Japheth Omojuwa: Nigeria—A cocktail of denial (YNaija FrontPage)

There is nothing wrong with seeing reality as it is. If things are bad let us agree they are bad, not to see things the way they really are is never to be able to make them better

“The thing about denial is that it doesn’t feel like denial when it’s going on.”

― Georgina Kleege, Sight Unseen

Countries are like individuals in the sense that they have their own identity. The identity of a country is an aggregation of the identity of those who call it home. Nigerians as a people are often in an unending slide of denial. For example, until recently, many Nigerians still expected the national team to play like the USA ’94 team and the Atlanta Olympics gold winning team. As both teams declined over the years, we refused to see, we basked in the euphoria of little victories e.g. beating Spain 3-2 at the France 1998 World Cup. We were always quick to explain away unexpected losses against so-called soccer minnows. We never really admitted our own slide to mediocrity until Angola passed through us to World Cup 2006 and more recently when we failed to qualify for the African Nations’ Cup for the first time in the memory of at least my own generation.

I have just used football as an example because it was the first facet of our national life I saw denial early on. We always thought each Nigerian team after the USA performances were always the same Nigerian team. We lived that delusion for years and the truth is, a lot of Nigerians are still living that deluded reality today.

Make no mistake, every facet of our national life shows a nation denying its own reality. Take the issue of new corps members posted to Borno and Yobe State State for instance. The last time the President went to Kano State, he needed some 5000 police men. Forget the number of SSS men and other security outfits. The President has not been to Borno despite all the bomb blasts and gun battles. The day he’d decide to go, be sure an advance team of security men would have gone there at least one month in advance doing some intelligence gathering. It is about making sure the president does not get killed. The same goes for the Governor of Borno State. Contrast this with ordinary young people who have just gone through the rigours of Nigeria’s tumultuous educational system and now expected to essentially lay their lives on the ground for the nation. From the confort of his cosy Abuja office in Wuse 2, the DG of NYSC guaranteed the safety of corps members posted to troubled spots. During the announcement, you’d be certain to see army personnel around him for security. If all these men cannot move around Abuja that is much safer than the places mentioned above, how then do they expect unarmed and unprotected young people to survive these saddening realities? Why are we pretending everything is fine when even Abuja that is supposed to be one of the nation’s safest places being its capital got bombed yesterday? The NYSC song that said “under the sun and in the rain” did not add “with imminent threats of bombs and gun shots” to the terms of service.

To emphasise the state of our denial, Nigeria’s first lady Patience Jonathan only two days ago in Washington said the insecurity issue was exaggerated. She took that statement from an interview the president granted on his last visit to Germany where he said the same thing. These are not mere statements; these are the realities these folks believe. The problem is, if the person you expect to solve a problem does not agree it is as serious as you think, how can the person be as desperate as you to solve the problem?

There is nothing wrong with seeing reality as it is. If things are bad let us agree they are bad, not to see things the way they really are is never to be able to make them better. If I am ignorant at something, I’ll never truly gain the knowledge of that thing until I at first admit my ignorance. We can turn this nation around but we will continue to live in the shadows of our own deception, pretending we remain the giant of Africa when of a truth; we are a mass of Deception on its path to destruction.

The first step to solving any problem is to first admit it exists, if you don’t admit it exists, you have no problem to solve until it consumes you.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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