Admitting Guilt: Who ‘do’ us this kind thing?

September 12, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Clara Sanchiz



Prince Charles Dickson

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” –Socrates.

One of the greatest preachers who ever lived, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, called the ‘prince of preachers’, loved to tell this story: It seems there was a Duke who once boarded a galley ship and went below to talk to the convicts manning the oars.

When he asked several of them what their crimes were, almost every man claimed that he was innocent, blaming someone else, or even accused the judge of taking a bribe.

There was one young man whose reply was different. He said “I deserve to be here, sir. I stole some money. No one is at fault but me. I am guilty.”

When the Duke heard this he shouted, “You scoundrel, you! What are you doing here among all these honest men? Get out of their company at once!” The Duke ordered the young prisoner to be released.

So, the young man was set free, while the rest of the prisoners were left to continue to tug at the oars. The key to his freedom was his admission of guilt.

While we reflect on the story above, I would share with us my admonition in this manner. A few months ago I was in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, need I tell you that I flew Ethiopian Airlines, I would not preach to us about the courtesy of the Airline staff, to the point I was almost offered sanitary ware, all in a bid to make sure that I was fine.

The airline has the best fleet in Africa, flying the airline makes you embarrassed on behalf of (forgive me for not mentioning name). The Airline is 70 years old this year, apart from accolades such as fastest growing, most profitable, since its first flight from Addis to Cairo in 1946, everything it does reflects its ascendance onto the world stage.

Addis is a beautiful place, they have all the regular problems that beset Africa, there is that battle with Eritrea and other domestic squabbles but it is interesting that 90% of the population earn a living from the land, mainly subsistence farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of the national economy, and the principle exports from this sector are coffee, oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals.

I kept reflecting “who do Nigeria this kind thing”…Ethiopia is not a one language nation, it has some 80+ languages and 200 dialects yet they have not finished killing themselves.

You know that gist about the airport being the first impression you get of a nation, the Bole International Airport speaks beautiful volumes, and as I savored it, the vexation of both Nnamdi and Murtala airports in Nigeria just enveloped one’s entire being.

The architectural landscape has been transformed radically by the mid-century. Addis Ababa, I am told, in a very short time the face of the city has changed, the new flower has become a modern city with unique architectural harmony, everywhere is dwarfed by modern glass skyscrapers.

You can see the aesthetic quality and the originality is there for any blind man.

Our aviation sector is in big trouble, airlines are either leaving out rightly or moving Ghana-ward, and we can trade blames all we care about the number of planes in the Presidential fleet, the fact is that we are still miles away from acknowledging guilt in governance and citizenship.

While I thought of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, its serenity and even more, how could one pretend that only few days ago the Murtala Muhammed Int’l Airport was hit by a power-failure incident that is more often the norm than a sheer once in a while happenstance, and a reflection of where Nigeria is today.

As I reflected on all these, I could not but wonder what is wrong with us as Nigeria and Nigerians, who is responsible for the decay that is what we are today, Kaduna Nzeogwu and his saints came to battle corruption, and tribal ethnocentricity debuted, the war was a function of ‘araba’ and perceived and believed marginalization…Murtala came for Gowon, and Obj handed over to Shagari, Buhari cried corruption, IBB reported enthroned it, Abacha knighted it, again with cream from Abdulsalam, we called again on Obj, an interlude saw both Yar’adua and the Otuekean fisherman, and here we are again; same old story, same old song.

Who is guilty, we still are on the blame-game, Jonathan ruined it all, and he supervised all the mess, yet all his dudes and the wailing wailers say, “not so”, we left you a better Nigeria. The Sai Baba disagrees, and we continue dragging our feet, who stole the meat from the cooking pot has become a question we all cannot agree upon.

While we debate, curse, and wail, everyone is on course, moving forward, the Ethiopians and their likes, have refused to wait on us.

I find it appropriate to end in Segun Adeniyi’s words, “…history remains what it is: it will judge Buhari by his achievements in office; not by Jonathan’s mistakes”, when all our leaders are saints, and no one is guilty of any infraction, no one is sorry for the mess Nigeria currently is, we will remain far from redemption, let the blame game continue; till when–only time will tell.











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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