The ordinary Nigerian loves this country. She has an abiding faith in her prospects, promise and potential. She is also an incurable optimist. She is unfazed, she takes all disappointments in her stride. No matter the trials, tribulations and vicissitudes of life in this nation, the ordinary Nigerian has a perpetually sunny and cheery disposition.
I got a taste of the abiding faith of the ordinary citizen of this nation, on May 29, 2013. As we recall, May 29, 1999, marked the commencement of the extant republic, and successive governments since then, have chosen to celebrate that date each year, as Democracy day. I saw many people gaily dressed on the streets. So I enquired, ‘why the new attires and general gaiety?’
Ahh….it is democracy Day oo!’ Some sent greetings , ‘Happy Democracy Day” or verbally expressed same.
This got me thinking. With such old fashion love for this country and belief in its promise and potential by ordinary people, why does it seem so difficult for our socio-political elites to tap into this deep and abiding reservoir to mobilize this vast human capital?
The answer is, there is a disconnect between these elites and the ordinary people. Apart from exploiting the fissures and fault lines of the Nigerian polity for personal and group purpose, the Nigerian elites in general, seem to harbor disdain and contempt for the ordinary people of Nigeria. They are neglectful and negligent of the deep aspirations of the ordinary Nigerian for a better life, utilizing the vast natural and human capital of this great nation.
The evidence of the neglect and negligence is all around us. The ordinary Nigerian is the one among the millions, who queue on long lines, to access kerosene for cooking and sundry purposes. Yet our country has vast amount of gas deposits waiting to be exploited and refined for domestic and industrial use. Nigeria is known as the number six in the world for crude oil production and export. But ordinary Nigerians perhaps do not know that our gas deposits, untapped , far outweigh our crude oil deposits.
There are only one hundred and twenty nine  universities serving an estimated one hundred and seventy  million Nigerians. In the coming academic year, 2013-14, our country can only accommodate five hundred thousand [500,000] of the one million, seven hundred thousand [1.7 million] of these students seeking university admission. What are the one million, two hundred thousand [1.2 million] unaccommodated to do? More directly, in a situation of such acute deprivation and scarcity of educational opportunities, the ordinary Nigerian stands to be short changed, because she does not have access and influence.
Since our country cannot generate a mere four thousand [4,000] megawatts of electricity consistently, there are millions of ordinary Nigerians, who for many months in a calendar year, will not have access to this basic provision that many in the world take for granted. In Nigeria’s demand-side economy, kerosene [consumed largely by the poor] is one and half times more expensive than petrol, consumed by car owners and those who own generators to provide electricity that the now privatized power production companies cannot.
The ordinary Nigerian fetches water from a well or a bore hole and boils it to sanitise it for domestic use. Some do not, because of the cost. The provision of clean pipe borne water is a mirage for him. Most Nigerians, ordinary or not, buy bottled water to drink. The ordinary Nigerian who cannot afford bottled water and thus drinks untreated water, opens herself to the possibility of water borne diseases and the associated consequences.
One would think that affordable quality education, provision of basic health care, would be a major , concern of Nigeria’s political elites. Such is not the case. The ordinary Nigerian is left to her own devises, to navigate as best as she can, the contours of deprivations and scarcities that define the daily realities of her life.
One can say she is stoic. But what really keeps her going is her faith in the ultimate triumph of the cause of a better tomorrow, when our country would live up to her socio-economic and political potential in the comity of nations. This is her country, she is a born and bred, for good or for ill. She cannot and will not check out, even were the opportunity to arise. She believes in Nigeria, even when time and time again , her hopes have been dashed.
She faces daily, the dispiriting and despairing socio-economic realities of this nation with aplomb. She wonders how many generations it would take for Nigeria to ‘get up and go’? In many a nation, with nothing near the abundant human and material endowments of Nigeria, the political elites have risen to the occasion and transformed their nations. Examples abound here in Africa, Ghana, Botwana, before our very eyes, now stand for credible elections and rapid and verifiable socio-economic development. For the sake of the ordinary Nigerian, our nation should do no less. We have lost much time in this process….and time is of essence, so that the faith of the ordinary Nigerian may not snap.