By Sakiru Yisau

“Shakur, you made me have a rethink about Nigeria and Nigerians.”
The quote is from a Guinean friend, Toure, who happened to be a classmate at a point
in time in one of the top Nigerian universities. He narrated how his mind was
preconditioned by his relatives and friends, when he was about to leave Guinea for
Nigeria, to see Nigerians as bad people. He confessed that most of those people have
not being to Nigeria, but relied on the country’s popular bad image and perception from
third party.

I was glad the day we had the conversation, not because there is no bad
people in Nigeria or the narrations from his people are entirely wrong, but because he
experienced Nigeria on his own and through me and others he might have come across,
he has entirely different perception of the country. This is a plus in an attempt to clean
up the foul odour oozing out of where some tag the headquarters of poverty.

Many Nigerians would be offended when asked about the good they have done for their
country. They are not outrightly to be blamed for reacting with such energy because for
people who have been reduced to thinking not of greater challenge, but the primary
needs of everyman – food, cloth and shelter it is indeed a tortuous question. To some,
it’s like asking battered children what they have done to avert their savage parents from
abusing them. It is quite about the state of mind.

The answer is about my duty as citizen of the country and it is somewhat entangled with
responsibility, accountability and values. I believe every citizen should be responsible
and also demand responsibility and accountability from their leaders. No country can be
bigger than its constituents and every relatively sane country relies on the relative
responsibility of her citizenry. Everything that is happening in our society is base on the
perception of people’s responsibility to the country and our collective consideration for
accountability.

The different social vices currently battling Nigeria are by-products of the
collective negligence of the majority for failing to perform there duties to the country.
Something as small as bribery, tax evasion, not maintaining orderliness, indiscriminate
dumping of garbage and exercising constitution right, come together to form the issue
of corruption and bad leadership which is the cancer our political actors always promise
to cure every 4 years. Adding positive values to myself and others is part what made
Toure have a rethink about Nigeria and I am sure he relayed his experience to his friends
and relatives back home.

My answer is patriotism. Considering the reality of our environment, being patriotic to
the country is risky and arduous to maintain, but it is the best thing I have done for
Nigeria. The country is currently in the hand of saboteurs and her survival rest on people  who truly love the country.

(c) Sakiru Yisau 2020