There is no better way to describe it.
I saw the most ironic sight on the train on my way into the city of London a few days ago.
It was a black man in his 50’s, maybe 60’s fully kitted in a city of Westminster parking warden uniform. Just as I wondered where this man was from, I saw it. A lapel pin. GREEN WHITE GREEN proudly pinned to his chest.
It got me thinking. This elderly guy whose career does not even exist in his home country is wearing a a lapel pin with pride as if to say NIJA FOR LIFE.
You migrate to a country to do a low paid job but you are stil proudly Nigerian?
How does that even work?
I have met many Nigerians working very low paid hard labour jobs in my travels across the world and I have always marvelled at their sense of patriotism even when they have fled stagnation in their fatherland and are now hustling in a foreign land.
I have always said that most Nigerians living abroad doing lowly paid jobs would NEVER take those jobs back home even if they could make the same money. We are just too proud. We do not understand the phrase DIGNITY OF LABOUR.
I don’t mean to sound elitist here by the way. I have worked some pretty crap jobs myself. But only when I was studying in Nigeria and coming here during the holidays to make some money.
The worst job I had was as a kitchen porter and i quit after a few days when the disrespect from my Asian supervisor became unbearable. I remember I returned to Nigeria that year without a single new item. I am that proud.
Back to our subject matter.
We will all agree that many of the people who migrate abroad do so because they are fed up of the hardship and lack of progress in Nigeria. In fact most of them do so at all costs and by any means necessary.
Nobody migrates to go and live a worse life. They do so to ensure that they or and their kids have a better life.
I know many people who came to the UK or moved to the US and started off doing low paying jobs and today many of them are earning 6 figure salaries working in the top 100 companies in the UK. They too will say NIJA4Life. But Nija has done nothing for them.
But when I see an elderly man, looking old and worn, whose job requires walking around in an oversized suit in the pouring rain, scorching sun or coldest winter looking for some car that has overstayed in a parking bay or on a yellow line from 8am to 6:30pm everyday, I cannot help but wonder what his Nija patriotism is built on.
Nija Patriotism seems to me like an extreme form of foolishness. Why is it always the people cheated by the system, raped and abused by poor leadership who are patriotic. The people who milk the system and make a fortune from the dysfunction are evidently less patriotic. Their kids study abroad. They have house abroad, they travel frequently and wear all the foreign brands.
So how can poverty ridden people live Nigeria more than them. Is it because they have no where else to go? Is it because they have never seen the other side of the world to appreciate that they are living in hell on earth and that living the Nigerian was is not normal at all
How can you be loyal or love a country that does not even allow you feed your family?
How can you be loyal or love to a country that does not provide healthcare for you or your family?
How can you be loyal or love a country that does not provide basic education for your or your family?
How can you be loyal to a country that cannot supply pipe borne water or electricity to your home or provide security for you or your family?
Patriotism in my book must be a two way street.
Nigerians should stop being loyal to a contraption that can best described as a totally failed state.
You can’t be the beneficiary of a functioning country and yet wear the lapel pin of the source of your sorrow and strife proudly.
This is like a man who divorces a terribly rude and perhaps even evil spouse and marries a lovely gentle one but still insists on keeping the picture of his ex terror on his desk at work and his walls at home to the chagrin of his new spouse. Is this not madness?
Patriotism can no longer be unconditional. If Nigeria cannot provide us the basics that will allow us to live a decent life, then we must DIVORCE ourselves from it.