country he lives in. I practiced for some years as a Child and Adolescent psychiatrist in an inner city London Borough, where there are a lot of ethnic minority people including Nigerians. One of the commonest problems that brought ethnic minority families in contact with the service was conflict between the child’s worldview and their parents worldview rooted in some of the sentiments some people have expressed in Nigerian media. A child cannot live in two places at the same time. It is terrible to attempt to bring up children in west without first; giving them the best things they needs to survive in the west, before thinking about Nigeria. A man must first learn how to swim before he can save someone who is drowning.

The kidnaping negotiations in Nigeria are done with mobile phones, yet the government has not put in stringent measures to identify everybody who buys a Sims card or a mobile telephone. This would not cause a lot of money to do. All the government needs to do is to ask dealers to make sure buyers of mobile phone ans sim cards provide identifiable information as is the case in the west. Nigeria‘s problem is a mixture of greed, ignorance, prejudice, dishonesty, selfishness and lack of love for others and the country.

While we are all still at corruption, the world continues to exploit us. Nigerians pay most for airline tickets. While it costs £3.00 to send £120.00 to India, it cost £8.00 to send the same amount to Nigeria. John Humphrey, BBC Radio 4 presenter asked the people why this is the case and, they practically said, it is because they can get away with it. I suppose we should focus on the real problems like the way we are exploited, corruption and terrorism and not on useless arguments that exposes our prejudices and ignorance. The government should ask Nigerians in Diaspora to help.

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