Since it is the independence anniversary of my great country, I would like to crave the indulgence of my international readers or followers to tackle a few issues on the home front. After all, there is a common saying in my local language which can be interpreted as ‘you can’t leave fire on your roof while you go to bed!’ There are so many critical issues going on at the same time and anyone who is serious about helping to solve the problems of this great nation will understand that there is a great work to be done. I should also say that the great work to be done will begin with a paradigm shift. It will not happen instantly, but it will happen slowly and surely. I also think that it is possible to fast track it when the concerned change agents are looking at the government tools available for effecting and spreading change within any given community.
Where are we and what are the fundamental problems we need to deal with? I think this is clear to anyone so I will not want to spend my sleepless night of writing this to discuss what everyone already knows. I will only point and attempt to make us focus on solving this problem. We have been known to be a corrupt nation around the world and it is also evident in all out systems from the grass root to the highest offices you can imagine. Everyone has been saying corruption is the problem of this country but have we asked what actually caused corruption?
I think that beyond corruption our greatest problem is greed and we really need to tackle the issue of greed. It was when people never had enough of what they already had that corruption came into the picture. It spread and immediately began to destroy the system. Nigeria before and after independence did not start out the way it is right now! The founding fathers of this independent nation were selfless. They thought much more about other people rather than their personal gains. The regional governors in those days before the independence and right after the independence were competing. It was about which region was the most developed region. They struggled to educate the people from their regions. They spent the state resources developing the communities and as well raising people who eventually became great national leaders. That was how we started. Everything was about the people and the communities.
Things changed when we began to see how rich we were! We saw oil and we abandoned our food for oil. Gradually, the groundnut pyramid in North disappeared. The cocoa from South West began to diminish. No country could do without oil and we have it in abundance so it became the business of everyone. People then wanted power to gain more control and get more money.
We can solve our problems in one simple way. I have constantly said on some of the television programmes where I have spoken before now that it is important to make the government less attractive to everyone who is contesting in elections. We run the most expensive government in the world and that needs to stop. I don’t have current figures as at the time I sat to write this but in my last calculations, President Obama, President of The United States, will have to work for four years to earn what a Senator in Nigeria earns in one year! Leaders today are simply thinking about amassing wealth for themselves and that is why we cannot think about free education except in just one state in the country at the moment. If we take greed out of the country’s system, there are so many other things that will begin to work.
It is greed and high insensitivity that will make one person spend the money he has been given to construct a road in a place where people are dying because there is no road. It is greed that makes people spend the money given to them to provide clean water in a community where people walk several kilometers to the river to fetch dirty water and leave it for days hoping the first will settle and then drink. Even in your offices, it is greed that makes you ask for bribe from someone who has been given a contract. You know that the person will be spending out of the money from the contract and in order to give you that bribe, the work to be done is compromised just to satisfy a few individuals.
We all can change a lot of things and I am calling on all Nigerians reading this, and those outside Nigeria or non-Nigerians as well, to stop being greedy. Your greed will always make life difficult for someone around you and as well make you think about something that will affect the living standards of other people.
Many of us, especially the learned, have said a whole lot but I am simply saying we need to cut the life of greed short in this country. Once we do that collectively, there will be more to go round. We will not have a case of someone spending the money that is meant to fix our electricity. The electricity will be fixed and all of us will have light.
Having said that, it is time to turn my lights off and go to bed. But remember, we all must fight the greed monster even if it is in us because that is one great way we can move this nation forward.
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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