Squeezing the Positives Out of the Negatives in Nigeria

I’ve often been accused of being a writer of doom and gloom: focusing on the negative parts of Nigeria and never the positives. And once again, I’ll do that. Howbeit, this time with a twist of positive. In the world of econometricians, the negatives can be viewed as independent variables, while the positives are dependent variables. For the economic greenhorns, fear not: explanations avail. Most of the negatives that occur in Nigeria are not due to the independent actions of individuals. Rather, these negatives stem from corrupt and inefficient systems, made worse by the collective nonchalance of individuals. Alternatively, the positives are dependent variables because…well, they’re dependent on our actions.So in an analogical nutshell, when life gives you lemon, turn it to lemonade. The lemon is independent, the lemonade is dependent. Capisce?

So what do all these variables and analogies have to do with Nigeria? Things are simply more cumbersome in Nigeria than many other places. Need to cash a cheque or deposit some money in the bank? long queues. Purchasing a plane ticket at the airport? long queues and buggering ticket hustlers. Starting your business? long paper work and Government bureaucracy. For those who have never had the ‘pleasure’ of attending the first registration day of NYSC Camp, you’ll never understand the undue amount of stress that an inefficient system can create. Such inefficient systems have a dual effect of time-wasting and stressing out the lives of the average citizen.

So how can all these inefficiencies create anything positive? The lemon’s here, where’s the lemonade? It’s at this point that I correct the flaw in the lemon analogy. Making lemonade takes more than just lemons, it requires the procurement of water and sugar. Essentially, output requires active engagement. For true potential to be realized, creativity has to be brought to the table (no pun intended). The ineffective system is what Nigeria gives you, your innovation/hard work/creativity is what transforms the inefficiency (lemons) to productive output (lemonade).


In the midst of so much unemployment lies the opportunity create jobs. In the midst of hunger and spiking food prices lies the opportunity to have effective industrial farms crossed with surging demand. So much opportunity exists that we remain unaware of. Every problem suggests a potential solution exists.


Such inefficiencies have been dealt with in developed nations, which give entrepreneurs less low-hanging fruit issues to tackle. However, for the Nigerian youths, such low hanging fruits abound and all we need do is pluck these fruits (figuratively, of course) and make productive means of livelihood out of them. The constraint of capital and inadequate infrastructure attenuates this process, however, those who think outside the box stand a greater chance of sidestepping these costs. Our innovative approaches to the issues will decide if these solutions remain merely latent. It’s time we broke
out of our defeatist and complacent mindset. No one makes lemonade by simply staring at lemons.

  • Ibk

    I love how u used the lemon and lemonade analogy to explain Independent and dependent variables.. Genius!
    I never quite saw the flaw in the lemon-lemonade analogy. But u really need water and sugar to make lemonade 🙂

    I read economics and u wow me with ur understanding of the subject. I’m sure your mum is extremely proud of you. Keep up the good work.

  • That creativity bit is EVERYTHING! Easier said than done though. Irony of capitalism is since it takes money to make money, those with money make more money and those with no money work for those with money. Capital in the end is like the water and sugar while opportunities are the lemons. Breaking out of the cycle really takes creativity in an investment unfriendly country like naija.

  • chidi

    Chuba his is masterclass and a masterpiece from you that some idioms been in use for long does not mean correctness, thanks for thinking out of the box and pulling along.