Why are Nigerians so “not” Unhappy?
I have patterned the title and contents of this article after a similar article by an anonymous author titled “Why are Americans Unhappy?” that I came across on the web. Hence I dare not claim complete originality. However, while the guy is wondering what Americans have to be unhappy for, I have been wondering what Nigerians have to be happy for.
A recent study of more than 65 countries published in the UK's New Scientist magazine had suggested that the happiest people in the world live in Nigeria.
In essence, Nigerians because of, or in spite of their situation are happy. So being the person I am, I starting thinking, "What are we so “not” unhappy about?"
Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week? Could it be that 90 % of these happy Nigerians have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk to the neigbourhood market at any time without fear of your cell phone being stolen or an irate danfo driver hitting you, and get there to see fresh food at affordable prices?
Maybe it is the ability to drive from Lagos to Maiduguri without having to present green notes to the men in black, or our life savings to the other men in black as we move through each state?
Or possibly, the fact that we do not encounter potholes that have become death traps in our travel across the nation’s roads is what makes us happy?
Or the hundreds of clean and safe hotels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having petrol stations with petrol at normal prices along the way is what we are so happy about. Or the choice to take a “luxurious” bus to avoid the stress of driving yourself, and still be sure of arriving at your destination on time and in one piece?
Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor, they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.
Perhaps, we are happy due to the fact that when we sprain our ankle while exercising at home after a heavy meal, we can easily walk to the nearest hospital for treatment, or the fact that the multitude that suffer from catarrh and kidney ailments are flown to German hospitals at government cost.
Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Nigerians who own a home. You may be happy with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters from the well-equipped Fire Brigade will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames, thus saving you, your family and your belongings.
Or maybe the fact that your house isn’t fenced round like a prison ,or that you can go to sleep at night with your door unlocked and your windows open for fresh air to get in?
Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat-screen TVs, with regular electricity provided by PHCN, without the disturbing noise of your neighbour’s generator, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of stray bullets or armed political thugs maiming and pillaging the residents - in neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.
How about the complete economic and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? The right to choose our leaders without the People Deceiving People’s party shoving accredited thieves down our throats as candidates seems to be what makes us happy.
Or is it because over 90% of our university graduates are employed even before leaving school? And you can go to work and get back daily without wasting several hours in traffic? And the private sector is provided with such an enabling environment that tyre companies don’t have to move their operations out of Nigeria?
I guess we are happy because our pensioners get paid on time without having to stay on queues for several days to get their peanut gratuities. Or because in the Niger Delta, they drive on paved roads and live in big buildings that are the dividends of having natural resources.
Now, I am beginning to understand why we are happy. Because we have a president who holds us in such a high esteem that he makes time out of his busy schedule to visit Lagos when there is a bomb explosion at the military cantonment. We have ministers who serve us so selflessly that our beautiful roads can lay claim to the “Seven Wonders of the World”, while our doctors are so well paid that they never go on strike.
The fact is we are so “not” unhappy because there appears to be so little or nothing to be happy about, that if our happiness were to be taken away from us, and we refused to be happy, there would really be little to live for.
If we don't remain “happy”, what we have will be taken away. Then, the ruling party and its beautiful reform programmes that engender “happiness” in us might be swept out in the coming elections. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such “blessings and abundance”.
If we are not careful, this generation will be known as the generation that saw through the screen that covered their eyes and did the right thing by voting out the bad rulers we have , and maybe then we would not be so “not” happy!
May we continue to be happy!