By Favour Afolabi
“…On and on they go, the self-described patriots, self-appointed Stockholm Syndromed defenders of the status quo. One bla here, one bla there, another bla here, and yet another bla there. Bla bla bla all day long on social media, doing the work of Reno Omokri, Reuben Abati, and Doyin Okupe for them. At least those ones are paid to sell puff and powder to the people but what about the army of content and satisfied patriots they instrumentalize in their own oppression? Anyway, I have said that we need not worry about those people here. What I am interested in is the non-answers I encounter whenever they dredge up the canard about Nigerian needing 200 years to get out of the woods.” – Pius Adesanmi
Favour Afolabi is responding to this.
I have a couple of confessions to make as I write this – I no fit compete with the big big oyinbos wey Pius use inside this his article neither am I as well read a philosopher as he is with all the theories/hypotheses/logics/examples that he provided in this his article – I have also not lived outside of Nigeria – in fact I am the very opposite of what you would call a Diasporan, I would rather describe myself as a Homeporan, in the entire 37 years that I have lived in Nigeria I have never received the sort of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office letter that Pius described in his article – such things are alien here – what you have is friends warning you of such things in person. Since I have also not lived abroad I am unaware of a lot of things that his like already take for granted – I have never lived anywhere that Power supply was constant; I have never in my entire 15 years of running my own business been able to access a single digit loan from any bank; I have not been able to get mortgage on a home in a similar vein; I don’t pay weekly or monthly rentals at my residential or office abodes rather I must fork out 1-2 year rentals depending on the timing of the lease; I have never been able to use the services of a general hospital for myself, my wife or my 4 children ranging between the ages of 6 and 11; I have never considered having my kids attend a public school meaning that I’ve had to cough out crazy amounts of monies to school them – in fact in this regard – I and my wife are considered one of the only two “mighty men families” at the school located around Omole/Agidingbi axis of Ikeja who can afford to have 4 children in this same school at the same time!
The gossip I hear from my wife is that “other parents with 3 or 4 kids get to split them to other less expensive schools in their younger years and move them up as they grow older into this particular school to save expenses” – well before Pius and his admirers begin to think that I am only able to do this because I work for Goodluck Jonathan, I should provide them with some contexts here – my children have been attending this same school for 6 years – which was way back during the Obasanjo administration – and I have had to sell 3 cars from time to time to keep these children in this school – the Proprietress of the school has routinely used me and my family to encourage parents in the school having become an “adopted Aunty of mine” who knew how and when I conducted “these 3 transactions” at different times to be able to have my children continue to attend this school and I have never for once considered moving them to cheaper schools at any time because I insisted that I won’t reduce the standard of education they already get as much as many other parents in the same school have had to do that from time to time when he be like say “water wan pass garri.”
My story and life journey therefore seems completely different from the world that Pius and the estimated 10 million Nigerians that live in the Diaspora are used to – my kids have never been to Disneyland; they are not used to the experience of sprawling Walmart locations and until the Palms Shopping Mall Lekki came to the market a few years ago, they had never visited “such a place” – I therefore needed to “beg them not to disgrace me” while taking them in the car on their first trip to the place a few years ago – well trust my over-energized children – they made sure not to keep to their side of the “invisible contract.” Thank God for Actis, RMBWestport and their other partners, the Ikeja City Mall is now only a few minutes’ drive away from their school and our abode and we now get to do some occasional visits there. I, my Wife and children have also never been on one of those Electric trains or underground transportation systems; in fact I am now wondering how to contain my kids the day I take them to use the ones about to be launched by the Fashola administration on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway – well I can go on and on about how “I am a certified bush man” in the definitions of a modern world and how if not for my N12,800 monthly subscription to Multichoice/DSTV cable service, I for no even know “how modern societies are run” and how those that live in them get to enjoy the benefits of the place.
Yet if you go through this “my mockery-based yet true life story lamentations” you would have thought that my singular biggest dream or objective for the next couple of years is “to move my family out of Nigeria to America, or the United Kingdom or at least South Africa” – well I am sorry to disappoint you – not quite so – not quite yet – while I won’t mind some schooling for my kids in the nearby future in some reputable institutions around the world to prepare them for an ever changing world I have no foreseeable plans to jettison Nigeria for life outside of these shores – interestingly my real estate practice now has my client base tilted 70% as South Africans and I might just want to also set up a home and correspondence office there but I am yet to fully decide on that.
Here is the thing – folks like Pius who describes others like myself as self-appointed Stockholm Syndromed defenders of the status quo do not know a lot of things that they assume they do – despite their much vaunted scholarly efforts they refuse to get it that even until the Rapture the number of Africans that would EVER set foot outside of the continent would still be less than 10% of the population of same – and that such would be the case with Latin America, Asia, and India – the bulk of which make up the hugest chunk of what you’ll call the developing or third world; they refuse to understand that there would still be another huge percentage of Africans, Nigerians included who would rather stay closer to their traditions; their ways of life; their food; their mode of entertainment; and yes some Nigerians would still treasure the sanctity of being able to practice their FAITH and BELIEFS in saner clime than leave the continent for life abroad despite all the advancements of such climes and despite all the stress that comes along with living at home – some people cannot just be offered anything to make them leave.
This is the conundrum that such people find themselves – they can only hope that things get better at home – they can only PRAY and very hard too that things improve at home – they can only choose to believe that things will get better and they would of a necessity need to continue to listen to and YES, trust the Political leaders who are expected to create the atmosphere that would make these things happen at home – and such people will of a necessity not find it easy to just sit back and watch doing or saying nothing as the Diasporans lambast everything at home as hopeless – they won’t find it funny when some of these people who have become “converted oyinbos” bore them with stories of how things work abroad asking “when will such things ever happen at home”? These homeporans would naturally stand up to challenge the others to desist from persistently painting the picture of impossibility about this clime. So does that mean that they are satisfied with what they are going through at home? But of course not – which human being can ever become satisfied with noise and smoke oozing out of 174 generators from as many flats at the same time as is the case in my estate? Who can ever get used to paying the sort of exorbitant bills for substandard health services even in private hospitals as we get to experience here? Who wants to drive to and back home from work in 4-5 hour drives on a daily basis as necessitated by improperly planned transport infrastructure? How possible is it for anyone to get used to such situations as these?
Then let’s discuss business and enterprise – there are equally Nigerians as myself in private practices who get turned down as we approach foreign companies to invest in Nigeria – and despite the myriad of supportive case studies and statistics that we send to them via email and sometimes presented in person to invest with us in this market still get to turn us down because they have received more bad press about Nigeria usually from Nigerians than they have of good news coming out of the country as they give us convenient excuses like “Sorry, Africa is not on our plans for now” before we stumble on a news story on Bloomberg News that the same company is about to invest in in South Africa or Ghana – does Pius feel that the loss of such multimillion dollars investment opportunities that daily slip out of the hands of the Homeporan businessmen/businesses make them happy? Does he think we throw parties every time such happens? Does he know “I had my heart in my mouth” when I heard last week of the news of a bomb blast around FESTAC knowing that I was 80% close to concluding two real estate transactions in that neighbourhood both with investors from South Africa – an opportunity that I had pitched for over 22 months to at least two dozen prospects before I secured these two? Does he know he how many agro-based multinationals that have turned down would-be local partners who pitched billion-dollar worth of investments to these foreign companies in Northern Nigeria as they hoped that the reinvigorated drive being made by the Jonathan administration led by the Agriculture Minister, Dr. Adesina would appeal to these companies only for such companies to turn down such transactions because of the “menace of Boko Haram?” Does he think these homeporans say “Alleluia, Thank God” when this happens?
So how in the world can Pius accuse us of Stockholm Syndrome? What does he want us to do – turn the Nation into “another Egypt?” So that we can lose on our children to riots – have our businesses destroyed in the process – become listed by the Establishment as “Terrorists” – reverse any possible progress that this Nation has made in the last 14 years of Democracy after fighting for same for about 39 years prior to that – all of these as Pius and his other 10 million admirers reside in the comfy environments that they have already escaped to – as they follow the news of this “new chaos” via CNN granting interviews to Christianne Amanpour; some of them becoming international celebrities in the process, gallivanting from ABC News to MSNBC to SkyNews to Al-Jazeera, being invited to talk at the UN, Clinton Global Initiative, Aspen, etc on “the ongoing Nigerian Crisis” even troops that Pius rallies in his article by writing “To you, Nigerian, on the road to you I say, in the eternal words of Tai Solar in, “may your road be rough” but may you reach destination you” continues to die off like flies at home – with no fixed date of when such crises would come to an end – all of these as the children of the Diasporans continue to enjoy even more of the things they are enjoying now in their “newer countries.”
Well Teacher Pius, I and some of the homeporans refuse to be “taught nonsense” – we are wiser than that – we are not satisfied with the status quo but we are also not impatient to throw the Nation into a state of perpetual chaos just for us to become compatible with “the international development trends” that Diasporans as yourself want us to adopt – we shall remain here and work with the constituted governments of this Nation to continue to develop it – when we find them to be wanting, we will guide them in the right directions based on what we have studied works in the more socially and economically advanced Nations – when they seek our support either as direct staff or as consultants or as Private sector partnerships, we shall turn up irrespective of the names the “Over-enlightened Diasporans” and the “Outward-bound Homeporans” call us in the same way people like Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Andrew Alli, Wale Tinubu, Gbenga Osibodu, Femi Otedola, Barth Nnaji, Oba Otudeko, etc are now about to rescue the Nation out of the epileptic power sector challenges the Nation has faced for decades by investing billions of dollars in taking up stakes in the privatized companies even as some of them have also gone on to announce plans to expand their already established plants. Well as you would Pius would notice some of these guys are his age mates and some of them have equally schooled abroad and they familiar with “all these igbadun unlimited” that exists in those climes yet they have taken the very conscious decision to “invest rather than lament” in this same country!
They have done these as others as myself that is still 10 to 20 years younger than them are also already taking positions in other industries where we intend to replicate all those “positive developments in those foreign Nations” in Nigeria as well – we have told ourselves that since we are not ready to live abroad then we should work towards creating those same realities at home no matter how long it takes us – and Yes, Rome was not built in one day –we are not the ones that invented that saying, we also just quote it – we might never be able to become a finer place than Dubai but we will work towards building a society that our children can grow up in being very proud of us and you can call us Sycophants for taking such a stand – you should drop the same accusation at the doorsteps of Americans who insist that “outsourcing job to Asia should be discouraged” and that “Americans should be encouraged to buy American products made on American Soil” and that “Tax incentives should be give to American companies that are able to do these.” You should equally call the majority of Chinese Businesses/Businessmen Sycophants for insisting on producing wares at home that they export to the rest of the world as they work with their government to discourage imports into their country while equally creating stringent conditions must pass to do business in China – ask Google!
In closing, I am continually surprised with how guys like Pius treat those who don’t see things from their point of view – people like him are obviously the ones that now control all the Nigerian blogs, Twittersphere, Facebook communities; they are the ones that control SaharaReporters, PremiumTimes, Nigeria Village Square and others; they are the ones that live abroad who are the first port of call for foreign journalists seeking information or views about Nigeria – they are the ones that successfully organize #OccupyNigeria rallies at home and abroad – they are the ones that storm meeting rooms where Nigerian Ambassadors go to represent Nigeria abroad singing “Aluta and Solidarity forever” – they are the ones that have moles in Aso Rock that briefs them of every single move of the Presidency long before such becomes public knowledge leaking stories of “how $5Trillion that has been stolen by Jonathan’s Administration in 2 years” – they are the ones that now control the entire public commentary mechanisms – they are apparently the ones in the majority – as others like myself continually become the minority yet Pius would still choose to describe us of suffering from self-inflicted Stockholm Syndrome when he and his friends have already won over the better part of the polity only coming short of being able to convert such following into electoral victories due to reasons that I will discuss on another day.
So is Pius’ constituency now becoming a new brand of Dictatorship? One that already controls the entire Nigerian Social Media and increasingly the conventional media space yet would continually become alarmist once one person as me summons the courage to respond to 1 of every other 20 articles and commentaries they publish? What is the ratio of Maku/Abati/Okupe/Omokri compared to the likes of Pius Adesanmi/Kayode Ogundamisi/Japheth Omojuwa/Nasir El-Rufai, Dino Melaye, etc within this polity nowadays? Isn’t that completely disproportionately in favor of the Pius’? When would Free-Speeched-Democrats like Pius realize that those that choose to side and be patient with what they term “the Establishment” despite all the flaws and failings of same are equally NIGERIANS as themselves who share one thing in common – ONE VOTE – no more no less – or does the One Vote from those on Pius’s side now represent 1,000 VOTES on election day? Are they now practicing “Intellectual Rigging of Elections?” Where the polity must be convinced to vote for their own positions because “they can speak more grammar” or because they live abroad and are therefore more experienced and qualified to tell the “Local Voters” at home how to cast their votes?
Yet in the midst of all of these is a very duplicitous trend – the holy and uncontestable opinions shared and published by Pius & Co cannot be said to be “neutral or altruistic or simply in favor of the Nigerian cause” rather they soon dovetail into propaganda that would eventually support the opposing Politicians/Political Parties/Political Movements that would run against the PDP – this same thing happened in 2011 as they majorly aligned behind Buhari/CPC/the failed alliance talks as they would do in again in 2015 behind the same Buhari/the newer and possibly aspiring lieutenants like Fashola, El-Rufai, Ribadu, Tambuwal/the being-hatched APC merger directions; these opinions are not really apolitical – the ideas as it was before the 2011 polls is to heat up plenty of tension under Goodluck Jonathan so that “by the time they are done with him” his already battered reputation would have been shredded to the point that even his Wife would consider not voting for him – this they would do as they these same “Saintly Checkers of Corruption in Nigeria” would refuse to speak of the reputations and antecedences of some of the politicians that are currently gathering around the proposed APC merger – they won’t alarm the polity that they claim to love to equally be weary of these politicians – why would they? When the enemies of their enemy is automatically their friend – why would they when they care more about removing PDP from Aso Rock that they care about the integrity of the process that brings that about – haven’t some of these same “erudite scholars” practically called for “Forced Revolutions” in recent history?
I have spoken in the time past about “the dearth of referees within this Nigerian Democracy match” – and here is it is – all Nigerians at home and abroad are now all POLITICIANS – and even though many of them aren’t running for elections; or effectively running campaign budgets for Opposition Politicians [even as there are also reports of the contrary occurring] they are nevertheless pushing such agendas while claiming to push the Nigerian one – yet some of them share something in common with me – we both claim to be UNPAID for the services that we render to our chosen constituencies, so in what ways is Pius different from me? As I leave you to ponder on these thoughts I urge to await my follow-up article to this one to be titled ‘The Over-population of Nigerians in the Diaspora.”
Favour Afolabi (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote in from Lagos.