By Nnamdi Ibekwe
THE greatest challenge of mankind, the church, especially in Africa, and Nigeria in particular, is the non-realisation that God from inception empowered man through the mandate issued in Genesis 1 verses 26 to 28.
That is: “Dominate, subdue, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Interestingly, while Europe, America, and other continents of the world have keyed into this mandate and acted on it, enjoyed its benefits, and continued to enjoy its dividends, the African continent has not.
The mandate given to man covers all facets of life in the form of potential deposits inherent in human beings or natural deposits all over the earth. In all areas of existence, you can find various elements for empowerment awaiting utilisation by African men.
Regrettably, through ignorance, misinformation, and also through inability to utilise it, men have continually searched fruitlessly for what has been freely given to them, a case of searching for what you have inside your Sokoto pocket, as we say in Nigerian parlance.
The worst in life is not to have possession, but to have valuable possession without knowing it. Consequently, through all ages, there have been several aborted dreams and unrealised ambitions. The United Nations Refugee Agency report shows that 3,000 refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers died or went missing in 2022 while trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean and Atlantic Sea routes. The report further stated that the record is exclusive of those missing through the deserts.
Empowerment is the ability to know or discover what you possess, and its appropriation and deployment for your own benefit and that of others around you. It equally means the ability and power to claim what you have right over. For the purpose of this discourse, impact means to come into forcible contact with another object. It simply means influence or effect on whatever you do – your life, business, work, actions, or inactions that affect others around you heavily. In Genesis Chapter One Verse 28: “God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over everything upon earth.”
Empowerment starts with the realisation that man is blessed. And that whatever happens to him lies in his hands. Realisation then implies knowing that you truly know, and for others around to know and attest to the truism that you know.
This includes the knowledge, or information man possesses about his environment and what he does with it. For instance, a report by the United Nations Environment Programme, says Africa has very rich natural resources, including arable lands, water, oil, natural gas, minerals, forests, and wildlife. The continent is a depository of a large proportion of the world’s natural resources, both renewables and non-renewables.
Now the question: Is it not an incomprehensible contradiction that before the arrival of Western adventurer corporations turned colonialists and neo-colonialists, Africans, Nigerians, inclusive of those currently seized by the ‘Japa’ syndrome, were unaware of the excess sources of empowerment deposits? What an error! It is in this wise that realisation, awareness, concise comprehension of self, and one’s environment become a veritable tool for emancipation and empowerment for global impact. Inherently, it plays a two-pronged role – first, as an avenue for ‘knowing self-realisation, identification, and emancipation.’ Second, it serves as a weapon for action in the exploration, exploitation, and recovery of that which was either stolen or lost.
Consequently, knowledge becomes a highly priced commodity that must be urgently and seriously sought after and deployed as a vehicle with which to drive the reawakening process. Knowledge serves as a light that illuminates a man’s pathway for self-discovery, understanding of one’s immediate environment, discovery and utilisation of inherent resources as well as serves as a tool for its appropriation.
It is equally on the strength of available knowledge that requisite data for exploration and management is hinged. For the man to be able to tap and manage the huge natural resources, experience, and skills are quite apt. And this can only be derived through requisite knowledge and skills acquisition.
Relatively intertwined with knowledge is vision. Reports of European and American exploration and exploitation of African, and Nigerian human and mineral resources portray a clinical act by visionary business people or corporations that envisioned the great potential in Africa. They were able to see and think out plans for the future with imagination or wisdom. It was a vision that then served as propellant for the voyages. It engulfed them with vaulting purpose and ceaselessly caused them to embark on several voyages all over Africa. Mary Keller was quite succinct when she opined that, “it is better to be born blind than to be born with sight, but, without vision”.
On April 14, 2023, a report by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, revealed that Nigeria lost 619.7 million barrels of crude oil valued at N16. 25 trillion ($46.16 billion) to crude oil theft between 2009 and 2020. The report has it that the Nigerian mining sector recorded a $9bn loss to illegal mining. The UNEP records show that the entire continent lost an estimated USD 195 billion annually of its natural capital through illicit financial flows, illegal mining, illegal logging, illegal trade in wildlife, unregulated fishing, and environmental degradation.
The question again is: What did they see in Nigeria that Nigerians who are leaving in droves, ‘Japa,’ do not see? It is clear that the entire African continent is abundantly blessed and that men have been empowered and positioned for global impact over time. What remains is to arise, envision, apply the requisite knowledge, and be determined to explore and appropriate existing empowerment opportunities and resources and proceed to make a global impact.
Mazi Ibekwe, a lawmaker representing Bende North State Constituency, Abia State, delivered this paper at the 2023 Men’s Ministry’s Day Celebration, Assemblies of God Church, Ago 1, Okota Section, Lagos District.