Are Nigerians Docile?

Nigerians, a people of over 200 million, are the inhabitant of the place known as Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa.

Among themselves and even across other countries of the world, these people are known for various appellations; the most populous black nation, the poverty headquarters of the world, and Africa's biggest economy, among others. However, one of the recent appellations that have kept me worried over time is the insinuation that Nigerians are docile. This comes about with the perception that Nigerians are submissive, unresisting, and conformable in the face of vivid misrule, anti-people policies, and other hardships mounted on them by the government.

But does that mean Nigerians are docile? Arguably not. In a situation like this, it would be helpful to peep into the dictionary meaning of the word docile. Cambridge dictionary defined it has been quiet and easy to influence, persuade, or control. Since Nigeria gained independence from the British government in 1960, a series of attempts by the political elites, both in the military and civilian government, to mount hardships on the citizens have been fought with a vigorous grievance by the Nigerian Labour Congress, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), concern Nigerians and with the patriotic collaboration of the press.

Those who are intimate with the political happenings would still have the reactions that followed the increase in the price of premium motor spirit, also known as petrol, in January 2012 by over 100 percent by the administration of the then-president Goodluck Jonathan fresh in their memories. The combined forces of various action groups, students, labor unions, and Nigerians in their various capacities staged the occupy Nigeria protest and fought the government until it rescinded its decision and bowed to the people's wish.

Similarly, history reminds us of how the National Union of Nigeria Students, in the face of armored tanks rolled on the street to crush them, fought to stand still the Ibrahim Babangida's regime International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). Although the reality was that eventually, the dictator rammed the imperial and colonial agenda down the throat of Nigerians. These couldn't have been achieved if Nigerians were docile.

That being said, the past seven years have proven otherwise. I think that the resilience, love for life, peace, and sanctity of human life as a people as somehow portrayed Nigerians as docile people (which they are not). Recently, especially in the present administration, various anti-people policies by the government have been met with little or no resistance. For instance, the price of petrol has been hiked more than three times in the past seven years and is known to attract physical reaction from the people. Presently, it is even difficult to state a particular price as the control price of petroleum products in the country.

Also, the incessant strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is over tolerated. In 2020 alone, the students of public Universities, the acclaimed leaders of tomorrow, spent over eight months out of school, not because the country was at war or there was any political tension but because ASUU embarked on industrial action due to the non-charlatan attitude of the government towards funding tertiary education and providing quality education for it students. As I write, students have been kept out of school for the past four months for the same cause, and there are high indications that the strike might be longer than expected.

However, if people continued to tolerate government ineptitude and resolved to the thought that they would punish 'bad government' by voting them out in the next election, things would only get worse. At times, changing government is not necessarily voting out a political position holder. With various constitutional means, citizens can change a government by forcing them to backtrack from the policies that put the general populace into hardship and align them with the vision of a country that would be secured from external and internal attacks; a country that would be economically viable; a corrupt-free country; a country that would be the darling of the world; the country that would provide quality education for it citizens; a country that would lift its millions of citizens wrecking into poverty into prosperity; a country that would compete with the likes of Japan, India, China, and others in technological advancements; a country that will provide equal opportunities for all; country that would uphold the visions and sustain the legacies of its founding fathers.

If Nigerians continue with their "sit down they look" (apology to Fela Anikulapo) attitude and don't walk the talk in the face of clear misrule, their resilience to adapt to any kind of situation would be taken for granted by the successive governments and this would be regarded as docility.

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