Change begins with you

By Mohammed Belgore

The people get the government they deserve, so posited Joseph De Maistre. While I am currently advocating for youths to step up to their calling as leaders of tomorrow, I will not be remiss of the other stark reality that before a man embarks on a quest to change the world let him change himself first.

Change begins with you. I believe that was the message that the President Muhammadu Buhari, PMB administration sought to inject in our minds earlier in the days of this current dispensation. I believe it died In it’s tracks. However, that message is one they should have sought to propagate more. Although if I recall properly the jury was out on whether the PMB administration possessed the moral authority to preach such considering the general negative sentiment amongst the people towards the government of the day.

I am not here to say they do or they do not. I am here to however entrench in the mind of the would be Nigerian leaders of tomorrow that as it stands the government we have is the government we deserve and the first step to take towards nation building would be to alter the course of the cosmic comeuppance that provides us with the sort of leaders we have.

What I am saying is that at the moment I think the character of our leaders mirror the character of the general Nigerian populace, the general Nigerian Society, the masses. Frankly If you ask me if I think Nigeria will ever get better I’m going to tell you No. I won’t mince words and I won’t sound as if I simply doubt that it will get better, leaving room for the odds of an optimistic remote possibility that it can get better, the answer would just be an outright No, at least until very recently. Now my position has changed and I am a believer in a brighter future for our dear nation. Why did it change? Because I have observed within the past few weeks a willingness amongst fellow millenials and youths to steer the Nigerian ship into glorious waters. My pessimism was hinged on two principal factors.

The first being that we do not even possess the will to do the right thing in this country, the second being that we do not know what our problem is, if at all we do then majority of us do not know that we are part of the problem, that we are the problem. I have numerous times and even so did I express in my previous article that our foundational bane as a country is a story of undeserving and incapable leaders.

Misfits in the corridors of power. Many might understand this to mean that the followership is absolved of any blame, afterall the horse leads the cart, the Sheppard his Sheep, but that is not always so. We have a mentality problem in our society. We believe in doing things the Nigerian way. We take the law for granted, we circumvent due process, for a people so religious, we are not at all equally Godly.

Nepotism and favouritism is our actual religion. We believe in doing things the Nigerian way. This is what I’m saying. Most people that are not in government today are waiting for their turn to be in government one day, some are waiting patiently while others are anxious. The ones waiting patiently won’t do anything unruly to get there but if they get there they will simply take their share of the National cake, they are the seemingly good ones, they have the demeanour of grace and a fine moral compass, taking their share of the National cake is for them far from being a sin.

It’s just their share. The other ones will do anything to get there, electoral violence and malpractice and what have you. They’ll do anything to get power. For them carving out their own share of the National cake for consumption is also a normal thing, far from being sinful. So essentially both the righteous and the less so, as different sets in a venn diagram have their point of overlapping intersection at the location of the element that represents the Nigerian way of doing things. That is where they always agree. It is where they are one and the same.

That is where lies the virus eating at our collective progress, an epidemic of the mind. As leads from the foregoing, every Nigerian is therefore guilty of pulling this nation backward because we are all doing something fundamentally wrong. I imagine a driver who works for one of the government agencies and considers himself quite powerful cause he drives a car with an official plate number, he beats traffic lights, feels he is beyond being pulled over by police or a road safety agent. When he observes a Governor’s convoy do same he’s going to conclude in his mind that the governor wields power with impunity, meanwhile he and the so called Governor are one and the same.

I also imagine a simple man who gets appointed into government to be a minister, the expectations on him will immediately be overwhelming. His family members, nuclear and extended, friends and infact township people from his state of origin would immediately have unrealistic demands of him. If he can’t deliver perhaps because his salary and allowances don’t quite meet the humongous expectations of these people he would be called all sort of names and labelled a useless son of wherever he comes from by his people. They will not consider that the unfair pressure might lead him to cut deals and inflate contracts. He might become corrupt just to satisfy the pressure on him and in so doing abuse his office.

They therefore have contributed one way or another to the failure of that public servant and in extension the stagnating progress of the society at large. Basically, what I’m positing seeks to convey to my reader that save the citizens who represent the exception to every rule, and are thereby almost perfect, we are all guilty of being cogs in the wheel of the nation’s progress one way or the other. We should all check ourselves, let every man search his soul and make the necessary adjustments especially for those who seek to lead one day. The National orientation agency if I would so recommend as an ordinary citizen is supposed to take on the responsibility of this general character rehabilitation.

Let people know the consequence of doing things the Nigerian way. Most people don’t know they are part of the problem. A lot sit in their comfortable couches watching news on TV at night, and they hear stories about their leaders, they condemn these leaders but if they get the opportunity to serve as well they might even be worse but they do not know that they need a fundamental paradigm shift themselves if things must change.

Every citizen is a potential public servant and leader. I believe it was in Game of Thrones where I heard the aphorism that “if one must lead one day let him first learn how to follow.” That was what Lord Commander Mormont once tried to teach Jon Snow while they were on one of their missions in search of wildlings because he could tell that Jon Snow would be Lord Commander someday. Let’s be good followers in order to be better leaders. Let’s change ourselves and we will change our society.

I considered it pertinent to express the above perspective after considering that it would amount to gross Hubris to simply assert that being in one’s hey days is enough prerequisite to step into roles of leadership. Indeed that will not cut it if there is no deep reflection on the current traits of today’s leaders that has led to Nigeria’s current bleak outlook. Infact we have some youths in certain strategic positions today but they’re just as bad as their forebears, and most of the older ones in governance took their first steps into the corridors of power while they were very young, so I do not refuse to pay cognisance to this fact. Yet they have done their bit and should let the upcoming generation on the sidelines do theirs, as long as they prove to be worthy, as indeed many are worthy and ready if given the opportunity. Arise O compatriots.

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