Ajayi Tolulope
3 min readFeb 20, 2022

Do Nigerians believe in Magic?

A short while ago, I was conversing with an elderly friend about Nigeria. It was a long conversation where we touched on all the major problems facing the self-proclaimed “Giant of Africa.” Then, in conclusion, we both realised that Nigeria might not automatically become a first/second world country overnight. It may never happen in both our lifetimes.

Coincidentally I stumbled upon a tweet a few hours ago where a popular Nigerian made mention of a conversation he had with an ambassador, where the ambassador stated that “Nigeria is one president away from being a superpower” (Tweet screenshot inserted beneath). I laughed out loud. My pessimism fueled the humour. The phrase from the tweet made me realise that many Nigerians don’t understand the effect of a systemic societal failure.

To think or even assert that one unicorn leader will suddenly change the hopes of Nigeria in four or eight years is at most a fancy dream which may never be realised, and for the sake of my sentiments, I wish I were wrong. Why? This is because the rot in Nigeria goes beyond what one person and a limited time frame can fix. Stay with me. We all know that Nigeria’s issues were not created today or yesterday. They’ve been around long before Nigeria existed, pilling up yearly since the last century till today. And so we suddenly expect a wizard/witch to snap their fingers, and all will become gold? Sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s an incredible lie. It’s not going to happen. Comparatively, what would happen will be the same fix we’ve been doing for the past few decades, “painting over the cracks, in hopes that once the cracks disappear, the problems will somehow also vanish.” This is a wrong approach.

Instead, what we need are sustainable systems. These sustainable systems transcend beyond one person. While people are mortal, these systems are immortal. Meaning systems tend to survive beyond the average lifespan of humans. Every country which has become a superpower or economic giant both in the past and the future has a system(s). For instance, in America, their founding fathers created the American system of democracy which every president followed. Even those who didn’t want to follow the system were compelled to by the overwhelming force from the system. In other words, the system ensured that their society thrived. We can take specific cues also from the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations.

However, these systems are not without flaws, but it is noteworthy that these systems have a lower error margin compared to individual reliant approaches.

It’s not new that Nigerians are individualistic or believe in the power of a saviour or hero, which is one of the primary causes of our current dilemma. From time memorial we’ve always been in search of that one saviour that can turn things around. The truth is that there isn’t any one. And the quick fix we’re looking for is a myth. People fail all the time, systems don’t. And while systems are the brainchild of people, they are necessary for our development because of their objectivity. Building a sustainable society isn’t magic, it takes efforts. Nigerians collective obsessiveness with searching for the perfect individuals to “Fix” our nation is what bequeathed the evil of this current administration upon us . Even after the magnitude of failures our eyes have seen, we’ve still not learnt.

So the question remains, “do Nigerians believe in Magic or in reality?” Only time will tell.

Credit: Aluxum (istockphoto)