The Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

In his article, “Groaning from afar”, Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isa wrote a fairly lengthy piece for today in which he despairs not only of the tragic economic events occurring in Nigeria but also of the reactions that expatriates have when they view their home country’s sad state of affairs from afar.

He points to the $20+ billion that expatriates send back to Nigeria every year, noting that it actually exceeds the country’s total budget.

In his words, “Foreign-based Nigerians do equally groan under a nagging sense of frustration due to Nigeria’s persistent failure to achieve progress befitting its immeasurable potentials.”

But while his frustration, and the frustration of so many other millions of Nigerians living both inside and outside the country, is clear and understandable, he also overlooks a vitally important point.

That point can be found, to those who discern it, in a key statement he makes in the article.

He writes, “Interestingly, ironically, some of them who have apparently given up discourage their foreign-based countrymen from being ‘unnecessarily’ worried about the happenings in Nigeria, under the pretext that the situation in the country is simply irredeemably hopeless.”

When is worry not unnecessary? I would argue that worry is always unnecessary.

His statement suggests that there is a time to worry and a time not to worry, but a better way to describe the viewpoint of many foreign-based countrymen is that worry isn’t a good thing in the first place.

It never does any good. It never helps. It never makes anything better. It only makes the worrier feel worse.

While there is plenty to be concerned about in Nigeria, there is also no value in turning that concern into worry.

Isa notes himself that, “However, they groan under persistent frustration seeing how other countries, many of which are far less endowed than Nigeria in terms of potentials, have nonetheless achieved what Nigeria cannot currently even dream of achieving, in terms of economic prosperity and socio-political stability.”

Yet he misses the real point of his own statement. A large part of what it takes for a country to prosper depends upon having a national optimistic viewpoint. That is how countries with little or no national resources survive and even thrive.

It can be argued that the Nigerian taste for the glass being half empty contributes more to the problem than any abundance or lack of natural resources.

Certainly, major reform is surely needed in Nigeria. But it won’t come from being pessimistic. It can only come from an optimistic stance.