I once asked a group of business professionals to pick a country they each dream to work and to my surprise over ninety percent of them didn’t blink before shouting: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. At first I was convinced it was because of the degree of development, efficiency and opportunity the country and its people have been able to create. The foundation they have laid. The history lived by their heroic fore fathers and the beauty of the cities. I WAS WRONG.
What did the Americans have in mind when they declared the country was God’s own…what drove the Emirates to establish a dream line seeks to develop a desert into a kingdom built with gold. If it was the beauty, then maybe Egypt, Greece and perhaps Italy would have equally been great choices for tourists and investors of these days. If it was the culture, countries like Nigeria should be top choice for the myriad we carry.
In my opinion, the answer is simple and perhaps the most fundamental teaching of every moral ideology: THEY ALL SOLD A DREAM. The Americans declared their land God’s owned and the whole world bought it. They believed the works of their hands would be blessed by the God that owned the country. They believed they could do anything they can conceive; after all it was the land of the deity…the land of God. The Emirates did the same thing: they pitched a dream to their people…that if they could build a kingdom so big and beautiful, the revenue from what they have done now would sustain the generations to come.
Why would a group of business professionals want to go to the land of God to do business? Why not? It became clearer as I moved from nation to nation, surveying the belief of the people and attributing it to the degree of development in the same nation. That opened up my line of sight as I realized that the stronger the belief in a nation, the stronger the development. The Britons believe in their superiority to every other race; their dream system is founded on the ideology that they were born to rule the world…so does the Germans. The Chinese believe in the strength of their numbers and diligence and discipline of the individual.
But the Nigerian believes in…
It took me a long search to figure out the Nigerian dream because it was easy to believe there is none? There is a NIGERIAN DREAM and in my opinion, it is a perfect reflection of where we are as a nation.
The Nigerian dream is simple and irrational: LESS WORK, MORE MONEY…
I believe in the mathematical law that says the left hand side of any equation must always equal the right hand side. Whenever disparities exist, the equation is said to be unbalanced and in such scenarios, the best option is to introduce a stochastic variable to fill up the shortfall. The Nigerian dream is mathematically unbalanced. However, there must be a balance of dream and effort to attain anything meaningful. These great nations know that and have put measures in place to ensure such efficiency. They are aware that God’s land must have an efficient system that guarantees security and property rights. They know they must continually generate revenue and spend efficiently to develop their nation into a production powerhouse for the world to seek refuge…they know their only option is to get it right.
Unlike a Nigerian, who want to wake up at six in the morning, go to work, come back at night, sleep, wake up again and continue the same cycle, and yet pray every morning for a miracle of riches. This cannot happen and whenever efforts and expectations don't balance, what comes in is a stochastic in the form of corruption. That is the Nigerian dream.
It got worse when I went to schools to ask who the kids wanted to be like when they grow up. The answers were scattered around three things: government agent/contractor (for reasons due to the amount of money they make), a superstar (for reasons due to the amount of money they make…again) and a ‘Yahoo boy’—fraudster—(for reasons due to the amount of money they make). Even the kids understood the dreams we have laid down. The rules have been indirectly built into their systems and all they know is simple: whatever you learn, whoever you are doesn’t matter unless you make money. No matter how you make it. Passion had been thrown out the window decades ago and the new-born don’t even know what it means to be anything near it. All we live on now is unfounded hope and sub-optimal principles and standards. We have forgotten what it means to want to give anything for everything and for that, all we do is hope for what we do not deserve.
My heart was drenched in sorrow after that survey and as a matter of fact, I felt like giving up. The dream system in Nigeria has normalised illegal variables like corruption and oppression of the masses. We have given a voice to men whose faces ought to be covered in shame given the number of crimes they have openly committed. We go to schools, own all the degrees, get a dream job and guess what we do next? We relax and believe it is now time to enjoy our lives; read and think less while we earn more.Moreover, just before you give yourself an excuse like every Nigerian does, ask yourself this: How come in a nation of over 150 million people, NO ONE IS DOING OR SELLING ANYTHING INNOVATIVE? What do we do…we get something that had been done everywhere and anywhere else and do it just for the money. We have gotten used to being fulfilled in another man’s dream.
The final clincher was when I watched everyone start passing the blame to the government for not providing an enabling environment. Isn’t it funny; when we needed to defraud the entire world, the environment was enabling. When we needed to relax and read less and club more, the environment was enabling. When we needed to embezzle money, the environment was enabling but when we needed to stay behind closed doors and think, work and produce something outside the box, the government was there to hinder us. Those words reminded me of a long lost, very funny friend; his name was LAZY and the only extraordinary thing he ever did was to fantasize about the day everything was perfect enough to enable him do something.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying the government has no role to play in people and nation development but I have learnt that when a man turns out poor, no one blames his father. The government has proven its inability to align the desires of the people with a credible dream line and for that their inefficiency is already priced into the system. Right now, all you and I have is ourselves and the best we can do is to make the best of it. We are currently at a point where we have to focus on what we can do for our Nigeria because Nigeria has proven time over time that it has nothing to offer us all besides home.