Big trouble, as more Nigerians sink deeper into poverty
A map of Nigeria

By Donu Kogbara

I’ve just chanced upon a book titled MANAGE IT LIKE THAT by Editi Effiong. It was written in 2018, but is still very relevant. It explains why there haven’t been any giant developmental strides during the years that have elapsed between [email protected] and [email protected]:

Manage It Like That, MILT, is a Nigerian phrase that expresses the heart and soul of service delivery in Nigeria. It means take it as you see it…The word ‘manage’ implies “this isn’t ideal, we know, but by all means make do, because we’re not about offering a substitute”.

Did you order food from the restaurant and got a wrong order? Sorry. But you can’t be so wicked as to expect the poor restaurant to absorb the loss and replace your order. Just manage. It’s not like you’ll die eating fried rice instead of the jollof rice you ordered. Rice is rice, please.

You’re used to Uber in other countries. Nice clean vehicles, friendly drivers. Well, welcome to the Nigerian Uber. It’s not clean, but come on, it’s not that dirty. Manage. What is that smell? Oh, it’s a goat in the trunk, for the family party tomorrow. It just got picked up. What? You are going to 1-star? Don’t you eat goat? You’re just wicked. And you call yourself a religious person. Are you the first person? Can’t you manage?…

… My belief is that if Nigerians collectively start demanding better of themselves, beginning from small things, we will ultimately grow.

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Because, it starts from managing small puddles in the compound, to managing the squeaky gate, to managing the potholes on the street, then flooded streets and dirty highways. If we accept bad roads, we inevitably agree to accept a broken country.

Every single time we accept to manage something, we pass up the opportunity to fix a problem. And a million unfixed problems is why Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world. It is because of the damn too high Manage-It-Like-That Acceptability Value!

 

When will it stop? I don’t know…

 

…People don’t want to pay tax because the government isn’t working, and the government says they aren’t working because the people aren’t paying taxes. The thing though, is that some of us have tried this tax paying thing for years. What are we getting out of it? Nothing. We build our own roads, provide our own water, provide our own power and still have to pay NEPA for the privilege of providing our own power.

I also don’t know when most Nigerians will stop philosophically and even humourously tolerating the nonsense they constantly throw at each other and receive from their leaders.

All I can tell you is that I think that this tolerance boils down to low self-esteem and that I will NEVER quit insisting on high standards.

Most of the folks around me – from domestic and office staff to some members of my social circle – think that I am a bit crazy.

They do not understand why I am so fanatically wedded to high standards and so unwilling to shrug and chill when things go wrong or when things are simply not as good as they should or could be.

But I have no apologies to offer anyone for the perfectionist streak that compels me to be uncompromising about everything from the  cleanliness of my kitchen to the punctuation in “unimportant” letters.

As far as I am concerned, this country can be as comfortable, productive, attractive and efficient as Abroad…if we refuse to accept rubbish and force ourselves to be the best we can be.

This is why I am so ashamed of having put on weight in recent years. My fatness smacks of indiscipline. And I am as hard on myself as I am on those around me because Managing It Like That is NOT who I want to be…and is NOT what Nigeria should agree to be.

READERS’ RESPONSES

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column titled “An Old Man Repents”. It was about Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate between 1999 and 2007, who declared himself Born Again during a TV interview in 2018…and decided to come clean about the nefarious things that he and his political cronies had done.

Mantu admitted that he had rigged elections in the past by bribing INEC and security officials. Some Vanguard readers responded as follows:

 

From 08033145773

I salute Senator Mantu’s courage for baring his troubled mind but a sincere confession is incomplete without restitution. 

 

FROM: Mrs Okwubulu (0906 677 4127)

If he has actually repented let him relinquish his ill gotten wealth, he is a liar.

 

From: Vinson Enweliku <[email protected]>09056437685

 

Mantu’s reported “confession” of his electoral sins is the right thing that every Nigeria Politician should emulate. The holy books for both Christians and Muslims say, if a sinner confesses his sins, God will forgive and make him/her a new creation, for old things have passed away. Senator Mantu must be commended.  He is unlike some big men who pride themselves on their evil deeds and pose as saints.

 

*Last week, I republished an article that I wrote for the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, magazine when Nigeria turned 50 a decade ago, in October 2010. It was not a very happy article.

This email from Chief Otonye Amachree ([email protected]), is one of the responses I received last weekend. As you can see, he shared my view that there haven’t been many positive developments since then.

Dear Donu K,

Your 2010 piece on Nigeria at 50 is so current that it could go unedited for Nigeria at 60. What a wasteful ten years of locomotion without movement. The graphic illustration of the tattered map on rickety wheels being pushed by a beleaguered man on whose face frustration [is etched] says it all.

From whence shall our salvation come? Ten years in the life of a man nay a nation, is long enough to make a significant difference.

Unfortunately, it has eluded us. In deep religious recess our touted political leaders do no more than carry promises on their lips when down their hearts they know that the oaths administered to them is to be observed in breach.

I will not despair. I will continue to pray. It will improve by the time you make another ten years review.

 

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