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Abosede Olowoyeye's blog

A new Nigeria begins with me

To: The Media Development Network with The Communication Initiative

From Abosede Olowoyeye - BBC Media Action on citizens’ participation in the governance.

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A new Nigeria begins with me

It was a typical Sunday morning. I was in the car driving to church and happily humming a tune to myself. But then, as I took a turn off the highway, I found the road ahead blocked - cordoned off for some high-level government official to pass.

Now road blocks and traffic jams are hardly rare in Abuja. For a church service, the road will be blocked. For Friday Jumat prayers, traffic comes to a standstill. And roads are often closed near police stations, banks, hotels and shopping malls.

As I sat behind my wheel, my reaction felt very familiar: a momentary surge of anger quickly replaced by helpless resignation. And it was only then that I suddenly recognised it was a reaction I had witnessed elsewhere - while conducting research on governance issues for BBC Media Action.

State of helplessness

Our research team was trying to find out why the Nigerian authorities appear to lack accountability and also why people don't question their leaders and administrations.

When we first started speaking to people about this issue in 2010, it seemed we were hitting the same wall over and over again. People kept on telling us things like, "I cannot talk [because] they will not listen." Law enforcement agencies, meanwhile, would tell us, "It’s beyond our jurisdiction". And community leaders would blame someone else for the lack of basic services.

The Media Development Network