What does change mean to a Nigerian?

September 19, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

AP photo



Prince Charles Dickson


I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness–Al Pacino


Let me start this admonition in this manner…

After getting all of Pope Francis’s luggage loaded into the limo at the airport (and he doesn’t travel light), the driver notices the Pope is still standing on the curb.

‘Excuse me, Your Holiness,’ says the driver, ‘Would you please take your seat so we can leave?’

‘Well, to tell you the truth,’ says the Pope, ‘they never let me drive at the Vatican , and I’d really like to drive today.’

‘I’m sorry, Your Holiness, but I cannot let you do that. I’d lose my job! What if something should happen?’ protests the driver, wishing he’d never gone to work that morning.

‘Who’s going to tell?’ asks the Pope with a smile.

Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 205 kms. (Remember, the Pope is Argentinian, and Fangio the famous racer was Argentinian).

‘Please slow down, Your Holiness,’ pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens.

‘Oh, dear God, I’m going to lose my license — and my job!’ moans the driver.

The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.

‘I need to talk to the Chief,’ he says to the dispatcher.

The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he’s stopped a limo going 205 kph.

‘So bust him,’ says the Chief.

‘I don’t think we want to do that. He’s really important,’ said the cop.

The Chief exclaimed, ‘All the more reason!’

‘No, I mean really important,’ said the cop with a bit of persistence.

The Chief then asked, ‘Who do you have there, the Mayor?’

Cop: ‘Bigger.’

Chief: ‘A Senator?’

Cop: ‘Bigger.’

Chief: ‘The President?’

Cop: ‘Bigger.’

‘Well,’ said the Chief, ‘who is it?’

Cop: ‘I think it’s God!’

The Chief is even more puzzled and curious, ‘What makes you think it’s God?’

Cop: ‘His driver is the Pope!



Now kindly indulge me, Nigeria is a nation of people that have deaf eyes and blind ears; we are blessed with material and human resources, very legitimate ones, not the ritual money types or the fake certificate holders. We are not a country of blind men in which the proverbial one eyed man is king. We are one in which our eyes remain open yet all sorts are put into our eyes in the name of leadership.

We have a very queer way of doing things, we have labeled it the Nigerian way, the Nigeria factor, and some say it is very real, others say it is a myth. Everywhere and anywhere you find us, there is the unique Nigerian touch, and it is good, very good or bad, extremely bad. We have men that academically have schooled the best brains around the world so also do we have men that have honed the best around the world. We are simply the best, to whoever is hurt; there is little they can do about it.

In Nigeria, the misconceptions are robbed on the faces of the common man daily, so they tell us “WE ARE THE CHANGE and CHANGE BEGINS WITH US”. And we buy this misconception; anyway in our beloved Naija, no one cares about misconceptions, because leadership itself is one big misconception, the true concept of a leader first must be a servant has been elevated to a leader is a demi-semi-hemi god and the people be dammed.

For us reputation has since been divorced from our national lives, we have been engaged in an illicit love affair with shamelessness, leaders drag their family names to the nude by their actions and inactions, they care less. A good name is a rare commodity in our polity and present leadership, call one good name and I would tag it with a scandal largely unresolved and the owner of the name cares less for reputation. The dirtiest names have acquired honorary degrees, traditional titles and all sorts of awards without any regard for reputation. The rule of the game is the more shame the higher the chances of success, is he a thief then he will win the elections, is he a liar…he has fulfilled one of the fundamentals of how to be a ‘Nigerian Leader’

My beloved Nigeria has acquired a reputation of leaders that are experts in buck-passing. They pass the blame for their failure to others, the people blame leaders as failures, and leaders blame the masses for being difficult. When they steal it is in bad faith, when they are caught they deny, it is only in Nigeria that a man would blame his wife for agreeing to marry him, even when he was the one that proposed.

In Nigeria, the experience lies in the fact that we are dogged people, with a never say die attitude, we soldier on even when our principles, morals and stands are trampled upon. We continue when allegations are spurious with no sense of keeping a reputation. After all every time someone is chasing us, if it is not our mother, then it must be one uncle…or from the village; a village which in some cases we last visited decades ago. We turn misconceptions into concepts and so we do right things wrongly and wrong things with a strong sense and commitment of it must be right. If our leaders do not understand CHANGE, how would we the led be able to plagiarize acceptable behavior, ethics and standards from them, I dare say in conclusion that until we understand change in our language, it’s true depth, we will continue to steal bicycles and ask for forgiveness, we will believe that the Pope is driving God in a limo…and  nothing will change albeit for how long—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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