Fr. Timothy Etsenamhe

Nigerians woke up to the New Year to a trending slang phrase, ‘’ no gree for anybody,’’ that has been widely accepted by Nigerians, especially young people. It would seem as if a town hall meeting was held to agree on this slang for 2024. It was not out of vulgarism that I made the choice of using Naija in place of Nigeria, because the intrinsic meaning of ‘’no gree for anybody resonates with the proponents of Naija, the new Nigeria superintended by young people who are tired of the mirage of systemic sabotages that Nigeria inflicts on them. Naija invokes optimism, resilience, possibility, energy, and above all, a good life. It comes as no surprise therefore that ‘’ no gree for anybody’’ would fly like bush fire. The core issues that underscore this motto are at the depths of human strife and struggle. When one juxtaposes the experiences of Nigerians in 2023’with the realities on a global scale, the inventors of this slang should be applauded.

The year 2023 was frosty with ups and downs globally, especially in terms of economic realities, havoc of wars, natural disasters, civil unrest, food and energy crises, and the coups and attempted coups in some African countries coupled with terrorism. In Nigeria, the year 2023 brought unimaginable realities that had negative impacts on Nigerians. We cannot rule out some individual successes, especially in the entertainment industry and in sports. At least the Supper Eagles qualified for the AFCON and currently lead their group first stage. However, we recognize the despondency that crept in after the 2023 general elections, which saw many Nigerians downcast because they felt their votes did not count. The ‘first infamous decision’ of the nascent administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to remove fuel subsidies has been frustrating, and the outcome has devastated Nigerians. Fuel prices have surged geometrically, with a ripple effect on all consumer goods and services in the country. Trailing behind the removal of fuel subsidies was the crashing of the naira against the dollar, which made the naira fall free and, among other reasons, forced local and international companies to fold up. We cannot even imagine the onslaught of bandits and terrorists who do their trade with impunity.

These realities have made Nigerians groan in pain and forced so many into poverty, so much so that about sixty percent of Nigerians suffer from multidimensional poverty: Nigerians suffering from various health issues with no access to a good health care system, lack basic education, live a substandard life, are disempowered, do poor quality work, are exposed to violence, and are living in environmentally hazardous areas. Most Nigerians do not get things easily; they would have to hew out a rock to get life going. The appellation ‘Nigeria’ is synonymous with struggle in the sense that the Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, puts it:’suffering  and smiling’. The Nigerian environment is not one to survive in with the ‘normal and ordinariness’ of order; you must have to know someone who knows someone in the hems of affairs. On a broader assessment, Nigeria is largely an environment that impoverishes the weak and ‘connectionless’ people.

This is why ‘’no gree for anybody’’ resonates so well with the average Nigerian who dreams of Naija, who, though lives in Nigeria, wishes his or her present experiences were a dejavu and is now ready to live in a world of possibility not to be held down anymore by some heinous bureaucracy, greed, corruption, chauvinism, and hate. ‘’No gree for anybody’’ says more of ”Naijaness”—the new Nigeria, infested with the spirit to push through adversity, the spirit not to be broken in the presence of seeming hate, backlash, and setbacks, foisted by almost every hierarchy in the institutions that play a guide in the lives of Nigerians—political, economic, social, religious, and cultural. According to Tunde Ojo, the Naija motto for 2024 ‘’ is a testament to our doggedness, resilience, and ‘can do spirit’ to overcome adversity, no matter what. Despite everything that tries to break our spirit, we go deep in the ground and germinate as seed; we sprout and bloom. a willingness to stand up for oneself and a tool to challenge misunderstood viewpoints, demonstrating unwavering dedication to expressing one’s own perspective.”

It is sad to hear that the Nigerian police have termed this slogan a rebellion! It is not in any way connected to social disobedience or flagrant disregard for law and order; it talks very much about instilling ideals, especially holding institutions accountable and being tough on oneself with regards to achieving feats in the New Year, in its literary meaning. I think the Nigerian police have a lot more to attend to than to enmesh themselves in frivolities. One may want to access the practicality of this motto so far; I must say it appears to be the propelling force in Nigeria today. Nigerians have been able to pull the presidency to adjust a little bit on its high-falutin spending on travel.

Just after his Christmas and New Year holidays, the president announced a cut in the number of entourages on both local and international trips for him and his cabinet after being dragged on social media because of the huge number of Nigerian contingents at COP 2023 and the large fleet of expensive luxury vehicles that travelled about with him and other government officials amidst the fuel scarcity and hardship in the country. Also, ‘Edugate’ was possible because of the publicity the media gave to this scandal of Betta Chiomaobim Edu allegedly intending to divert about N585 million in her ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. It should be noted that Sadiya Farouq, the former minister for humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, is now also being investigated for about N37.1 billion in fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Thanks to young Naijas who do not want to ‘’ gree for nobody’’ going forward.

Today, in Nigeria, insecurity is looming large; no part of the country is free from the onslaught of banditry and terrorism. When you watch the popular war drama Fauda, which depicts the continuous tension between Israel and Palestine based on the experiences of Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz in the Mista’s arvim Counterterrorism Unit, you would think you are in Nigeria, especially in the North East, North West, North Central, South East, and the Niger Delta. The only difference is the sophistication, dedication, and accuracy with which the unit carries out its counterattack. Nigerians must hold the presidency accountable for providing security for lives and properties everywhere in Nigeria. There must be an inquest into the killings on Christmas Eve, where about 150 people were killed in 17 villages across Bokkos and two other districts in Plateau; the kidnapping on the Abuja-Kaduna highway, where over 30 people were abducted; the kidnapping of Alhaji Mansoor and his six daughters; and many other cases.

On a personal level, ‘’no gree for anybody’’ is a motivational mantra reminding Nigerians not to wait for anyone to give them a sense of direction and purpose this year. Nigerians must pursue their goals resolutely, apply for their choice of job, put in their best and ace job interviews and examinations, open businesses of their dreams, apply to schools of their choice, ask for that help that will take them to the next level, and surmount all forms of obstacles on their way. As a people, Nigerians have endured all sorts of precarious situations, even in the presence of affluence and plenty. This year, Nigerians have come to a collective agreement to ‘’shine their eyes’’ and not to allow limitations to stop them; it is a call to resilience and tenacity.

Nigerians, especially young people who dream of Naija, must eat their ‘frog.’ Brian Tracy’s ‘’Eat That Frog,’’ gives practical ways of making the best use of our time to achieve our purpose within a specific time frame. For him, ‘’each one of us has a frog to eat each day. Your frog is your biggest and most important task, the one you are likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life’’. He proposes that we develop the routine of eating our frog before we do anything else and without too much time to think about it. This attitude would lead us to high levels of performance and productivity. This is the spirit of Naija, encapsulated in ‘’no gree for anybody this year!’’

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