We abide in wilful fatalism. We see only doom and gloom about Nigeria. We make cynical projections on our country and hold up to ridicule narratives that do not fit into the gloom-ridden portrait. Blood, sorrow and tears saturate the public discourse as if there is no ‘’light, love and life’’ in any corner of the country. It is all doom, gloom and doom. We could as well be living through doomsday.
I must admit, the egregious state of security and the occasional revelries of blood somewhat instigate this negativity about our country today. But are kidnapping, banditry, insurgency and corruption all there is about Nigeria? Is it all bleak with no crevice of illumination? While I cannot attenuate the staggering challenges, particularly on security, gnawing at the country, it will be defeatist to say there is no hope of calm in this tempest. It will also be cynical of me to say it is all rain and no sunshine.
Nigerians are beautiful people. They love life. They love people. Where you find bigotry, you can also find tolerance; where there is hate; there is love, and where there is tension; there is also good neighbourliness. Even under the cumulus of ethnic tonguefire, they do not relent in helping one another when the occasion demands it. I will cite an example of Nigerians’ expansiveness and why this is a reason we should appreciate one another the more.
The ‘’farm to classroom’’ story of Emmanuel Nworie, a first-class mathematics graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who was tilling away his destiny at the backwaters of Ebonyi State, accents the congeniality of Nigerians.
Nworie, a 27-year-old, graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 4.92/5.00 – unarguably a mathematical genius. A diamond in the rough. But life gave him a raw deal. He could neither secure a job nor capital to go into business. He lived in abominable squalor. A first-class graduate of mathematics! But he rerouted his talents into tilling the soil in the forgotten corners of Ebonyi – the most unlikely places an Einstein prodigy can make a genius of his ability.
“I started having challenges in 2005 when we struggled with the health of my dad. He gave up in January 2009. I have long wanted to be a mathematician. But after my dad passed away, I was deterred because at some point when I was trying to save for undergraduate studies and after two years I couldn’t save enough, so I was frustrated,” he apprised TheCable of his trials and tribulations in an interview.
But Nworie’s dream of becoming a scholar and of parlaying his talents turned to gold when Michael Taiwo, a US-based Nigerian and sponsor of MT Scholarships, and Suraj Oyewale, founder of JarusHub, a career and education platform, picked Nworie during the selection of candidates for scholarship.
Taiwo and Oyewale are both Yoruba – Nworie is Igbo. But while selecting candidates for the scholarship sponsored by Michael they did not consider where he came from, his religious background or the status of his family. They selected Nworie strictly by the content of his mind.
In a statement on March 3, Taiwo announced Nworie’s selection for a fully-funded PhD in mathematics at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas.
He said Nworie received three offers from universities in the southern part of the US.
Taiwo: “Today, I am pleased to announce that Emmanuel Chinweuba Nworie has accepted a fully funded offer to study for his PhD in Mathematics at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. SMU is a prestigious private research university. Emmanuel prefers locations with warm weather. He received three great offers, all from schools in the southern part of the US. Mentors are our secret sauce. It is hard to exaggerate the role Dr. Busayo Aworunse, Emmanuel’s assigned mentor, played in delivering the outcome we celebrate today. Busayo, thank you. Help me congratulate Emmanuel. I cannot wait to see what he does with a Math PhD from SMU!”
The cost of attending SMU is over $75,000 per year, but Nworie will not be paying a dime. His living expenses are also covered. The life of a lowly citizen, who could have been another statistics in the number of jobless and frustrated Nigerians, is changed forever.
Grass-to-grace stories like that of Nworie abound in the country. Some Nigerians chanced on fortune by the benevolence of Nigerians from other ethnic groups. In fact, some owe their breakthrough, status, wealth, and influence to that Nigerian from the other side who looked beyond their ethnic and religious backgrounds.
We can also consider the way Nigerians mobilise themselves to fight for justice when one of their own suffers prejudice in an alien country. I have witnessed how Nigerians go the whole hog in protecting their countrymen/women abroad. The solidarity of Nigerians in South Africa during the xenophobic killings and in the recent cases in Ghana and Cote d’ivoire accentuate this unvarnished quality.
We should celebrate that which makes us one of the kindest, loving and most accommodating people in the world. We are not all bad, corrupt, nepotistic and bigoted. We have a redeeming quality. We are Nigerians.
•Nwabufo is a writer and journalist