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The Terrible Nigerian Mentality

Updated on April 29, 2012

In Nigeria, there exists this terrible anomaly which has continued to linger with no hope or sign of abating in the nearest future. I strongly believe it is also responsible for most of the country’s problems and her inability in realizing her full potential. Many people refer to it as the Nigerian mentality. Me, I call it the warped thinking pattern of many Nigerians.

This Nigerian mentality is badly affecting us so much but unfortunately, many Nigerians are too busy hustling very hard to get their daily bread to recognize this while some others have quietly decided to keep silent on such disturbing issues, thus seriously jeopardizing our chances of making it to the Promised Land come 2020 when it is projected that Nigeria will become one of the world’s leading economies!

Permit me to point out the areas in which I think we need incisive and immediate changes to be made with regards to many of our deplorable thinking pattern.

Let us see those warped thinking patterns.

It could have been worse

This is the one of those things I always find so hard to believe or comprehend. To me, it is the defeatist point of view or approach only suitable for the person who has NO hope or has lost ALL hopes of survival.

Which is NOT supposed to be the case of Nigerians in an over blessed country like Nigeria!

The thinking that “it could have been worse” has reduced the day to day survival of the ordinary Nigerian to something of a chance.

If the s/elected politicians are not doing all that well, don’t complain because they know that it could have been worse. And that’s simply because these politicians are expected to fail even before they start! Funny enough, the people in power know this fact so well and true to it, they don’t even bother to disprove anyone of their previously held misgivings about them…

If you are not getting all the services you are being taxed heavily for and if the government is not capable of providing you with adequate security, kerosene or even if your take home pay is not looking promising at all, you know what…? It is not all that bad because, come to think of it, it could have been worse.


You better take it or leave it! Or do you have any other option…? Look at this greedy man. You should even be thanking your God that you are even seeing or getting this much. Don’t you know that there are so many people in the world who don’t even have legs and you are here crying for shoes…?

Oh my God!

True words they may seem but under close scrutiny, they become nothing but shameless excuses stemming from cluelessness and ignorance. Excuses that allow politicians to steal the people’s mandate knowing that nothing will happen. Excuses that allow brazen corrupt acts to flourish unabatedly in broad daylight. Excuses that turn the police from your friend to your fiend. Excuses that force many Nigerian youths with brains to migrate to America and Europe even as the brain drain continues to grow. Excuses that turn many Nigerians from the lords we are supposed to be in a land flowing with milk and honey to instant beggars as we keep on hopelessly hoping in vain that tomorrow will be better!

Inasmuch as such statements could also serve as consolation to someone, somewhere at some other time, that thinking pattern behind them only condemns you to stagnancy. Check it my dear brothers and sisters, it doesn’t actually inspire any serious person to aspire for greatness because you are only concerned with those whom you think you are better than.

What of those who are better than us? Haven’t we ever heard of the American dream and can’t we carve out our own version of Nigerian dream?

Is this how we are going to explain the worsening situation of things to our children by just consoling and repeating to them that they should even ‘rejoice’ that things are still as they are now because it could have been worse?

I don’t get it. We need a change fast and it should begin with us - today.

Thou shall not be caught

First, I must say that this is NOT typical of Nigeria alone. In fact, I read somewhere that it is officially known as the eleventh commandment!

But in the Nigerian context, this problem has been very much overblown. Many people I’ve come across are of the view that even if you want to pilfer public funds, you should be very careful how you do it, just make sure that thou shall not be caught!

And that’s because the general unspoken belief or consensus is that looting public fund is a “turn by turn” thang.

Note, they don’t believe in stopping it and with such disposition, are you still wondering why corruption is still our only number one menace?

Today it’s your turn because you are in power, tomorrow who knows, I might be the one in power and that makes it my turn so please don’t finish it.


And the youths who are the leaders of tomorrow are watching and learning and…of course, patiently waiting for their own turn to chop!

Ethnicity first above every other thing

Every major decision in Nigeria is done with one thing in mind – ethnicity or tribe and to a lesser extent religion.


Some say it is because the country is multi-ethnic so everybody has to be represented. I agree with this one reasoning. What I find very ludicrous though is the belief that the best man for any public job or the right person to fill a particular post MUST be from a particular ethnic region.

This mentality undermines the possibility of ever finding that Nigerian/s who is truly going to be A Man of the People! We are so comfortable and caught up with this type of status quo and I think it is just a sign of great distrust amongst the people.

That is why every ethnic group in Nigeria is crying “marginalization” and as such with the first sign of discord you start hearing them terms “breakup”, “separate”, “divide” and “secede” everywhere.

What my people have failed to realize is that we all have a common enemy in corruption to fight and defeat and that the only way for Nigeria to succeed as a great nation is only if we can realize that truly “united we stand”.

Money is everything

In the eyes of a typical Nigerian, money is everything. S/he knows that you are dead without money and because of that let us kill ourselves with the mad scrambling for the papers.

But is money supposed to be everything? Money cannot even buy you everlasting joy and happiness. It only appears to be everything when you have none…

Sadly though, as a result of the alarming poverty in the land, many Nigerians don’t have it. And so it becomes everything to us making us to believe in it and its powers so much.


If you ask me, I’d say it is mainly because of the things that money can easily buy for you in this country. I think it is because in Nigeria, money and I mean big money translates to power, respect, pleasure, joy and avoidance of pain, freedom, fantasy, wealth and many other vanities that you can think of that money can buy.

If you have the money, you can easily become above-the-law, if that is what you want. As long as you are not that type of stingy person with “superglue” hands, you can buy as many friends, well wishers and praise singers as you want although you might also buy yourself so many sycophants in the process but that is not your problem…

This our obsession with money comes with a price tag though.

First people are no longer interested in knowing how that very money is made. Just make the big money and we will worry about every other thing later thus setting the stage for all sorts of dirty, fraudulent, corrupt and underhand practices such as advance fee fraud or 419, forgeries, internet scams a.k.a yahoo-yahoo, ritual murder, kidnapping, armed banditry and bank robbery etc.

Get rich quick is the anthem and order of the day and the quicker the better thus the high and alarming rate of crime in our society!

And the massive poverty in the land is not helping matters here as more and more people are ready, either by hook or by crook, to do whatever it takes just to have a taste of the good things this life can offer, hence the overly intense desire for money.

Sit-tight politics is also as a result of this inordinate quest for money as our leaders don’t so much fancy the idea of relinquishing power when the right time for that comes. Our politicians are ready to go to all that extent of political sharp and underhand practices just to get into that prestigious public office so as to ‘serve’ us properly.

And what a service it does become, as you can see?

Everything depends of God

In fact, God is a Nigerian. With God, all things are possible. If you don’t know this or believe it, that is your own cup of tea.

With those simple lines, the ordinary Nigerian John Doe hides his head in the sand like the ostrich (but with bended knees just like a slave) in complete self denial. He is no longer concerned with the things of this world – of course; they are all vanity upon vanity. S/he is no longer concerned with what their representatives in government are doing after all God is in control. He is no longer bothered about the present state of affairs and the fate of the future generation because s/he knows that ‘what will be will be.”

The Nigerian is so religious and he doesn’t hide it but believe me when I tell you that sometimes, this religion could actually become a problem especially when it starts preventing one from acknowledging his/her responsibilities in the state of affairs and also in playing his own part for the betterment of other Nigerians at least, for the sake of posterity.

Once it’s foreign, automatically it’s better…

It is a well known secret that in Nigeria, anything foreign is considered original and is believed to be worth more than the local version.

Thus we have foreign rice, foreign clothes, foreign bags, foreign shoes and many more of such foreign things that are also produced locally in the country.

Granted, some of the locally produced counterparts of those goods and services that I mentioned might be considered a lot less of any significant value or substandard under a closer scrutiny but where the problem lies is in the generalization, great belief and trust in the notion that anything foreign is better…

The problem here is that even though our economy is often said to be in a bad shape, one of the sure ways of setting and getting things right now is by buying local products.

That way, the local producers will be encouraged to work harder towards providing only things that actually provide and guarantee customer satisfaction rather than surrendering all ingenuity, creativity, human effort and initiative to the imperialistic manipulative tendencies of some of these foreign (mostly Chinese) products which may not even last as long as supposed.

Paper qualifications first

Oh yes, paper qualification first. The great emphasis which is laid on paper qualification and degrees is causing a lot of trouble in Nigeria as the wanton and maddening rush for paper qualification continues.

The saddening and disturbing effect of this thought pattern is that caution is thrown to the wind and it becomes clearer and clearer as the days go by that many people are no longer seriously interested in the quality of education possessed by those possessing those qualification papers again.

And our education continues to plummet with no hope in sight. Examination malpractice continues to rise and thrive and is backed with that deceiving belief of “let me get the papers first”.

The end result of such mindless pursuit of paper qualification is the undue pressure on the nation’s university system as more and more students try to gain admission into the tertiary institutions so as to get those necessary papers in the end. That way, they are sure they stand a “better” chance of getting employed at the end of the day because if you don’t have your paper qualifications, nobody is going to look at you!

Funny enough, that very disposition has contributed immensely to the terrible problem of unemployment in Nigeria today as there are now more than enough ‘qualified’ graduates chasing the few available jobs more than ever!

Talk of the vicious circle…

How I wish it is possible for all the stakeholders – parents, the students, NGOs and the government, involved in the nation’s education to join hands together and see to it that the acquisition of skills is ranked first and foremost above the papers which can even be bought?

How I wish our people will come to realize the truth that in our world today, qualification papers without qualifying skills is nothing but just absolute trash and waste of priceless resources of money and time. How I wish our universities will become centers of skill acquisition and learning to enable our students create jobs for themselves rather than just “degree” awarding institutions…

But then, wishes are not horses so…

Who’s next? Where are your papers? And what’s your qualification?

That’s Nigeria for you.

Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken

They say Nigeria has a poor maintenance culture and it is so true because if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

This anomaly has spread in almost all the areas of the Nigerian life and the situation now is that the only person who is really sick or that something that is clearly in a very bad shape should be given special attention. Any other person or thing can manage…

That is the ONE real reason why we have a serious problem in our power supply simply because many successive governments failed to maintain or upgrade the existing power supply installation.

And today, everybody is harvesting the national darkness!

Ignorance is bliss plus it doesn’t concern me lifestyle/attitude…

Ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know will never ever kill you. That is just the way it is Nigeria. The ignorant has little or nothing to worry about and that is so safe for him or her.

But then what the ignorant does not know is that ignorance on its own is a very big disease!

The massive rate of ignorance in Nigeria lends to the following reasoning patterns: behind every rumor is a small truth so if you like don’t believe; the earlier the better even if every other person is rushing into hell and others are doing it…who cares, even if what they are doing is not working or is wrong.

The “it doesn’t concern me” attitude is also something of a serious concern that calls for a serious attention. It gives rise to thought patterns such as: I am not responsible for this corruption so go figure. If anything is wrong with the system, what else do you want me to do? Can’t you see that it doesn’t concern me? If you want to set the country straight, then you must start from the leaders, not from ME!

That is exactly the attitude!

In fact, the truth is that Nigeria can only be rescued when her citizens jump down and out from that terrible ‘merry-go-round’ ignorant bus that is heading nowhere in particular onto the path of awareness where we start demanding for the right answers and solutions to the numerous begging questions as to why this country that God has blessed so abundantly is still so upside down!

You are guilty until proven otherwise…

Have you ever heard that statement that no one is guilty until proven otherwise in the court before?

Well, I got news for you. In Nigeria, it is more or less the other way around! Once your name is messed up with one scandalous crime or another, people normally assume that you are guilty!

And no other group works with this notion more than the Police!

You need to see where someone is being arrested, the way the person may be manhandled and you start wondering whatever has happened to human rights…

But it is like “presumed criminals” don’t have human rights too, maybe?

That sad fallout of this thought pattern is that people learn how to stay out of “trouble” no matter how small so as to stay away from any police case.

You might be tempted to think that is something good until you become a victim.

People are forced to think twice before they render any form of help these days. Someone under pursuit mistakenly runs into your house and you become an instant accomplice when it later turns out he happens to be a criminal. You welcome a stranger into your house, next morning by a terrible twist of fate, s/he’s dead and you have a case to answer instantly. You don’t want to give someone that is hungry food or water and the next day stories start making rounds that you poisoned him/her to death for ritual purposes. You don’t want to take an accident or gun shot victim to the hospital because you might have a case to answer should anything happen to him/her.

The solution? If you don’t want to be prejudged guilty then you must learn how to stay out of trouble by all means. Just learn to look the other way as if it doesn’t concern you because it doesn’t concern you…

Only that it might be your turn tomorrow and you will have no one to turn to!

No hope for Nigeria

This is one of our biggest problems. It is the bedrock of all our problems as a nation and it is the one reason why this country seems never to work!

I never knew that how we feel about something can actually affect how that thing appears to us until I came across the law of attraction.

Law of attraction is simply saying that we attract into our lives those things we think about and feel the most. This line of thought is on the spiritual realm but the end result of such mental disposition manifests in the physical.

The thing is that the law of attraction is always operational. The law does not care if you are aware it or not!

The terrible implication is that many people activate this potent law of attraction in the negative. They concentrate on what they do not want and what they do not want comes to them because that is what they are picturing in their minds, thinking and feeling about the most!

So when you see many Nigerians going about their daily business of life with this strong belief that Nigeria can not be rescued, lo and behold, things get worse and worse…

Are you one of them? Please stop. I think it’s time to change all that negative thought patterns.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My Brother I agree with you 100%. We always think that oyinbo people or foreign items are better. While many of us are lead Engineers, Doctors & scientist in the UK, USA and other western countries, but when we go home an oyinbo man who could not complete their course work might be given preference over us because of the " Nigerian mentality" it is very sad.

    • Emmyboy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Nigeria

      Thank you so much Lola for bearing me witness. God bless you.

    • lola oyedotun profile image

      Lola Oyedotun-Balogun 

      7 years ago from Calgary

      Very true... i am from Nigeria and so can testify to this....

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      I think some of these mindsets are universal. You have written a compelling, very interesting hub which can be helpful to people living anywhere in the world. Thumbs up, very impressive writing.


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