To America and the superpowers of the world “God judges motives”.
Monday, October 31, 2011
To America and the superpowers of the world “God judges motives”.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This piece was culled from a book titled "Creating a New Nigeria" by one passionate Nigerian by the name Taulpaul Oselen. He is my first guest poster. Do read and freely make comments afterwards. I believe a new Nigeria is possible but it will take some amount of work and sacricifice by every well-meaning Nigerian.
Slightly modifying the list of national ethics as presented in the 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, we propose the following national values/ethics; Unity, Mutual respect, Self-discipline, Integrity, Resourcefulness, Service, Justice, Interdependence, and Equality. These few were proposed because of their ability to address the complexities of the old Nigeria and deliver to us our future in line with our proposed vision for a new Nigeria. However, no single one in itself is strong enough a foundation for us but working them together produces an unshakable foundation.
The first and most basic step is for you, the Nigerian citizen to identify with, personalize, model and recommend this vision. The next step would be for you to endorse the proposed national values by imbibing and continually practicing them. Remember, it is not enough for us to unlearn old habits (values) but to sustain change we must consciously learn new ones. Thus, we can;
- Relate as individuals not tribes nor sects (breaking stereotypes)
Unity- this is the first ethic proposed because under the old system we were made to think that Nigerians could never be a people with one voice and one vision. In the new Nigeria, we would not preach ethnic/religious tolerance because we would not have to tolerate fellow Nigerians but rather we will see them as brothers, sisters, team members with our best interest at heart and relate to them as such. It is a system based on trust, not on a new found trust but one which has always been there only relegated for selfish interests. Within the old system, many of us, if not all of us at some time trusted these people (of diverse ethnicities or religions) with our greatest asset; our lives.
It may have been as a passenger in a plane, cab or bus (not having to do a check on who the pilot or the driver was); as consumers of meals at hotels, restaurants, eateries or ‘bukas’ (not being overly concerned about where the chef or cook was from); might have been as a sick patient awaiting surgery or urgent treatment at a hospital or traditional home ( not running a verification test on the qualifications of the resident physician or consultant); as our domestic staff in charge of some very personal effects and matters; as an accident victim in desperate need of a rescuer or someone stranded in unknown territory needing help... the examples are endless. Nigerians have always trusted one another regardless of ethnic or religious orientations.
The greater truth is that we did not trust them because we lacked better options; it was most times because they were the best at what they did. It was truly a case of mutual respect (not tolerance) born out of a singular pleasant experience or a series of good relations. However, this was only possible when we considered individuals as persons with unique characters and refused to have a presumed general behavioural pattern (a stereotype). We must endeavour to remove all generalizations and learn to judge each relationship as an isolated case instead of forming patterns (good or bad).
It is high time we made this the pronounced way of life at all levels and refused seeds of division sown by a selected few for selfish reasons and personal gains. Hence, no Nigerian should be regarded
as a stranger nor a settler in any part of the country for we are one people with equal stake in national peace and development. Indeed, Nigeria is our primary constituency. More emphasis should and will be placed on ‘state of residence’ than ‘state of origin’ in the new Nigeria.
- Become worthy Ambassadors
An ambassador is an emissary of one nation to another nation. He is to uphold the acceptable standards of his nation while building a cordial relationship between his nation and the one in which he functions. Nations have no boundaries, no borders they are united by ideologies. As an ambassador it is this ideology you model everywhere you are. Our ideology is who we are and what we are known for. Your role henceforth would be to act as a worthy ambassador of the new Nigeria to the old Nigeria or to any other nation in which you may find yourself.
For this reason, you must become a student of the new Nigeria; comprehend the vision, imbibe the core values and model them. As an ambassador your life takes on a new and inspiring meaning because you may be the only Nigeria some people out there may ever see. You have thus become responsible for the success and good name of this nation. To accomplish this great task you must be able to see clearly the preferred and greater future. This will take an enormous amount of self-discipline; the ability to stay on course, to commit to whatever it requires, remaining focused. No matter what field or industry you find yourself you can be an ambassador.
Self-discipline will make you drop old habits that do not line up with your role as an ambassador and learn new habits that will facilitate your new role. It will cause you to do only the needful and to discard all unrestrained behaviours. It drives you to continually seek the right and latest knowledge regarding whatever you do, so you could be the best at it. When you are self-disciplined, you will not need anyone to motivate you for greatness because you have identified your place in the grand vision and have made a commitment to stay the course. You will continually set goals and achieve them, doing all it takes to be successful at what you do for the sake of a better future. Self-discipline causes you to delay gratification; finding yourself doing what may be inconvenient just to create a future you desire.
However, self-discipline alone if left unchecked can be disastrous. You will need of something else to keep your motives in check, which is Integrity. Integrity is a form of conscience within every man that convicts him to always want to do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. Integrity balances ambition with conscience in our quest for greatness. It is also the strength of will to say what you mean and to mean what you say; this attribute is vital in the life of an ambassador. It makes you realize the power of words; your word has to be your bond if you are to be successful as an ambassador. Integrity is the true value you place on your person.
Your integrity will help align your quest for knowledge and success with God’s plan for humanity. It will keep you from enriching yourself at the expense of the nation’s future. Integrity makes you understand that the means (process, path) is as important as the end (result, outcome). As a result of integrity, in assessing any opportunity for business or gain, you would ask ‘not only is it profitable but is it right?’ In the new Nigeria, decisions would be more people-oriented than money-oriented.
When a people have both self-discipline and integrity functioning in their lives, external warnings like; ‘do not take or give bribes’ or ‘do not dump refuse here’ or ‘do not patronize touts’ become unnecessary because these people now have an inner sense of dignity. Also, the resources committed to fighting all forms of corruption; electoral fraud, advance free-fraud and so on, could be ploughed into more productive and developmental programs. Someone once said, ‘it is much easier to switch on the light than to curse darkness.’ The truth is, if I can influence my world and you can influence your world, then we can influence our world and ultimately influence the world.
This is only possible because the Nigerian has assumed his office as a responsible citizen, a worthy and true Ambassador.
Thank you and God bless Nigeria.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I have read many articles decrying the decision by the federal government of Nigeria to remove fuel subsidy. I have also watched many interviews on TV and listened to many radio programs about this issue. It has topped the chart on the front pages of most Nigerian dailies since the day it was announced. Some persons speak for the motion while some take the opposite stance.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I do not stay in Lagos because my family is not resident there. But does it matter where I am located? I know Lagos has the pomp, style, and energy that is curiously different from every other state in Nigeria. I don’t take that away from the city of excellence not with what Fashola has done and is doing. I have friends in Ilorin, Kaduna, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Umuahia, Jos, Akure, Asaba, Owerri but I have a large percentage of friends and family members in Lagos. If I had my way I would also like to be a Lagosian. Who no like better thing? It’s like, as in, you know, excuse me (a la Jenifa).
Friday, October 14, 2011
A legacy is an inheritance bequeathed to generations yet unborn. It is usually sustained from one generation to another. As a young child in primary school, I often heard that the best legacy a parent can give their children is education (used to mean both formal and informal). In fact, most schools touted that word as a selling point for whatever they offered.
Let’s take a journey down memory lanes – during the days of our parents. There were missionary schools – affiliated to a particular religious organization – which were the first sets of schools we had in Nigeria and the government owned schools. Those schools ran side by side and there was hardly any difference in the standard of education in both. I remember being told that back in the 50’s and 60’s, universities had lawns with luscious green colour and they were dutifully mowed. I remember being told also that students needn’t worry about food because there were central diner halls where each student go to with his/her tally to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I heard about how sumptuous and nutritious those meals were. So essentially the student need not worry about what he/she would eat. Electricity was very constant and schools were usually given the priority for power. The student didn’t need to worry about the number of candles left in his/her locker nor the length of time the rechargeable lamp will last before it goes out. Water ran freely in the taps and since it was treated from source, it was consumed without fear of infections (typhoid, dysentery etc). Libraries were well equipped with materials of the time and students made use of them as they needed. The students were mostly able to concentrate on the purpose of being in such institutions – which is to acquire knowledge and utilize such knowledge to make a change in an organization, the nation and indeed the world – and they were able to think critically as this process is an offshoot of an mental environment not beset with the need for food, water and electricity (the basic needs of man).
Lecturers (and teachers) were highly respected educational professionals in their various fields because they were well trained and they understood what their roles were i.e. to pass information in a structured format to younger generations. They go for extra studies to enhance their effectiveness and keep up with new information as it relates to their subjects. Research was a part of their work which involved them thinking creatively about a particular aspect of their field of study to bring about solutions to problems of the time as well as envisaged problems of the future. The non-academic staffs of such institutions also played their roles very well by ensuring the hostels and halls were well maintained, payments were not extra burdensome and that salaries were paid when due.
After independence, the civil war and the set of successive military usurpations affected the general atmosphere negatively as the values that were evident had began to change - brute force against citizens as opposed to freedom, power tussle as opposed to stability in government, ethnicity as opposed to nationalism, mistrust as opposed to truth and trust, fear as opposed to love and faith. The oil boom also opened the eyes of people in government to the potential for recklessness and avarice which has since become the order of the day. People who had no business being leaders became leaders and lorded it over the rest of the people. The atmosphere changed completely and each person began to redefine their own values as they see fit because the societal and national values were no longer consistent. Gradually, all the infrastructures which made learning enjoyable and easy collapsed like Humpty Dumpty and all the successive governments have not been able to put the pieces back together again. What we have now is chaos, disorderliness, greed, lack of patriotism, short term benefit- seeking, lack of care and a general bad attitude by almost everyone within the system. For the student, the interest is more in the acquisition (by hook or crook) of the paper certificate than in actually the knowledge which warrants it. For the lecturers, the focus now is in the usage of the latest car and the erection of grand personal buildings. These they achieve by being taskmasters to the students (and indirectly to their parents, guardians and sponsors) through the illegal sale of handouts, textbooks and materials. The non-administrative staffs also milk the students dry by collecting bribes to render their normal services.
So instead of an upward climb to better and current facilities, we retrogressed to nothing at all. Today, some of the few private institutions with reasonable quality of education (which is not accessible to ordinary Nigerians) have an undertone of wrong values in the sense that most of the owners of such institutions got their wealth by illegitimate means - embezzling government funds, manipulating members of religious organizations to part with their monies. In the midst of all these however, you will still manage to find people who still hold on to those good values which made the story of the earlier days sweet. These are exceptions for the rule nowadays is cheap, uninspiring, desperate and unfocused.
The question then is “are we thinking about the next generations and what we might be leaving for them as an inheritance?” As young people what role do we think we have to play in all of these? Or are we helpless, unconcerned and blameless?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I once read an article in the editorials of one of the Nigerian dailies (The Guardian of Feb 10, 2011) titled “ Throwing Money at Job Creation”. Part of that article read
“…As is typical with many government initiatives, every time there is a problem, they throw money at it hoping that the problem will go away…. Speaking at a recent event, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, confirmed that the FEC had approved N50billion to tackle unemployment. He was not specific about what the N50billion is meant to achieve, rather he makes a convoluted explanation that confuses more than it enlightens….. The easiest recipe in a profligate regime is to vote money rather than critically evaluate the entire spectrum of the problem…..”
I find this sort of solution-seeking rather shallow and devoid of any level of thinking (about the issue). What was the N50billion supposed to achieve? How was it supposed to do that? How long can whatever was achieved be sustained for? Or is the money going to end up in the hands of the Minister and his friends? We all know the obvious answer.
A friend recently made the analogy of our importation of refined petroleum products while we export crude oil as a case of a farmer who has a large (industrial scale) farm of cassava yet he imports garri (the most staple food in his home country) at cut-throat prices. What the farmer needed to do was simple – get the cassava crusher, pressure-mounting machine (to press out the water) and a furnace to fry the paste and voila, garri for his household as well as for sale to his kinsmen at a reasonable price. So let’s say the Minister mentioned something in line with using the N50 billion as a kick-off fund for starting a refinery, that is sure to generate some thousands of jobs depending on the capacity of the refinery. The ministry (as I expect) is not in isolation but ought to work together (to achieve the overall objectives) with other ministries such as Petroleum, for the project. As it stands, I do not know how the N50billion has been disbursed but
I am sure there’s no accounting for it whatsoever. Many of the poverty alleviation job schemes are a grand design to ensure monies allocated to such end up in the hands of the heads of such projects and their families/friends. It’s all a grand farce because there is no sincerity of purpose. Manufacturing industries, power stations, refineries, rail projects, education are all sector this particular Minister might look to partner with to increase job creation and not just a bogus scheme which enrich the man’s friends.
I do not find this reasoning appalling as I have found individuals who also throw money at problems which merely required a “little” thought on what ails – like telling themselves they will buy another item when the current one develops a small hitch instead of maintaining it and keeping it in shape so it can serve them better and longer. Buying another item even though the one in use is not bad doesn’t speak of riches but rather of waste and laziness. If such an individual gets into the position of a Minister, how would such perform? After all, habit is what one does over time. The only reason why such individual can get into such positions in the first place is due to the triviality we attribute to leadership and corruption which says gives opportunities to the highest bidders. Our electoral system is centred around some “big political players” and only people who are “with them” gets to the place of influence. Poverty as I have seen it is a strategy which has been used and still been used (a grand conspiracy) to suppress the common man’s voice and prevent it from gaining strength.
A leader doesn’t just happen in one day when he/she is elected into a position where he/she has to make decisions which would affect many people. A leader is one who takes personal responsibility right from when they have become old enough to understand what responsibility means. From school days, from when he/she got the first job or contract, managing the home front, and how those various situations were managed.
Job creation is not a big deal but is directly proportional to infrastructural development in the nation. Throwing money at problems is easy because it doesn’t lay much responsibility on the person (s) to think long term, act, hold accountable or sustain whatever was arrived at. It is similar to “spraying money on a celebrant at a party (which we have termed as our “culture”). You get praised by the people around while you are at it and you go away without care for the money anymore.