If you ask a lot of young Nigerians this question, the answer you will most likely get is, ‘Nothing’.
Many do not believe Nigeria has done anything for them or has anything left to offer them. The popular slogan across the board now is, ‘I can’t wait to leave this country’.
But in the midst of those loud voices, you will hear the faint voices of a small group though unpopular at the moment, who would not want to live anywhere but in Nigeria. Their own slogan is, ‘If everyone leaves, who will build the country?’
Personally, I always wanted to live in different places outside of Nigeria. I wanted to experience life as I had read in books. I wanted and still want to travel the world.
It fascinated me to experience the way others live. My desire was not birthed by the fact that Nigeria wasn’t great to live in, but now that I have experienced life outside Nigeria, I will not have it any other way.
I love the peace and the fact that systems and government work. I even love the fact that everyone minds their business, even though it can be to the extreme sometimes.
That is why in spite of the discrimination a lot of us may face abroad, it is brushed off like lint on clothes, and we keep on living.
There is no excuse for discrimination and racism, but at least when the discrimination is coming from people who do not look like you, then just maybe it has ‘probable cause’.
Growing up in Nigeria was great, and I am grateful that I did, because it has helped me to appreciate a lot of things I might have otherwise taken for granted.
For one, even though the education in Nigeria at the moment might not be great, it was cheap, especially if you attended a public school.
Although for the most part, it was a traumatic. Not with the constant crises that broke out almost quarterly.
I can remember being afraid to go to bed one fateful night at school, because ‘they’ might come and kill you. The faceless and nameless ‘they’.
Even at the girls only boarding house I attended, that was supposed to be at least safe, many times you would find us running helter-skelter, because an intruder has been spotted. My experience may not be the same as others, but this was my experience and I because used to it.
You appreciate life more when you know that at any moment, it can be taken away from you.
Living abroad has taught me things can be better. I have always know this, but it is better experienced.
What pains me the most, is that many of those in the corridors and position of power, have had better lives and have also experienced life outside of Nigeria. So it is not for lack of knowledge that they act the way they do, I believe it is born out of a lack of will power to make any lasting change.
They want to maintain the status quo, because it keeps benefiting them, while they send their children off, all expenses paid, to live peaceful lives. I can’t for the life of me, understand how it is easier to kill innocent youths and witch-hunt those who were key in participating in a peaceful protest, than it is to disband a rogue police unit and bring culprits to face justice.
Some of the citizens on the other hand are not helping matters. Give me one good reason, why one will go to loot the means of livelihood of another fellow struggling neighbor. It makes no sense.
Maybe we can excuse them because they don’t know any better. It was Pearl S. Buck that said, and I quote, ‘A hungry man can’t see right or wrong. He just sees food.‘
I experienced a peaceful protest going on the other day, not far from where I stood close to a traffic stop. The participants were not up to fifteen, but they held up traffic and no one could move until they stopped. They were neither harassed nor intimidated.
I was standing with fellow Nigerians, and we laughed over how this cannot happen in the country of our birth.
Sad, but it is our painful reality.
Now back to the question. Has Nigeria done anything for me? Well, yeah.
It has taught me how to adapt to whatever challenges life throws at me.