By: Oluwadamilare Ajiboye
God dey hear, one very commendable lifestyle in Nigeria is being your neighbours’ keeper and relatives’ caregivers. It doesn’t matter if it sits well with you, you have to religiously look out for those who are fortunate enough to know you. The beauty of this is that, when Nigeria happens to you — as it is certain it would — you get a return of your gesture in multiple folds. Beyond this, however, is the Ubuntu philosophy of life in Nigeria; an understanding that you are because some people, state of things or institutions are.
This philosophy is what makes us what we are. It is why in a country run solely on individuals’ vibes and street-club cruise, there are more jokers lurking around government offices than there are citizens who are ready to laugh. The Nigerian Ubuntu philosophy does not teach you to accommodate others’ opinions or consider their conditions, you simply live your life the way you feel in your soul. It is a taboo to feel sorry for your deeds or apologise for your goofs. With Ubuntu, the elders and powerful are infallible, hence they can never err. It was this philosophy at play when the Media Aides of the Septuagenarian in Aso Villa only made a shot at embroidering the president’s careless utterance in 2018 rather than apologising for the goof of tagging Nigerian youths lazy.
The story about the Nigerian Ubuntu is long and the listeners are patient, but I fear if I let out more than it’s necessary, those affected will come for me. So, in my own selfish interest I have only chosen to write about the ones that have lost their credibility and would have no moral justification to chase after me even if they find it offensive.
Nigeria is because foreign countries are.
Think about it, how can Nigeria ever survive without the input of foreign countries handling out Abacha’s loot then and now like school children’s lunch break money? Except we are solely ungrateful, we need to appreciate the foreign countries in Europe and America which are our politicians’ safe haven, they are where their health records and their children’s academic records sit. When we refuse to make plans for the future, it is because we trust their agape love to always make room for financial aids and debt moratorium when we demand it. Even though we are like the dog tied to the belt of Ogun with no hope for the future, but because you formed us from the beginning and pronounced us into existence, we cannot forsake you.
The people are because the government is.
Although, there are some over-educated activists in Lagos and Abuja who find it fun to derail the government from recuperating its R.O.I on election expenses by clamouring for something as ephemeral as good governance, one enviable thing, however, about Nigerians is that we respect the government with stubborn affection. Of course, this respect is a function of our understanding that we only exist because the Umbrella and Broom party are still the ones alternating the seat of power, doing all it takes to discourage exploitation of our differences for political gains and rejuvenating the promises of free education. Because the government has not really disappointed, except for not dolling out $1 million each out of the recently recovered $311 million Abacha’s loot to the 200 million population and still keeping the remaining $111 million for miscellaneous expenses, we cannot shift our loyalty. Even if we do shift our loyalty, where or to whom would we shift it? Certainly not the USA where the president was so unpatriotic he advocated the injection of disinfectant into their citizens, how much more then would he call to be done to citizens from the shit-hole country?
The students are because the tertiary institutions are!
In those days, before the popularity of water-closet and after the discouragement of open defecation, what was the norm was a setting where big pits were dug and strong wooden planks placed on them with multiple openings to allow passage of faeces into the pit when you squat to do your business. This kind of arrangement that simultaneously accommodated folks of all ages brought excessive familiarity between lads and lords, and, before long, became a thing of disrespect after lads began to make mental measurements and comparison of everything that defined a man then. In identical way, the public tertiary institutions that brought ambitious youths and accomplished lecturers together have sought to remove the aura of exaggerated sense of dignity and managerial expertise exclusively belonging to our lecturers. How, for instance, will inexperienced students challenge the quality of the gowns’ thinking?
Truth be told, the gowns may not have clues on how to tackle herculean problems on campus like light and water, but they certainly have clues on everything else under the sun. Besides, the public tertiary institution is not a place for fanfare, it is a place where you master the art of making lemonades out of lemons thrown at you. That is why I still insist that Students who protest the lack of water and light during exams miss the point. Those of us who already understand that Nigerian schools are a debut of Nigeria itself would never waste time on some goof-off protests, not even if we sojourn from the department of electrical engineering down across the school main gate to pay the guy with the patched tobacco umbrella and the I-better-pass-your-university generator to power our phone batteries and reading lamps.
Students need to understand the simple philosophy of getting educated in government schools; they are because their institutions, model vice-chancellors and Rectors are still existing. We should learn to suffer now, develop tough skin and suffer less later in life. Never attempt to criticise your Institution’s rulers or demand potable water. If you do, depending on how the Media reports your heroic deed, you may get suspended for a session- the institution’s way of providing you enough time to dredge a well in your parents’ house and pass the pipe to your hostel room. Indeed, once you learn that government public school is only a breeding ground for the many shanty lifestyle of the Nigerian state, you would understand the beauty of not unsettling stagnant water without preparations to get yourself dirty.
Civilians are because the Nigerian Police Force is.
I wish I was bold enough to play on the Inspector General’s transmission goof of 2018. I mean, I perfectly know how to “transmission” the pun to such extent that sergeant Tunji on the highway, with P.O.S for customers who do not have cash at hand, would read and find additional reason to smile asides the non-taxable profit he makes daily, but I fear my case may get a speedy transmission to the Force headquarters in Abuja. And being someone who, unlike our wealthy politicians, cannot even afford the services of a single senior advocate, I would rather let the sleeping dog lie than allow Nigerian charge and bail lawyers waste the precious time of the court when they know I am already a qualified candidate for the Nigerian prisons.
Saying the Nigerian police is not your friend is only slightly related to the truth. First of all, the members of the police are our moral betters and are only doing their best to uphold African morality, that is why a member of the police only needs to look at your un-African dressing from a distance and tell if you are nursing or have nursed the ambition to defraud white folks of their hard-earned cash, the good lord helps you an I-phone is found on you; forget it, that’s conclusive proof of your criminal involvement. Let’s even consider it, how would you- a citizen of the poverty capital of the world- be so insensitive to live a lifestyle that does not reflect the state of your economy? It only portrays you as unpatriotic, and that is what the Nigerian Police Force hates. They can tolerate everything, but not the deliberate attempt to ridicule the Nigerian state by an over-excited bloody civilian.
Ideally, the default reaction of Nigerians to the above situations is just to leave it for God and allow Karma take its course, but recently it seems that the game has changed and karma has forgotten its coveted role in the Nigerian affairs. What is now the new normal is that the bad guys are dying old in private hospitals leaving wealth for their children and children’s children who would also live flamboyantly, grow old and die in world-class hospitals. But, here we all are- the rest of us surviving on less than a dollar a day- regretting everything except our abstinence from politics and our clergies’ prophecy of an imminent boom of wealth. Truly, the affairs of this life isn’t balanced. We may not survive till the end, but we will always uphold the Ubuntu lifestyle of our fathers and the fathers who have gone before our fathers’ fathers.
Oluwadamilare Ajiboye is a 500 level student of the University of Ibadan studying law. He enjoys reading when conditions demand it and loves when people make sense with words!