Op-Ed: Celebrating Nigeria: 25 things to love about the West African country

By Victor Oladokun, Director Communication and External Relations, African Development Bank.

This week, Nigeria and Nigerians at home and abroad, celebrate 59 years of political Independence. It’s been a long chequered road with many ups and downs. Of dreams come-true and of visions unrealized. While there is still much to do and many mountains to climb, I just thought to scribble down a few thoughts about what it is we love to love about this absolutely amazing country.

1. Tenacity, a can-do spirit, and the Nigerian hustle at every level.

2. Hardwork and a youthful entrepreneurial spirit.

3. Diversity: 200 million people living together though tribe and tongue differ significantly.

4. Faith, Hope, Dreams … inspite of challenges

5. Resilient Nigerian women

6. Family and social gatherings for every occasion

7. Happiness, humor, and the ability to laugh even when we are crying on the inside. AY, Kenny Black, Bovi, Akpororo, SeyiLaw, Helen Paul, and  Chigul.

8. Lasgidi. A hotbed of innovation, creativity since ’19-gbogboro.’

9. Food: Suya, Designer Rice, pounded yam, Jollof Rice like none other, Moin Moin, etc.

10. Languages, especially pidgin English, which should soon be designated a national and official language. If Prince Charly and Emmanuel Macron have tried to impress us with their verbal dexterity, ‘wetin we dey wait for my people?’

11. Art: Bruce Onabrakpeya, Ben Enwonwu, Yusuf Grillo, Aina Onabolu, Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy,  and a younger generation of hyper realistic artists such as 12 year-old Waris Kareem Olamilekan, Raji Bamidele, Chiamonwu Joy, and Arinze Stanley.

12. Music: Don Jazzy, Tiwa Savage, Frank Edwards, Cobhams Asuquo, Mercy Chinwo, Onos Ariyo, Sinach, Jeremiah Gyang, Flavour & Semah, and Timmy Dakolo.

13. #Nollywood: Excellent storylines, highly improved production values, and all of sometimes too obvious  imperfections. A creative landscape waiting for the best of money, technology, and people to organize systems and structures into the multibillion dollar enterprise it deserves to be.

14. My favorite Ondo Town Peeps: #Omatola, #MoAbudu,

15. Awoof: newspapers, airtime, wifi. Man must connect by force by force.

16. Fashion and textiles. From Balogun to Barcelona, we are strutting our stuff.

17. Hospitality and generosity. You don’t appreciate it until you travel to other parts of this great continent.

18. Parliamentarians with incredibly bad grammar but super native intelligence.

19. Sports and physical strength. Still a wasted asset waiting for the addition of tremendous value. Long may the memories of visionary administrators such as Isaac Akioye and Sam Ogbemudia live. Waiting for the birth of a new generation of visionary leaders to turn rough stones into fine diamonds.

20. The heart breaking Super Eagles. They have you rejoicing when you least expect, and weeping when you never thought you would.

21. Abundant natural resources including solid minerals of every kind waiting to be tapped, utilised, and to transform Nigeria’s development

22. Positive cultural values and humungous tourist potential. A low hanging fruit, which with infrastructure and security can create millions of much-needed jobs across a vast value chain.

23. The endemic, unmistakable, Nigerian energy and buzz that no one can put down. Naija no dey carry last.

24. The Nigerian paradox: You want to get out when you are in and you want to get back in fast when you are out.

25. Diaspora Nigerians.

Long may Nigeria and the indefatigable Nigerian spirit live. Happy 59th Independence Anniversary!

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