It is no longer news that Nigeria is blessed with happy people. In a BBC News report about a published study in the New Scientist magazine in 2003, Nigeria topped more than 65 nations as the happiest people in the world. According to the BBC report, “Nigeria has the highest percentage of happy people followed by Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and Puerto Rico, while Russia, Armenia and Romania have the fewest.”
To emerge as the nation with the greatest percentage of happy people despite the high unemployment rates and the high poverty levels experienced by the majority of population shows the tenacity of the people to withstand life challenges. Perhaps, the touted happy traitis the antidote for bearing the harsh realities of tragedies, deaths, and the killings of several hundred by the day.
The Boko Haram insurgency has killed over 17,000 and rendered several thousand north-eastern residents homeless. When an attack happens, the elected officials seldom make press conferences that provide solace and inspire unity.Even worse is the neglect of the victims and their families, giving the cold message that no one cares. Some concerned citizens may have wondered why we don’t hear from survivors of a bomb attack. What happens to survivors of attacks that sustain serious injuries? How about the families that lost loved ones? Whenever a national tragedy occurs, few days later, people move on, the media moves on to other topics, and the discussion never resurfaces in public discourses. This is also the case for other tragedies common in Nigeria including road accidents, plane crashes, gas tank explosions, kidnapping deaths, armed robbery attacks, which can be emotionally draining for the families affected and the slightest sense of help can go a long way in the healing process for the victims and their families. The lack of responsiveness and attention to victims, survivors, and their families is a dangerous path capable of stripping us of the core of our human existence.
The psychology of unity after national tragedies occur is well documented. When traumatic tragedies happen such as natural disasters, terrorist bombings, plane crashes, the leaders are supposed to use media platforms to comfort the people and give them hope of togetherness. During the aftermath of the Paris terror attack for instance, social media reacted with intense emotions to show support for the country. Facebook activated a Safety Check tool for people to notify their families and friends of their safety, a feature previously reserved for natural disasters.Facebook also made it possible for users to temporarily add a French flag filter to their profile picture to show solidarity to the country. Within hours of the attack, the hashtags#PrayforParis and #ParisAttacks went viral on social media.While the social media influence culminated into a global unity and support, they were also mixed reactions to the global outpour of support for the country. Facebook was criticized for not doing the same for Lebanon that had just witnessed an attack as well as other nations where recent terror attacks have taken countless lives. Nigerians on social media particularly pointed out that the Boko Haram insurgency kill several hundred people on a weekly basis and no support of this magnitude has ever been shown. This led many users to temporarily add a Nigerian flag filter instead of the Paris flag filter over their profile picture and the hashtag #PrayforNigeria also went viral.
The reaction to the terror attack within Paris has a greater significance in inspiring a sense of unity as the whole country was thrown into mourning, the government officials constantly utilized media outlets to comfort the people and reassure them that they are safe. In an emotional speech criticizing the attack, President FrancoisHollande said, “we will lead the fight and we will be ruthless, and we had to be here among the people who were subject to these atrocities because when the terrorists are capable of doing such acts they must know that they will face a France very determined — a France united.”The sense of unity in the aftermath of the attack in a multicultural nation like France has a strong psychological healing effect.
The Nigerian government needs to rise to the challenge of leadership in bringing the people together, to give hope and a sense of unity in good and bad times. Moreover, the unity will inspire national pride and patriotism. The citizens will not only be the happiest people on earth, but people who come together and are united in the face of tragedies and adversities.