All we ask for
Africa

All We Ever Ask For

Some of my friends, readers of my articles, and even politician-friends in Nigeria (and I don’t have a lot of them in that last category) have often asked me: “What do you really want, man? Are you seeking self-serving publicity or government appointment? I always shake my head: they don’t get it, do they? We are not all the same.

My simple and honest answer has always been: “To change or help change Nigeria for the better. If I personally cannot facilitate this change, then to help or contribute to others who are also sincere about making such a change or changes possible”. This stance of mine, I am very sure, will stand the test of time.

In some cases, my answer had been met with some friendly cynicism or scepticism. Some are of the opinion that I am perhaps looking to enter the “system” and then join in the free for all looting taking place, or at the very least, to have my share of the so-called “national cake”.

Well, one thing I always reply back is that if indeed I want to share in the “national cake”, I consider myself (and 140 million Nigerians) entitled to share in this cake; after all, I am a Nigerian citizen. So I should rightly demand my share in this cake. What I will not do is deny others the right to share this cake by being greedy, corrupt, unfair, unjust, murderous and inconsiderate in the sharing. And this will be to ensure that all dividends of our wealth and democracy are accessible to all Nigerians and not to me or my friends and family alone. That is if I ever get there, or allowed to get there, of course.

As for joining the looting of the treasury, count me out, I always say. What is there to loot? Why should I want to loot? Life is a very simple one for me (and I believe, millions of other Nigerians). All I need is just one house, a source of moderate income that will enable me feed, cloth, shelter and educate my family; a car or two to convey me around in Nigeria on my business; the ability to afford a decent healthcare provision for my family and a bit to spare for entertainment and other vagaries of life.

Why do I want to loot the treasury and then cart away the loot to foreign countries, buy properties I will hardly sleep in or that my children will hardly live in, thereby denying millions of my countrymen and women the right to a decent life? Just because I want to have everything to myself? “How much land does a man need?”, as asked in an 1886 short story by Leo Tolstoy about a man who, in his lust for land, forfeits everything, including his own life.

The same can be asked severally: How many houses does a man need? How many rooms can a man sleep in at the same time? How much money does a man need to live a full life? Poor or rich, we are destined, as mortals, to go one day and account to whoever created us, and we are not taking a single item acquired on earth with us, are we?

I therefore wonder if people who are disciples of greed and corruption usually think of this common fact, unless of course their reason is to live life to the fullest while they are in this world, while creating unhappiness, poverty, hardship, disease, disaster and death for the people they have denied good governance, justice, emancipation, etc through their corrupt and inconsiderate policies, activities and actions.

Happily for me, despite all these gloom, and the mire of poverty and helplessness, we can still see oasis of goodness from individuals and organisations who are trying to change things for their people as best as they can.

These people are not using force or guns to effect change. They are instead using God-given talents, skills, brains, hands, connections, etc to help change the world, and indeed, in our particular case, Nigeria.

Are they going to fail? I will say No, because when humanity is engaged in furthering the cause of goodness, it is unlikely such people fail. While all kinds of barriers and stumbling blocks will be erected in their paths by the forces of evil and darkness, some will still get through. A concerted effort from all such forces of goodness will eventually see them though. History is replete with such examples. You can’t keep a good man down forever.

In Nigeria, believe it or not, there are a very fair number of such good individuals and organisations.  Some, or even most of them will never get to the position to effect the desired change. Some don’t even want to be in power. A lot of them have died trying, and a lot more will die in the process. These are facts. But then, aren’t the evil ones preventing these good ones going to die too?

As a matter of fact, the evil ones are also dying like flies, victims of their own evil doings. A minister responsible for roads dying in a car crash on the road he was meant to rehabilitate, after embezzling the funds meant for the project. The children of the corrupt coming a cropper in several ways, having diseases nobody can cure, attacked by armed robbers on the streets their fathers are meant to make safe for all.

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