Aside the common and immediately identifiable picture of an idyllic…
By Tijjani Abdulsalam
“Now we’re gonna talk about something serious…”
We begin with that opening from Jude Abaga’s (a.k.a. Mr Incredible/MI) 2007 smash hit, crowd mentality.
First I ask, how often have we heard expressions like:
“You know, ordinarily it should work easily. But you have to consider the Nigerian Factor…”? How about, “It shouldn’t take much time. But considering the ‘Nigeria Factor’, you may give it a couple of months.”? Or worse still, “Considering the Nigerian Factor, this can’t work here.”
It seems that what has been conveniently summarized as the Nigerian Factor, and passed down from generations to generations of Nigerians is an abstract, yet real phenomenon. On the surface, it is just an expression of excuse for failure of a person, an institution or a complete system. Looking deeply, however, it is an unconscious admission of the faults lines in the laying of the bricks that make up the Nigerian mentality. It is an expression that aptly reflects our seeming inability to make a success of our circumstances and our penchant for exploiting the imbalances inherent therein. To some extent, it is also an expression of hopelessness and total acceptance and belief that this spirit concept must rear its head and ruin anything and everything run by Nigerians.
Truly, the Nigerian Factor is hard to define, but easy to experience as it manifests itself in many ways. It is partly the reason a Nigerian student would struggle to make a third class degree in a Nigerian University only to top his class in an American or European University, places where teaching and learning have evolved from the laborious endeavor that it is here, into a fun filled venture for both teacher and student. It is the reason an exclusive clinic in Nigeria’s seat of power, even meant to cater for members of the first family and other top government officials and would lack basic x-ray machines and drugs. It is the reason Nigerians become law abiding citizens in capitals abroad only to have a hard time obeying traffic rules and maintaining simple queues at ATM’s or petrol stations upon their return home.
The Nigerian Factor is an attitudinal conundrum that we find convenient to exhibit where the situation permits-where impunity reigns supreme and where the law, ordinarily supposed to be blind, largely operates based on the divide between the high and mighty on one hand, and the low and weak on the other. This Nigerian Factor, though abstract, is more real than imagination. It is factual, rather than fiction. It is a reality we have forced ourselves to live with and which we unconsciously propagate to generations after us. The reality that prevents us from taking our leaders to task on their duties with the false belief that governance is a rocket science venture spearheaded by divinely anointed individuals whose wisdom, or lack of it, we shouldn’t question unnecessarily.
It is difficult to think of a more perfect encapsulation of everything negative into such a convenient expression: the Nigerian Factor. It is an appropriate excuse for mediocrity, nepotism, corruption, inefficiency, lawlessness, disorderliness and every other negativity a society must discard if it aims to get on the tracks of advancement. Until we stop excusing and glorifying these negativities with the label of the convenient and sweet tag of the Nigerian Factor, we will remain a crawling giant, crawling slowly and not even in the right direction.
Brethren, Compatriots, we end with the closing line from MI’s Crowd Mentality hit song,
“… and that’s all I have to say about that.”
Tijjani Abdulsalam is a Research Freak, Book Freak, Football Freak, Food Freak all rolled into one. (Twitter:@TeejayKool, Instagram:@teejay.kool)