Nigeria Decivilising: Governance by Self-Hating Leaders

Nigeria Decivilising: Governance by Self-Hating Leaders

The complete metamorphosis of the butterfly is a thoroughly adequate analogy for civilisation: the gradual progression from egg to slug to pupa to imago [the beautiful butterfly]. In the Nigerian context, it starts with the colonised state to the inexperienced independent nation-state to transitional nation-state to strong state. The furthest stage Nigeria ever go to was the ugly butterfly that never blossomed. However, after the initial euphoria of the return to democracy, it is now evident that Nigerian politicians and clergy are busy reversing the progress of the nation back into the stage of a slug as a consequence of their thefts and misrule; it suits them well. But does it suit the everyday citizens?

Nigeria once [for several years] had constant electricity, reliable tap water supplies, a world-class education, a modestly corrupt civil service, a postal system that could be depended upon, rape was associated with slum areas, robbery was not something that bothered people, people drove their cars to their home towns 100s of miles away by night, educated women did not have to sleep with men to get employment, kidnapping was unheard of, sexual attitudes were responsible, people were not desperate enough to be easily conned by clergymen, major politicians did not serve rice with an apron in the streets to win votes. Most of all people wanted to be something, upwardly social mobility was open access and the moral cost of doing wrong was high. And this is not a glossy nostalgia for something that never happened, we all lived it even better if one is old enough to remember.

Where has it all gone?

Recently, Nigeria’s glory in the form of scarce funds is being taken away from potential channels of good use by cash-swallowing snakes, cash-grabbing monkeys and cash-sucking fish. When have animals become so plutocratic? Part of the continuing corruption decivilising Nigeria is now the stuff of animals. When will ghosts, fairies, mermaids, ogres, and jujus enter the equation? When Nigerian senators who are the highest paid in the world and high-ranking public bureaucrats resort to imbecilic excuses publicly to answer questions of large sums of money missing, what kind of leadership and administration does Nigeria have? But that is not the right question. Cash-swallowing snakes and similar as excuses and serious national discourse are symptoms of a country witnessing a continued slide deeper into decivilsation. Yes, wholesale national irrationality is a very reliable indicator of both decline and decivilsation. The rest of the world is laughing.

Generally, Nigeria’s progress has all gone overseas. Development and civilisation are not free, not cheap, not easy, not tribal, not religious and it depends on how well leaders [with all their powers] invest constructively in their nations or empires or kingdoms. The United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, the USA, China, Singapore, UAE, Holland, Korea, Botswana, France, Switzerland were all self-built nations courtesy enlightened leadership even though the more colonial mentions were extremely ruthless in getting there. It was gold from Brazil that funded the British Industrial Revolution. This only started to emphasise that inward-flowing or well-used money is necessary for development. How can Nigeria remain civilised or be developed when most of its cash is permanently outside.

In George Ayittey’s notable lament for Africa titled “A Strange Case of Xenophilia”, he contends,

They will destroy their own domestic trade and then fiendishly promote foreign trade. 

They will destroy their own health care system and then seek medical attention or die off in foreign hospitals.

They will destroy their own educational system and then send their children to foreign schools.

They will destroy their own banking system and then stash their loot in foreign banks.

They will harass, jail and even assassinate their own local experts and then spend billions of dollars on foreign experts.

They will destroy their own domestic industries and then lay the red carpet out to foreign companies.

They will hound and persecute their own domestic investors and then draw up elaborate codes to attract foreign investors.

They will destroy their own agriculture and then spend $25 billion to import foreign food.

Where is my “Sledge-hammer”?”

Ayittey’s lament is incontrovertible and complete, and its conclusion is aptness itself. It is now time for the sledge-hammer. Oyesio! Some things need to be very thoroughly smashed without reserve. Incinerators would not be misplaced. However, Nigerians may be too decivilised to appreciate or use the sledge-hammer for pushing for development and civilisation. The practice civilisation to most Nigerians is unique; dressing up well, social posing, speaking in a foreign accent, competence in the latest dance, being popular, being “current”, kissing in public, clubbing, having a bit of money, owning the latest gadgets and toys. And you are civilised – such is the power of the illusion of perceived comfort. Only in Africa is it that easy to be civilised.

It is only because Nigerians completely forgot the sledge-hammer in the search of a little comfort that non-Africans can call them uncivilised and treat them as such. It is time to take up the sledge-hammer! Or Nigeria will further decivilise to the stage of an egg.

Intellectual warriors of tribalism and religious bigotry are the best agents of the decivilisation of Nigeria, do you know or are you one of them?


Grimot Nane

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Saki

    Nigeria had never been civilised in the true sense of the word (which is why most Nigerians think that civilisation is about cars, dresses, pump and pageantry) otherwise to get to this un-definable low point, the country would have been conquered and plundered by an invading power. Independence gave us the chance to grow in civility, progress and gain economic power, but even with the (crude oil) handout from nature we floundered, drifted and are lost.

    Quite nostalgic thinking of the so-called “good days of the past” which were still bad by comparison but they were good days by our standards especially looking back from where we are. Those were days when over 80% of Nigerians were rural dwellers who didn’t give any rat’s arse about electricity and running water.

    The city elites had it all and, for them they were the good old days. The corruption and incompetence was there – the good old days when the seeds were sown – but not noticed because the perpetrators were few and more organized. There was no news ubiquity as we have it today and very few journalist are trained or allowed to tell the story.

    The good old days was when it all started therefore, I award no pass mark to the fathers of corruption and utter political and economic destruction of Nigeria.

    Nigerians must change their toxic cultural and values programming to survive.

    1. Grimot Nane Zine
      Grimot Nane Zine

      In the opening of the article I make it clear that the highest state of metamorphosis Nigeria reached was the “Ugly Butterfly”, not the “Beautiful Butterfly”. Ugly development is not good development in any conceivable sense. However, earning £15 per hour in 1976 will always be more than marginally better than earning £10 per hour in 2018.The good old days really means civil servants and ordinary folk could survive and raise families on their small salaries or incomes alone.

      Rural Nigeria? In the 1970s, larger proportion of rural dwellers in Bendel State received reliable electricity and reliable water supplies through the Rural Electric Board and Rural Water Board. You did not need to live in a town (Warri) or city (Benin) to get these public services. Nowadays, even the city or urban elite in Lagos and Abuja do not have reliable electricity from the grid or pipes and depend on generators that are costly to run. Is this not retrogression, negative metamorphosis.

      I used the term “modestly corrupt” civil service for a reason. In the 1960s up to the early 1980s corruption was practised by civil servants on a 10% bribe or kickback basis. Then projects got completed and mostly properly. Today, civil servants award 100% of inflated contracts to their own ghost projects and either do not do the project at all or abandon it in its early stages. Such is retrogression, negative metamorphosis.

      And when you say the supposed good old days was when the rot in Nigeria began, was it the leaders who misspent and stole the oil boom years wealth or the citizens who scavenged for the crumbs they could get?

      1. Saki

        The 1970s Rivers State didn’t enjoy rural electrification and water supply as Bendel state. Rural areas were electrified by oil companies in the areas they were exploiting. And pipe borne water is still a dream even in much of Port Harcourt, the state capital, though it was better in 70s. You see, the development history of Nigeria is quite patchy and we can all tell our stores; the question is, what is the average?

        Corruption and bad government are symptoms of a far deeper and chronic cause; what is the cause?

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