One thing I observe with different nationalities is that, the average people in underdeveloped countries are generally more interested in politics than their counterparts in developed and wealthy developing countries. This is perhaps understandable though, because while the obsession of the average people in developed and prosperous developing countries basically centers on affording the latest lifestyle trend with its associated flamboyance, their counterparts in underdeveloped countries still languish in absolutely avoidable deprivation of basic human needs, infrastructure and services necessarily needed for human survival today.
While the average person in many developed and rich developing countries thinks about where to spend his next summer holiday or what car brand he would buy when the latest brands hit the markets, his counterpart in an underdeveloped country is still worried about basic human needs, and indeed endures acute shortage of basic services e.g. electricity/potable water supply, education and healthcare services etc., which are also of extremely poor quality where they exist.
In advanced and affluent developing countries, public service delivery system is hardly politicized for it’s considered too vital to be politicized. In these countries, the provision of public services and development projects remains the responsibility of relevant government agencies, which they carry out systematically starting from the point of project proposal, feasibility study, designing, contract awarding, execution and maintenance. The involvement of the political office holders overseeing these agencies remains strictly within the confines of their supervisory functions to ensure compliance with government’s strategic policies.
Consequently, people in these countries take quality public services and sustainable development projects for granted, which explains why they apparently don’t see the need for being obsessed with the politics of public service delivery. This however doesn’t make them politically naïve. After all, their largely well-informed pattern of voting during elections proves the sophistication of their political exposure. They vote for politicians based on their individual merits, because they are too enlightened to be tricked into voting in the so-called “SAK” way, for instance, under any circumstances.
In underdeveloped countries, however, the average people’s excessive obsession with politics doesn’t result in political awareness. In Nigeria, for instance, the average people’s never-ending lamentations over leadership-inflicted misery they have been subjected to, hardly go beyond social media platforms, their Mai Shayi joints and other hangouts. Their persistent reluctance to take matters into their own hands by revolutionizing their political mindset and voting pattern during elections, suggests their lack of real commitment to achieving the kind change they supposedly aspire to achieve. Instead, they are seemingly contented with the semblance of solace they apparently derive from such empty and boring lamentations.
This situation is particularly manifested today on Nigerians’ space of social media where a wave of lamentations often breaks out over a scandal in government or its failure to provide something, which generates a controversy that lasts for a certain period of time only to be overshadowed by another round of controversy generated by another wave of lamentations, and the trend goes on.
Worse still, the controversy hardly centers on addressing issues, and where it actually does; it hardly addresses them in light of Nigeria’s peculiar challenges and circumstances. When a Nigerian critic laments over a situation, condemns an incident or makes criticism over a particular issue in the country, he consciously or unconsciously displays disproportionate shock as though the issue he is making criticism over isn’t already prevalent in the country. For instance, when he condemns a case of, say, human right abuse, he sounds too shocked as though human right abuse isn’t actually rampant in the country, and he also sounds as though he is addressing the issue in the context of, say, New Zealand (one of the best countries in the world in terms of respect for human right), not Nigeria where human right abuse is already pervasive.
Similarly, when he condemns a case of corruption in the country, he equally sounds too surprised as though he is condemning a corruption case in, say, Norway (one of the most transparent countries in the world), not Nigeria where corruption is already endemic and is in fact effectively institutionalized. Also, when he recommends strategies to tackle it, he overlooks the fact that Nigeria’s peculiar challenges and circumstances in this regard warrant the provision of unconventional strategies effective enough to address these peculiar circumstances. He therefore sounds quite oblivious of the fact that the conventional strategies he offers prove effective only in countries where corruption penetration is manageable.
Incidentally, though an emotional reaction of such nature to such serious problems isn’t entirely misplaced, it suggests how such a critic effectively dismisses the imperative of addressing the problems within Nigeria’s peculiar context, which is actually an intricate network of corrupt practices, impunity and mediocrity perpetrated over the decades that also must be tackled as a whole and concurrently as well for an effective and sustainable solution to be achieved. Besides, in most cases it turns out that he harbours some politically or ethnically motivated prejudices that motivate him to deliberately ignore the need to address the issue in its proper context knowing that this would necessarily entail criticizing some individuals he doesn’t want to criticize.
Anyway, in the same vein, he mistakes Nigeria’s massive economic potential for instantly spendable resources, hence he unnecessarily overestimates the amount of resources at government disposal. This explains why he can’t come to terms with the fact that Nigeria is, by all economic standards, currently poor, in fact, very poor for that matter, and it would remain so or become even worse off until it actually and properly exploits its abundant but largely abandoned economic potential.