Opinion: Nigerians, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You

March 20, 2016 –Opinion: Nigerians, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You

A wise man once said,” ask not what your country can do for you, as what you can do for your country”

Those were the immortal words uttered by the late President John F Kennedy in 1961.

In Nigeria we seem to have read this saying the other way round – ask what your country can do for you and not what you can do for your country!

We believe Nigeria owes us everything and when it doesn’t give it to us we steal it!

Corruption, top of the list, has been our way of life right from the word go. We all know men and women in uniform have always received bribes. We all know you have to give a little ‘kola’ to get anything done. We know all officials in office always took at least 10%.

Ever since we gained independence from Great Britain in 1960 nearly everybody who has assumed public office believe it’s a licence to steal public funds!

In the seventies and Eighties it was not uncommon for leaders to pocket 10% from contracts awarded and not to talk of widespread nepotism, bleeding the country dry.

By the time of the Second Republic, politicians predominantly from the then National Party of Nigeria, NPN, had resorted to brazenly large-scale looting of the treasury with one politician in particular, the late Umaru Dikko, allegedly making off with $1 billion (- in 1983 dollars!)

Sixteen years of PDP rule ended in 2015 with Jonathan Goodluck being voted out of office and not a day goes by that another story doesn’t surface of how another politician illegally enriched themselves. Currently some are on trial, others have gone into hiding and some others are yet to be caught out.

And that’s just corruption.

We never think about giving something back to the country. We can only think of what we can take, take, take.

We are even so selfish we don’t think of the generations coming after us. What do they stand to inherit? A bankrupt country with dwindling resources!

Patriotism is clearly a word non-existent in our vocabulary, prompting the question – “Who wants to die for Nigeria?” Even though this is sometimes a joke, the answer without any doubt, is nobody. And the reason for the answer is simply because we’re too vain, selfish and greedy!

Sometimes we get the odd bright spark who is patriotic enough to want to do something for their country. It could be in the field of the arts, sports, the sciences or even as an environmental or political activist. And what do we do? We pull them down! We kill them or make their lives a misery! And we wonder why there is a brain drain in Nigeria with all the clever ones fleeing abroad where their talents will be more appreciated.

America wouldn’t be the great country it is today if companies like Microsoft, Apple, Coca Cola and other big multi-nationals didn’t invest in people, ideas and the country. This is not to mention the countless inventors, innovators and others who devote their whole lives to developing new ideas, processes and systems to make their country great, many who are unsung heroes but are patriotic enough to contribute their widow’s mite. We can’t be bothered. If we can’t make fast money from ventures such as selling oil we’re not interested. Nobody is interested in investing in large scale farming or our cottage industries creating new streams of income and employment. Nobody is interested in creating a ‘Silicon Valley’ to harvest the talents of the many that is currently going to waste.

Again, in the year 2016, the country is broke. There is hardship and uncertainty everywhere with no light seemingly at the end of the tunnel.

It’s alright to lynch a few area boys and armed robbers for stealing but what about the big thieves?

They’ve got big yachts, private jets, limousines, not to talk of fabulous mansions in Abuja, Banana Island and Lekki. They’ve invested – your stolen money – in prime real estate such as luxury houses, shopping malls, hotels and property abroad. They go on frequent jaunts abroad and have numerous offshore accounts in different currencies. And they get away with their crimes. To quote ex-President Obasanjo,”…the EFCC is a toothless dog.”, when going after these seemingly untouchable criminals. Once their bail money is paid they have high profile lawyers who know how to keep them out of court – and jail – indefinitely. To deal with them a different approach is needed, like a military-style tribunal that deals only with economic crimes that’s independent from the main judicial system.

Even our rich people are not giving anything back. Rather than follow in the footsteps of giants like Bill Gates, who gives away a fortune to charity, they rather fritter their money away on superficial luxuries – planes, exotic cars, wives, ‘owambe’! I don’t see any Nigerian billionaires setting up foundations, drop-in centres for the needy, resource camps or clubs for disadvantaged youths or making any significant contributions to the many IDP camps scattered around the country. When you die you can’t take it with you!

And this culture of corruption and selfishness has trickled down to the ordinary man on the street. Sometimes it’s surprising there is even a Nigeria left. That we all haven’t pillaged, looted and sacked the actual embodiment of Nigeria itself is a mystery.

To summarize, we want to take whatever we can from the country without giving anything back. We are not patriotic enough to do anything for the country – unless there’s something in it for us personally. And we couldn’t care less even if there is a thing called Nigeria, left, for future generations to inherit.

The mind boggles.

[An article By Tony Ogunlowo]

15 thoughts on “Opinion: Nigerians, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You

  1. Stop it right there! There is nothing wise about the cliche. JFK fell flat into the cracks of false reasoning( fallacy) while he was saying this, America was doing everything for the whites, but Blacks,received every possible evil, hell could dole out. Now tell me what overwhelmly disenfranchised people could do to help their country. Look at South Africa, while JFK was saying this, Appathied regime did everything for the white minority and the natives(Blacks) were banned from their country! It is the duty of the Govt. to help its people knock out poverty, illiteracy and other hellish problems. In America, without govt. grants I think the situation would been much worse; homelessness and hunger would have riddled the country beyond recognition.

  2. TOTAL B S!! NIGERIA IS LIKE A PARENT THAT NEVER INVESTED IN THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION AND WELFARE, BUT ONCE THE CHILD IS GROWN WHILE FENDING FOR HIS OR HERSELF, THEY CLAIMS OR THINK ITS THE CHILD’S RESPONSIBILITY TO CARE FOR THEM… F$#% NO!!!
    YOU ARE MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE WHILE TRYING TO COMPARE THE UNITED STATES WITH NIGERIA.. THE ENORMOUS SUPPORT AND PROVISION THAT IS AVAILABLE TO THE AMERICAN CITIZEN IS UNBELIEVABLE, ESPECIALLY FOR KIDS, YOUTH ,POOR AND THE ELDERLY… YOU TALK ABOUT PATRIOTISM, HOW THE HELL IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE PATRIOTIC TO A COUNTRY THAT IS INCAPABLE OF PROVIDING MERE ELECTRICITY, FUNCTIONING HEALTH FACILITIES,SECURITY,SOUND EDUCATION OR ANY KIND OF OPPORTUNITY THAT WORTH A DAMN!!! THIS IS A NATION WHERE OVER 45% OF ITS GRADUATES ARE NOT EMPLOYED, WHILE ILLITERATE POLITICIAN STEAL MONEY OPENLY WITHOUT ANY SUBSTANTIAL CONSEQUENCES, DIDN’T THE LAST PRESIDENT SAID THAT CORRUPTION IS NOT STEALING??…BROTHER PLEASE!!!
    IN THE UNITED STATES, SINCE YOU WANT TO COMPARE, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE IN THE US MILITARY, I RECEIVED SEVERAL THOUSANDS OF $$ WHEN I SIGNED UP, MY COLLEGE TUITIONS WERE PAID FOR 100% WHILE I WAS STILL SERVING, WHEN I SEPARATED,THE MILITARY CONTINUED TO FUND MY EDUCATION THROUGH G I BILL,LIFE INSURANCE, I HAVE OTHER EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS THAT CAN BE TRANSFERED TO MY KIDS, SHOULD I DECIDE NOT TO USE THEM, ETCETERA,…. TELL ME WHY YOU WON’T WANT TO LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE FOR A NATION THAT CARE ABOUT YOU? WHAT HAS NIGERIA DONE FOR ME??? BESIDES STEALING, ABUSE AND ROB ME AND MILLIONS OF OUR CHILDHOOD…BROTHER PLEASE!!!
    I DO NOT OWE NIGERIA A DAMN THING AND SHE OWES ME EVERYTHING!!!!
    GIVE ME A BREAK!

  3. This is a powerful, positive, and inspirationAL article from brother Tony Ogunlowo. Nigeria major misfortune is bad leadership, poor managers that only serve their own interests at the expense of millions of suffering Nigerian people through gross corruption, election fraud, looting, mismanagement, bad governance, lack of transparency, and embezzlement of public funds. Their unpatriotic behaviors of over 35 years had set our nation backward, reduced the nation to nothing, they have bankruptcy our national treasure, cause abject poverty to suffering Nigerians, and over health system and physical infrastructures are all in shambles and are fast decaying right before our own eyes. PMB admistration understand that the only way forward for us as a nation is to destroy the demon of corruption in every aspect of Nigeria system. The president cannot not do this by himself, he needs our support, prayers, patient, and time to start restructuring a nation that have been humiliated by vagabonds, looters, and unpatriotic individuals for so long. Once again, thank brother Tony for your great article.

  4. My response to the above rhetoric “Ask for what you do for your Country not what your Country can do for you” is for us as a Country to change our mindset on relying on Government to provide everything we need. We need to start coming out of our shell by trying to prove to this government that we can be more productive. We need to start bringing out idea in technology, inventions and production. Let us stop this idea of depending on crude oil. We can explore more in agriculture and make our products marketable to other African nations. We also need to start invention, if we can at least start making tyres or Shoes, if it is less quality, we can improve ourselves by making the quality ones and we can sell this to other Countries. Our government does not know how to create jobs and by now we must have understood that nothing good can come from that end. They are only interested in sharing the proceed from oil. It is going to be difficult for us as a nation to move forward without knowing how to create a job. America jumpstart their economy during the great depression by creating job for unemployed by building a new school, construction of new roads and hospital is a new way of creating job to millions of unemployed but our leaders do not just know how to do this. They are only interested in looting our treasury. We have a long way to go.

  5. For me, I can’t depend on what nigeria can do for me. I alone always try my best to help myself live till the end of my life in this earth.

  6. Jilo, how many Nigerians are depending on what the country can do for them? We give ourselves light, food, clothes, transport and every other thing. The writer is just seeking attention because Nigeria is one country that practically ignore the flaws of their leaders while fending for themselves. I believe this man is being paid to make this government look hardworking and to stylishly backlash patriotic citizens.

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