Last week, the First Lady, wife of the Nigerian President, Dame Patience Jonathan flew into the country straight into the waiting arms of her darling husband. The President must have sorely missed his Okirika born queen and so he hugged her in a manner which suggested that he was thankful to God for sparing his Dame’s life.
This reminded me of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo who travelled out for medical intervention and eventually lost her life. I also remember how former President Yar’adua lost his life in Saudi Arabia where he went to seek for medical treatment. Indeed, several top Nigerian leaders have made such medical trips abroad and now it has become fashionable for our leaders to seek medical care abroad. In April this year, the Senate President, David Mark was also flown out to Tel Aviv, Israel for medical treatment.
In Nigeria, Senators, Governors, Ministers, Commissioners and (maybe) Councilor’s have made it a habit to hastily fly abroad to seek medical care whenever they have any health challenges. Then, they return and continue to drone about ‘the transformation Agenda of Mr. President.’ But doesn’t this agenda cover the hospitals too? Why do they always have to travel out for treatment when the National Hospital, Abuja is just at their backyard?
It is widely believed in Nigeria today that foreign goods, services and even people are far superior to our local ones. Thus, some of the classiest words in Nigeria today are; ‘imported’, ‘abroad’, ‘italian’ etc. If you were born in the UK and were ‘imported’ back home at age 10, taught by imported teachers, got a ‘multinational’ job, wear ‘imported’ clothes, drive ‘imported’ cars, live in a house built with ‘imported’ materials, eat ‘imported’ food, listen to ‘imported’ music, watch ONLY ‘imported’ movies, marry an ‘imported’ wife/husband and probably attend an ‘imported’ church, you are generally considered as being ‘tush’. But then, it is either that there is something wrong with our ‘local’ maternity hospitals, teachers, jobs, clothes, cars, houses, food, music, movies, wives/husbands (and churches) or that you are simply living ‘in-DEPENDENCE’ on goods, services and people foreign.
People opt for foreign things due to some or all of these:
(i) They (including the President) know that our schools, hospitals and various services are largely substandard and can’t be compared to the foreign alternatives,
(ii) Others are just obsessed with foreign people, goods and services and they brag about it regardless of whether there are better and more affordable ‘local’ options,
(iii) Some people can simply afford foreign things and shouldn’t be blamed for choosing to buy whatever they want to buy and school wherever they want to school.
If the Government fails to develop our manufacturing industry, we will continue to depend on the ever available foreign products. On the other hand, when we learn to appreciate Naija made goods and services (the ones that meet international standards oo!); there may be no need to look outside, except when we want to export our own products. It must have dawned on some foreign musicians by now that the Nigerian market has become bad market for their businesses, thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of the ‘local’ musicians who can now compete favorably with their foreign counterparts.
If our institutions are strengthened, we won’t need to run to Ghana to school. Growing up, I saw Ghanaians everywhere in Nigeria. For them, the grass was greener here just like our national flag. We drove them away, giving rise to the ‘GHANA MUST GO’ cliché and so the swarthy skinned people from the gold coast returned home. They got there and did whatever they did and today Nigerians are begging to school in Ghana.
We may have gotten political independence but we are still living in-DEPENDENCE on foreign people, goods and services. If some of us had our way, we would have been living in Nigeria by proxy.
I once met a guy (let’s call him Tonye) who wore a TM Lewin shirt, a pair of Giorgio Armani trousers, a Gucci belt, Ferragamo shades, Paul Smith perfume, drove a Range Rover Sports SUV on a road built by Julius Berger into a Chinese restaurant.
Tonye doesn’t know that Nigerian designers like Frank Oshodi, Zizi Cardow, Ade Bakare etc. are now producing very hip and classy Nigerian attires that we can even export to the world. Tonye certainly didn’t know that the road he drove on could have been built by Lubrik Construction Company (LCC), a Port Harcourt based indigenous construction company who are, in my opinion one of the best construction firms in the country.
Tonye is like most Nigerians, but this is a wake –up call. There is a world of good to be found if we can only put aside our predetermined prejudice towards made-in-Nigeria goods. Is this an extreme take on the true position of things? Do let us know. We need Africans to grow Africa, and that cannot be done if we do not believe in Africa.
John Offiong [SAVVY]
This is true but we cnt blame lovers of importations because our govt isn’t trying 2 do anytin 2 make nigerians meet d world clas standard + d little we av goin 4 us doesn’t seem good enuf we need God nd a revolution
Hard truth, i heard my boss telling a patient that d drug she is taking cant be fake because he personally imported it from US. She was really excited and left, feeling well already! Lolz
Thank you John for your interesting article. Truth be told, the “in-Dependent” behaviour is a result of a faulty(in-Dependent) mental frame through which the typical Nigerian views life. This frame accepts an inferior position and lacks faith in his sense of identity and ability. This moral and cultural loss is the acceptance of the “single story” Chimamanda Adichie spoke about. The perception of our “made-in-Nigeria” goods and services are largely dependent on quality control and the media. Is every Nigerian committed to quality at all levels? Ever visited a restaurant or a bank where you received inhumane treatment and had to pay for it? This is beyond blaming our leaders(who are also from the people)to demanding and encouraging excellence from self and others. I personally will not lower my standards to accomodate expressions like”Nigerian time” or “This is Nigeria” as if we are synonymous with second-class or sub-standard. True independence begins with a sense of identity and pride,common vision,collective responsibility and commitment to the future of Nigeria and this begins with me and you.
Thoughtful article. What we need is serious media publicity for Nigerian made products,even our Aba made products ,if quality materials are used and they are well packaged,will go places.We need to believe more in ourselves.
The saddest part is the poor state of our health sector- why can’t they use the money spent on sending top govt officials abroad to develop our teaching hospitals? Corruption has eaten deep into the cells of our leaders that they no longer think! How many govt officials in other countries go out to seek medical care? Look at the Gov of Taraba- he was flown abroad but the other people who survived along with him have been left to ‘rot’ in our hospitals! God help Nigeria, amen
Amaka, I agree with you, see how the Taraba state governor was swiftly bundled abroad after the crash which raises 2 question in my mind:
1) Where will the funds for his medical biils come from?, his personal account or the state treasury? If it is the treasury, is it only the gov. That is entitled to medical trips abroad? How many people die daily in Taraba for lack of medical care?
2)Why didn’t they treat him in a Nigerian, better still Taraban Hospital? This shows that the services they have provided are poor even by their own standards.
@Dr. Kalu, I agree that it is our collective responsibility to promote our nigerianness. thumbs up for the comments everyone…