Nigeria is one place where an ex- minister described as never being bored. We are an excited people, no downturn, few dull moments irrespective of the many challenges that buffet us. We are strong as we are told, we are resilient, energetic, fun cannot pass us by even the small town of Wukari, Taraba state knows how to get their grooves on every weekend. Despite the frustrations of bad roads that makes the morning drive from your estate hectic, we still get up, adjust, adapt and live. The epileptic power supply does not stop us from getting imported alternatives like generators, inverters and many inventions that are made for the Nigerian market. The Ministry of Water Environment which for many years does not provide integrated water systems as the board is meant to, does not stop us from sinking wells and boreholes. We are on a whole new level of capitalism where even the poor creates his space, territory and sphere of influence.
When people are frustrated by a non- responsive government or a thinking one, we devise ways to survive and thrive. We dig wells in the desert of a system that is constitutionally faulty. We persevere, hussle hard, bulldoze our way through and through, break laws, principles, compromise for survival sake. We adapt ourselves to our national environment, we create substandard lifestyles, build houses that are internationally inhabitable, we improvise in a manner that defies science and inventions.
I remember one of drives through Maryland, Lagos and a billboard caught my attention with Toyota telling us that they build cars for Nigerians roads. As much as that is an advert, it tells us that out roads are in particular way for Toyota, an internationally acclaimed brand to redesign their cars to suit roads that give the normal cars a hard time. Brands come here and they have to adapt to the abnormalities that have become normal to us.
A nation found itself in recession, rather than finding scientific, economic and research-based solutions, all manner of motivational speakers and religious organizations started using it as a marketing caption. What do mere words really achieve beyond wowing you and th speaker’s oratory, does it make the important decisions, does it help us increase production of goods and services that can be exported, does it carry out the need Research and Development initiatives?
We have become a nation that creates our unique ecosystem that is far from normal. Principles of everything is broken to create a version that is Nigerian yet not recognized beyond our shores and borders. Rather than working to catch up with the world, we are creating things that the world has moved away from. Even when we are not creating things and import, we find ways to distort the imported things to suit our abnormal environment. For how long will companies like Toyota continue to manufacture Nigerian-fit cars when we have refused to leave fossil-based cars? The world is exploring clean energy and we are still scampering for oil wealth. Oil has moved away from us and the rest of the world is getting ready for the worst that could happen.
Adaptation to abnormalities in a world that is working towards perfection will only expose us to risk. The risk of extinction, risk of being left behind, risk of dependency on other nations which means more imports and reduction in currency value. When the world that produces the machines we import moves to clean energy, how do we intend to cope when we still worship the wealth from that black gold called oil?
We are left to manage a mediocre living while compromising technology and how they should work. When a car gets to a point of being pushed to start as against the way it was built, you will understand the things we regard as normal here.
We adapt to changes in a manner that is worse than the intended purpose of things. When streets don’t work when they should be, we prefer to station policemen and traffic officials who can harass offenders based on their selfish interpretation and interests.
There is always a way forward, the question is, are we committed politically, socially and economically to create solutions that are globally acceptable. We can’t be using asphalt for roads when nations like India are exploring plastic. A 2-year government creates a thousand jobs that only give people stipends a month for doing nothing and we rejoice when another government creates over a million in 100 days. We need to come at par with world standards, the Einsteins and Newton have done the work of setting the basics of natural and scientific laws. We only need to use them and improve on them too.