It is a favorite Nigerian pastime to complain about the things that are wrong with the country. I wondered to myself if there was really nothing good to say about the country and I came up with this list.
Some will consider it hilarious and some will take the points mentioned below seriously. In truth it is a mix of both, though I’ll personally advise my esteemed reader to view it from a more jocular perspective.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
1. Natural Disasters
Do not be deceived by the term ‘natural’ folks. ‘Natural’ in this context does not mean something that is normal or meant to happen, the term derives from the word ‘nature’ and describes succinctly, nature’s innate tendency to misbehave with fatal consequences.
Seriously now, what is it with Europe, America, Asia and natural disasters? If it’s not a tornado, it’s an earthquake; if it’s not a tsunami, it’s a hurricane or a volcano eruption or a blizzard or a cyclone or a forest fire or a meteor landing all the way from space! I often wonder if it is possible for a month to go by without a serious natural disaster in America, Asia or Europe. Of course only the more serious ones make spectacular news headlines all over the world. Google something like “Natural Disasters in 2013” if you think I’m exaggerating. You will be unpleasantly surprised by happenings within just the last six months.
Nigeria on the flip side mostly experiences one kind of nature’s fury: Floods. The irony of this issue is that even this can actually be avoided if only people in crowded urban areas kept their drainage systems clean.
It’s a good thing the first world countries that experience most of this natural disasters have first rate healthcare facilities. In Nigeria where rich people and even politicians run abroad when they get seriously ill, you can see how this would be a very big problem.
Anyhow you look at it, we are darn fortunate.
2. Serial Killers
He had a disturbed childhood in which he was raised by an alcoholic mother and a father who abused him, and drugs. He has grown into a half-crazed, middle aged man with a deranged look and hefty body. One day he hears God telling him to rape, kill and eat the body of every fifteen year old girl he can find. And he starts a bloody rampage across several states, killing as many innocent girls, maybe forty or more, until he is caught after five long years by the by now desperate police.
Sounds like stuff straight of some impossible horror thriller novel, doesn’t it? Well yes and no.
Yes, it is a horror thriller material and No, it is not impossible!
That shit actually happens in real life! For real! In Europe and America!
Now in Nigeria, we have had armed robbers whose atrocities are the stuff of legend, maybe two or three serial rapists, but a deranged man or woman who kills people just for the thrill? We have almost none of that kind of thing. Admittedly Clifford Orji stains the record slightly though, but his intentions were probably cultic.
This is the deal, you work off your ass from Monday to Friday, maybe even weekends depending on the kind of job you do, but at the end of the week or month, depending on when you get your paycheck, the government gets a clean nice slice of the cash.
Why? Well, the government needs it, they pay the police which provides your security with it, they subsidize education with it and…well you know how the rest of the story goes.
In America and Europe, people pay their taxes. People must pay their taxes. In fact not paying your tax is right up there among the most serious crimes anyone can commit, right behind murder, rape and stealing.
Lauryn Hill is the latest to be axed by the system, she was jailed for three months ( which will be followed by 3 more months on house arrest … and by 9 months of supervised release) even after she paid up what she owed and more. Wesley Snipes did time for evading tax( He just got out last two months after serving three years behind bars) and Nicholas Cage lost several multimillion dollar houses to the government after tax evasion litigation.
Come home to Nigeria here and the matter is completely different. Apart from people working in the organized private sector and civil servants, no one else pays their taxes. Put in another way, no one pays their taxes if they have a choice. That’s all.
I personally know bricklayers who collect raw cash of up to two million naira for a building project and don’t pay a single kobo in taxes, NOTHING. Market sellers, transport workers, petty traders, landlords, private school owners, the list goes on and on.
In short most people keep everything they earn, which is a good thing if you consider the fact that people barely make enough to spend anyway.
4. Gangsters and Organized Crime
Blood, Crips, Mafia.
These are infamous criminal groups even we in this part of the world have come to know.
The life of a gangster may thrill you when you hear descriptions of it in your favorite Tupac or The Game song. The ways of a Mafioso may tickle your fancy, but the sheer violence wrought by these gangs in form of drive by shootings, sporadic fights over trivial issues and the likes are simply appalling.
To even gain admission into one of these gangs usually requires killing someone as a test of courage. And that someone could be anybody, any random unfortunate person who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time dies simply because a criminal wanted admission into a gang.
The Blood and Crips are popular among black ghetto slums in the US where illiteracy and poverty are the order of the day. They defy the police and other existing law enforcement.
Here in Nigeria, we have area boys who extort mostly by utilizing a sort of forceful pleading and have enough sense to stay out of reach of policemen or even local vigilantes.
It would make for an interesting analysis to ponder on if the large body of online scammers (yahoo boys) constitute what may qualify as organized crimes. However, yahoo boys work independently and not as a collective body so I don’t think they fit the mould.
5. Friendly Neighbors, Tight Family and Collective Lifestyle
Anyone who watched the classic movie “coming to America” will remember that epic scene where Prince Akeem (played by the brilliant Eddy Murphy) on his first morning in Queens, a borough of New York City in America climbed out on his window sill and screamed out loud, “Good morning my neighbors”, only for a neighbor to reply by cursing him. Here is a reminder.
What is it with white folks, why are they so snobbish, individualistic and self centered? Is it the extreme nature of individualism in capitalism that has ingrained itself into the very gene of the people?
Check out the story of this woman in Edinburgh who was dead in her flat for five years before anyone realized it. Five fucking years. No one cared enough to know she was missing, not even her next door neighbors.
I know most of us must have heard stories about white people telling their kids to move out immediately they clock eighteen. Over here in Nigeria, sons don’t move out until they’ve got a job. A good job. Most daughters don’t move out until they get married. And of course we greet our neighbors cordially.
So, where would you rather be and why? Drop your thoughts in the comments section.
Ajistotle is a recent graduate of engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. He is an aspiring writer and IT professional. He spends his days reading, writing and surfing the internet. He is currently in need of a freelance writing job that pays
well. You can follow him on twitter @ajistotle if you are cool, he follows back