"Cowardice asks: is it safe? Consensus asks: is it popular? Character asks: is it right" -Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
I saw my neighbour's son running an errand recently and wondered why he wasn't in school until I remembered that teachers were still on strike. How sad. Anyway, yesterday I leafed through a paper and saw that the NASS is set to have their salaries reviewed. While the figures quoted by the paper is way too much for me to remember, I do recall seeing that a NASS member could hence forth go home with at least 10 million naira monthly. Not to mention all the other allowances!
Now pitch that against what our teachers are asking for and what we get is the typical Animal Farm scenario!
"Our leaders are all thieves! Bloody thieves all of them! They just keep fattening their pockets while we suffer poverty and everything that comes with it!"
I used to think that way too until I hung out with some friends recently. We were in this jeep belonging to a man who obviously digs one of my friends. The guy stops to see another friend of his, probably to discuss business, when one of my friends in front opens one of those storage compartments in cars and discovers there's lots of money in it.
She exclaims: Make una see money oh! And next thing I know, she pulls out some wads and starts sharing it to us at the back. She says "Ejura take! Take now before he comes!" And I am so shocked by what is going on, I tell her "No, I can't! It's not my money!"
I now go on to add that they didn't have to take his money when he could have given them some as dash if they were patient enough to wait. And they tell me
"Stay there! You don't know anything. Come make we teach you." [Paraphrase]
I sit back and don't say anything after that. The man gets back into his car and we hit the road again. He doesn't know what just happened and he obviously may not even miss the money but it sets me thinking.
If my friends and I can sit down dissing Nigerian leaders and how they only know how to chop money on one page and on the next page, we deep our hands into someone else's purse and take what isn't ours, then what are we talking about?
Some people may laugh this off and say it's a case of gurls just being gurls but these gurls, including me, nurse ambitions to become leaders in Nigeria tomorrow and if we can bat our lashes and help ourselves today from another man's purse, what will we do tomorrow when we actually occupy these leadership positions?
How many of us are truly different from these leaders huh? Why cast stones when we are buried in a heap of them ourselves?
Ok, true, I didn't partake of the money with them but I couldn't stop them neither did I really air my views on the issue for fear it would turn into a cold war between my friends and I. Is that what I would do in a leadership position too? Choose friendship over what is right? Condone corruption, so I won't be the odd one out?
You know why God finished off a particular generation of the Israelites in the wilderness and didn't allow them get into the promise land? It was so they wouldn't bring their evil mentalities into the new land and corrupt the next generation. God wanted a clean slate for Israel. Now how do we get a clean slate for Nigeria?
Did you say prayer is the key?
While I do not in any way deny the power of prayer, I think this "Nigerian spirituality" is also responsible for what is killing us. What would have happened to South Africa if Mandela and others like him chose to lock themselves up in their rooms to pray? What would have happened if Rosa Parks got up that seat in the bus and went back home to pray?
What can I do? I am only one person.
Alas! I share the cowardice of millions of other Nigerians like me.