We Are All Victims- No Exemption!
“He that holds someone down, stays down also” African Proverb.
For some time now, I have observed and studied a peculiar trend in the behavioural pattern of many Nigerians. Different sectors of the nation’s workforce try to ‘survive’ the failure in the system by endangering others. And when you call their attention to the harm they cause others with their actions and inactions, they complain as if they are the only victims of the system. Let’s consider some case studies for clarity.
Across public universities in Nigeria today, students are expected to pay exorbitant amounts under the nomenclature ‘acceptance fee’. The child of a poor Nigerian that has struggled to pass the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and has chosen a Federal University with the hope of getting into the university at low financial burden, is slammed with an acceptance fee of forty to sixty thousand, as the case may be. This fee is not for tuition, neither is it for accommodation, but to say ‘thank you’ to the university for processing and giving them admission.
When the masses cry to the authorities, lamenting the destinies that such fees have destroyed as the chances of getting a university education is thwarted for many poor students because of these fees, Professors and academicians who are privy to be the direct beneficiaries of such charges will be all out to defend the madness. “The University is underfunded. We are trying to raise funds for the school. Would you want your child to be admitted to a university that is only a university in its name? The money is to help get basic amenities needed to make the university what it should be.”
The civil servant processing documents for private businesses in various ministries in the country, will request that you pay an unofficial processing fee to enable them to process your documents quickly. If you ask if that is not wickedness? The person might be kind enough to open the records to you. And you will be shocked to see that the civil servant designated to attend to you has not been equipped with basic requirements. The photocopying machine had long gone bad, the receipt produced by the government was delivered last about three years ago, and the logistics for running that office comes once in two or three years, so if you want to wait until the government wakes up to its obligation, good and fine. With such an explanation, they too see themselves as the victim and not you paying extra charges for their inadequacies.
Then you encounter the policeman on the street. The man that was assigned to guard you is angry like a German Shepherd that has not been fed for a whole week. He has lost his sense of duty and is angry with whoever gave him a gun to protect you. How do you expect him to protect you when the system has failed him? The system has refused to cater for his minutest needs and then expects him to protect you wholeheartedly? The uniform he puts on, the shoes on his feet, the bullet in the gun in his hand, the fuel and general maintenance for the ricketty car or pick up he used to get to that checkpoint, are all on him.
“Oga police why you dey paranoid”? You might want to ask. If you are close to him, he will answer you without cocking his gun. He is not asking for life insurance in case he die on duty, he is not asking for insurance for the education of his children, should he die while giving his all to protect you, he is not asking for salary for life for his widowed wife, if he ends up not getting home alive while carrying out his duties, he is only asking for the basic necessities to carry out his job. The required clothing, the required arms, and the regular payment of his salary and allowances.
And when he is done talking, you see him as the victim, and not you that he has abandoned to protect.
You go again to the trader in the market, that one that uses paracetamol to boil meat, that one that uses sniper to preserve beans and other cereals, that one that uses detergent to process “fufu”, that one that turns the cup when you are not looking and uses the base of the cup to measure for you; and then you ask, “why are you so wicked”?
“Nor be our fault” she replied. “Every day all these politicians dey increase rent for this small stall. Do you know that they increase the amount we pay for this small space from #1500 to #5000? How much do we make? They will sell state government ticket, local government ticket, market development ticket, waste management ticket, ‘unified income tax for traders’ ticket, all this na daily tickets oooh, you self reason am, how much we dey sell per day? My brother, you see am say nor be our fault. All na to survive”.
Who then is responsible? You might want to ask. Let’s go to the politicians, they are our elected leaders and should know better.
The politician too starts the victim narrative. “You see my brother, this country is very difficult to rule”, he explains. “The people will put you in serious debt before voting for you. As if that is not enough, they will still be bringing all their problems to you when you get elected. How do they expect you to pay back the debts you incurred during the elections? How do they expect you to meet their daily needs? If you don’t embezzle and you don’t increase taxes to create multiple sources of income, how can one survive? My brother, even the politician too, wants to survive!”
Why you are complaining about the part that affects you, have you considered how your actions make life unbearable for others?
Every Nigerian is a victim of the failure in leadership and followership that we have found ourselves. And until we all rise as one to collectively attack and address the problem collectively, we will continue to endanger ourselves with the illusion that we are protecting ourselves. No one is immune to the failure of leadership in this country, the degree of victimization is what varies!
Attitudinal & Behavioural Coach
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.