By JOSIAH FAMUREWA

I just came off a social media group chat where people seem to conclude that Africans and Nigerians are lazy! They’ve refused  to volunteer at community projects! saying “God will do it” “Naija go better” “I can’t come and die” “Nigeria is not working!” “It is well” “God dey sha” “Is it your father’s company?” “We are being marginalised” “The government have awarded the contract and eaten the money”. It seems they know the problem, the solution, but no one is willing to take responsibility. No one is willing to take the lead!

This is not the sort of thing I like to read or discuss in the morning. I am not here to defend anyone or point fingers, but we need to take a critical look at this. Yes, I agree people can be lazy, with low work-ethic. We have lazy people all over the world but I disagree with the way the chat seems to generalise all Africans and Nigerians as lazy.

I am involved with businesses in Lagos, and I have visited 8 African countries. I have seen different sets of Africans that do not match the lazy definition. They are innovative, ambitious, hardworking and goal-getters. These people see beyond the constraints and limitations they face daily. They make the best use of little or no resources and are constantly pushing boundaries. There is an increase in the middle-class population as a result of these hardworking, creative and vibrant youth population. So why will anyone think Africans are lazy?

Why will Africans shy away from their community or corporative projects? Africans have been known to find their strength from the extended family and larger community when compared to the western world. So what happened? You see, when it comes to community projects, people are less interested because they don’t see the value the community gives in return, or they have had their fingers burnt in the past. There are cases where someone profits in a very selfish manner from the venture or absconds with the whole contribution.

Some also believe they shouldn’t invest their efforts in any venture, if it will not be maintained or sustained. Where you are constantly called to repair or fix the communal project like it was a crime for the sponsor to have put the project in place. These community projects and contribution will only increase their frustration.

This conclusion is a result of past efforts frustrated by members of the community and people in government. At times the government or traditional rulers prefer to be given a monetary gift than to implement a project for the benefit of the whole community. This is shocking and disgraceful!

Looking at things from the household point of view, unlike the Western world, African households tend to generate their own electric power supply. Procure their own transformer, provide their own water supply, hire their own security guards or community vigilante groups, source their own gas or cooking fuel, construct their own wastewater drainage. Construct their own sewage drain and treatment, construct their own road if it is a new neighbourhood, engage in self-medication, source for their own telecomm services via private mobile service providers; no landlines, organise waste disposal. The list goes on and on. You think they are lazy? If households do all these, what infrastructures and amenities is the government providing? Do you know it’s much cheaper per household to pay tax to cover these services if provided by the government than to individually manage all these and pay for them?

We need to understand the dynamics of the different challenges people are facing. It is only in Africa you are expected to pay two years rent upfront. Can you imagine your rent been £1,000 a month and you need to get £24,000 upfront for rent and another 20% for legal and the estate agent’s fee? Another £4, 800 on top. How many people in the western world would be able to pay £28,800 upfront? Everyone would be council tenants. You can actually get a deposit towards a mortgage with that amount in the UK.

And you call Africans lazy! If this were to happen in the Westerner world, the system would break, people will commit suicide, and millions will be homeless. Despute these there are family needs  plus church and mosque projects or commitments.

People are drained, overburdened with personal issues, high unemployment, double-digit inflation, skipping meals and have given up on communal efforts. So they say God will do it because they can’t do any more.

It’s amazing to see Africans excel outside the shores of Africa, working odd hours, picking up overtime, doing two jobs and studying all at the same time. What changes? A system that works! A system where you pay your tax and bills and you can focus on working without the distraction of sourcing for water for your home, diesel to power your generator, queue to refill your gas cylinder etc.

You can think of an idea, a project, or spot a community need, get it registered, apply for funding, create awareness for volunteers and even set up a crowdfunding scheme without the need to lobby or bribe any government official — all within weeks. You see instant result and benefits. How motivating is that? You see, Africans are not lazy! They are demotivated! Their hopes and aspiration suppressed and crushed.

The Cambridge dictionary defines the word Lazy as “not willing to work or use any effort”, the meaning is quite obvious. But please take note of the keyword “NOT WILLING” which also means lacking the desire to work or use any effort. This definition can also be redefined as disinterested in working or making any effort. At this point, we are falling into the borderline of been demotivated. According to the Cambridge dictionary, demotivated is defined as “feeling less interested in and enthusiastic about your work.”

Why were Africans used in the sugar cane plantation? Because they are strong, hardworking, resilient, trusting, hopeful and have stamina. So what could have happened to these strong genetic traits? Years of abuse, failed promises, bad leadership, selfishness and religious blindness

We have blind, disoriented and frustrated people waiting to be led. I believe infrastructures and basic amenities is what Africa really needs in order to rise. An average African want to own and run his own business. But the atmosphere is not start-up friendly. Once these can be in place, you will be surprised that the smart and open-minded westerners will be heading to Africa.

But we need to look at the bigger picture. Nigerians are in every country in the world studying and working hard. Actually, working very hard under stringent circumstances.

These people don’t match the description of “Lazy”. I am also disappointed with Africans talking down on Africans in general. How can you talk of Africans, in general, being lazy on social media with terms like they, them etc.? Are you not African? Another African problem. “Destroying your fellow brother’s reputation or opportunity”. A topic for another day.

So for Africa to rise to its potential, the institutions have to be strengthened. Yes! The legal and judicial system, financial services, security, police, infrastructure, enabling environment for start-ups and mechanised farming. It will not happen overnight. Why? For every major problem and issues in Africa, we have people who are either profiting from them or sponsoring them. These people are normally in political positions to ensure their vested interest are protected so they can maximise their profit pretending to the populace that they are trying to help. Now that is the real problem is.

Remember, the sitting president called Nigerian youths LAZY!

2019 is a time for all hardworking youths to research and only vote for those that have never profited from the broken Nigerian system. Vote for people that will enable you and not disable you. We are not LAZY!

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