When Nigerians make statements like “Nigeria doesn’t work”, they are somewhat right. But upon scrutiny; this is not an entirely accurate proposition.
In an article I titled “Nigeria works darling, not just for me and you”; I argued that as broken as the Nigerian system is, it still manages to work for a few.
An example of this was the level of speed and attention the federal government devoted to the runway of the Abuja international airport when it was damaged; offering the Kaduna airport as alternative and conveying passengers from Abuja to Kaduna with adequate security.
You might say, for example, that the Police in Nigeria are not well equipped. But have you seen how well equipped the ones attached to politicians and Nigerian “bigmen” are? How well starched their uniforms are and the sophisticated weapons they carry? This is an example of how a bad system is made to work for a few.
One major reason Nigeria has not made appreciable progress is because nobody is interested in building structures and systems that work for all. Nigerians, in general, have given up on Nigeria. And so, instead of building structures that work for everyone; those who have captured political and economic power manage existing systems and structures in ways that favour them and their cronies. Leaving every man – or woman for himself and herself.
The role of the middle class
The Nigerian middle class represents a sizeable chunk of the trouble with Nigeria. We are lethargic, reactionary and lack political consciousness. Occupying a mid position between the higher and the lower class, middle class Nigerians are often educated enough to identify issues, propose policies and effect change.
Unlike the lower class who are often too busy trying to make ends meet, the average middle-class individual can still find time to dedicate towards political issues. But how have the Nigerian middle class fared in this civic responsibility?
If you cannot beat them join them
If you cannot beat them join them; this is the game middle-class Nigerians have been playing all along. They have been trying to bypass systemic failures with money and access to power, rather than demanding the system works. It is rather unfortunate that this group who should be at the forefront of agitation for a better Nigeria have also decided to play the game as dictated by the ruling class.
So, nobody asks why power supply is not yet stable, if I can afford a generator or solar energy system. This is a lost battle, however, as the ruling class is always and will always be ahead. What this means is that no matter how hard middle-class Nigerians try to circumnavigate the system, powerful men like Obasanjo, Tinubu, and Dangote will always have it at their beck and call. So why join these men in managing a system, when we can demand it works, or better still, pull it down?
The All-Powerful System
The dysfunctional Nigerian system is all-powerful, only few can beat it. Even the wealthy and powerful who bend it to their will today, are not eternally free from it. Examples abound of these: a murdered former Defence Chief and the former Governor of a South-South state; who rumour has it died while been transported to an hospital in another state. Both men once lorded it over a system, making it work for them even in its dysfunctional state. But the dysfunctionality of the system cost them their lives.
A call to action
Nigeria will stagnate for a long time until we insist the system works for all. The charge to get Nigeria working must be led by the middle class, because no other group would. Others are either too rich or too poor to care. A dysfunctional system is not to be managed, it is to be pulled down!
Dear middle class Nigerian, get to work.