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Nigeria Is Governable: Systems, Structures And Small Sense By Rachael Onamusi

Nigeria is governable. With willpower, the country can be productive and progressive. Justifying stagnation and regression by lecturing about the complexities of our nation, and waxing lyrical about the divisiveness of tribal and religious differences is just verbal sleight of hand, a deflection from padded agbadas, irresponsible borrowing and financial malfeasance. 

Systems and structures are the foundations of governance and development. Without them, cities crumble and anarchy reigns. When you add deprivation and oppression as wilful tools of control, you get Nigeria. 

The people we call ungovernable are only ungovernable on our shores. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed anonymous, conforming Nigerian travellers who queue at San Francisco Airport and wait patiently on their stopover at JFK, only to suddenly remember their name and status the second they arrive at Murtala Muhammad Airport. Agitated shrieks of “Do you know who I am?” fill the air in their righteous desperation to break the law. A Man With No Name becomes a beast with no shame when he touches down in No Laws Land. 

The difference in the behaviour is a clear understanding of who gets punished. A pimply adolescent can interrupt your onward journey when you break laws abroad. In Nigeria, you can terminate an employee’s contract with the right contact when you break laws. 

We have a firm understanding of orderliness, but we practise it selectively as we deliberately create environments where disorderliness can thrive. 

We are as civilised – or uncivilised – as any race on earth, but laws, and an absence thereof, have an impact on how we behave, and added hardships bring out the beast in humans. 

A few years ago, I stood on a train platform in the UK, waiting for the next train home. Tragically, there had been a fatality on the line as someone had jumped in front of a moving train. This ground services to a halt while police, forensics and rail managers worked to resolve the situation and restore a normal working service.

Hundreds of commuters who couldn't take alternative means of transport had no choice but to wait for a train with no idea as to when the next service would be. 

A train finally arrived three hours later and was met with a lot of commotion. Men in suits elbowed women with prams out of the way. There was a lot of shoving and swearing. Ostensibly civilised people boarded the train at the expense of more vulnerable passengers.  

Humane behaviour is often just a paper-thin patina bolstered by structures and systems. The usual protestations of “You first…no, after you...no, you first...no, I insist…” that is often ascribed to British gentility comes, in this case, from knowing the next train is only ever a few minutes away. A delay or breakdown in structures and systems often reveals the leashed monster in us all. 

If a three-hour delay can result in disorder and lawlessness, it is easy to see how a sixty-year delay, mitigated only by infrequent arrivals of decrepit, two-legged donkeys as respite can cripple an entire nation. 

We are putting a lot of time, energy and resources into creating beasts and act bewildered when they growl. 

Beasts must be placated or killed. One of the reasons most developed countries have a welfare system is not necessarily because of sympathy, empathy or a moral obligation to give to the less-privileged. Benefit schemes exist primarily out of a sense of self-preservation. There are few things as desperate as a man who thinks he has nothing left to lose and even less to gain. A hangry man (a combination of hunger and anger, not a Yoruba inflection) will tear down structures faster than you can build them. A hopeless man will start a fire – even if it means it will consume him too.

Nigeria is governable. When we treat each human life with respect and demand discipline in return, we will find riches beneath the rubble. 

 

Opinion AddThis :  Original Author :  Rachael Onamusi Disable advertisements : 

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