By Tabia Princewill
IT defies the laws of history and karma to believe that evil can go on unchecked forever. Incidentally, this is typical Nigerian thinking: the privileged and politically connected in this country would have us believe that for all eternity, the same set of corrupt, selfish individuals will have their way, living large at the expense of the majority. I have bad news for them: things are about to change.
However, there is one thing, which could accompany and enable speedy revolution in our mindsets and actions and that is for us to embrace critical thinking. It’s never the easy path to follow, I can personally testify to this. Daring to think differently, or to be open-minded, to question what one is told and not just accept it because it comes from a political or religious figure of authority, can bring about adversity.
Analyzing an issue in all its complexity without ethnic or religious bias is a skill not many of us have retained, if some of us ever possessed it at all. So our judgments, even of the most basic, elementary actions, become excuses based on benefits we hope to gain from defending the corrupt or simply, a bad habit. We have become a society that is so tolerant of corruption and misdeeds that we applaud guilty politicians, forgetting that fundamentally, they are the reason for our poverty and unhappiness. Nothing is more unfortunately misguided, gullible and confused than a human being as devoid of critical thinking as the average Nigerian.
Critical thinking in Nigeria is seen as a disturbance: why question the status quo even when it benefits only a minority? Those who dare criticise the crimes and offenses of the powerful and greedy are ignored whereas in other climes, they start debates amongst the citizenry and are applauded for their sharp, socially conscious and responsible minds. Freedom of speech, the protection of whistle blowers is a pillar of most democracies, except in Nigeria a country that is democratic only in name. We wait for others to authorise us to agree with would-be controversial ideas: only if a “big man” (even a corrupt one) hypocritically agrees with the writings of a social critic, therefore giving him a dishonest, tainted, stamp of approval, will the majority feel it is ok to agree with the writer who therefore joins the mainstream of seemingly analytical minds who simply state the obvious to the now rapturous applause of the unperceptive crowd.
Poverty has a way of desensitising us to everything, including our own suffering which becomes a second skin: so even those who are rich in monetary terms are poor in terms of critical, independent analysis and thought processes because everything about day to day life in Nigeria serves to dehumanise people, returning them to the brutish, instinct driven state of the animal kingdom. Indeed, it’s kill or be killed for creatures devoid of critical thinking, unable to differentiate fact from opinion.
We are devoid of critical thinking, the ability to see things for what they are and not be fooled by the twin distractions of religion and ethnicity: some of us do not recognise the social reformer in our President who is determined to rid us of a class of political “untouchables”. There’s been a debate recently on how far back probes should extend and I’m of the opinion that starting from 1960 as the former President once asked President Buhari to do, will only lead to chaos and destruction, giving credence to the enemies within the Nigerian state who see the act of probing itself as an affront to their birthright, their imagined right to dominate and financially take over this country.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the very recent misappropriation of state funds, which presents us with one simple evidence: two wrongs do not make a right. Members of the past administration might argue that they simply took their own “turn”, doing nothing more or less than what was previously done by other government officials before them. It is unfortunate for them that what they erroneously perceived as their “turn” to do wrong, comes just before the government of the first man willing to do right. An example must be made at this point, so that no future governments, or people from any part of the country should believe that the state coffers are anyone’s birth right as past crimes are a flimsy, immoral excuse to justify one’s own failings and wrong-doing. However, because probing from 1960 would mean sending the entire political class to jail and even digging up some coffins to house them in cells, this new administration must force all those in possession of government funds to invest them in social and infrastructural projects to develop Nigeria. It’s the only plea bargain that can work in the common man’s favour. This, plus making an example of those who have defrauded us, will show that no one is allowed to get away with money they never worked for, so as not to reinforce the idea that crime pays in Nigeria whereas honesty and critical thinking don’t.
The Department of State Services
THE new DG of the DSS, Lawal Daura, reversed the promotions of hundreds of officers authorised by his predecessor and approved by the former president. He says hereafter, only those who sat and passed promotion examinations can be promoted. Slowly but surely, we will return to the grand old days of the civil service, where like in other climes, rather than a dumping ground for those with no other options or a cesspool of talentless, lackluster individuals, the civil service will again attract the best and the brightest who will compete for the top spots not based on recommendations of first ladies, as was previously done, but based on merit and performance. We are on the path to rebuilding our offices and institutions so that the best, instead of hangers on and policy shy party members, can serve Nigerians. All this because critical thinking, the ability to see things for what they are rather than justify or excuse incompetence, is in power again.
SOMEWHERE in this world, perhaps Harvard, which has made so much off of Nigerian politicians seeking to gain a veneer of intelligent conversation, there must be a crash course on “how to be in opposition”. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, has asked that investigations relating to the Jonathan administration must be lawful and respectful of fundamental human rights. That is stating the obvious. It also makes one wonder if the “human rights” theme is a new discovery for some or why suddenly it is on everyone’s lips.
Mr.Metuh also says government must plan for the future and not spend its energy probing the past. Tell that to the judge! Or rather, to Nigerians who have been unable to achieve their potential precisely because of the actions and thievery of some individuals within said past. There will be a reckoning.
THE era of impunity is over and it comes as a great shock to many. Obviously, everyone is innocent until proven guilty which is why those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear and should accept scrutiny. It is surprising that we who so love to invoke fancy terms such as the rule of law and constitutionality (even though in practice we know nothing of such ideas) would dare say that a search warrant obtained through the proper, legal channels, the courts, is in violation of Mr.Dasuki’s human rights.
What about the human rights of the Chibok girls and the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)? We collectively failed them. The untouchables did not bother with their human rights because in Nigeria, we do not care about those who are perceived as weak, poor and unimportant. It will no longer do for dignity and honour to be the hallmark of those who are proven guilty of wronging Nigerians in any way.