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]