Friday, November 28, 2008

Of Some Nigerians Unhappiness At Being Labeled Happy

Of Some Nigerians Unhappiness At Being Labeled Happy


Paul I. Adujie

New York, United States

Help me somebody! During the past couple of weeks, it came to pass, that we Nigerians, were determined, through some research, to be the happiest human beings on earth! But so many Nigerians have been up in arms with so much uproarious denouncements, of the research and those behind the research, that were promptly labeled agent provocateur of the Nigerian federal government! Without proof or evidence of the alleged agency.

The articulation of the idea, that Nigerians could possibly be anything positive, particularly, in the number one territory, was met with intemperate reactions and condemnations that bordered on intellectual hysteria. As an overwhelming numbers of our public commentators/intellectuals, promptly took offense, as if Nigeria have been defamed, castigated or lampooned.

My questions therefore are: Why have so many Nigerians expressed this extreme unhappiness over being favorably tagged? What would we loose, because we are tagged the happiest? How come these same Nigerians that are angry at our being “mislabeled” as the happiest people in the world, never express the same angers or even curiosities when Nigeria and Nigerians are frequently labeled (accurately and appropriately?) in the most debased and profane manners?

I do not recall these same numbers of Nigerians reacting with this same ferocities to our being labeled the 419 nation, the most corrupt nation, the most violent and most lawless and uncivilized or undemocratic nation etc, but here now, we have this almost innocuous research comment or statement that Nigerians are the happiest people in the world, and suddenly, there is this deluge of protests from Abuja to Zungeru? And these Nigerian commentators from Cape to Cairo are demanding the heads of the researchers behind the findings that Nigerians are a happy lot?

When was the last time, that these same unhappy Nigerians ever questioned the World Bank or the IMF about the genuineness or authenticities of their research or indices on Nigeria? When was the last time that these same Nigerians ever question the research models of Transparency International’s so-called corruption perception index, please note the operative key word here…. Perception! What is so empirical and irrefutable about a subjective perception?

How come these Nigerians would not question the methodologies of the World Bank or the IMF or Transparency International, these agencies that have direct consequences and bearings on Nigeria’s development and progress, the Institutions, whose every word, even if uttered by there clerks or garbage cleaner, some Nigerians would acclaim or shudder, but accept as fait accompli, conversely, wherein lies the consequences or direct developmental consequences of be labeled the happiest in the world by some research or magazine? Why lies the unhappiness in this happy moment?

Or is it the case that, when it comes to corruption perception, we JUST KNOW And because we just know, we do not need any hard facts or evidence or research models? But if a survey or research has to do with something positive about Nigeria, some cynical Nigerians must demand hard data, hard evidence or seek to audit the board of directors of the researchers or the magazine, to determine whether they have funding from the Association For Better Nigeria or Baba Iyabo?

Speaking for myself, I have always been offended at any negative labeling of Nigerians and Nigeria, and the happiness and happiest people on earth label, was a breath of fresh air! There are happy Nigerians in Damboa, in Damaturu and Goma. There are happy Nigerians in Bomadi and Burutu! There are happy Nigerians in Modakeke! And oh yes. There are happy Nigerians in Obudu and Ogoja as in Oguta and Onitsha. There are happy Nigerians in every part of Nigeria and every part of the world, there are happy Nigerians in your hometown and mine.

There are happy Nigerians in Bakolori and Birin Kebbi. And Ajegunle or Maroko. Why must some Nigerians persist in their siege mentality of gloom and doom? Have some Nigerians not been told by health professionals, that humans are what they eat? Any doctor, nurse or dietician would tell us this; Psychiatrist would add that we are what we think, “as a man thinketh” so he is! It is a self-fulfilling prophecy! It is time for all Nigerians to stop dwelling in the negative, we should stop wallowing in the valleys and oceans of despair.

Nigeria is not as yet, a perfect country, there is no perfect society anywhere! Nigerians should concentrate and focus efforts at righting the wrongs or the imperfections of our society. We should accentuate the positive, while not ignoring the imperfections, it is indeed, in our national interests, to frequently see our national cup as half-full, as opposed to half-empty.

When Nigerians engage in this overdrive, in this over-analysis-paralysis of whether it is alright for anyone to label Nigerians as the happiest humans on earth, we engage in self-defeatism. What is so unhappy in being told that we are the happiest people around? What is so unbearably offensive in that?

I have lost friends, acquaintances and even business, on account of protesting the denigration of Nigeria, or generalizing about Nigerians and Nigeria. Too many people find it elevating, to engage in stereotypes and sweeping generalizations in matters concerning Nigerians, nay Africans and I take strong exceptions to such! Why then? Should Nigerians now have this brief, once-in-a-life-time accolade of being the happiest on earth and some are sad about it? Call me simple minded, because I jumped with joy when I read the news! What is there to sneer at, in being the happiest guy around?

Some Nigerians prefer to believe the foreigners who would say that Nigerian men are womanizers and genetically programmed to be polygamous, unfaithful etc, that will make Bill Clinton a Nigerian with his Monica and the other ladies he had? Prince Charles must be Nigerian with his Camilla Bowles, Diana and his other ladies? I personally have no respect for two timing men or women, but the truth is, they are not all Nigerians, they are not even, mostly Nigerians.

It is common knowledge that the current Bush administration in the US is intricately connected with Halliburton and Kellog, the Oil services companies that is currently garnering all the contracts in Iraq reconstruction, and this smacks of conflict of interest or self-dealing by the Bush cabal! There has been no bidding process, and even American companies, competitors of Halliburton/Kellog, are saying this loudly, that there was no bidding process or rules. This is not corruption? What is? All corruption is local?

Where are the Nigerians complaining about this? Where is Transparency International? And Where are the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International regarding the rights of the detainees in Guatanamo Bay? I do not condone crimes or criminals, but corruption, as bad as it is, it is not localized to Nigeria, why is Nigeria everybody’s the focus? Is it because, in Nigeria’s ridicule, others appear to find their sense of superiority and their Jesus Christ complex and holier than thou? Corruption is not a Nigerian word, it is not a Yoruba or Igbo or Hausa-Fulani word, Mafia is not born of Nigeria etymology. Let Nigerians and non-Nigerians join hands in fighting corruption, inequalities, poverty, discrimination, racism and oppression everywhere in the world! We will all be happy.

Meanwhile, I am going out, on long walk of the streets, with a happy swagger. I am a Nigerian, one of the happiest of all the human being on earth!

October 2003

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