Nigeria’s Only Problem


“Old Oshodi in Lagos” (600×600)  by Ayeola Ayodeji 

What is Nigeria’s Problem?

When you invite a Nigerian to describe what the country’s problem is, get ready to die of boredom, because they’ll go on for too long, in an attempt to describe things that aren’t close to being problems. “Bad roads, bad classrooms, corrupt governments and greedy officials, bad power supply, bad this and bad that, ba—” It’s okay, my brother. Let’s breathe.

Most of us Nigerians don’t even know what Nigeria’s problem is, and that itself is a problem.

Bad roads, bad classrooms, corrupt governments and officials, bad power supply, and whatnot, are not problems. There are bad roads in Northern Canada, and poorly-built houses and classrooms in Flint, Michigan, and bad power supply in Cameroon, and corrupt governments and officials in Russia, Israel and North Korea. Well, they are everywhere, even in the United States- the “most democratic” of them all. The secret handshake deals that take place between and among public and private interests would take more than a fortnight to analyze.


“Procession” (20 x 16 x 2 inches) by Tunde Afolayan 

Bad facilities and all that are mere consequences of Nigeria’s only problem, or second problem, the first being the one aforementioned—Nigeria doesn’t know what its problem is, and that’s a problem.

Nigeria’s only problem is that we Nigerians have a wrong sense of entitlement, and we can be quite aggressive and close-minded, even to change and development. It is not that we sometimes do not set our priorities right, or something else that you probably anticipated, if you did.

By a “wrong sense of entitlement”, what do I mean?

From the mechanic that is willing to beat you up or yell “ashewooooo!” [prostitute!] at you if you refuse to give him your number, to the policemen and soldiers who expect you to treat them like demigods when your paths cross, and offer your sacrifices in naira notes when applicable, to the local and state government officials who find it okay to steal from the people (after all they’re in charge) instead of getting things done with the resources available, to the pastor who deems huge offerings his right, regardless of the means of survival of the donors, because he is God’s mouthpiece, to Alhaji, who doesn’t really care if his car is packed in your driveway or the sound from his speakers is giving you a migraine—you must be Beelzebub’s girlfriend for not liking noise pollution—to Mummy ‘Dekola who deems your business her business and will die of high blood pressure if you don’t kneel before her properly, to our street men and roadside NURTW tax collectors who do not mind breaking windows and removing doors if they do not get a chance to extort drivers, even when the union dues have already been paid, to the drivers who think it’s okay not to pay their union dues, to Yahoo boys and men who think its okay, and even necessary, to make someone else wallow in depression, for their own survival and well-being- the interesting thing is, the rich almost never fall into their traps; it’s people like their own mothers or other members of the working class who do, to everything and anything else you can think of.

Whew! Yes, it really is that stressful- all of it.


“Fulani Ladies” by Ayeola Ayodeji 

Inadequate infrastructure, corruption, poor governance, and whatnot all stem from the root—the devil itself—having a wrong sense of entitlement. The bloody Nigerian Assembly is a mess for the same reason. Climbing fences. Throwing chairs. A mess!

The interesting this is, a wrong sense of entitlement might develop in someone because someone else has it: “You think it’s your right to block my driveway with your car, and I will show you that I have a right to break your glass.” What does it all result in? A mess!

Unfortunately, a wrong sense of entitlement and the “me first” approach to things is not just a Nigerian problem. It’s the problem of the world. However, in places where it is less dominant in the culture of the society, there have been lots of infrastructural, economic and social success. They are the “better” societies.

Let everyone, that would include me and you, stop thinking they own or deserve to own the things, or the extra things, that they haven’t worked for and/or simply don’t deserve, and watch the nation, and the world, heal and grow.

It’s okay if my wife doesn’t want to cook today. As the “head of the house”, if the title matters so much to my ego and self-esteem, I should be able to fix something for myself and my family. I am not automatically superior to anyone because I belong to a certain ethnic group. When I use words like “aboki” and “mola” (mallam) or “omo nna” in derogatory ways, I must know that I am wrong. It’s okay if I don’t win someone’s soul to Christ or to Allah; why am I so obsessed with winning it like a trophy? It’s okay if I don’t get your number; you don’t need to be insulted or disgraced for it. The money in the public purse is not mine, and I don’t deserve more than what my allocated salaries and benefits are.

A reorientation is needed, and I am fully aware that a reorientation is easier said that done, but we can try, at least. We can start from the elementary schools. There should be subjects/courses like Ethics, for instance. I don’t know how algebra has contributed to my existence, in the way that I interact with the world. The schools barely prepare us for the real world; I’ll discuss this some other time.


These are some of the things that should be considered:

The spirit of volunteerism has to be encouraged among us Nigerians. Also, I don’t know what has happened to us but sympathy and mutual respect melt quicker in online communities and spaces. The wrong sense of entitlement gets worse when you give people Internet privileges.

1. Throw your thrash away properly. It’s not your street, you only live there.

2. Driving is a privilege, not a right. A little patience could save your own life.

3. You deserve every woman and everything because you have a penis. Your wife or husband is not your property; they are not to be assaulted even when your brain tells me to go ahead because they deserve it. Your masculinity or femininity is not an egg; it shouldn’t be so fragile.

4. Taking things that belong to you when you know quite well that you can locate and return them to the owner, and even having the effrontery to steal because you strongly believe that it is God’s provision is another level of sickness.

5. If something is wrong, don’t just ignore it; speak up against it if you can or report the matter to those who can.  

6. Any public property is not mine to deface or abuse. When the government creates something for people to enjoy, it is my duty to respect myself a resident/citizen, keeping it clean and leaving it where it is.

I’ll leave 6, 7 and 200 to you to come up with. Change begins with me and you.

14 thoughts on “Nigeria’s Only Problem

  1. 5. The Nigerian economy is not a national cake to bring your knife to for a piece.

    Brilliant article, i have always said it, the biggest problem Nigeria has are its citizen’s. These citizens are in every organ and association, wide spread across the whole country like a virus. We need a revolution of the mind in this generation 😔.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t be a 2-minute journalist because you want to be the first to post about an accident on Facebook, help the victim(s).
    Don’t expect me to call you Mummy Broda ‘Dekola because he is not “my mate”, that’s a mouthful.
    It is never ok to berate corrupt politicians/ policymakers on social media and hail them as “chairman!” when you meet them

    Aderiounke, you have said it all. we all have to do better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The World’s Only Problem | aderiounke

    • Who is “her government”? When you say “the government”, what do you mean? The system of government or the people?

      Who are the individuals that make up the government? How were they raised, as children and young adults? What schools did they go to? What is their sense of morality like, and why have they become what they have become? What kind of culture have they inherited, and what kind of orientation do they have regarding how a government should be run? Why do people take money that is not theirs, or refuse to do what they should do?

      The government does not litter the streets. The government does not take bribe at the passport office, or on the streets. The government does not ask for sex in exchange for academic success, or refuse to direct traffic. The government does not refuse to hire me because I’m Igbo, or refuse to pay me my salary/pension for 4.5 consecutive months.

      It is the people, whether or not they hold government positions, that do as they please in whatever positions they hold. Why? Well, because they can, and they feel entitled to doing so, regardless of the consequences.

      If you think about it, hopefully you’ll get the point.


      • When i say government i mean the the leaders at the three arm of government who are charged with the responsibility of protecting, providing basic amenities, making and executing laws, policies and programs as prescribed by the constitution.

        What do you expect when government institutions are not well funded and taken care of?

        You said government does not take bribe, but I’m saying government do even worse. What about subsidy scam, MIANAgate, NIA, NNPC contract, the grass cutting contract, padded budget and have you read the latest on Abacha loot and AGF?

        Talk of controlling traffic; who’s supposed to direct traffic? The government or the people? Is provision and maintenance of traffic lights not part of government responsibilities? Who controls the activities of academic institutions in nigeria. Is education not under exclusive and concurrent list and how well are they being funded?

        As for pension are you talking about PENCOM or PFA and I haven’t heard of private organizations owing salaries for 4-5 consecutive months.

        Talking about hiring people; don’t we have ministry of labour and employment? How many people have they employed? If there were adequate jobs the issue of where one comes from will not even arise.

        I get your point, the lead are not exempted from the problem we are all part of it and we have a role to play individually and collectively as a group in order to come out of this mess that we find ourselves.

        Nevertheless, government has failed at all levels and the failure of government in carrying out it responsibilities effectively and efficiently is the major cause of what we are going through today.

        PS. Do you have your pvc?


  4. “PS. Do you have your pvc?”
    Haha! So that if I say “no”, you’ll say “see, you are a part of the problem”, or is that not why you asked?
    Well, maybe not, since you think “her government” is to blame for the country’s problem.

    You see, that kind of attitude is why the country doesn’t move forward.

    Read what you wrote to yourself. You wrote “nevertheless, government has failed at all levels and the failure of government in carrying out it responsibilities effectively and efficiently is the major cause of what we are going through today”, “when i say government i mean the the leaders”.

    Good. Your assimilation ability is terribly slow, almost infuriating, but we’re getting there.

    Are leaders not people, like you? Right. Who puts a leader there? By hook or by crook, a person could become a leader because they think they deserve to be there, whether they are qualified or not. What do you call that in English? A sense of entitlement? Right.

    Why does a person become a bad leader? Why would a person refuse to carry out their “responsibilities effectively and efficiently”, whether or not they were elected freely and fairly? They could neglect their duties if they think they have the power to do as they please. What do you call that? A sense of entitlement? Right.

    If you are going to solve the country’s problem of “bad government”, break it down into bits, then trace it to the grassroot. I am not saying the government or ministry of whatever-the-fuck is fair, but people, human beings, like me and you, make up the governments and ministries. The people that make up the governments are not doing as they should because they think they can, since there are no direct repercussions for not doing their duties properly and fairly.

    The root of the problem is a wrong sense of entitlement. Bad governments, corruption, bribery, unemployment, tribalism, and what have you, all stem from that one problem. Who is in charge of the Ministry of Labour? Why is he or she not doing their job? Are they trying to or not, and why have they been unsuccessful if they have? Why are their colleagues not cooperating? It’s simple. Because they feel entitled to their positions of power/control, and so they do as they please.

    “As for pension are you talking about PENCOM or PFA and I haven’t heard of private organizations owing salaries for 4-5 consecutive months.” Darling, this is not a public-private institution debate. This is an individual debate. Strip everyone of their titles, and you’ll notice that majority share that one problem in common.

    If you still don’t get it now then I’ll take it that you are just not bright enough to, and there’s nothing I can do to help you do.

    PS. In response to your question, I have. Furthermore, I am a Canadian by naturalization, I don’t live in Nigeria. People have a sense of entitlement here as well, and they don’t do as they should sometimes because they think they can, but they are often adequately punished or exposed. It’s not a perfect governnment, but it’s alright, because the people that hold positions don’t feel entitled to doing as they please.

    Take care.


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