Nigeria and Nigerians: A Short Reflection

February 24, 2013 § 5 Comments

Kenneth Amaeshi

There is something about Nigeria I have grappled with, without luck. Each time I visit the country I get disorientated for some time. I feel a different sense of reality. The only thing that is constant is MONEY, MONEY, and MONEY. The rich and the poor, the holy and the unholy, are all lured by this singular attraction towards money. This attraction is powerful and crowds out other interests. I listen to people talk about money and what they do to make this money; as laudable as they are, they often don’t appeal to me. In such instances, I feel I am either wasting my time and life or I am simply lazy. But I don’t feel the same way outside the country. I also know that I am not lazy – although that’s relative. Notwithstanding, the more I think of this, the more I sense insecurity as the source of the material drive in Nigeria. This insecurity lies at the very heart of the accumulation culture – saving for the raining day; making hays whilst the sun shines; identifying the black goat before it gets dark. The burden of tackling insecurity is left on the shoulders of individuals. You provide everything needed for survival for yourself and your dependants. You go the extra mile to make these happen, because no one knows tomorrow. In some other countries, this burden of insecurity is borne by societal institutions and safety nets, which then allows people to focus on ideas and matters of self-fulfilment. In the Maslowian order, we are at the bottom of the pyramid of human needs, and that tends to order our behaviours. Even the clamour for social status through the use of power and display of materialism is an expression of physical and psychological insecurity. On the surface, it’s all well. Beneath the surface is a void; and an emptiness in search of true meaning and security. Even our consumption of God doesn’t escape the clutches of insecurity. I guess one way to understand a Nigerian is to explore his/her fears. Just a thought; I may be wrong.

Amaeshi is a Visiting Professor at the Lagos Business School and a Member of the Thought Leadership Forum, Nigeria.

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