Money does not stop nonsense. Values do. In the true sense of the Nigerian aphorism, what is meant is that money prevents disrespect. But, I’d like to take the phrase literally. Can money really help you to escape nonsense?

When you buy peace of mind, efficiency or quality; when you use money to purchase those things, they are only available because of the excellence that the other party supplies. Your money simply gave you access. Good healthcare & education, exceptional craftsmanship, an orderly society, quality goods & services – these are all products of standards and ingenuity. African countries with incredible oil wealth still struggle to provide these things to their citizens.

From a systemic point of view, few things in Nigeria, money inclusive, stop nonsense. China with less natural resources developed the production capacity to stop nonsense. Even tiny New Zealand has done same. It effectively beat an epidemic. But in Nigeria, it takes individual (and not systemic) courage, values and hard work to stop nonsense. Stella Adadevoh did so during the Ebola outbreak, despite a fragile national healthcare structure.

We’ve almost come to expect anyhowness in Nigeria – from recurrent drama in Aso Rock, to impunity in our legislative chambers, to even religious scandals. Excellence is the exception here and not the rule.

Let’s confront the truth

Here’s how Nigeria typically tries to progress – by appropriation. We boast about trains we didn’t build and conduct COVID-19 tests with reagents we didn’t produce. We claim self-sufficiency in crop production, omitting the foreign input in processes, equipment and management.

Other countries move forward by first investing in education, and then patiently waiting for homegrown products to bring their knowledge, skills and inventiveness to bear on national issues. Nations do so alongside skills transfer, of course. They don’t just buy talent and then hope for the best. Instead, in Nigeria, we try to develop a nation by presidential decree.

As the number of excellent Nigerians becomes disproportionately stacked against the corrupt ones, it will become harder for anyone to use money to stop nonsense. The excellent will leave. They are in global demand.

For everyone else, it is when a loved one dies during a lockdown because they can’t go for their next international medical appointment, that they finally realize that even money doesn’t have the capacity to stop national nonsense. It will simply consume you.

Read the related article, You Need More than Money.

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