African viewpoint: Nigerian spirit triumphs

 
People dance at a carnival in Lagos, Nigeria (9 April 2012)

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Sola Odunfa in Lagos writes that Nigeria has faced a series of crises in 2012 but this has not stopped people from having fun.

It still seems like yesterday when Nigerian youths and workers poured out into the streets in their millions in Lagos and Abuja in January to protest at the government's sinister "new year present" of a steep increase in petrol pump price.

The demonstrations shut down public business in Nigeria's main cities for almost two weeks, yet the demonstrators were non-violent despite extreme provocation by security forces.

Start Quote

Armed robbery has become outdated... The new crime is kidnapping for ransom - huge ransom”

End Quote

The event heralded the arrival in Nigeria of the social media as a potent force in mass communication and mobilisation. Henceforth, no-one in this country will ignore the power of Facebook, Twitter and SMS, particularly among young people.

Equally importantly, "Occupy Nigeria 2012" exposed to everyone the groundswell of frustration and anger in the land.

It remains an ever-present topic wherever groups of Nigerians discuss the prevailing economic and social situation - depending, of course, on the region of the country where the groups gather.

If I were resident anywhere north of River Niger, I would be more concerned about the security of my family this festive season.

The crimson tapestry woven by bombers from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and killers in cities and villages throughout that region has been the dominant picture since the beginning of the year. Yet the towns are still alive.

Chieftaincy parties

I salute the courage of the ordinary people living in the terror-gripped region.

In spite of the activities of the marauding bombers and killers, farmers have not abandoned their daily chores, most schools remain open, Muslims still attend prayer services in their mosques on Fridays and the churches draw full congregations on Sundays, under guard by armed police.

A protester in  front of a burning tyre in Lagos, Nigeria (January 2012) The year started with protests against the scrapping of fuel subsidies

There is no stronger evidence of the courage of the average Nigerian and their belief in the survival of the country despite bad governance.

Restiveness among the youths took a new turn in Nigeria this year with the jump in the number of unemployed school graduates.

Start Quote

This festive season all hotels and public halls in Lagos are fully booked”

End Quote

Armed robbery has become outdated as a survival crime. It is more risky, I think. The new crime is kidnapping for ransom - huge ransom.

In this new offensive, no-one is immune. When foreigners, rich Nigerians, and public officials and their relatives are kidnapped the reports scream out of newspaper headlines, but scores of others fall victim on a frequent basis and only their relatives and friends who raise ransom money get to know about it. Still, life goes on.

This year Nigeria suffered its worst natural disaster in several years. Floods took over large parts of the country from the central states to the shores of the Atlantic.

Harvested crops, farmlands and irrigation systems were washed away. More than 350 people died.

A busy road in Lagos (September 2012) Lagos remains a throbbing metropolis

The government says it is putting in all efforts to avert widely-predicted food shortages across the country next year.

Despite all of this, Nigerians are somehow finding the moral strength to keep smiling.

Come to Lagos and you will find that social parties are being staged every day.

From here, people travel every weekend to other cities just to join in merriment organised by friends and relatives.

This festive season all hotels and public halls in Lagos are fully booked for concerts and private parties. School grounds have been taken over for wedding, birthday and chieftaincy parties.

I tell you, the Nigerian spirit triumphs over every adversity. Have a happy new year.

 

More on This Story

Letter from Africa

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    If Nigerians who love their country could put as much effort into ridding themselves of corruption instead of blatantly spending on weddings and birthdays they can ill afford,then their country might rise from poverty.
    Secondly as is wont with Nigerians they love to blame other countries or the Press for their current state of affairs. Togo and Ethiopia are poorer than Nigeria but vastly superior.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    @Lugard & Geordie

    It is said that when death wants to kill a dog, it nullifies its sensitivity. Before Jerusalem was was overrun by the Babylonians, the Jerusalemites were partying also and refused to heed the warnings of the prophets of God! There was corruption, killings injustice etc.... until the hammer struck.
    May God have mercy on us!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 9.

    Geordie is right. Many Nigerians have no clue how serious these problems are. In fact, many hope to become corrupt as soon as they get a chance.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 8.

    This year Nigerians of goodwill should unite and fight the commom foes that cripple the country: corruption in both the public and private sectors, and the lack of political will to quench the fires of terroism,and the scourge of kidnapping.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 7.

    Now that Nigerians have won the fight against petro, they must not let up; they should be marching up against the other even more serious evils of Kidnapping, armed robbery, church killings and official corruption. Happy New Year !

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 6.

    Bad international press image or not, Nigerians can never stop loving their country. Every country is going through various tribulations, but the most important thing is for the citizens to have hope and faith in the country. Those in diaspora are being exposed more; to negative reporting, white positive happenings are being suppressed by the international press., Happy New year to all Nigerians.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Naija is big. People in Naija don't even know all that is going on. they only discus the little they know in the beer parlor. So while Nigerians in diaspora continue to panic because they hear too much about home on the media(CNN,BBC and ALJAZEERA), Nigerians at home are enjoying except for those that happen to be in danger part. May God keep us all safe, Strenghten the Government and it's allies.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    There's being hopefull and then there's being dellusional. Even worse, is the utter ignorance of the gravity of the situation. That I believe is why Nigerians are still partying.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 3.

    Partying? US to
    - deploy 3,000 soldiers 2013;
    - ensure troops will be found every corner of Africa &
    - rotate in/out of S.A., Morocco, Ghana, Tunisia, Liberia + NIGERIA.
    Africans must not become permanently dependent on the West’s massive exploitation of its human & material resources.
    Delta oil fields = foreign companies have ruined acres of African farm land/ fishing waters.
    Partying?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2.

    One of Sola's better reports! Despite all the Boko Haram and kidnapping menace, the country is still growing strongly economically. Just imagine how much faster and stronger it will grow if the leadership does the basic duty of protecting its citizens. Here's a toast to all Nigerians of goodwill for 2013!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1.

    Nigerians have no choice but to be hopeful in the midst of their misery index. When hope dies, people die because life is no longer worth living. Sadly, Boko Haram has become a thorn on the side of Nigeria. Nature, by way of rivers Niger & Benue had already divided the country into 3 distinct future countries- North, East & West. There should a national referendum to divide the country into 3.

 

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.