It all started as a joke, like most other things do…but underneath it, a portent message with significant undertone for a nation of 165million people.

I had some issues to attend to in the house and a bit of scaffolding work was needed. Unfortunately, in this country, labor isn’t cheap and I either do the work myself or pay a hefty price to get it done. I chose the former. In company of my wife, I decided to visit the “Hire Guys” for the scaffolding. Well, the lad at the desk asked for some sort of ID so that he could release the scaffolding and I had none, I supposed. Then I remembered that I just got issued with the Nigerian National ID Card. I proudly brought this out, it was in mint condition and shinning, and handed over to the gentleman at the counter. He took a look at it and with a cold voice responded that he would be unable to take the ID for the transaction, we should provide him with another.

I thought I knew what his reason was and requested my wife to give him her ID, one that had nothing to do with Nigeria. My inquisitive mind couldn’t help itself and I had to ask the dude why my factory mint ID would not be accepted by him. I heard him say that seeing the word “Nigeria” on the ID makes him believe that the ID was fake and as such would not accept it. Surprisingly, I wasn’t caught aback and pleasantly too, I was in no mood to defend the indefensible. Whatever informed his opinion, it wasn’t going to change if I had put up a spirited argument or protested at his maligning the name of the biggest black nation on the planet. As we headed home, I asked my wife for her opinion, regarding what transpired. She mentioned that the actions of a few members of the country are responsible for the way people of other nationalities treat us as a people.

I had almost forgotten about this incident when a similar one ensued. It was as if the gods were intent on making a jest of me. Same evening, I was in an Outdoor shop looking for a fishing line. Having gotten what I wanted, I approached the cashier to make the payment. A conversation ensued between the man and me around outdoor living and I had expressed my fears of going to the outback based on the various tales that I have heard. Well, he asked where I was from originally and I mentioned Nigeria. He then said he would be more afraid to live in Nigeria than go to the outback. He didn’t say this to be offensive but with the tales of the gruesome murder by Boko Haram, it sure would be a hell of a place to live for any westerner. But it hurts. I feigned indifferent by the remarks and carried on with the conversation.

Arriving home and laying on my bed, it was the moment for sober reflection and the two unrelated events kept nagging my soul. How did we get here? How do we move away from this and what can I do to help the generation unborn from carrying with them this big stigma that robs the cream of the nation from opportunities around the world?

You have answers? Please leave your comments below.