Text Message as National Mirror By Dele Agekameh



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“3 things in life that never come back when gone – time, words, opportunity; 3 things in life that should never be lost – peace, hope, honesty; 3 things in life that are most valuable – love, faith, prayer; 3 things that make a person – hard work, sincerity, commitment; 3 things that can destroy a person – lust, pride, anger; 3 things in life that are constant – change, death, God. Happy Sunday!-Steve.”

This week, this column would have done another follow-up to last week’s discourse on the war against terrorism because of certain revelations. The first is that the more than 200 Nigeriens recently rounded up in Abuja may be released without deportation or any further action. This is because the Immigration authorities or a government agency has come up with a funny disclosure that the roaming, suspected illegal Immigrants are from the Kanuri ethnic stock in a state in the North. At the time they were intercepted and interrogated, they were found to be Nigeriens. But now, they have simply metamorphosed into Kanuri indigenes. Great country: great happenings.

The second is the headlines in some major newspapers last Sunday pointing to the fact that these terrorists are growing in sophistication. Now, they have resorted to massive importation of rocket launchers to prosecute their sadistic ventures. With supplies allegedly coming from such terrorists’ haven as Iran, Yemen, Libya and others, it is very clear that our situation may soon take a turn for the worse, if care is not taken.

I was still reading the day’s newspapers last Sunday when I received the text message quoted above. Prof. Steve Azaiki, the coordinator of the National Think-Tank, is a household name in Nigeria and, therefore, needs no further introduction. I got the message at about 1 p.m. As soon as I finished reading it, the thought of using it as a peg for my column flashed through my mind. I simply replied, “I agree with you and I am going to use this as a peg for my column this week.”

If one takes a cursory look at these six mini-verses, you will no doubt agree with me that they stand as the mirror of this society. Let us look at each of the verses. Indeed, time, words and opportunity are three things that never come back when gone. Time, it was, when we had opportunities to make Nigeria great and we squandered them on the platter of ignorance. Remember in the early 1970s, when a youthful head of state said that Nigeria had so much money that it did not know how to spend it or what to spend it on. That was the same time when civil servants were treated to “Naira Rain” in the form of jumbo salary arrears popularly referred to as “Udoji Awards”. Late Jerome Udoji headed the panel that recommended that civil servants be paid bagful of salary arrears. Perhaps, that careless and reckless move became the pillar of the inflation plaguing the country today.

Still on words, remember that at the height of the 2011 political campaign, a prominent Nigerian alluded to the fact that if the presidency did not go to a certain part of the country, there would be Armageddon. What do we have today?

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‘Nobody or no single human being has ever won a war waged against the collective wish and will of a people’

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That takes us to the three things in life that should never be lost – peace, hope and honesty. If I may ask: do we have peace in Nigeria or have we lost the peace in this country, nay the whole world? Your guess is as good as mine. If that is the case, do we still harbour any hope in the face of contemporary history? Again, your guess is as good as mine. When it comes to honesty, have we been honest in our dealings as Nigerians or human beings with one another, in our official capacity as government or public officials, politicians, entrepreneurs or ordinary citizens? Have we imbibed best practices in our day-to-day affairs? These are points to ponder on.

Here comes love, faith and prayer – three things in life that are most valuable. Do we love one another? Is love a cardinal principle that governs our relationship with our family members, spouses, friends, business partners and others? How much love do we have for our country and the world at large? Do we demonstrate this love in our actions and words? Do we have faith in our country, our leaders, our business partners, our neighbours, and our brothers and sisters? How often do we pray? Do we pray for ourselves alone or pray for others, our children, our friends, our neighbours, our leaders, our country or the world? Do we recognize that love, faith and prayer add value to life?

When we talk about a people, we are talking about the collective. What are those things that make a person? Here you have “hard work, sincerity and commitment”. As a person, can you conveniently say that you are hardworking, sincere in your dealings and attitudes, or doing things with every sense of commitment? Do you believe that success comes only from hard work, especially in a place like Nigeria where some people go to bed without a dime only to wake up the following day as millionaires or billionaires? Does this monstrous “oil subsidy” or pension fraud come to mind? Do we pursue our goals with sincerity? How committed are we to the ideals of a sane society? How committed are our leaders to national transformation?

“Lust, pride, anger” have been identified as three things that can destroy a person. The lust for something, which could evoke the spirit of getting it at all costs, may have pushed many people to their doom. It is not a crime to be ambitious. Like some philosophers are wont to say, “It is an ambition to come to the world at all”. However, what could create an intractable obstacle in a person’s path is ‘over-ambition’. I think lust and pride are like Siamese twins. Look at the rise and fall of Muarmar Gadaffi, Samuel Doe, Hosni Mubarak and many others in the African continent. Lust or pride could as well instigate anger in a person. And if the person does not know how to temper it, it could lead to self- destruction.

If we reflect on the above issues, we would certainly come to the conclusion that, as they say, the only things that are permanent in life are – “change, death and God”. Sometimes ago, the game was certainly up for Gadaffi, Doe, Mubarak and others, but they detested any change in the status quo. In two of the cases, death ended their obstinacy. The only surviving one among the trio, Mubarak, is a ridiculous human vegetable being advertised on ‘wheel barrow’ every day in a Cairo court.

Again, time seems to be up for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria but he does not want to hear anything about change. He has mounted a frenetic war of repression and massacre against the people he intends to govern in perpetuity. Will he win the war? Certainly, not. Nobody or no single human being has ever won a war waged against the collective wish and will of a people. This is where God comes in as a decider. However long tyranny may subsist; however long deceit may last, there is always a decisive moment ordained by God. Perhaps, if we know this, or our leaders know this, we might have been spared the agony of misrule, brutality, dictatorship, lust and greed for power at all costs.

These are the messages from the text which has provided the mirror to look at ourselves, our country and the world. And it does not matter whether Azaiki, my friend and brother, is the patent author of these verses. There are lessons to be learnt from them.


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