Nigerians were once branded the happiest people on earth. The situation is rapidly changing but till now; they are just about “Suffering and Smiling.”
Nigeria comes across as a nation where there is too much hardship and yet the people bear it with a certain inexplicable equanimity. In the midst of suffering, they would be seen smiling. A man pulling many times his own weight in goods, with a wheel barrow, under the baking sun, with sweat pouring down his face and cascading down his body, would be expected to be looking tense with a sad disposition on his face. But this is Nigeria. Inspite of the back-breaking work that pays little, the man would be smiling while making jokes with anyone that comes close to him as he makes his way through the busy streets.
For decades, there are areas where there has been no electricity and hence the people are unable to run the fans or other equipment which no longer can be summarized as luxuries but sheer essentials. One would expect them to be mad at a government that continues to fail her people in the power-delivery sector or PHCN that has failed to get its act together. They will hardly show any anger instead they will be making light of the situation by describing the sizes of the mosquitoes that play harmonious music around them in the night and laughing heartily. So, inspite of the suffering occasioned by mosquito bites, with attendant burgeoning of malaria parasites and sickness, you still find Nigerians smiling the next morning, ready to go out and face the task at hand. Inspite of the suffering of the previous night, as soon as power is restored, even for the slightest minute, you find them jubilating, “Up NEPA” or in this case, “Up PHCN”. It is amazing!
Nigeria is a nation where people always find a way to cut through the every day misery they face in traffic, in banks, on dilapilated and pothole-ridden roads and the likes, to either enjoy themselves or be happy.
One of the management axioms is witnessed here which I feel worthy mentioning. Can there be any improvement or a desire to improve if the happiness levels are high?
This is exactly the problem with Nigeria! For the masses who continue to remain happy in adverse conditions, when will the need for improvement be felt? What will really drive them to ask for an accountable government? The explanation that people in Nigeria easily adapt to the situation they find themselves and make the best of it is a double edged praise!
I visited a commercial bank a few days ago and saw a long line of people being attended to by only one teller. It meant that one could spend as much as 60 minutes just to make a simple withdrawal. Again, the people in the long queue were busy watching a TV behind the teller that showed some kind of European soccer and heartily discussing the game while the line snailed along. Essentially, Nigerian people have developed very powerful coping mechanisms to deal with the many twists and turns that they have come to expect from and in Nigeria.
The recent Libyan episode is also a big discussion topic here. Not for the Libyan cause or effects but for an analysis whether such a revolution is required in Nigeria to make the government accountable to her people.
But all is not lost in hope. The government is working now. The election limbo is over and the government is seen to be active on several fronts. Infrastructure and banking reforms seem to be of high priority. The Libyan and the Gulf uprisings have clearly sent home a message.
For Nigerians though; clearly; hope cannot just be a strategy. It needs to be backed by the spirit of accountability and zero tolerance for poor governance.