Beyond ‘FeBUHARI’

March 7, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Prince Charles Dickson

First let me quickly thank my brother and friend Sam Kalu for this narrative. It talks about Otabil’s parable of onions and why Zuckerberg is richer than Ghana.

Let me do a quick introduction: Mensa Otabil is a Ghanaian theologian, philanthropist, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the founder of International Central Gospel Church headquartered in Accra, Ghana.

Otabil narrated the parable of onions and travolator (a moving pavement for transporting pedestrians, as in a shopping precinct or an airport) to tell the great but annoying story of why Mark Zuckerberg, a 31 year old computer programmer, is richer than him (Otabil), his wife; richer than President Mahama and the MPs and richer than all Ghanaians combined.

Otabil feels angry and insulted by the development because Zuckerberg, he reckoned, is no more intelligent than the thousands of computer programmers in Ghana, but the American has a better environment; a country of opportunities.

“What is the difference between Zuckerberg and you; Steve Jobs and you? Otabil asked rhetorically. “It is not brains, it is the environment,” he answered sullenly.

Where is our travolator and sulfur-free onion?

The preacher man told a story of how he travelled out of the country and with the aid of a travolator he beat a young man in a walking contest. The man decided to speed walk but used a travolator at some point. Even though the man heeled-and-toed with agility he could not beat Otabil because the travolator pushed him faster to his destination.

He told another story, he read in a book, of a US company seeking to grow onions that will not sting the eyes. For a man who had shed onion-stinging- tears in the past from his kitchen in Accra, he will certainly wonder how an American company will grow new species of onions without its notorious characteristic. But the ‘useless’ book he was reading on the plane suddenly became useful, revealing, that the new species of onions will be planted in a “non-sulfuric ground.”

He learnt a new thing. Onions sting eyes because they are always grown and nurtured in a soil full of sulfur but the US Company is coming with a new offer. “The reason why the onions will not sting people’s eyes is because they will be grown in sulfur free soil.”

“It is not the nature of onions to sting eyes. It is the environment it is nurtured in that makes it sting eyes.”

“It struck me that a person can be so good but if he is planted in a wrong environment, he is going to turn up so bad,” Otabil said.

He wondered how much sulfur was in the Ghanaian environment that made many dreams and businesses break down in tears.

“What have we put in the environment, in the soil that is killing the dream of young men and young women? How can people go to university and for years and not know what to do? How can people with potential not fulfill their potential?

“If you take a simple area like football, the greatest Ghanaian players now were all onions that were planted in a different soil. They had to go outside Ghana for their talents to become world class.

No matter how big the dream is, Otabil says if the environment is without a travolator or a sulfur free soil, you will achieve something but ultimately you will become the village champion amongst global players.

“The challenge for nations like Ghana is not the challenge of talented citizens. It is the challenge of a poisonous environment. And how can a nation be great when its systems are fighting the talent of its people?” he asked.



Enter Nigeria: It is good to dream because dreams are free but the fight to get a better environment for the dream to thrive is why many a Nigerian voted “FEBUHARI”.

The current administration is fighting corruption, whether it is sectional, selective, or against the rights of the accused. A fact that remains is that as a people whether the led or leadership, February or FEBUHARI has come and gone, a few of us may continue to cautiously and optimistically believe that there is an environment that we can be proud of in the making, however we must be ready to…

“Force the politicians to start thinking of us; of our lives; our future and dreams. And the only way to do that is for you to start thinking not in party terms but in policy terms.”

Our pain still remains the need to resort to our divides rather than forge ahead on the premise of our collective strength, the pain remains that while leadership may not have succeeded, and some feel that it must fail, forgetting that Mr. Buhari’s failure will be our failure.

As a people we need to stop whining and nagging about APC and PDP, these dudes are all the same difference. Promises were made, we desired CHANGE…and change we should get, but the kind of change this has become remains a deep subject of debate…

We are torn by a “tour” President, like Obj, like Jonathan. We are torn by a looming economic deficit, it’s an irony that we want to fight corruption but people are either owed several months arrears of salaries, or do not have a job, cannot get a job, and not even employable, yet unquantifiable domestic time has been spent debating whether we should be dashed N5k or not.

Truth is that Mr. Buhari, and his managers need to step up, and be counted, if we think he has done much, I do not need to remind us of how Mr. Jonathan was an opportunity lost, because another era may be slipping away from us, we have three “Februarys” before this first tenure of the APC-led government is over, and it’s our choice if we want a repeat episode—Only time will.








Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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