Nigeria is a place where blames are placed on virtually everyone and everything. In this eye-opening piece, Samuel Daniel explains why the only person stopping the growth we need is you!
As he gave his inaugural speech on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, one of America’s greatest presidents, threw a timeless charge at his fellow Americans.
He said: “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.
John F. Kennedy must have known that his countrymen were consumed with impatience for change and were very concerned about the dividends of good leadership which he can bring them; he knew that they wanted very much to know what they will benefit from what they considered “the coming of fresh air” that JFK’s presidency promised.
He knew that they were too carried away by their burning desire for ‘newness’ to the extent that they were apt to forget what their own responsibilities were in the process of bringing about the ‘democratic goodies’. And so his inaugural charge was meant to rejuvenate the people’s sense of obligation and thrust their onuses before their faces.
Today, decades after that fateful inaugural morning, John F. Kennedy is still chanting aloud his ageless words to our ears in a world where self has become extremely glorified.
It is true that Nigeria has never been devoid of critics at all. Right from the inception of this great nation, we have had critics who voiced out their displeasure at the way things were run, and tried to change popular notion. In fact our independence was achieved chiefly or even only because of that.
We do not here, wish to discredit the noble act of criticizing wrong procedures or corrupt tendencies, but we are stating emphatically that even though it is such a noble thing to stand against evil, it is not so noble to be part of the evil we are trying to stand against. If we are going to change a particular trend, we cannot be swayed by it. We cannot be part of the evil itself.
It is already 55 years after independence was won and we still have critics who in fact, keep rising up every day in all parts of this country. These days it is not only those in national limelight that criticize government; everyone is doing that now. From the smallest villages to our most sophisticated townships, the general outcry is “Why can’t our leaders change for God’s sake?”
Nigerians have an unfading tradition of placing blames on the leadership of the nation when we talk about the failure of the Nigerian State. They very often forget or may not even be aware, that the ‘Nigerian State’ also comprises of their persons and the roles they have to play in it. They isolate themselves from the field of play and lay the burden of transformation on the one man they conceive as ‘the messiah’.
Dear Nigerian, next time, before you scream at the picture of Mr. President (because you may have no guts to scream at him when you see him in real life – you may not even get that opportunity anyway), claiming that he has not done his part to alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian people, first think about the way you treated your wife this morning, how she greeted you and you refused to reply for no reason whatsoever. Do you know she will go out with a dejected feeling that will surely affect other people negatively and consequently contribute to the growing tension in the air?
What about the man you lied to in order to cheat him out of his money? What about the so-called diplomacy you apply when carrying out your daily activities, which involves deceiving other people and making false advances just to keep your head up and make personal gain? Do you know that you are part of Nigeria’s problem? Have you forgotten that day that you fought in public and even broke someone’s head right there for everyone to see?
Do you know that you are contributing immensely to fuelling the menace of terrorism and the idea of jungle justice which has taken over Nigeria? What about your children that you leave unattended to, every morning? Do you know that they will grow up and join the massively growing restive youths that are turning Nigeria upside down?
Can you still remember that period when you had the chance to help that young boy and that young girl to achieve their goals in life and yet refused to help even though you could have? Do you know that when you refuse to care when you can, to lend a helping hand when indeed you can render help; when you think only of yourself and what you alone will gain, that you are one of Nigeria’s biggest problems?
Never has it been heard that a captain ferried people across a river even when they refused to enter the vessel. Can you feed a man who has his mouth sealed with gum? How can you bear the same yoke with a man who is three feet shorter than you? If we must see the desired change in our dear country, we cannot become indifferent to the progressive efforts of those at the helm.
We cannot become isolated groups of growling, complaining people. We have to come together and become focal components of the struggle to achieve that change. We have to allow the efforts of our leaders make sense!
We cry that we have no electricity yet we go about vandalizing our electric wires and power lines. We say we don’t have water but we have constantly made a mockery of our public taps by making sure they are constantly in need of repair because of the ways we handle them. We cry that the police harass us every day and yet we make no effort to know the dictates of our constitution and challenge the policemen on the highway. We just relax, completely complacent in our grief and complain away our comfort.
What have you done for this country? You whose only preoccupation is to sit and grumble, what have you done to alleviate suffering?
You know, you do not have to think too far. What about that poor little child by the end of the street? Have you ever lent him a helping hand? And that old deprived widow living all alone by herself in that ancient mud hut; what have you done about her? What about that orphaned youth with great potentials who walks your street every day; have you thought of prodding him forward yet?
Dear Nigerian, if this country must change, that change must start from YOU!
The great Confucius of China once said: “To put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right”.
He was absolutely correct! The change starts from home, from that place where you are, from that little corner beside the fireplace where you are preparing the meal, from that company where you work. It starts with you. You have the absolute power to change this country. Stop blaming our leaders all the time. If they can’t do it, why can’t you start the process? Make Nigeria great today and that means that you have to change the way you think.
Now, like John F. Kennedy said 54 years ago, I am saying using this simple poetic style to say:
And so Fellow Nigerians
Ask not what your country can do for you
Ask what you can do
For your country.
God bless Nigeria!
SOURCE: TORI NEWS