Why Nigerians have tortoise mentality

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speak during a press conference  at the presidential villa in Abuja, on March 8, 2016.  AFP / PHILIP OJISUA

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaking during a press conference at the presidential villa in Abuja, on March 8, 2016.<br />AFP / PHILIP OJISUA

The burning desire by Nigerians to see President Buhari succeed underscores the urgent expectation for change to manifest without delay. As it were, Nigerians are not disposed to being patient. Impatience is a norm. The virtue of patience is scarce and this is understandable.

Understandable in the sense that the country has been raped and bastardised and Nigerians denied the good things of life since independence. The desire for change started from October 1, 1960. That change did not come. Barely six years into independence, the country was plunged into a fierce fratricidal civil war that claimed over a million lives.

After the war ended in January 1970, and the military took over the reins of government, Nigerians continued to expect change. The civilian interregnum between October 1979 and December 1983, was a huge disappointment. The civilians re-enacted corruption and maladministration that brought back the military.

In a nutshell, from May 1967 to October 1999, a period of 32 years, Nigeria’s affairs were run by unaccountable military juntas that failed woefully to bring the expected change in the country. The country was put in a ruinous path that only a conscientious, patriotic and committed leader could reverse.

When a new democratic dispensation was birthed in October 1999 with former president, Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the helm of affairs, Nigerians re-enacted the desire for change. Obasanjo had the opportunity to bring change but failed after eight years of mesmerization. Obasanjo handed the baton to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who unfortunately died early in his administration. Nigerians think that Yar’Adua demonstrated inklings of change with his 7-Point Agenda that never materialised.

President Goodluck Jonathan succeeded Yar’Adua but instead of continuing with the 7-Point Agenda, floated a transformation agenda, which Nigerians interpreted as another side of the same coin called change. Jonathan’s perceived personal desire to bring change failed due to the greed and avarice of the powers in PDP. Thus, for 16 years, rather than see change, Nigerians saw unthinkable sleaze and utter degradation of the country.

It is little wonder, then, that when President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) capitalised on the psyche of Nigerians, which is desire for change, and came up with the CHANGE mantra during the 2015 general elections, Nigerians overwhelmingly bought it. The thinking is that if Buhari, whom they already know to be a no-nonsense man, is the man who will bring the change that everybody wants, so be it.

Consequently, Buhari won the 2015 presidential election and no sooner was he sworn in on May 29, 2015 that Nigerians began to demand for the change he promised. But the change is not by magic. With the mountain of problems, he ground has to be cleared first and foundation laid upon which change would be built. But Nigerians are not ready to take excuses. They want instant change.

The proverbial tortoise is known to be the wisest animal in the animal kingdom. But sometimes, it fails to apply the wisdom when it is mostly needed. Once upon a time, the animals conspired and threw the tortoise into a pit and left him there. After one year, the animals decided to bring him out of the pit. They informed the tortoise that he would be brought out from the pit on a particular day.

Rather than be patient, knowing that his ordeal would soon end, the tortoise became restless and began to hurry the animals to bring him out without further delay, claiming that the stench in the pit was killing him. The question is, after spending one full year in the pit and didn’t die, why can’t the tortoise be patient and let the animals pull him out on the appointed day?

I see a similarity between the tortoise mentality and the attitude of Nigerians who are rushing Buhari to bring change immediately even when the administration has not implemented a single budget. Granted that we all desire change, wisdom dictates that it is unrealistic to assess a government that has four years in less than a year. I think it is more sensible to support the government and watch what it is able to accomplish in four years.

I would like to stress that the change that Nigerians want cannot be accomplished by the government at the centre alone. There will be no change in Nigeria without the involvement of the states. Unfortunately, the states are overlooked while everybody is focusing on the Federal Government, which is totally misplaced.

All the basic social amenities – water, hospital, roads, schools, health centres, etc, that we need are largely the responsibility of the state governments. Though, the Federal Government had taken it upon itself, over the years, to be in-charge of electricity, nothing stops any state government from getting involved in power generation as an independent supplier.

If each state government gets serious with power supply, the power from the centre would be negligible.

The same applies to roads. Available statistics shows that there are about 200,000 kilometres of roads in the country, out of which the total federal highways is about 34,340.90 kilometres. The states and local governments have responsibility for 165,660 kilometres of roads. If the states and local government councils do their roads, the federal roads will pave into insignificance.

It is ironic that while people lament over the dilapidated inter-state federal highways like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Shagamu-Ore Expressway, Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, etc, no one mentions the intra-state roads that really serve the people. I can’t understand why the attention of Nigerians is always focused at the president while the governors are left out. Virtually, all the administrations that have presided over the affairs of Nigeria since independence passed through this unfortunate syndrome.

The worst set of Nigerians is those calling for the return of corruption with the hash-tag “Bring Back Our Corruption.” The promoters of this demented and crazy campaign argue that under corruption, food was cheap and life was better.

Across the civilised world, progress is made when there is rapport and understanding between the people and their leaders. There can be no progress when the leaders and the people are heading in opposite direction.  Buhari’s anti-corruption war, if it succeeds, is big change that this country badly needs.

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  • alfred phillip

    Misplaced analogy!

    • Tony Oshea

      I wonder my brother.Very wrong analogue!Why didn’t Mr writer apply patience under Jonathan for another few years and see if he could’ve succeeded in transforming Nigeria .Now that fuel scarcity is Intractable, Boko is ferocious in its attacks,electricity supply has plunged,Naira is unwittingly devalued ,budget is padded,he wants nigerians to be patient like-because “a patient dog gets the fattest bone”. Right now there is no bone and therefore the wisdom of Mr tortoise subsist and very appropriate for Nigerians to apply.

      • jacintaokorie

        Don’t mind the sycophant.

      • Tosan Nesiama

        Government under Jonathan wasn’t about Jonathan alone, it was largely the pdp and it rot and impunity, Nigerians had seen it for 16 years without progress,so what patience are talking about

  • Patience is good and necessary. However people need to see that right steps are being taken to lead them to their desired haven. We have heard this before, to be patient. But after more than fifty years of being patient what do we get from all our under-achieving government? Many have died without seeing the result of that patience except the opposite and things are getting worse not better. To add to the worry and anxieties of people, it does not seem that there is any real thinking or knowledge systems or know-how in the present administration about how to tackle the economic problems facing Nigeria. So why would people not worry and be inpatient with all the sacrifices we made to bring this government to power?

  • amador kester

    Real tortoise of the fairy tales that cunningly ate all the public food and got chieftaincy title on top of that

  • jacintaokorie

    It is the same impatience that pushed easily deceived Nigerians rejected God sent transformer and vote themselves into perpetual suffering. Time will tell.

  • Jean El

    Taking a cue from your analogy, if the problem “Jonathan’s perceived personal desire to bring change failed due to the greed and avarice of the powers in PDP” and a good number of the same individuals changed garb and joined to herald CHANGE in the APC, it means the last thing we should we should spare them is patience. My fear about PMB’s government is that he is missing the basics. Tasks like appointment of heads of agencies, ministers, and budget presentation that should be rudimentary have proved otherwise. What do you think that portends for budget and policy implementation?

  • Jeffery

    the situation of nigeria in my personal opinion is party issue, no party want to see the success of the other. No party like to see the rulling party succeed. I am not saying that the current government should be applauded anyway,because if you say you want to bring change, there has to be a clear cut plan to go about it. and if you say your agender is transformation, there equally has be a plan also. change is not magical. But for the time the president Buhari lead administration took over power, the torment is actually a far cry of nigerians expectation. judging from the happenings in the country, it does not look like anything good is in view of the so long awaited change. on the other hand, you cant promise a goat you will rescue it from a pit and expect it to waite for eight long years, lets say you made the promise in the first four years of which the eight years is a part that os sixteen years. i am quit sure nobody will want to wait any more seconds. we need a leader, not promisers.

  • emmanuel kalu

    what? This article like many others that continue to beat the drum for change is coming, fail to understand what Nigerian’s are asking for. Nigerian’s have waited long for change, and last election against all odd, fought and won the replacement they needed to make the change. However the problem is this. we haven’t seen any plan for the change, we don’t know if the change is going to happen, when it is going to happen and if it would happen. Nigerian’s are calling for a simple laid down plan on how this change is going to come about. you can excise patience when you know that what you are waiting for is going to happen or there is a plan to make it happen. we patiently waited for minister, not much change there. we waited for budget, that was a complete and total disaster. we waited for fuel supply reform, yet another disaster. you can’t tell a sick man to continue to wait in a doctor waiting room, when the sick man doesn’t know if the doctor knows he is waiting, or if the doctor knows or has a plan to treat him. So yes Nigerian’s deserve to see some kind of either short term plan or long term plans. we at least need some kind of progress to tie us over while we wait for the major change.

  • Curseless

    The writer can not be more correct. God had created Nigeria to fly like eagle but most of our citizens operate under the yoke of tortoise spirit. The nations insignia boldly portrays an eagle yet we continue to crawl and most will settle for immediate gratification rather than envision the impossible and engage the future with boldness. As the writer have said, citizens must insist on accountability from public officials, federal, state and local because a situation where the federal government give allocations to state and local government only to end up in a sinkhole is beyond pardon. Governors and local government chairmen have no financial oversight as they spend peoples money the way they want. Collective effort will put Nigeria in her right place as development will be tangible and effective. Governors going to the center begging for a bailout after squandering their allocations will cease. Tortoise vision can only see the immediate surrounding while eagle’s vision and approach is panoramic.