I previously wrote in a post that Nigeria is not Great!”
While I stand by every word in that post, and still consider it to be a tame description of the state of affairs in our nation, I recognize that there are numerous examples of greatness in our dear country. Therefore I have decided to showcase some obscure examples of greatness in Nigeria. One could say these examples and individuals are not special. In a sense we could say they are just doing what they should normally do, but it is so out of sync with the norm that it should be celebrated. There is so much not to like about the corporate trajectory of Nigeria as a country as I pointed out in the critique mentioned above. However there is also much greatness in Nigeria.
So here is the first portrait of greatness:
Nnaemeka Anyiam is from Imo state in the Southern part of Nigeria. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical/Electronics Engineering from Federal University of Technology Owerri. In his early twenties, he is presently on the year-long post-college National Youth Service. And for that he was posted to Zamfara State. Zamfara was the first state to adopt Sharia law in Nigeria and is a stronghold of Islam in northern Nigeria. Nnaemeka is also a christian.
A few years ago during the federal elections many youth corp members were killed in post-election violence. Most of these people were from the Christian south of Nigeria and people called for the abolishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) since the government could not guarantee the protection the youth sent out on national service. Many potential corps members just insist on getting reassigned or just don’t go when posted to the far north for NYSC. Suspicion, nepotism and sectarianism is rife in Nigeria, and the sharpest divide is between the mainly Muslim North and the largely christian South.
Nnaemeka wrote an article recently titled “The NYSC, Zamfara State and I” about his experiences
I also found that the average Hausa Muslim man is truthful, empathic and down-to-earth. When he tells you it is N10 gaskiya, so it is. Tell their bike [motorcycle transport] men you’re stranded and you will more often than not get a free ride. In my PPA [primary place of assignment], my bosses will make tea in the morning and even the gateman will partake, using a mug from the boss’s office, but bosses in the South are to be worshipped from afar. Ordinary change is difficult to get in the East. Here a bike man in motion will stop to make change for a stranded colleague. Eastern traders are in constant customer tussle with themselves, but it’s not so here. Your effort at learning their language is instantly rewarded by slashed prices. These ones are really of a different ilk.
I’ve understood that you don’t stand far off and make up convoluted stories about people. Come closer, live among them and friends, you’ll be amazed at how much you did not know. But more importantly, I’ve seen that we are all the same Nigerians and can exist as one; you as a Christian, I as a Muslim and life will still go on. Our cultural and religious differences are simply variety which we all know is the spice of life. There’s really no need for the hate.
But Nnaemeka doesn’t just write, he is metaphorically putting his money where his mouth is by walking the talk. He is trying to make a difference in Zamfara state through The Save Project. He is trying to provide computer education to public school students, dig water wells in communities without potable water and provide basic supplies to Almajiri kids.
Despite my dismay at the state of things in Nigeria, it is people, attitudes, and actions like these that give me hope for the future of Nigeria. That is why I’m highlighting Nnaemeka and the Save Project as a portrait of greatness in Nigeria. You can help support the project here. See the Save project for more information.
Feel free to suggest other portraits of greatness in Nigeria.