Editorial: Why Buhari Must Stop Calling Nigerians “Lawless and Unruly”

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Editorial: Why Buhari Must Stop Calling Nigerians "Lawless and Unruly"

Who is a leader? Simply put, a leader is someone who heads a group of people, showing them a clear direction and inspiring them toward said direction. President Buhari who has been elected as the leader of this country has however seized any available opportunity presented to him to point out all that is wrong with Nigeria. In his independence speech, he inferred that Nigerians were lawless and unruly. This name calling has to stop.

Though his independence speech was made almost two weeks ago now, it is important to bring this issue up especially since the BBC had a field day with this speech. Several articles were published by the BBC with one of them titled: Can President Buhari stop Nigerians being unruly? written by one Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani from Abuja.

Before taking on the issues raised in that article, it is important to first point out to President Buhari that his “body language” and his constant insinuations and many times, outright statements, tend to suggest that every Nigerian except himself is corrupt, unruly and lawless. While we know that there tends to be a prevalence unruly behaviours around the country, it is not for the President to go all over the world shouting it. It is for you Mr President to lead the people to a new attitude and national identity. That is the job of a leader.

Having said all of the above, we must also point out that if Nigerians are lawless and unruly, then Mr President, you also are lawless and unruly because you are a Nigerian. You cannot speak of Nigeria and Nigerians in the third person because you are involved.

Now to the article by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani of BBC asking if President Buhari can stop Nigerians being unruly. Let us take a close look at the issues raised. The writer actually listed some unruly behaviour of Nigerians. These include:

  • The Nigerians who will never stand in any queue, who must make their way to the front as soon as they arrive
  • The drivers who will never stop at a traffic light, who consider it anathema to allow an empty space in front of their vehicles
  • The invisible individuals who excrete piles of solid waste on the pavements, night after night
  • The staff who take three weeks’ leave to attend their father’s burial, then another three weeks later in the year to attend their father’s burial, again. “That first one was my father who paid my school fees,” they say. “This one is my biological father”
  • The mothers who threaten the head teacher with fire and brimstone because their children were punished for coming late to school
  • The bosses who, in the presence of their entire staff, praise you for your excellent work skills, then wink and ask if you also have excellent “bedroom skills”, while everyone present bursts out laughing
  • The top government officials who show off their importance by the number of people jam-packed into their waiting rooms. They give you an appointment for 7am, knowing full well that they do not intend to see you until 10pm
  • The air hostesses who frown throughout the flight, to avoid giving you the false impression that they are at your beck and call
  • The “big men” and “big women” who scream “Do you know who I am?” when you ask for some identity before they can be allowed through the gate
  • Those who ring the airline to request that the flight be delayed for their sakes, while their fellow passengers gaze out of the aeroplane windows for an hour, wondering why the flight is delayed, this time

These indeed are things that a lot of people are familiar with. Having lived in Nigeria all my life, I can related with a lot of these things. At the same time, I also know that there are a lot of exceptions in the same Nigeria.

Let’s look at a Nigerian who will never stand in a queue. I have been in such situations and discovered that a little education helps sort that issue out. Take for example a situation in the bank. Someone cuts the queue and walks to the front to be attended to by a staff he or she knows. I walk to the staff and make the staff understand that if he or she attends to that individual ahead of those on the queue, I will take up the issue with the manager immediately. After this statement, they usually comport themselves and tell the person to join the queue.

Now, take the same scenario to a government office. Someone cuts to the front and you walk up to the attendant and threaten to take the issue up with his or her manager. What response do you get? Nothing! In fact, that may make you stay longer than usual. What’s the difference here? In one place, there is a structure and channel where complaints can be made and heard. In another, there is no such thing.

The second issue raised is the issue of not stopping at the traffic light. First, in the U.S and U.K, there is a consequence for not stopping at the red light. The people in U.S and UK may not have wanted to stop, but they know that the redlight camera will capture their details and their fines will be delivered in the mail. The fact that many drivers in the U.S and UK still get fines in their mail for traffic violations show that they are not inherently good, but have been helped to behave better because of the system operational there.

The writer must have concentrated on using government offices as example. There is no private company in Nigeria where you can take the kind of leave the writer wrote about. In fact, in many private companies, you will be paid not go on your legitimate leave. The examples are both funny and one-sided.

There are many schools in Nigeria where the parent(s) cannot walk in and scold how much more shout at the teacher. All these examples listed are meant to show the worst of the situation. It is however allowed for her because she wants her article to be read. It is totally different when it is the President of the country painting the nation black every so often.

If you say Nigerians are lawless and unruly but they behave themselves when they are overseas, are you not contradicting yourself? If these people are indeed lawless and unruly, they will behave same way anywhere they go. The fact that they can behave better when in other climes show that their so called lawlessness is actually a failing in the system.

I assure Mr President and 

Mr President, Nigerians are a good people and we are a great nation. All we need is some structure that works. Let us have channels to report erring police officers on the street and let us see them investigated and punished when found guilty. Let us have traffic lights that work ALL THE TIME and let us have cameras that take snap shots of offending drivers and their vehicles. Nigerian drivers like their counterparts in the UK and the U.S will drive better, knowing that they are always being monitored.

Let us have a system that does not shield party members who are accused of corruption and even appoint them ministers while at the same time threatening blue murder at corrupt politicians from another party. Let our judiciary be truly independent. Let appointments and promotions be based on merit and not quota system.

Let every Nigerian have a level playing field. Let the child from Anambra have the same chances of gaining admission into a unity college as a child from Zamfara. Where a child from Anambra is expected to score 139 to gain admission into a unity school and his counterpart from Zamfara is only required to score 4 into same school for same program is scandalous. They both have the same number of brain cells so why the disparity?

The problem of Nigeria is not that Nigerians are unruly and lawless. It is a systemic thing that only the leader of the nation can begin to change.

Mr President, please stop insulting the people that elected you by calling them names – lazy, lawless, unruly, noise makers etc. They elected you because you promised change. Though the change must come from us all, you however MUST lead it in words, attitude, policies, structures and systems.

Once again, if Nigerians are lawless, unruly and lazy, then sir you are all of these and more because you are not just a Nigerian, you are the Nigerian President.

BBC: Can President Buhari stop Nigerians being unruly?

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256 Comments on "Editorial: Why Buhari Must Stop Calling Nigerians “Lawless and Unruly”"

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Chukwudi Ebenezer

When buhari..lost..in 2011…wasnt he..lawless?..any attack on..boko haram..is an attack on the north..and many..lawless speeches…hw i wish fela..was alive…this nahim be teacher teach me..nonsense….

Nwachi Eucharia

God was not happy with Moses when he call the Isrealites Rebels, A leader is not surpposed to use such language on his subjects, if nigerians are lawless and unrully, what is he there for????????????? He dat say, do not commit Adulterly, dose he not eat things dat are sacrifised to Idols????????

Dan Bassey

That is why ua d president now so u a benefactor. If not y wil u bcme a president wt a NEPA bill cert.?

Shedy Oka

Nigerians including PMB abi?

Nwimo Happiness

Buhari is among d pple dat made Nigeria a lawless country.

Friday Enwereji

I believe buhari is talking to the stupid northernerns and the useless yorubas that voted an illiterate into power. They are lawless and very stupid, WE BIAFRA’S ARE GREAT PPL.

Friday Enwereji

This aboki of a president is right, if not why will the citizens of nigeria vote an illiterate into power? Why will he come out seeing he has no good qualification? Cos he knws that nigeria is lawless.

Leticia Obi

Even when ur son goes wrong in d public u protect him first after come home and tell him u are wrong word of elders.

Kaduru Jude
The contraption called Nigeria represent evil. I challenge any good Nigerian to an open debate. I’m in Nigeria but I hate that word Nigeria, I have prayed severally for peace and light in this damnable republic but God did not answer. Now I have changed my prayer point to a peaceful dissolution/seperation. Please everyone should not abuse one another. The north are tired of the east, the east detest the west, the west abhor the east. But we all call upon God. Therefore, let the national assembly start the process of peaceful disintegration. The only people benefitting from one Nigeria… Read more »
Atata Jazrinatata

Biafra or you all keep living in darkness with buhari the terrorist s