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#Occupy…and the Nigerian Psyche

Over the past week, there has been a resounding clamor for some form of a reactive and compelling protest in the similitude of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Spontaneous suggestions like ‘Occupy Nigeria’, ‘Occupy National Assembly’ and ‘Occupy Abuja’ have been posited on Nigerian social media platforms. To be or not to be?

‘Occupy Wall Street’ has been described as a series of ongoing protest demonstrations originating in New York City. These protests kicked off on Sept 17, 2011 and by Oct 9, had spread to about 70 cities all over the world. The protesters, self-named as ‘the 99 percent’ have taken to the streets to publicly declare a fight against all forms of economic inequality, corporate greed and the absence of evident justice post the global financial crisis. Initially triggered in July 2011 by Adbusters, a Canadian based group, the concept was to actualize a peaceful occupation of Wall Street in protest. It is seen here there was a trigger, the sense of a tipping point – “….there was a feeling that, ‘wow things are going to change’….we are going to take these financial fraudsters and bring them to justice…among the young people, there was a very positive feeling…Now, we’re despondent again”, said Kalle Lasn Founder and Editor of Adbusters.

Anyone familiar with the current Nigerian political and economic landscape certainly will perceive obvious similarity in that last statement. For many, at some point, there was the infinitesimal hope for justice to be meted out and corruption tackled squarely, a silent prayer for fiscal prudence and cuts in government overheads, a hope for transparency and accountability, a longing desire to see the implementation of campaign promises. For Nigerians, it becomes almost apt to conclude this with the same phrase “among the young people, there was a very positive feeling…now, we’re despondent again”. Does the similarity of triggers then justify or guarantee a prediction of similar responses?

The Nigerian psyche so far reflects certain features including brevity of memory, especially in the face of transient gratification. Does it not appear as though the average Nigerian, triggered by similar inequalities and injustice, complains and protests for ALL till he gets reprieve for self? Once reprieve is obtained, via that juicy contract or influential office position in Abuja, Port Harcourt or Lagos, it becomes as though the neo-activist within activates an auto system shut down, forgetting ongoing societal and economic issues. In other matters in this regard, what trend do we observe with the cases of the ongoing trial of Hon. Bankole, the alleged injustice to Justice Salami, the ABSU gang rape video? The Nigerian psyche agitates momentarily, then moves on swiftly, relegating past issues to oblivion.

Further examining the Nigerian psyche in the light of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs gives the vivid impression that many or perhaps most Nigerians are at the lower layers of the pyramid, with their foci transfixed on meeting the basic needs of life, what Maslow described as deficiency needs – food, water, power supply, security in all forms, health, friendship and family. Maslow’s pyramid suggests appropriately that unless these basic needs are met, people rarely focus on ‘Being’ needs – self actualisation, self esteem, achievements and problem solving. Drawing inferences, people whose daily attention is totally drawn into meeting basic/deficiency needs will have little or no motivation to ascend to levels of societal or economic problem solving. So, it is very likely that the average Nigerian will devote his energies to provide a roof for his family, ensure a steady supply of water, alternative or backup power supply system, and some form of home and communal security. A nation filled with many of such does not appear to present a compelling cause for ‘Occupy Wall Street’ type protests. Why? People are overwhelmed with struggles to meet basic needs, why should they endanger themselves? They hustle, longing for future prospects, and that breakthrough moment, which will make life much better for them, positioning them above the struggle line. Such individuals are more likely to be engrossed in an ‘occupation’ than the thought of ‘Occupy Abuja’.

These factors that characterize the Nigerian psyche (brevity of memory and the encumbrance of basic needs) portend to be potential terminators to the possibility of an ‘Occupy’ protest happening here.

The antithesis to this reasoning will be to prove and demonstrate clearly that a Nigerian tipping point has been reached. Each time a national event or change seems to suggest such, the preoccupation with basic needs and the brevity of memory surmount the challenge, fueling the resilient nature of Nigerians. Is there currently a cause, strong enough, as the transference of presidential powers to Goodluck Jonathan in March 2010, to guarantee another ‘Enough is Enough’ march?

419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

For too long, Nigeria and Nigerians have been readily associated with the online scams and financial crime – termed ‘419’. However, beyond the unfortunate stereotyping, there are several positive characteristics and intriguing traits of the country, Nigeria and its people, some of which are highlighted below as part of the ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ campaign which enlisted 100 volunteers and bloggers to share reasons why they like Nigeria. These reasons echo the voices of Nigerians, with resonating similar themes. The campaign is facilitated in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.

The full list of ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here  (www.419Positive.org)

The list of contributors to ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here

If you would like to say something positive about Nigerians and Nigeria, please do so here.

NIGERIA – THE LAND OF POTENTIAL AND OPPORTUNITY

  • I like Nigeria because it is a land of endless opportunities and possibilities. Nigeria is one country whose true potentials I believe the world is yet to experience. I believe Nigerians are sharp, brilliant and accommodating people. Given the right enabling environment the world will marvel at what Nigeria will become.
  • Nigeria is the most populous black nation – and a buying one at that. From a capitalist point of view, this makes for great investment opportunities.
  • The fact that Nigeria currently lags behind so much – in infrastructure and developmental terms – hints at the size of the potential for innovation and transformation, and at the huge number of vacancies that exist for ‘transformers’. What I think this means is that the world will be hearing a lot about Nigeria and high-achieving Nigerians (in the public and private sectors) in the near future.

NIGERIA – THE COUNTRY

  • The Nigerian Green and White flag is a notable national symbol. The green color symbolises agriculture, seeing that the country is endowed with masses of arable land, while the white colour signifies unity and peace. Other national symbols include the Nigerian Coat of Arms, which depicts an eagle on a black shield, tri-sected by two wavy silver bands, and supported on either side by two chargers. The national motto underlies the coat-of -arms: “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.” Her national symbols convey great meaning to its people.
  • The Nigerian accent is currently ranked by CNN Global Experiences as the 5th sexiest accent in the world.
  • Nigeria is home to Nollywood, one of the world’s biggest film industries.

NIGERIA – THE CULTURE, THE FOOD, THE WAY OF LIFE

  • Something great to like about Nigeria is our cultural diversity. A strong affinity exists, despite our differences. Learning about other ethnic cultures in my country really helped me personally relate to other cultures when abroad.
  • I think the food is tastier in Nigeria than that I have found in other countries.
  • Nigerians live a communal life style. The extended family is part of the immediate family in a Nigerian home.

NIGERIA – THE MUSIC, THE MOVIES, THE DANCE, THE ART

  • Nigeria has produced many world class musicians. A notable mention in this regard is Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A Broadway show titled ‘FELA!’ was produced in 2009 depicting the life and times of the Afrobeat musician.
  • Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, is reputedly the 3rd largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood, and has grown gradually into a $250 million industry in more than 10 years.
  • Nigerian indigenous musical instruments are unique, soulful and rhythmic. They comprise the popular Talking Drum, producing proverbial and storytelling sounds, the Shaker (shekere), the Udu drum, the Lute, the leg and arm Rattle, the Omele, the Ogene (Gong originating in Eastern Nigeria), the Ekwe drum and the Kakaki (A 4m metal trumpet popular in Northern Nigeria). Many of these instruments have been incorporated in South American music over the years

NIGERIA – GEOGRAPHY and NATURAL RESOURCES   

  • Nigeria is a nation blessed with rich human and natural resources. As the 8th largest exporter of Oil in the world, with the 10th largest proven reserves, our blessings cannot be overemphasised. No earthquakes, no tsunamis, no droughts, an evergreen land. The rest of the world should live here.
  • The beauty of the Nigerian state cannot but leave one in awe being blessed with captivating physical features and abundant wild life. From the rolling hills to the vast plains in the North Central Nigeria and the forests in the South, the beautiful scenery of the country is more than breathtaking and with the wildlife spread all over the country, Nigeria is surely a beauty to behold and a tourist’s delight all year round.
  • Nigeria is blessed with tremendous agricultural resources. Cotton in the North, Cocoa & Oil palm in the south amongst many others. The flag is green for a reason

NIGERIA – WEST AFRICA, AFRICA and THE WORLD

  • Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa. Approximately 1 out of every 2 West Africans, 1 out of every 4 Africans, and 1 out of every 5 persons of African origin is a Nigerian.
  • Nigeria is the largest contributor of troops to the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and by extension, is the largest force for peace and stability in West Africa.
  • A Nigerian will stand out anywhere you find him/her, from Libya to London, Tokyo to Timbuktu. Well known examples include Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets, USA), Olumide Oyedeji (Seattle Sonics), Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Sunday Adelaja (Ukraine), Chris Aire (US), etc.

NIGERIA – INDUSTRIOUS, INNOVATIVE and ENTERPRISING, with ACHIEVEMENTS     

  • Nigerians are intelligent, brilliant minds who have proven their mettle in various fields – Wole Soyinka was the first African to win the much coveted Nobel Prize for literature in 1986. Chinua Achebe’s classic novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ was ranked as number 14 in a list of top 100 books in the world by Newsdesk in 2009. Others include Cyprian Ekwensi, Mabel Segun, Chimamanda Adichie and Helon Habila whose literary works have won both international and local awards at various times.
  • We have budding fashion designers. Yes! It’s a line every Bunmi, Amaka and Amina has decided to tow but to disregard the effort and originality of our Fashion Designers would be disrespectful. Tiffany Amber, Lanre Da Silva and Deola Sagoe are building world renowned brands, not to mention the legacy developed by the likes of Abba Folawiyo, Maureen Onigbanjo, Remi Lagos and Zizzi Cardow.
  • Nigerians have excelled in the fields of economics and finance, managing well established global bodies. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the current Minister of Finance, was until recently a Managing Director at The World Bank.  Obiageli Ezekwisili is currently the Vice President for Africa at The World Bank. Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi is a first class graduate of Oxford, and Managing Partner of Global infrastructure Partner (GIP), a concessionaire of London’s Gatwick International Airport.
  • We take technology and expand it in ways those who created it could not have imagined. For instance, take the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) which allows you to send broadcast messages to all addresses on your contacts list; Nigerians recently found a unique way of advertising the different businesses they do. Someone started a message highlighting the fact that many people in Nigeria are entrepreneurs or provide a service and included his BB PIN in the message and sent to all his contacts with the charge that they state the service they provide, include their PIN and send on to all their contacts too. This seemingly small campaign has gone “viral” with whole lists of entrepreneurs and their BB PINs being passed from phone to phone. This is a clear sign of the ingenuity of Nigerians!

NIGERIA – GREAT PEOPLE

  • Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation in the world (over 160 million) and most populous in Africa – a gold mine of energetic, determined and talented people in each and every field. From Lagos to Aba to Kano, the Nigerian business spirit and desire to succeed is visible. It requires just proper harnessing of these human resources before Nigeria becomes the super power she was meant to be.
  • Nigerians are passionate, friendly, welcoming, hospitable, and well cultured people. The average Nigerian reflects a combination of vivacity, intelligence, energy, talent, and resolution.
  • We are a nation of people that can hardly hide their excitement at seeing family and friends. Some misconstrue this thinking we are loud but let’s just say we are EXPRESSIVE! If you see us on the streets of New York making a big ruckus and hugging? No sweat. We are just happy to see each other.

NIGERIA – THE RESILIENT SPIRIT

  • The Giant of Africa: Not ignoring the current challenges, eventually, when we get our acts right, we will reign supreme on the global scene. We have the potential and as is much touted by the Warri people – “Naija no dey carry last”
  • The ‘survivor-mentality’ is hard-wired into the DNA of Nigeria’s people – The fact that against all the odds (and there are many of them), Nigerians continue to live, hustle and seek to triumph. It is not by mistake that Nigeria is regarded as one of the “happiest” countries in the world, despite its challenging economic and social conditions.
  • We are hardy. The average Nigerian does business under circumstances that are unimaginable to people from other parts. In a place where there is no power, no credit, and scant regulation, people do business and do very well for themselves too. If you can make it in Nigeria, you can make it anywhere in the world.

NIGERIA – TOURISM and SPORTS

  • Nigeria is an amazing tourist haven and is home to the Obudu Cattle Ranch, located in Calabar. It is only 45 miles from the Cameroon border. The Obudu Plateau is spread over 40 sq. miles and is 5,200 feet above sea level. The Obudu resort features a Gorilla Camp where tourists may observe gorillas in their natural habitat.
  • Nigeria has two UNESCO world heritage sites, the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa. UNESCO world heritage sites are places designated as being of cultural significance.
  • Nigeria has produced great footballers like Teslim “Thunder” Balogun (the first Nigerian to play for an English Club – QPR), Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini (who scored Nigeria’s first ever goal at the World Cup), Nwankwo Kanu, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, John Mikel Obi, Osaze Odemwingie, to mention but a few.
  • Nigeria has excelled in athletics over the years, still holding continental records in the 100m men and women, 4x100m men and women, 400m men and women, among others. Over 100 skilled Nigerian professional footballers played in First Division leagues in different countries all over Europe in the 2010/2011 season, 9 in England; 8 each in Finland, Norway; 10 in Ukraine and 7 in Sweden.

NIGERIA – UNITY in DIVERSITY

  • Nigerians, despite our diversity are a united people who always strive to help one another. With 774 local government areas, multi religious and ethnic affiliations, 36 States, and population of over 160 million, we still stand undeterred to move forward together.
  • Even outside the country, Nigerians remain united. This gives a quiet assurance somewhat that you can get on a plane and go to any country of the world and find a Nigerian there who will not only make you feel welcome but will go out of their way to be of really good help. I have experienced this several times on my travels and each time it amazes me how all I need to be is a Nigerian, not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa and once I run into another Nigerian, I will immediately feel at home.
  • Our greatest strength lies in our diversity.

The ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ Campaign is in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.

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