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Guest Article | Go Slow

In 2011, a close friend and highschool secondary school colleague, O2ekong wrote this article. 
First Post in the Guest Author Series.  

As I sat waiting for my 12:30 flight to leave at 2:00 pm, I was initially filled with frustration, which turned into a slight rage (very much like how a police checkpoint in Nigeria turns into a financial audit, slowly but without warning, of course with you being the investigated, though in an idealistic society the tables would most certainly be turned but that’s for another day) which somehow strangely turned into amusement. Apparently, the cause of the delay was the spill over in the schedule due to the late departure of the first flight (and I could bet a sumptuous meal of Garri with Egusi soup, yellow Garri of course, that that was because someone didn’t perform an operation at the right time or got to work late because of “go slow”).

That’s the topic of my somewhat humorous rant today, “go slow”. I’m not talking about the horrendous traffic seen everywhere in Nigeria, no no (though the many things I had observed in traffic would make for a more entertaining article), I’m talking about the way of life in Nigeria as we know it. For me the word go slow encompasses all the negative characteristics of Nigeria; the tardiness, generally slothful pace of things in the country and the incessant habit of doing things halfway.

So why does it seem that majority of Nigerians always go slow? Perhaps we believe that time really is subjective, which would explain why meetings begin when everyone arrives or the local bus departs when it is full (or in the case of a Danfo, when the driver is tired of shouting “SABOYABA!!”). Or maybe we are just lazy by nature, and by nature I refer to the hot and humid climate that just seems brings out the inner sluggard within us all. You know what I mean, those hot days when your “gen” isn’t working and you sit down to plan for your next week, well, at least until your body steps in with plans of its own. Another possibility is that our frame of mind is completely wrong, that sounds like a dim-wit answer but it seems to be the best thing I can come up with for the third and probably most dangerous aspect of going slow I previously mentioned, the half-run as I like to call it.

You may be thinking, so what if we like to take things at a leisurely pace, after all some European countries have a mid-afternoon siesta break (yes for sleeping!) and they’re doing alright. To illustrate my point, I’ll use only the half-run. Roads are constructed and road safety and maintenance plans are not considered. Schools are built but the education system leaks more than the roofs of some houses in Ajegunle. Wanting to be part of the UN security council without first laying down proper security in your own country (talk about physician heal thyself!). I could go on for a good while but alas, I’m getting tired (I’m Nigerian, iGo-slow), plus I’m winding myself up. The consequences of going slow are dire; shame is brought to the country as a whole (especially the UN gaffe), dreams are wasted because they are never fully realized and in some cases lives are lost, to mention but a few.

What then, do we do about go-slow? I believe to tackle this issue we as Nigerians need to raise our standards. We have to be willing to go the extra mile because no one hopes to win a 10km run by practicing only 10 km. We have to be diligent and learn to persevere, everyone laughs at the man who builds a house halfway and stops. We each need to develop the habit of being thorough, almost most certainly doesn’t kill a bird and encourage others to do the same.

I believe then that we need to tackle this problem now and the solution lies in every individual because if we work together, the aircraft that is Nigeria can be ready on time to take off into the blue skies off progress and head for the utopia that is success. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget that no aircraft takes off the ground by going slow.

If you enjoyed this article, please visit O2ekong’s blog.

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