The Imperative of Rolling Back Our Dangerous Impulses, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
We must aspire to actions and deeds that are bigger than our existence. Nigeria will not be great until each one of us aspires to a larger mind than the one that will be destroyed with our brain in death.
President Muhammadu Buhari came back contrary to the wishes of those who wrote his obituary. Their morbid wish is a disturbing signal and a peep into the dark recesses of the Nigerian mind polluted by ethnic chauvinism, religious zealotry and affinity for dirty money. Those who registered domain names that are very similar to those of renowned and credible international newspapers, to announce Buhari’s death are not just pranking us. They are direct or indirect beneficiaries of corruption whose meal tickets have been rooted out by the president. Buhari is hated primarily for “taking away their pot of soup” and secondarily for his religion and ethnicity, in that order. Those who wanted Buhari dead not only violated their own humanity, they also assailed our sensibilities. We must become better people regardless of our politics or we would be heading for inevitable ethnic and religious cleansing. Buhari is someone’s husband, father, uncle, brother and grandfather.
Behind the problem plaguing many Nigerians is the fear of the future. The Nigerian does not see a collective future. He sees an individual future; one that should be secure for him and his children. The privileged Nigerian does not see the need for enlightened self-interest. It makes no sense to him that he’s more secure when everyone feels secure. The Nigerian is an animal, with the basest survival instinct of the jungle. Unfortunately, the universe is programmed against the Nigerian mindset. Our mindset warrants some education. The Nigerian has heard it many times from the pulpits of his church and the minbar’s of his mosque. He takes it in half-heartedly because his pastors and Imams are no good examples. They are as invested in fruitless pursuits as he is. Should we be that worked up because a 74 year old man fell sick? Should we be that distracted when the consitution has a clear succession plans and a president who handed over to his vice president? The human body is programmed to decay and the body of a man as old as the President Buhari is, is closer to total decay than easy rejuvenation.
Ultimately, we all seek to postpone a day that is guaranteed to come. This realisation ought to provoke deeper introspection in our society. It ought to remind us that stealing to secure the lives of our children and their own children is pointless.
The primary imperative, indeed the singular directive of life is to live, to fight death. Ultimately, we all seek to postpone a day that is guaranteed to come. This realisation ought to provoke deeper introspection in our society. It ought to remind us that stealing to secure the lives of our children and their own children is pointless. It ought to remind us that whatever we do to make our lives better while alive, ends at death. Material possessions do not benefit the dead. It beats me when privilege does not count for good, for those who have it. Increasingly, we have leaders who feel no compunction at promoting and doing evil things. Leaders who are so blinded as not to see that they have to do some good that will endure long after their death. We must aspire to actions and deeds that are bigger than our existence. Nigeria will not be great until each one of us aspires to a larger mind than the one that will be destroyed with our brain in death.
The pursuit and protection of self-interest is a fundamental characteristic of humans. As social beings, concern for others is also a fundamental characteristic because we need to nurture and maintain positive relationships with other people to survive. What is not fundamental is importing fake drugs and substandard products, stealing from the public till, sabotaging the economy, arming thugs and mercenaries to murder innocents so you can destabilise the government, using religion as a weapon to enslave the masses. The purveyors of death rumours want Buhari dead because they want to preserve the status quo where these things are the norm.
To succeed as a people and nation, we must make conscious, purposeful decisions to do the right things and do things right. We must resist thieving impulses that has become the norm and mainstream behaviour.
If we are to go anywhere, we must promote the arts and humanities in our universities. We must teach philosophy and ethics to every student within the university walls. Nigeria cannot be great with this abysmal level of thinking. Fundamental to our lives as humans are the concepts of ethics and morality. In a deeply religious society like Nigeria, almost all of us derive meaning and purpose in our lives from our belief in God. If we are true believers, we must embrace our roles as natural stewards of others and our environment. It is impossible that our narrow, individual self-interests will serve the broad, collective interests of the country. To succeed as a people and nation, we must make conscious, purposeful decisions to do the right things and do things right. We must resist thieving impulses that has become the norm and mainstream behaviour. We must preserve the environment for those coming after us. We must recognise the individual, interpersonal, and spiritual dimensions of the self. When we do, we become enlightened. The sustainability of Nigeria under any administration depends on economic viability, social responsibility, and ecological integrity. These are not high faluting concepts. A society’s economic viability, social responsibility, and ecological integrity are reflections of its people’s individual, interpersonal, and spiritual dimensions. These are values that are rooted in our culture that we have lost in the long chase after cheap money. I am not preaching self-denying altruism, I am calling for a reasonable regard for the rights and interests of others. That is how this nation can attain greatness!
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for the PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo