Last week, I published an equation in my column that summed up the reasons behind the issues that seem to plague us as Nigerians. The elements that made up the equation are not new to man and can be seen all over the world, the difference is in the degree and the denominators. The equation was meant to pull my readers in and spark a conversation that border on science and mathematics about what makes up the proper Nigerian equation; with its application to our present discourse on all the problems that has befallen Nigeria for decades.
In my initial equation, I had posited that stealing plus bribery divided by corruption produced the level of insecurity, political rascality, bad economy and all the issues that are present in high degrees in the country.
We are told by great scientists and mathematicians that not all equations on the same topic arrive at the same resolution. Therefore, it is my pleasure to introduce one of the most interesting interventions from one of my most regular readers and critics, Dr Dike Okwuelum. He replied to the article saying:
‘‘Stealing + Bribery + Corruption over or divided by Lack of integrity should give the results insurgency, insurgency, banditry, political rascality, dwindling economy, climate crisis, herdsmen crisis, abuse of power etc. So the fourth variable should be lack of integrity as a denominator’’
The title therefore of the second part of this article is False Hope multiplied by Faith over lack of Integrity, another equation which when solved has multiple outcomes too, from Instability, religious intolerance, poverty, resource control, injustice, indiscipline, unemployment etc.
I was told that my father long before I was born lived with women but did not marry them in the customary way. Being the grandson of the Jibunoh that was partly responsible for bringing Christianity to my community, he was refused holy-communion by the church because of his lifestyle and was asked to go and put his house in order before he could be fully assimilate into the Christian faith that goes with all the goodies including holy-communion.
His faith was strong and he was a man of integrity so he did as he was told by the then Bishop of the Diocese. His faith led him to send these women out of his home, some pregnant and others not, so he could find a woman (my mother) who he would marry in a church with all the usual religious rites. His actions had long serving effects but I will leave the rest of the story for a future article as it is long and complex. It is also contained in my autobiography ‘Hunger for power’.
The faith institutions of Nigeria today and by extension in Africa have the biggest congregation of people that assemble every week and some every day. They have been growing in leaps and bounds and their messages are simple and well-coordinated, bordering on faith in God almighty who will deliver hope.
My take on the matter therefore is this, with over 90% of the populace of Nigeria in one faith institution or the other, Christians and Muslims alike, the institutions must stay strong and continue with the good work of giving hope but not false hope because if the hope is removed and the congregation begins to dwindle, the country and maybe the continent may begin to fall and we will experience unforgettable harmattan.
I look at the Chinese and their story, they have progressed considerably well over the years with little or no religious help but with hope and faith. Faith in self and capability, sparking hope in a future they worked hard for over generations of sweat and resilience like the bamboo. I cannot also pretend to be oblivious that this hope and faith was encouraged by a leader who some might criticize his tactics but however praise the results much like a rough equation that ends in a deserving solution.
Of course, I have nothing against religious institutions but I still maintain my statement on hope and my resistance to the sale of false hope, because belief beclouds the judgment of people and because of the high pedestal we put these people in power, we can be sold any truth or lie and believe it as much as we do our breath and the ground beneath our feet.
Like the Greek story of Pandora and the box she was saddled with, some versions of the story state that after she let out the evils by opening the box out of curiosity and carelessness, the beautiful Pandora left it closed for a while, leaving hope in the box.
Knowledgeable people, even some historians have quizzed the concept of hope and in the context of the Pandora story wondered what hope was doing in a box full of evils. Hope as I’ve mused over the years might just either be a good or an evil. It is however essential for humans to have hope because it is that wick that lightens up at a prospect of success but it could be an evil also. Hope is an evil that sometimes is sold by some people in power to influence the lives of others, these corrupt people lacking in integrity and conscience. Selling false hope of a better economy, better roads, education, standard healthcare, corruption free country, honored climate action agreements, proper security management etc.
Many individuals do not value hard work and dedication but closely seek the easy way to success and good things and this false hope that there is a manna that falls from heaven to feed them, blinds them and encourages laziness. Little wonder people are quick to celebrate flamboyance and money gotten illegally, with little value for hard work and diligence that slowly produces beautiful fruit. It is false hope that keeps us complacent with our regular saying of ‘e go better’ when met with unfair policies, incompetent leaders and corrupt practices.
Multiplied by faith and advanced by our complete lack of integrity, it is no surprise that the nation is in this state. However, I could be wrong and my equations flawed. I put to you my readers to tell me what you think; what values can we combine to best get the right equation that will fit Nigeria as it is today?