Aisha Shuaibu argues that Nigerians should do the right thing always
“The road to a happier, more successful life starts with your attitude, and your attitude is within your control”– Mohammed Jammal
Nigeria is a no-nonsense country when it comes to religious beliefs. The dominant Islam and Christian faiths share similar messages in their holy books on the importance of working on ourselves to welcome God’s intervention in our lives. The Qur’an says “Verily, Allah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as that they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves.” (Surah Al-Ra’d 13:11), while the Bible says “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). Surely, if we practiced as much as we prayed, Nigeria would be a country of much more tolerance, unity, and peace. But as with many other places around the world, we are yet to allow the powerful words from our beloved faiths pierce our hearts to help us turn our deeds into daily habits. We remain mentally enslaved into discriminating against one another, and willing to cause harm to the next man to get ahead, which is far from what the faiths promote. While we cannot pinpoint one specific problem or solution to alleviate Nigeria of its bad eggs, we must begin by pulling back the fingers we point out to blame others and pointing thumbs back toward ourselves instead.
Leadership is easiest on the outside of it. It is difficult to identify exactly when Nigerians became most critical of their government, but it so happens that as the digital age advanced and more people found their way to social media platforms like Twitter, hot takes became the order of the day. Many Nigerians seem to believe they will make better leaders in public office than those already there, when in reality, the difficulty of the job may instead force them to bow to the pressures and quit before the sun goes down on their first day. The current state of the country is undoubtedly a reflection of the mindset and attitude of its people. Taking a typical Nigerian traffic situation as an instance, it is always most chaotic when there is no regulator coordinating drivers to wait their turn to move. In the absence of a watchful eye is total madness that goes as far as fighting one another when all everyone wants to do is move forward toward their destination. This is the reality of today’s Nigeria; failing to realise that we do not need to be regulated the whole way, we just need to be responsible but we have a long way to go in adopting this.
How then, can we channel the patriotism we know we have into progressive action that heals us of our mentality crisis and brings out the best in the masses? One way is admitting that we are indeed the object of our own destruction. That we affirm our biases through tribalism and ethnic divide and the seat of the country cannot solely take the blame for every misfortune that befalls the Nigerian people. To experience any sort of positive change, we are left with no choice but to be more responsible. If we truly fear God and His wrath, then surely we believe that we will be held accountable for every action we aided and abetted. The airport example is another scenario many have regularly noticed, where Nigerians departing from or arriving in the country promote chaos by jumping queues, fighting with airport officials, making loud phone calls, and exhibiting other kinds of uncouth behaviour. The same Nigerians arrive on foreign soil and find the decorum to collect themselves, abiding by instructions with no debate or delay. We must give our country and each other the respect we demand in order to stand proudly, and claim we have done everything we can to represent our country in the best of character.
As we strut into the new year and into the general elections in February, let us demand more from each other before we look to the incoming leaders. Do not so quickly critic labour that you have not fully understood or attempted yourself, do not bully because you have learned some new grammar and need a scapegoat to practice on, and let us not demand more than we are willing to offer ourselves. An attitude, as well as a mentality adjustment, is urgent and necessary for the future Nigeria we want to see. The chaos that we have been accustomed to has turned us into untameable animals, giving no hope or encouragement to those sworn in to serve and protect the country. Until we are as good as the leaders we want, we are undeserving of compassion. Judgement belongs to God alone, but if we must wait until we return to Him for redemption, it may be too late.
Shuaibu is a member of THISDAY Editorial Board