A couple of weeks ago, a video popped up on social media where a cross-section of Nigerian youths was asked what their Nigerian dream was. To say the least, some of their responses were quite hilarious as many alluded to a… non-existent dream.
After watching the video however, it was worthy to sit back and reflect on the responses of the young Nigerians and it was quite unfortunate that majority of them had become disillusioned with their country. The major take-away from the video was that the Nigerian dream seems to be anchored in the desire to live and leave the country by all means and at any cost.
Many of the responses from the video were premised on the dream was to leave Nigeria. They blamed the state of the country, such as lack of adequate infrastructure, epileptic power supply as well as inadequate healthcare facilities among others. This has led to massive ‘brain-drain’ and the mass exodus of Nigerians to many parts of the world.
At this point, if one is thinking that it is only poor and uneducated Nigerians that are bent on leaving the country, then one is grossly mistaken. Available data has revealed that the groups of Nigerians leaving the country at an alarmingly high rate are young professionals seeking better career opportunities.
As of 2018 for instance, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria reported that there were 72,000 nationally registered Nigerian doctors but only 35,000 practicing in the country. This is also the trend in the academia, Information Technology (IT), and financial services among other professions in the country. In 2019 also, data published by the Canadian government revealed that the number of Nigerians issued permanent residency in the country tripled since 2015. In fact, in 2019 alone, more than 12,000 Nigerians immigrated to Canada. Other popular migratory destinations for Nigerians include the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Germany, and South Africa.
Another major response was that their Nigerian dream is the burning desire to be successful against all odds and by any means necessary. While this isn’t a bad notion by any notion, from all indications “any means necessary” means the willingness to bend or break the rules to be rich.
The pervasive corruption across every sector of the county, the thriving kidnap-for-ransom business and the high rate of internet fraudsters is an indication of how many Nigerians, are willing to break or bend the rules to make it in life and become rich.
One particular respondent in the video said, “my Nigerian dream is to “hammer and blow” (local parlance for getting rich quick) at any cost. Alas, many young Nigerians are willing to do anything it takes to be rich in a society where the odds are stacked against them.
Beyond the question of brain drain which is a major side effect of the mass exodus of young Nigerians, as well as getting rich by any means necessary, one need to ask, what really is the Nigerian dream?
Well, from the video and the general narrative of many Nigerians from all works of life, there seems to be an absence of a clear-cut Nigerian dream. However, what is consistent are their aspirations, which are basically the same such as affordable shelter, quality healthcare and education, adequate security, functioning and effective infrastructure and so on. A major aspiration which many also opined about their Nigerian dream is seeing a Nigeria which affords a system that guarantees equal opportunities that is fair to all.
Many of them lamented about the lack of equal opportunities and recognition of hard work. They compared Nigeria of today to the Nigeria of the early 60s that gave kids an equal educational chance to succeed in life. Looking at the profile of many Nigerian leaders of that era showed that education, intellect and hard work were the springboards for success regardless of poor backgrounds.
Over time however, merit and hard work have been relegated to the backburner while cronyism, ethnocentric politics, corruption and ethno-religious sentiments have taken the upper hand. This has allowed people to exploit the fault lines of ethnicity and religion for their selfish purposes leading to the enthronement of mediocrity.
Majority of them also maintained that since they no longer rely on the government for basic amenities such as water, electricity, and security among others, they feel excluded from the country’s cartography of belonging and are unable to imagine a habitable future for themselves. While other nations dream of economic equality and happiness for their citizens, they feel left out and subjugated particularly by the ruling political elites.
Well one can say unequivocally, the Nigerian dream is anchored in the national anthem, which states “one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.” With peace and unity, Nigerians will see themselves first as Nigerians rather than seeing themselves first by their ethnicities. This will largely mitigate the perennial religious and tribal bigotry. It will unite Nigerians and eliminate mutual suspicion among Nigerians of different ethnicities.
…‘Yours Truly’s’ Nigerian dream is to see a country where citizens enjoy the basic necessities of life that includes adequate healthcare systems and critical infrastructure, such as good roads, pipe born water, and uninterrupted power supply among others. With power, industries including large and small scale businesses would yield optimum results. A vibrant railway network will make our roads last longer because most of the cargoes carried on roads will have to be transported by rail.
…‘Yours Truly’s’ Nigerian dream is a nation founded on justice and honesty of purpose. This is so because all great nations of the world thrive on justice. One wants a Nigeria that has zero tolerance for corruption and punish those whose hands are caught in the cookie jar, irrespective of how highly placed they are in the society. One wants a Nigeria were ethno-religious considerations will be relegated; instead, hard work and merit will be the order of the day. One wants a Nigeria were people’s vote count because in a system were votes count, leadership will be more accountable to the people, impacting positively on all sectors of society. Once you fix the polity, you remedy so many socio-economic problems plaguing the society.
…‘Yours Truly’s’ Nigerian dream is to see a prosperous country where Nigerians will live in dignity, an end to high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment, where every Nigerian child has access to quality education, where the girl child is in schools rather than being married off, where the girl child has the same rights as the boy child, where governments at all levels will prioritize human capital development, where politics is a second profession, where public service is not a means of accumulation of wealth or avenue to loot the national treasury and where purposeful leadership will put national interests above individual and sectional interests.
As One joins fellow Nigerians in the aftermath of the country’s 61st Independence Day celebrations, one sincerely believes that ones Nigerian dream is similar, if not the same, to many other Nigerians.
The dream of a better Nigeria is well within our grasp, and it will take the effort of every Nigerian regardless of creed, ethnicity, clime or gender to progressively bring it to fruition. It is said that it takes village to raise a child and it is also time we begin to plant trees under whose shade we do not expect to enjoy but our children and children’s children.