Tuesday, 24 April 2007

My final thought on the Nigerian Elections

Nigerians abroad

This is the final post I would write in the aftermath of the Nigerian Elections.

There is a garland of pride or burden of ignominy that accompanies every declaration of being Nigerian in Diaspora.

The early 90s were a difficult time to be Nigerian abroad, your passports were checked many times over, your word was not taken as given, our bodies violated in search of drugs and our certificates and degrees treated with contempt.

We had to do that extra thing to prove ourselves honest, reliable, capable, trustworthy and responsible.

This was as a result of both the attitudes people who had besmirched the name and honour of Nigeria here and the happenings in the fatherland.

Say you are Nigerian anywhere and the easiest thing to recall is one of 419s, a footballer or endemic corruption. At that point we all go into auto-pilot trying to prove that Nigeria is a lot better.

Ambassadors of Nigerian to the world

Every time some news comes out of Nigeria we become the point-person, the de facto ambassadors of Nigeria to the people around us.

We might be the only Nigerians they ever get to meet and we are the yardstick by which they assess Nigerians abroad against the happenings in the country.

If we ever dare to perform and excel at what we do here, they wonder why our country has the problems it has and sometimes share our disappointment or deride our misfortunes.

Many are convinced of what they see of us out here that Nigeria has talent, ability and prospects all wasted and probably better exploited abroad.

I had most of my education in Nigeria, it was based on a serious work-ethic, excellence and performance, that principle still influences my ability to be a consultant in a non-English speaking country and still thrive, hopefully, I excel in all I do.

Schizophrenic images of Nigeria

However, my colleagues all read about the elections in Nigeria and wondered aloud why that could still be happening.

I cannot explain why, but the epithet of corrupt Nigeria would be reinforced, any person entering the market as a project manager would have to elevate the discussion beyond the shoddy planning of INEC.

It would appear many in Diaspora have already accepted their lot dealing with the schizophrenic impressions of who we are in Diaspora and what we reveal as a nation.

Having spent a total of over 22 years in Europe, I am still quite passionate about Nigeria and what happens there even though by birth it is more convenient to be English and forget about it all.

What came out of Nigeria in the last two weeks would implicitly or explicitly reflect upon Nigerians wherever they are, it would also make one wonder if any of us had had the honour or even poisoned chalice of running the INEC if we would have been proud to associate ourselves with the events of the last few days.

Nigeria is not some Bantustan in the middle of nowhere, we are a country that exerts considerable influence in the world by reason of our size, our resources, and our talent and dare I say our democracy.

It is obvious which ones shine through and ones which we have refused to allow our resourcefulness to address with purposeful resolve.

Nothing new here

Finally, let us take the drama out of this issue of handing over to another civilian regime, the man at the centre of this is the same man who was at the centre of the issue 1979, he handed over to a regime that plundered the country under the seemingly benign leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari after the challenges in the courts that ended up in that interesting 12 2/3rds ruling of the Supreme Court.

Basically, it would appear nothing has changed, we are simply reliving history 28 years on.

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