As we continue to negotiate the journey towards the rebuilding of our nation, there are questions we need to begin to ask ourselves. Truth, the message that the nation is in dire need of a radical transformation is no more a selling point. Gone are the days when people who can talk about the problems of the nation were seen as stars- we are in dire need of solution providers and action-driven individuals.
Late last year, I was privileged to be a meeting with a group of people of most notable was Fela Durotoye,one of Nigeria’s finest Public Speakers and business consultant, and Deolu Akinyemi, my brother, in fact I call him my Oga- he has been an inspiration and a motivator since university days. For more than 16 hours, we were raising factors and issues why Nigeria can and cannot be among the most desirable nation to live in 2025- and how. Lots of issues were raised, but then the most important question tugging my mind was expounded by old story from the book of Genesis as I read this morning;
Gen 30:25 When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, Send me away, that I may go to my own place and country.
Gen 30:26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know the work which I have done for you.
Gen 30:27 And Laban said to him, If I have found favor in your sight, I pray you [do not go]; for I have learned by experience and from the omens in divination that the Lord has favored me with blessings on your account.
Gen 30:28 [AMP] He said, State your salary and I will give it.
Gen 30:28 [LB] How much of a raise do you need to get you to stay? Whatever it is I’ll pay it.
Why are you crying for change?
This final question is the strongest question that will determine whether change will come. Laban was asking Jacob to name his wages… how much of a raise will get you to maintain the present day Nigeria. It is a question that judges the depth of your motives. Many cry for change in Nigeria because they cannot find rest, some because they believe they are not eating part of the national cake. Some because of their present challenges, they envy the people at the helms of affairs, and then they cry for change, what’s yours? If the Nigeria of today discovers the reason you are crying for change is because you need a better job/salary, once you get one, you will forget about the common man on the street. Ok no, your cost may be higher, if you have always dreamt of a status early in life, the moment you get one, with the attendant cars, houses, praise singers and luxury attached to the political and executive offices, you may say like a minister said like 3 years ago that there is no poverty in Nigeria. If your housing estate just voted NGN 21 million for fuelling generators for a year, you may one day forget there are Nigerians who stay in houses without light for months.
It may not be your business today, but you will build a house like a prison, and lock yourself in, because you are not safe; you will send you children to war zones called schools, and they are not safe; some of us will travel on roads and aircrafts that some people have refused to develop because you never cared about governance; some government officials will be attacked by assailants and thugs that they never bothered to educate when their case was still redeemable.
Somehow the question remains, how much are you being paid in kind or cash by the present day Nigeria, for you not to take up the responsibility of change in our nation. It is on record that most working middle class people have the worst record of electoral voting attitude in the nation. This may be because of the relatively more comfortable life they live which makes the nonchalant about the voting process, they will rather rest at home on those days- the system needn’t even pay you more to remain in that way.
In that “Laban prison”, he married two wives, acquired sheep and ewe, but somehow Paddan Aram (meaning a plateau), where he lived for 21 years, still represented a plateau (an elevated position with a flattened peak – no more upward movement). For him fulfilling destiny now was beyond incentives and a false life that all is well, and for you? How much comfort and luxury are you being paid that will not make a changed Nigeria a reality.
Are you having anything to gain in the present system?
When we analyse the Nigerian condition as a failure of leadership which is as a result of the perceived failures of the state, we are only identifying a symptom. Corruption did not just happen, it was a system built into the Nigerian DNA. As long as the DNA of corruption is found in your system, you are disqualified. How else could Ribadu have been a threat if he had enough skeletons in his cupboard? The question “Name your salary?”, seeks more to uncover the spirit behind his motives. If his motive was for more money, he could have been bought right there. If his motive was for a new level, wife, cattle, right there he had lost the battle. Jesus said, the prince of this world comes and He will find nothing in me- the people who will restore the nation will work because they have no iota of selfish interest in them, do you fit the bill?
This is the reality and it is the truth- Those who will change the system will not be people who directly or indirectly benefit from the system. They are people who will have nothing to lose if the system collapses. Or how else can you continue crying for PHCN to be better if you are a beneficiary of diesel importation? How else can you explain the sudden powerlessness of a comrade, a radical, an outspoken person how gets into political power and begins to speak from both your sides of the mouth? Logically, you cannot advocate against a system that puts food on your table.
The Oputa panel report, the white paper on the power probe, The Ministry Of Information Bill, the Reformed Electoral Acts are all laudable theories that only a National Assembly devoid of hidden ambition and agenda can pass. Except by God, how can a people pass an act, which they know will limit their prevailing powers?
Remember once again if you are gaining undue advantage of the system of the present day Nigeria, you cannot change the system.
What is your Laban?
Most times we run from our challenges and fears, we run from the pains and challenges that the unfair Nigerian society imposes on us, we run till we find a safe haven. Safe have not because we have solved the problem, but certain parts of our needs are being met. You have a dream and an idea, you could not continue because of capital and the hostile Nigerian climate you run into a JOB (Just-Over-Broke), and then you feel safe.
In the story, Laban represented a man and a place- a man of imprisonment and a place of advancement. Laban represented a place where you can find easy enlargement and false lifestyle. He had wives, sheep and children, which looked like enlargement but then it is an imprisonment for his dreams
What is your own Laban?
Send me away
Every Nigerian is like a Jacob, with the innate desire to tell this present day Nigeria,” send us away”, do not keep us bound in this quagmire of a nation. Do not keep us in a nation where the solution for solving problems is to create another; we don’t want a nation with lots of sound ideas without implementation; we do not want to be a nation with land swarming with oil and paying the most expensive price for the same oil. Our innate desires are questioning why even noble men get into power and they become monsters. Why even in a nation blessed with arable land, with abundance of natural resources, the human resources needed to transform the nation are stifled by some leaders who are rather “humanquakes”.
One day we will not just tell our leaders to say no and act right; we will demand it and they will listen, again, that time comes, and it is so close…