Last week I saw a post by Chinedu Junior Ihekwoaba on LinkedIn. In the piece, he talked about the biggest challenge facing Nigeria and concluded it was the youths. While I agree with him that one of the biggest challenges Nigeria faces is her youths. I disagree because I believe there’s a bigger challenge for Nigeria than her youths, a challenge that engulfs all her children, and that’s the orientation/mentality of Nigerians.
This was my comment on the post
You’re right because the youths are part of Nigeria’s problem, but it’s not just the youths it’s the citizens (youth and elders) as a whole. Don’t forget the youths grew up learning from one or two persons around them and from their environment. What did they learn? What did their environment thought them, directly or indirectly?
Even our so called elders ain’t taking the back position. They are at the forefront of sowing discord, disunity, tribal chauvinism, ethnical jingoism and religious intolerance. It is just normal the youths follow their lead. Remember, the Yorubas say – Esin t’osiwaju ni t’eyin wo s’are (literally, the leading horse is what the the followers emulate in running style).
Also, another Yoruba proverb says – Agba kin wa l’oja ki ori omo tuntun wo. Literally, we can’t have an elder in a place and the infant (you can say youth) would misposition his head. In other words, some level of discipline is expected from the young ones who have elders around them.
The question now is, the Nigerian youths are fast becoming a menace to Nigeria, What role are the Nigerian elders playing to correct things?
Therefore, for me, Nigerians, both young and old, are the biggest problem Nigeria faces. Or should I say the destitute mentality and orientation of Nigerians is the biggest problem Nigeria is facing.
Now to my point about our orientation/mentality being our biggest challenge in Nigeria. Two quotes come to mind.
The first is that of Daniel Ally. It goes thus
To change your reality, you must change your mentality.
While the second is an Islamic quote and goes thus –
There’s a part of the body, if it’s okay the whole body is okay. If it’s sick, the whole body is sick. It’s the mind.
You see we are who we think we are. What builds in our mind becomes our thoughts, our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become us – our personality, mentality and being. So if we must do the right thing we must start by doing so in our minds.
The mentality of the average Nigerian sucks and stinks, and that’s why we are where we are – internet fraud and taking undue advantage of people (thinking we’re smart) but to mention a few. How do we explain some of the happenings that occurred in our political sphere (the 8th Assembly comes to mind)? How do we explain the support some of us gave to a presidential aspirant that happily boasted he’s contesting to enrich his friends with the country’s assets? How do we explain the celebration of people convicted for stealing our wealth upon their return from jail? How do we explain security agents’ connivance with the same criminals? But to mention a few.
Now what must we do moving forward?
The government needs to declare a state of emergency on what has now become a destitute orientation/mentality of her citizens. The National Orientation Agency needs to be revitalized and gets her tooth re-sharpened, and be swung into full action. The draft/template that has been designed to shape our orientation needs to be revisited and perhaps redesigned. If need be volunteers can be recruited to help breathe life once again into the offices of the agency, in all the local government areas in Nigeria.
Also, Nigerians who are fortunate to be blessed with brain and sanity should never shy from educating and enlightening those around them who fall short.
I know the fight to resuscitate Nigeria will be a tough one, but it must be done, and it can be done, because if it is not done we are done. GOD Bless Nigeria.
Note: this piece was originally published on Tekedia on August 27, 2019