By Adewale Kupoluyi
Ordinarily, I do not like making resolutions. The reason is simple. I hate to make promises that I cannot keep. Why do I need to deceive myself that I would either do something or desist from doing a thing when I am not sure of adhering to the vows? This is the dilemma that I find myself in.
To be free from the troubles, I would rather avoid listing out a set of do’s and don’ts that I cannot honour. Perhaps, by divine providence, I am now getting somewhere for I have been able to break the yoke and opt to make a difference given the way and manner that things are going awry in our nation.
We do not need a soothsayer to tell anyone of us that all is not well with our dear country. Everything seems to be upside down. Security apparatus is in a mess, the unemployment level is intolerably high, our roads are death-traps, schools are in shambles with unstable academic calendars, hospitals are in bad shape. Corruption stinks everywhere, hunger is written on the faces of people; bad governance, ethno-religious crises and lack patriotism have become common features in our daily lives. Is this the way things would continue?
No. What then can we do as individuals and groups to bring about the change that we badly need? To continue to keep silent and do nothing is to say everything is fine and postulate that we should maintain the status quo and continue with the rot.
The truth is that the situation has become so bad now and I doubt if anyone can transform our nation from this quagmire into a sane society; but at least, we can each do our bits. This is my turning point, that I should become this change agent. To start with, I would begin to drive with caution.
No more over-speeding, excessive honking, driving with invalid documents and against the traffic; whether on busy roads or deserted ones. No more joining of reckless security and patrol convoys to evade hold-ups. To keep doing this is like taking an advantage of my fellow citizens in trying times. Why not wait until the traffic is clear and drive alongside other motorists rather than driving carelessly? To continue behaving this way is akin to road terrorism and partaking in the same lawlessness that we blame our leaders for. How then am I different from them?
The only difference is that I am yet to assume such a leadership position and trample upon the common man. It is time I started asking after my neighbours, family members, friends and colleagues who once needed my attention, but I chose to neglect them in the past. At times, what these people require from me may not be money or material needs. Words of encouragement, visitation, or telephone call can save lives and make someone happy amid their trying moments.
I would turn a new leaf this year and become more responsive, caring and give a listening ear to anyone who approaches me for assistance. I would never wait for them before doing so. Anyone that I feel requires my attention would be touched before they start begging. What do I stand to gain by being aloof when my neighbours are depressed?
My participation in future electoral process would be better than before. Without further delay, I would obtain my voter’s card that I have refused to collect due to my apathy to the exercise. With my reorientation and new disposition, there is no need to sit on the fence any longer. With my strong conviction, things would begin to change for the better when credible, competent and capable candidates are elected into public office. I must be active in realising this desire for my dear country.
My docility reminds me of the danger of sitting on the fence, as depicted in The Fence by The Gambian poet, Lenrie Leopold Wilfred Peters, who uses the proverbial ‘fence-sitting’ as a yardstick to allude the poet’s inability to cross the fence or take decision by being in a state of dilemma and confusion for ‘sitting on the fence’.
In the poem, Peters states that:
There where the dim past and future mingle, their nebulous hopes and aspirations, there I lie.
There where truth and untruth struggle in endless and bloody combat, there I lie.
There where time moves forwards and backwards with not one moment’s pause for sighting, there I lie.
There where the body ages relentlessly and only the feeble mind can wander back, there I lie in open-souled amazement.
There where all the opposites arrive to plaque the inner senses but do not fuse, I hold my head; and then contrive to stop the constant motion.
My head goes round and round, but I have not been drinking; I feel the buoyant waves; I stagger.
It seems the world has changed her garment, but it is I who have not crossed the fence, so there I lie.
There where the need for good and “the doing good” conflict, there I lie.
The poet’s dilemma is further reflected in the constant use of opposites – ageing body and active truth, mind and trust in backward and forward forms as well as the good, bad, past and future with several images to illustrate the weakness, indecision and the attendant effects of such moves. Borrowing from Peters’ counsel, I would never partake or abet rigging, electoral malpractice, or fraud. Hopefully, more fellow men and women would join me and be equally passionate at enthroning quality leadership at all levels for our nation.
I would discourage people from littering the environment with waste, especially at night. We have to stop the spread of the ravaging coronavirus disease, COVID-19, together. Certainly, there are other things that I hope to do towards making a difference this year that are too numerous for me to reel out. Notwithstanding, I would be wary of my actions and inactions to avoid shedding of innocent blood under any guise.
Rather than seeing law enforcement agents as enemies and bad people, I will co-operate with them to stamp out cultism, senseless killings and other crimes from the land. Adequate attention should be devoted to bringing up cultured and disciplined citizens. There is no room for procrastination. The time to act is now. Beyond fulfilling the New Year mandate, my pledge will transcend this month, and continue thereafter, as long as one lives. I would be constantly reminded to be firm and take a decision between need for good and ‘the doing good’ conflict, as Lenrie Peters suggests.
Just like managing success, I will struggle not to waver in this arduous task of pursuing a noble cause conscious that the unforeseen and pull-forces that drive us away from doing the right things are more formidable and compelling than the push-forces that lead man into the path of honour, dignity, progress and life. For me, it is really time to build courage, take the gauntlet and make a difference.