Nigerians are very good in several things and we know it. Plenty of good and Plenty of Bad. Some people say more bad than good, but I stoutly insist that we do a whole lot of good, wonderful and noble things. Infact the World knows that we are a special breed and that we can accomplish several things if we put our minds to them though sometimes, it looks like they focus too much on our bad side, perhaps because, we unwittingly focus them there through our Public discourse. If the truth must be told, many Nigerians who TRULY Succeed in our Country in Business or their professions will be outstanding in other climes. Please mind my word. TRUE SUCCESS. I am not referring to the criminally minded. There is good success and there is bad success. Criminals and the short circuiters may achieve pyrrhic success by whatever means. But I do not think they will easily succeed in other climes. The bar to become a criminal and short circuiter in our Country is very low and many be there that enter and easily make quick success. When I see the pictures of criminals and deviants who have made bad success in our Country, I am amazed. Look at the guy called 'Osisikankwu' who held Aba and it's environ hostage for several months, a few years ago, there was nothing to recommend him for such stardom except that in Nigeria crime seems to be cheap.When these so called Kingpins are nabbed,they look so scruffy and scraggy and they soon begin to sing like canaries, blaming the devil and their circumstances.Elsewhere you need to be really tough and smart to venture into any form of crime in a sustainable manner, because for many, their first attempt is their last. There, the security agents are much smarter and tougher than the criminals but here, it is difficult to determine.
  One area that has attracted my attention, is the capacity of Nigerians to criticise and pontificate. Outside lampooning our country, our other area of comparative advantage is the competency in criticism. Nigerians will criticise their leaders- political, traditional, Business and cultural. They will criticise the football team and their coaches. They will criticise the Police and all the security agencies including the Federal Road Safety and the LASTMA( if you live in Lagos). They will criticise their Neighbours, friends and foes. They will criticise When the airport arrival/ departure lounges are dilapidated and they will complain and criticise when the lounges are being renovated. They will criticise the contractor for not working fast on the road and when he starts working, they will criticise or complain that he is raising too much dust or causing traffic delays.Some Nigerians want to eat their cake and then have it back.
  Let me state that there is nothing really wrong with being a critic. I am one my self and most normal People, Nigerians or not, will have cause to criticise some body or something every once in a while. Indeed, criticism is essential for growth and without it, development and innovation may be imperilled . But crtiticism can become counter productive, when it is not informed and this is one the constraints of Nigeria's genre of criticism. Many Nigerians jump into criticism without bothering to obtain sufficient information to enable them evaluate the issue before passing judgement. They only read the head lines or hear only half of the story and then they pass judgement.
 The consequence is that they can cause confusion and slow down activities and projects or lead to an unjustified and hasty termination of an activity because of the negative feed back that comes from hasty criticism. Secondly, many Nigerians jump to criticise things they have no understanding or familiarity with. And in doing so, they exhibit great ignorance or confuse the real issues. When certain football spectators begin to criticise the Coach for fielding a particular player, when they have no technical understanding of how teams are organised and how games are read,they either confuse the coach or demoralise him. If some one wants to criticise an engineering design, he must make an effort to understand how engineering designs are interpreted . Otherwise he will make a fool of himself as many Nigerians do when they criticise what they have have no real knowledge about.
  Thirdly certain Nigerians criticise from a biased or jaundiced view point. They have made up their minds that nothing good can come from a particular person, Organization or institution. So they spend no time evaluating the matter. As long as it is from the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Custom Service, the People's Democratic Party, then it is wrong. This kind of stereotyping is injurious and punishes innovation and creative efforts at change. It is akin to the bias in biblical times: can any thing good come out of Nazareth? This stereotype blinded many from recognising the Messiah.
  Fourthly, there is the destructive criticism, where facts and figures are deliberately distorted  to confuse and damage. Ordinarily, criticism is aimed at causing improvement and perfection, but destructive criticism aims to stultify and destroy. And in my experience, there are many destructive critics in our clime and rather than promote communal good, they prefer to satisfy morbid personal desires which rejoice at the suffering of others. They form the ' Pull him down club' whose appetite is satisfied only when People fall, when Organizations fail and when Governments are pulled down. They are always baying for blood.
  What is worse is that some people criticise for criticism sake. They just go on criticising and offer no suggestions( superior or inferior). That is cheap talk. Everybody can criticise, everybody can always point out errors, everybody can always see things differently, but it makes no sense if one persists in pointing out perceived errors without putting forward ideas or thoughts on how those errors can be corrected or offering alternative views. Criticism ought to be constructive.
 But the worst and basest form of criticism is hypocrisy. Here many Nigerians will criticise all others, point out all the faults of others and be so vehement and condemn all the evils in the Society. But these same People move out from their grandstanding platforms only to go and steep into those same things they condemned. Some Nigerians who openly criticise Public officials of corruption are either those who corrupt the Public officials or who themselves practice corruption or become more corrupt if they have a small opportunity. Infact many critcise and accuse because, their requests were denied by the Public officials.Those who point out the speck in other people's eyes while ignoring the beam in their own eyes are called HYPOCRITES by God. And The Lord says 'woe' to such people. Thou that Preaches that people should not steal,dost thou steal?
  Another variant of Hypocrisy, is expecting or asking People to do what we can not do or what we have neglected to do. These are called arm-chair critics.When People criticise, they ought to ask themselves what they have done or what they can do about the the issue they are criticising or complaining about. People criticise that our cities are dirty and you wonder what they themselves have done to help the situation to change. When people mount rostrums and criticise our country for being import dependant for our food and other necessities of life, I ask, what have they done or what are they doing to increase local production? We seem to be waiting for the government to do all things or hoping that somebody or some 'messiah' will come and do all things for us. It is morally wrong for any one to stand up and pontificate or pick up a pen to write or criticise or moan over a problem they are part of, or of which they have failed to do anything about or for which they are incapable of doing anything about. It is more honourable to be quiet than to indulge in hypocrisy and all of its variants.
 Let me conclude by saying that I am not in any way just criticising critics. Iam only stating that those who come to equity must come with clean hands. Every game must be played according to some rules for us to have an ordered society. Complainants and Critics are very necessary for the good of every society . But for it to yield positive results that will truly benefit the Society, critics must be well informed,looking at all sides of the matter, they must be knowledgeable,with deep understanding of the subject matter, they must be fair and constructive. What is more, critics must be doers themselves, not just talkers and pontificators. And lastly, arm- chair critics, hired-critics , pull-him-down critics and hypocrites of all shades must depart our public space and allow constructive, fair and balanced crtiticism to reign, so that we can elevate the quality of Public debate and discourse in our Country. That will add to this list of good things that Nigerians know how to do.
 Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR


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