Almost every house in our country Nigeria has its own private source of water. The people of Nigeria dig their own boreholes, while some have never even seen pipe-borne water. You hire your own security guards — your estate or community hires one and because you don’t really believe in that communal effort, you still hire a private guard for your house. Police? Don’t even start. You are your own police.
When you’re on the road, you’re at the mercy of “agberos”, touts and kidnappers. So, you hire a bodyguard. If you can’t afford a bodyguard, you depend on God. You get your own generator because there’s no power. Sometimes, you get one for the home and another for the office. If there are 10 offices in an office complex, that’s 10 generators. You are your own power holding company. You buy and install electric poles on your street. You pay to buy all the cables and you even buy transformer. You are your own power distributor.
You contribute money to grade the road on your street or put interlock pavestones. The communal efforts take a long time but you can’t afford to allow floods destroy your house. You are your own ministry of works. You fall sick but you can’t even afford to go to the hospital. Every Nigerian knows when you’re ill; it’s either malaria or typhoid. You’re your own doctor so you know what to prescribe for yourself. “Where There Is No Doctor” must have been written with Nigeria in mind. For many, it’s either they depend on faith healing or gofundme. Otherwise, you buy your own gloves, needles, look for blood donors, etc in a hospital. You even have to beg for bed space. God help you if you’re a burn victim. You may have to drive yourself and other victims to the hospital. No ambulance to assist you. Safer to have soft drinks poured over your head since you really don’t have too many options.
Education is substandard so after school hours, you must still hire teachers who will attempt to teach what was taught earlier. Meanwhile, you buy packets of chalk for the public school your child attends. You bought the chair and desk they sit on. Parents through the PTA contributed money to paint the classrooms and even hire teachers. The school belongs to government but in reality, you run it. You’ve been looking for employment to no avail so you get to a time that you have to sit down, think and then employ yourself. You are now CEO.
So, what exactly does the government do for its citizens in Nigeria?
I recently watched Kabusa Oriental Choir’s latest video on Instagram. Their remake of Rihanna’s ‘Under my umbrella’ is a massive hit already with almost 80,000 views in one hour of posting. And Don Jazzy featured on the video. I always look forward to their weekly release — with their choral robes and Catholic-music inspired pieces. Those guys turn any song they handle into amazing parodies. Very soon, companies will swarm on them looking for endorsements. They will be featured in movies and comedy shows. Don Jazzy might even sign them on.
Kabusa is just one example of how Nigerians are looking inwards and leveraging social media to survive. In the absence of government, Nigerians have become the most creative beings on planet earth. I don’t
think this should be subject to debate. Everywhere you turn on the gram, you’ll be amazed at the depth of creativity you see. Just look at Woli Arole — his one-minute skits have turned him into a celebrity and now he is riding on that to produce his own movies. MC Lively also known as Barrister Mike’s weekends are now so busy with bookings for shows and he started from his ‘waka-about’ skits wearing a red tie.
Time will fail me to talk about dance specialists like Sydney Talker and Harbie or entertainment blogs such as instablog9ja, tundeednut and krakstv among others. There are thousands of Nigerians who sell wigs, clothes, shoes and other items including services on social media and avoid the prohibitive setting up costs. My wife once ordered a beautiful dress for our daughter from someone on Instagram. It was delivered right to our doorsteps in a very attractive wrapper and she paid on delivery. The seller operates from home. My wife has since recommended her to many others.
One can’t quantify how social media stepped in where government failed. Only heaven knows how many jobs have been created via social media. Since we don’t have reliable statistics, we can’t quantify the volume of transactions consummated daily via social media nor the amount of money that is exchanged. Social media economy is the new economy for most Nigerians. It’s paying school fees and feeding families. Social media may actually be the largest employer in Nigeria.
In a thinking nation, we should be thinking of a Minister for Social Media and reclassify some portfolios like Minister for Water Resources. In Nigeria, this is not likely going to happen any time soon.