We want ‘change’ but we do not want to change

July 5, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo

 

By

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

 

 

When President Buhari first came up with the idea of change as one of his political manifestoes, many Nigerians, especially the people from the lower class, saw it as effortless. You will see people singing it. Some were shouting it at the top of their voices. You would see some imagining what their lives would be like in the first year of the Buhari presidency. That wishful thinking creates a wrong perception of what change really means.

 

In such circumstances when people were dying for change, I met an elderly person. He was a die-hard Buharist. His motorcycle was plastered with the glossy posters of the agent of change. He told me how he longed for change and how both Nigeria and Nigerians would live in an Eldorado-like setting when change was established. What I forgot to ask him was how ready he was to change himself for the better.

 

Everywhere one went, one met people discussing change and what it would bring to their lives. An assemblage after assemblage was formed, meeting after meeting held. People were eager to see the change, to experience it and to live with it. Did they know that change begins with one’s self? Did they know change means a new orientation or worldview?

 

In a country like ours, when the idea of change is evoked, what first comes to mind are the pictures of dilapidated blocks in our schools that need to be renovated; our poorly equipped hospitals that need doctors, equipment, medical consumables and drugs; our potholed roads that need to be rehabilitated; our falling standard of education; most importantly and our aversion to positive attitudes to life generally because attitude is altitude as no meaningful progress, individually and collectively, could be realized if we do not shed our negative attitudes and embrace positive ones.

 

Are many of our youth not cima-zaune (indolent) waiting for the government’s handouts or for officials to give them ‘a share of the booty’ – the so called national cake? Are we honest? Do we not celebrate crooks among us for ‘making’ it. Remember a party a former president, who claimed to have fought corruption tooth and nail, attended when a convicted corrupt official came out of prison after serving a jail sentence? What does this message send to our young ones?

 

I envisage the time it will take to inculcate discipline, morality, honesty and patriotism in the hearts of most Nigerians. To envisage this too, try imagining with whom you will trust your money today. Perhaps, only some banks can enjoy that pride of place?

 

It is true that change is inevitable. It may result from a new orientation or regime. It can be established by an adverse economic recession. It can also result from changing circumstances. If those mentioned are true of change, how many of us are ready to experience it? Has change nothing to do with the way we behave, work, treat fellow humans and train our younger ones?

 

It is clear many Nigerians are suffering from a wrong perception of change. To them, it will be a downhill movement and be won hands-down. Some even expected it to come in the form of manna. All one needs is to sleep, eat, watch, wear his best and laugh. One needs not to work or employ any laborious effort to achieve anything.

 

Three years later, Nigerians have felt how it is to sway in the swing of change. They are now seeing it as an uphill movement instead of a downhill one. They have now believed that governance is an institution that requires a collective effort to succeed and must be treated as such. Both the institutions and the administrators must drink from the sea of right attitudes to work and have faith in them. Generally, change is a task in many cases at human cost. How many of us are ready to sacrifice our lives for the country?

 

People are so obsessed with the idea of change but they do not want to change. While discussing economic recession and the rise in prices of goods and services I employed in one of my writings titled ‘Nigeria and the Common Man’ to bring the suffering, then, to the open, a civil servant who has strong distaste for change, for to him it is synonymous to hunger and death, asked me many questions to which I gave succinct answers.

 

In the course of the discussion that civil servant gave me the shock of my life. My thought was: Nigerians have tasted fake life characterized by misappropriation, looting, embezzlement and an ever-widening, huge gap between rich and poor; but his, as many of his kind, was quite different.

 

All his grumblings, distaste and abhorrence against change was, as he said, because there were no more leakages in the ministry where he works. Life now to him, as many Nigerians, is difficult for he used to get out of the leakages a makeweight to put food on the table. This as he concluded is the only thing that stops him from liking the Buhari administration. There are many cogent reasons he should have given for loathing the President, but he gave the baseless ones. Thousands of Nigerians are like him.

 

I know a private school – I won’t mention the name for obvious reasons – whose management board go for one another’s jugular vein. Sometimes junior staff have to intervene. The reason will surprise you. Both the principal and his vice are very greedy. Therefore one cannot give the other even a penny out of his crooked deals. And they too are waiting for the country to become better, thinking fairy bodies from the underworld will come to right the wrongs.

 

Often I hear them lamenting the current affairs of the state. They always talk of a sledgehammer of poverty in the hands of politicians that beats them to a pulp, forgetting that there are children under their care but whom they deliberately fail to shepherd as expected.

 

Recently we received a check of twenty thousand naira from a father and the director of our school to whose child we, I and a friend, give lessons. At our arrival at a branch of the Zenith Bank, we met two police officers engaged in a heated argument on current affairs.

 

One of them was enraged and he started swearing that he was ready to take on whosoever supports president Buhari. He has a right to his choices as a fellow Nigerian. There is no doubt about this; but one thing he had forgotten as a police officer was that he should not be partisan. And something in line with this write up is: he has forgotten how they block ways to extort money from motorists, not they alone, even other law enforcement agencies have followed suit. When one breaks the rule, all they want is some amount to let him go, not even considering the threat this may pose to others.

 

I listen with keen attention when people cite examples of development in other countries. I watch with envy when our academics cite examples of morality and discipline in other countries. I feel as if something pricks my skin when I listen or read of civil rights movements led by great minds like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi of India; but the way they perceived the idea of ‘change’ is quite different from ours. Their perception of change was first placed upon a giant structure of truth and then laced with actions. They were the first to pay for it dearly with their lives.

 

Those are the countries reaping the sweetened fruits of their sacrifices. To have a better Nigeria, where opportunities abound, we have to pay the ultimate sacrifice of embracing positive attitude and renouncing negative ones. There is no alternative way to glory.

 

 

 

 

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Kano based, is graduate of B.A English from Bayero University, Kano. He is a budding writer, social analyst, freelancer at Sunrise Language Practitioner (SLP) and regular contributor to Nigerian dailies. 
His writings have appeared in The Communicator, a magazine published by Kano State Polytechnic and in Dailytrust, The Triumph and The cable newspapers. He has a strong interest in literary theory.

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