#YourTurn: It’s stupidity, stupid! Not resilience

by Dr Chukwunonso Nwanze

“…what has our government ever done for us, or rather what do they do?”

Ah, what can we say about our beloved Naija. We say it every day. Any time one or two of us are gathered, and there also is the Lord, our topic is always the state of Nigeria. We whine about Naija in pidgin, in informal gatherings, with heated discuss. We bellyache about our country in Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Ijaw, Bini, e.t.c, in unity, perfect camaraderie and mutual concern. We gripe about Nigeria in exalted academic circles, in perfect Harvard type diction, perfectly analysing the problem, delving into the demographics, politics, environment, leadership, social factor and technology. The conclusion is always the same, in whatever diction or phonetics – despite it all, we, Nigerians are very resilient people! Erm – pardon me, that ain’t resilience people, it’s just plain old stupidity!

I don’t care if you have a PhD in Molecular Physics from MIT or you sell ‘second new’ clothes in Onitsha Market, it is what it is – more than 30 years of virgin stupidity. Abi am I wrong? But tell me, what conclusion can you come to about a people who take such BS (pardon my adorable French) for so long? It’s vacation period and I am in Asaba, with a legitimate reason to be lazy – sleeping all the time, eating Pounded Yam and Ofe n’ sala and getting fat. My cousin is ‘gisting’ me about the thankfully now ditched effort of the governor of Edo State – he wanted to tax boreholes in households! I’ve lived in Accra for the past year and I actually laugh when I hear my colleagues go on about the Electrical Company and their once in a-while light-off and the Ghana Water Company.

I asked Afua once: “Are you for real? You actually expect government to give you uninterrupted light and uninterrupted water?”  She looked at me with pity, “Nonso, I know you are a Naija chic, but here, we pay taxes.” Hmm, the payment of taxes! This is defined as a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc. Despite the fact that I pay taxes, my father and mum did before me and I’m sure you and your folks do too – what has our government ever done for us, or rather what do they do? Can you point out a specific service that our government provides? And provides efficiently? I have lived on God’s green earth for over a score and a decade and I have always been aware of the NEPA situation.

We are self-reliant for everything. We have ‘I better pass my neighbour’ generators, proper sound proof generators and inverters. We dig our own boreholes, we employ our own security and set up civil defence groups, we tar the roads in front of our houses and stop where our land ends, we set up fancy schools for our kids, so that they can get half decent educations – in short, we do everything ourselves! And we have a government? Resilience is the capability of a strained body to recover its shape and size after deformation, caused especially by compressive stress; the ability to adjust easily to misfortune and change. Resilience is the ability of a people, to enter a new era of democracy, 10 months after a popular uprising ended years of dictatorship. Being stupid is a poor ability to understand or to profit from experience.  Stupidity makes no indictments on failure.

Stupidity votes in, for a second term, a government that made its main mandate the resolution of the power problem and did not deliver this. In the private sector, this is termed ‘below expectation’ and no bonus will be paid. Stupid people elect the same party that hasn’t worked for 12 years. Children, even the slower ones, learn not to put their hands in fire after the first try. Stupid people keep on putting their hands in the fire. Albert Einstein stated that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I won’t pick insanity over stupidity, because we Naijans’ do the same thing over and over again, but not expecting different results. Dear reader, I invite you to pick the definition that you think is most apt for us. I will continue to suffer and smile with you, my fellow compatriots, whilst discussing our insurmountable problems in smart book clubs, with a smart Nigerianeese accent. After all, we are very tough people, the happiest people in the world and least I forget, the giants of Africa.

Dr Chukwunonso Nwanze [email protected] Chukwunonso has a Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Benin and an MSC in International Health Management from the Imperial College London. She works in Public Policy in a FMCG company.

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