Are Nigerians lazy? Blame elders!
AN allegation that Nigerians are lazy is debatable. It is a trite saying that everybody is entitled to his opinion which may be good or bad. Whichever it is, opinion is, invariably subjective, depending on the perspective from which every individual examines it. On October 5, 2015, the Bishop of the Church of God International, Victory Miracle Cathedral, Most Reverend Eguowa Matthew, was reported to have said that many Nigerians were lazy. Matthew made the statement during a press briefing on the church’s programme, ‘Burning Bush’.
He Said laziness made Nigerians to look out for free things. He added that many were not willing to work, but willing to make money, thereby promoting promiscuity, robbery and social vices. He said, “Many people are lazy. We seem to have a very poor attitude to work in Nigeria. We believe in free lunches, long vacations and so on. We believe in going on strike for months and expect our salaries to be paid.”
I disagree with him entirely. Nigerians are not as lazy as he painted their picture. I am yet to know an industrious race like Nigerians. Is it in terms of physical or intellectual constitution that Nigerians are indolent? The prelate’s conclusions are sweeping. By what criteria was he able to assess that lazy Nigerians preponderate over industrious ones? There may be few lazy drones, comparatively, but this is not to conclude that majority of Nigerians are lazy and give nothing to the society, while a few others work. Invariably, these men in their cassocks and surplices consider it their special privilege to talk down churlishly on fellow citizens as they are pleased.
With 90 universities in the country –private, states and federal – thousands of graduates are annually churned out, thus making unemployment the order of the day. In most cases, because of the inadequacy of industries to absorb them they resort to undignyfying jobs, like Okada riding to keep body and soul together. Most of them remain in that business for years, eating and drinking whatever they have, rather than what they like. Are these the lazy Nigerians that Bishop Eguowa Matthew is referring to?
There are Nigerians in the urban centres and in the rural areas. Has the Bishop visited the villages to see our female farmers at work, slugging it out arduously like their male counterparts, with babies strapped at the back? Has the Bishop ever witnessed garri processing before, to realise the rigour of the labour expended thereof? Has he watched palm oil processing to be aware of its labour intensity? If he stays in the city centre, castigating Nigerians as lazy people looking for free things, he is economical with the truth. If our women are on the farms under the scorching sun, tilling the soil and planting crops with crude implements from dawn to dusk, and yet Bishop Matthew labels them as “promoting promiscuity, robbery and other social vices”, he must ask God for the forgiveness of his soul. I maintain that Nigerians are far from being lazy.
It is an opposite of true Christianity and an idle philosophy to start blaming people for what they are not guilty of. Nigerians are not lazy, by any standard. “Few” could be more appropriate, than “many”; the few ones are made to be so by our leaders, including the prelates in the religious houses. Has he stopped for a moment to inquire, if the right environment is created by our government for the “lazy” Nigerians? In the 1990s, I recollect a young barrow boy lamenting, “If I have the opportunity of being provided with farming tools – cutlasses and hoes, and I am drafted, among other young men, to the wide expanse of virgin land along the Lagos-Ibadan Express way, what stops me from working on the farms?” Hearing him, my eyes were moistened with tears of compassion for that poor Nigerian. I asked myself, “So, a young barrow man could possess such brilliant idea of working in the farm, instead of pushing barrow aimlessly about?”
To further buttress my arguments, two Banking and Finance graduates of my neighbours, ended up with marriages as they got no job, with age telling on them, and there was limit to spousal patience. To every action, there is a re-action. The elders have made the youths to become whatever they are today– the architects of the youth’s misfortune. Drawn into the whirling political, economic and social vortices, created by the elders, the youths are behaving accordingly. The Bishop is winding the youths up. But it is unfair to them.
Sometimes ago, the driver of the commercial vehicle that took me from Ikorodu to Ijebu-Ode was a graduate from one of our federal universities. He revealed this at the end of the journey at Lagos garage. Could this be a proof of laziness? No parents send their children to higher institutions to become the drivers of commercial vehicles. They are expected to be employed in decent jobs.
Amid a maelstrom of collapsed industries for decades, what efforts have our religious houses made to ameliorate the plight of the lazy Nigerians? They rather engage in pretentious sermons on the pulpits. In a country where lip service is paid to developments, what can the “lazy” Nigerians do to free themselves from the morass of the social vices? The nation is overwhelmed with problems of unpaid salaries of state government workers, spiraling inflations, frequent increases in electricity tariffs for customers, which fail to engage the attention of Bishop Matthew. On top of it all, religion is rapidly losing its grip on the people all over the world; religious adherents are dwindling, because of the threats of violence and material prosperity.
It is incumbent on our religious leaders to initiate business activities and combine efforts with the government to improve the economy. By so doing, clerics shall be in the best position to criticise many Nigerians as lazy.
• Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.