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We don’t act the same at home and abroad
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We don’t act the same at home and abroad

Nigerians are not the same at home and abroad, writes Alabidun Sarat, a 22 year old Commonwealth Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria, who contends that while her countrymen and women excel and display positive behaviours abroad,  at home there are some norms and values that influence people’s behaviours negatively. She calls for a revamping of the Nigerian system that supports this disparity.

Recently a tweet went viral on social media. A Nigerian lady expressed her thoughts about the way Nigerian men treat foreign women they are romantically involved with, compared to how they treat their Nigerian girlfriends and wives. In her opinion, Nigerian men are calm, proper and kind to women from other countries, and exhibit the opposite of this behaviour with Nigerian women. There were of course several dissenting opinions in the discussions on the topic ; however, sadly this lady’s view is not far from the truth.Not only  is this inconsistency evident in the way Nigerian men interact with their non-Nigerian romantic partners but it is also generally true that how Nigerians act and portray themselves in foreign or international contexts is far more positive than  what pertains at home.

Nigerian ministers and political office holders , for example, can hardly move without a convoy or retinue surrounding them, even causing a pile up of pedestrian an automobile traffic when they move around. The average political office holder has at least 10 aides at his beck and call, all paid for from the government purse. However when these leaders travel to foreign countries, there is hardly any convoy trailing them, and many of them even use public transport – of course without their aides. These actions would be unthinkable in their home country. But how does visiting other countries teach Nigerian leaders to be modest and why do they return to the status quo almost immediately after they return home?

Another example  of this disparity in our behaviour at home and abroad  can be seen in our youths. Male Nigerian youths are most times automatically classified as yahoo boys, in other words – internet scammers. Meanwhile many female youths  are called slay queens, a once innocent term used to describe beautiful well-dressed women turned derogatory to now mean prostitutes. However outside of Nigeria, the Nigerian youth thrives. Nigerians for example are one of the most successful immigrant groups in the United States;We constitute the highest number of black doctors there – and we excel. Oluyinka Olutoye , a Nigerian Doctor, recently performed a surgery in which he removed a baby from the womb, operated on the baby to remove it’s tumour and put the baby back into it’s mother’s womb where the baby continued to grow until it was born at near full term. The operation was the first of its kind in the world.Another success story is that of Silas Adekunle, a Nigerian youth who was named the highest paid robotics engineer in the world, and the list goes on and on and on.

Why do Nigerians thrive outside of the Nigerian context? Here’s why – the Nigerian value system does not allow you thrive.  It is fueled by showing off, dishonesty and cutting corners – which are not at all laudable values. It is also possible that parts of our culture inadvertently support some of these values. This is the case  when we reward the rich with chieftaincy titles regardless of their source of income or contributions to the society.

The Nigerian system also prioritizes people owning cars but doesn’t hold in high regard, those with the capability to manufacture these cars. At home, our systems aren’t development focused at all, yet we go about praising countries with better systems that work well. Luckily, systems and cultures are created by people and can be changed. But until our people make a conscious decision to overhaul the Nigerian value system,  Nigerians who migrate will be beneficiaries of foreign systems while the rest of  us at home continue to be impoverished by our beloved country.

 

Photo credit: Market scene in Abuja, Nigeria by IFPRI via Flickr (license)
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About me: I am a motivated young woman who feels very strongly about women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation and good governance.
My articles and news reports have been featured in several national dailies in Nigeria including The Punch, This Day, Daily Trust and The Nation. I am also an EAG/Ladiesfund media scholar and a graduate of Applied Chemistry from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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