There is hardly any write-up I  read these days where Nigeria or Africa is not compared to developed countries, the most common being the UK and US. And this trend has got me thinking seriously.

Honestly, I am not completely against comparison; that is when it is in the right form and when done by appropriate standards, Also, some say it is a good propellant for progress. I simply believe that as is the case with everything else; it must be done with reason and limit if not, it becomes a nuisance.

I believe a comparison between entities, in this case nations should be done logically and with the right facts. That is if at all we must make comparisons. Some people are of the opinion that these are unrealistic views, but when one attempts to analyse the situation critically, it will be found that it is the excessive comparisons that are unrealistic.

Firstly, I do not claim that our nation is not faced by challenges; neither do I claim that these nations are not actually ahead of us in many ways. As a matter of fact, only a fellow in denial will refuse to face the fact that our nation is faced with challenges of enormous proportions. But I am still of the opinion that it is not in the best interest of progress to compare excessively.

To buttress this point is an example of a picture that made the rounds on social media, Obama carrying his suitcase on one side and Jonathan on the other side with an aide carrying his folder. It was captioned ‘sane and insane environment’ and this picture got me thinking, I wondered if the person who put it together did not stop to consider that they come from two different cultures, one from a culture where shows of respect towards elders and superiors are not emphasized and the other from a culture where that is unacceptable, it is even a worse abomination to see your superior and not collect whatever he or she is holding no matter how small it is. The point is there were certain cultural differences that the person who did that comparison and everyone else who criticized did not take into consideration. And these are aspects of our culture that we must not trade in for anything in the world because they are the things that make us who we are.

A lot of comparisons are carried out in the same manner without first considering the inherent differences between the two things or in this case, nations that are being compared. Trust me if these differences are considered about half of the comparisons we make would not even arise in the first instance.

Let me digress a little and answer a question that is probably burning at the back of someone’s head. What is the problem if we compare from now until tomorrow, to some this issue should not even be a basis to write an essay on. A simple scenario should answer that question. When parents compare their children to others, even if it is a fair comparison between equals, it only impairs the self-esteem of that child, even in rare cases where there is an improvement in that child, it is usually out of fear and that child is not developed holistically. I believe it’s the same thing when people compare Nigeria with another countries that are far ahead of her, rather than encourage me, such comparisons demoralize and weaken my resolve. It might be a different story for others but most people I know who love this country like I do have the same story. The fact is comparing probably stands only a 10% chance of improving performance.

Another thing we must take note of is that these countries have also passed through tumultuous times in their histories, they did not just fly to where they are, some of them even had worse experiences. Heaven knows I’m  not justifying our current position and my every waking thought is on how we can learn from the mistakes of others so history doesn’t repeat itself. My point is simply that all these places we are comparing Nigeria to were all at similar or worse points at some phase in their history and what made the difference was that ordinary citizens took it upon themselves to look for ways to pull their nations out of the dark places they found themselves in. I don’t think they just sat there complaining, griping and comparing. Some practical examples we can relate to are the bloody French revolution, the IRA-British conflict, the wild Wild West days of the US, the 1876 purported bribery of electoral officers by republican senators in the US. The list is endless and these are just to name a few.

The point in essence is to refrain from negative comparison of Nigeria with countries who have been here way longer than us and have made their own mistakes and learnt from them. Instead, we should learn from their mistakes and realize that for virtually all of them, it took random people viewing nation building as a personal responsibility and contributing in their own little and honest ways; and I dare say even at times when their country was not fair to them. These things brought them to where they are today.

By Ewa-ade Adeyemo

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