Those who are regular on group and interactive social media platforms would be familiar with the phrase used here to headline this piece. It has become a popular refrain to those who are not in agreement with or frustrated by certain developments. Often times, they refer to government’s perceived incapacity to address a situation or an observed routine but unbecoming indulgence by the people.
Ordinarily the question, on the face of it, could be germane given the fact that there are a number of unbecoming developments that would instigate the question. However, it is oftentimes used sarcastically by some to mock a situation, even if not properly interrogated.
There is no doubt that this country has gone through years of the locust. It would amount to living in denial if indicated otherwise. However, the tortuous nature of the country’s journey right from inception has been caused by a number of factors which no adult citizen would sincerely escape blame. We create untoward situations with our words and deeds. We act with impunity across board. We intentionally instigatetension and stall progress. Unfortunately, most of those who have not had the opportunity of holding political offices assume sainthood; even if they are complicit by association. It goes beyond holding public office.
For a patriotic Nigerian, it could be very distressful going through posts on the social media and even the traditional media where, because of the dislike for a particular person or group, our national image is wantonly sullied. To some, everything about Nigeria is bad; anything about other countries is good, even when the circumstances and variables are fundamentally different. The same thing we dismiss here, we hail when it happens elsewhere. Sometimes, those external deeds are hailed not because they are worthy, but just to spite and scorn. A good number of Nigerians have become paranoid, some gullible and some outright hysterical. Some still keep their heads above water though, but hardly speak for fear of being labelled.
There is no doubt that a bad situation can instigate anger and fuel hysteria, but what is commonplace now cannot largely be said to be genuine outrage. It is usually more of sentimental outbursts and pure hysteria. Are some of the reactions genuine? Oh sure, there are! Genuine criticisms help in redirecting potentially bad situations. Rejecting or ignoring genuine criticisms would be a sign of irresponsibility and smacks of insensitivity. Sometimes government actions or inactions could drive citizens crazy. When that happens, functionaries are duty bound to take such with equanimity and redress the situation dispassionately.
However, there must be a marked differentiation between criticisms and tantrums. Disagreeing without profound basis cannot genuinely be said to be criticism; it is more of outburst, abuse or grandstanding. Quite a number of what goes out as criticisms lack any form of interrogatory basis. It is often that the subject matter does not align with the critic’s perception; whether or not the critic is well informed on the issue.
Patriotism seems to have taken flight from the consciousness of some vocal Nigerians. It is not that the issues involved can genuinely excuse the indulgence, but it is a matter of deliberate mindset moulded by primordial sentiments. They reason on the basis of ethnicity, religion, partisan political considerations and personal dispositions. This is not recommending blind patriotism; but for some, the issue is no longer about Nigeria. To them, Nigeria is just a contraption not worthy of any commitment. But we forget that it is the collective disposition of every Nigerian that makes the country what it is and the people get the leadership and government they deserve.
It is fashionable today to see people pointing accusing fingers at each other, as being responsible for the lax state of affairs; but a cursory look at the real history of Nigeria would reveal that every section of this country at a particular point in time was either directly responsible or largely contributed to the mess we are in today. No section can honestly absolve itself from blame; some may choose to live in denial, but history is there to prove it.
Even today, if we take a critical look at the issues bedevilling the country, it would be obvious that every section contributes in different ways to the challenges weighing down the nation in terms perception and growth. Every section has identifiable, and in some cases, peculiar negative traits; but often we deny just so we could hold others responsible for certain unbecoming situations. We label, we profile, we stigmatise, we blackmail, we demonise; in fact we do all sorts to rubbish others and massage our ego. Blaming our limitations on others is a sure pointer to insincerity and lack of communality. It shouldn’t be that way!
Instead of trying to find a way of reconciling ourselves with the unbecoming situation and seek a genuine way forward, we resort to unnecessary antagonism and unhealthy rivalry which deepens the situation rather than remedy it. We accuse others of doing what we also do during our own time of glory. When we chop, nothing spoil; when others chop, alarm go blow! Insincerity walks the entire spectrum. But must we continue in this chopping and smiling versus hungry and wailing game? It has never helped the growth of any country; and it is not going to help ours.
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There is this new but very unhelpful indulgence we are currently trapped in. Blame game. It has become our pastime. Others are always wrong, we are always right! It seems Nigeria has been divided between ‘them” and “Us”, with just a small crowd of sidon-lookers. The “Us” have scores (real or imagined) to settle with the “Them”. They are always at loggerheads even on very insignificant issues.
This attitude has been so commonplace that it robs partakers of a genuine sense of reasoning and interrogation. This has unfortunately rendered them gullible. They easily jump to conclusions on issues concerning the opposite side without cross-checking and without authenticating the issues involved. In some cases, the situation shifts from mere disagreement to outright hatred, such that anything from the opposite side is dismissed with bile-stained dispositions. They gulp anything that accords with their disposition and disregard any that does not, no matter how sensible.
Everyone has now become an expert in every subject matter because there is a ready market of gullible consumers. Charlatans have consequently become bishops. Their narratives are gospel, so long as they accord with the doctrines of the respective congregation. They reject genuine postulations simply because they do not want others to gain credit. This attitude robs the nation of creativity and innovation. Genuine creative efforts are dismissed because they come from the other side – someone has to be rubbished and rendered unmarketable. We have become hypocritical!
For instance, listening to the hysteria surrounding the 5G technology, you would think the technology is meant exclusively for Nigeria and Nigerians. Even those whose areas of specialty (for those who have at all) have absolutely nothing to do with electromagnetic technology and genetics engineering speak with apostolic confidence. Unfortunately, supposedly enlightened people lap up such narratives and follow up with very critical and indicting remarks on matters they barely have requisite knowledge or understanding. The purpose: somebody must be a fall guy by fire and by force!
Unreasonable propositions including fake news are often unleashed just to instigate malice. Actions of recalcitrant members of the society are justified instead of enlightening people on the danger irresponsible actions could pose to the general public and the country. At the end of the day, no one takes responsibility for the fallouts. Hardly would the instigators take responsibility for the role they played.
Today, impunity, selfishness, indiscipline, arrogance, hate and lack of patriotism rule the nation. Instead of giving hope, some entrenched people consistently inspire fear. They raise alarm over petty issues and generate unnecessary hysteria; they generate fake narratives and cause apprehension; they misinterpret issues and cause confusion; they create crisis and generate tension – all in a bid to create bad blood, generate hate, instil fear and cause panic.
To properly address the question ‘who did this to us’ we must first take a good look at ourselves as individuals and honestly ask if we have been doing the right things; for whatever situation we find ourselves today, we instigated and fostered them – not some people and definitely not people from outside. Yes, we did this to ourselves! It is time we stop wailing and start looking ourselves in the mirror first before judging others.
The truth remains that we have found ourselves here, cobbled together. Until such a time that we are sincerely ready to genuinely restructure the entity into a generally agreed format, it will be in our own interest to find ways of advancing the Country for our own collective good and for the benefit of our children. The first step is to change the way we think and behave.
* James, a communication consultant, lives in Abuja