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March 23, 2024

Daring for something bigger than yourself! By Muyiwa Adetiba

Daring for something bigger than yourself! By Muyiwa Adetiba

Muyiwa Adetiba

I came across a comedy skit last week. It was about a teacher who was telling a class of six, seven year-old children about legacies. By stating that the best legacy one can leave their children is a good name, she reiterated what we, the much older generation learnt about a good legacy while growing up. This apparently didn’t go down well with this young generation and a bold six year-old vocalized her disagreement.

In this day and age, the best legacy a father can leave his children according to this child, was money, plenty of it, with dual citizenship to boot. Obviously the creator of this skit was not a six year-old and he must have transmitted his belief through this child for effect.Unfortunately, it reflects a line of thinking which resonates with many young adults in the country. Money to them, is no longer the root of all evils but the solution to all evils. As far as many of them are concerned, whatever problem money cannot solve, more money however gotten, will solve it.

Of what use is a good name when it is going to lead to deprivation and even derision? Nothing but curses are reserved in our shores today for a man who finds himself in a lucrative public position but cannot ‘help his kinsmen’ because he refuses to soil his hands with public money. In the same society, nothing but praises are reserved for those who live larger than life with public funds as long as they install one or two boreholes in the village, educate a couple of poor cousins and build the children’s wing in the church. We embrace tokenism because of personal benefits and block our eyes to the bigger picture of corruption. We cannot see the link between people like these and the roads that are not built, hospitals that are not equipped and electricity that has defied all odds. Corruption thrives not only because we have not called it out, but because we actually covet it.

As for dual citizenship, that was an outdated model which has now been upgraded. If what one reads in the social media is anything to go by, many young adults will gladly forget the green passport and all that goes with it in exchange for any European passport. They will gladly turn their backs on Nigeria while condemning it as a corrupt and failed nation.  Dual citizenship is beneficial to economic migrants who don’t want to forget their roots. It is of no use to those who don’t want to remember their roots.

These people are not only seeking a new nationality, they seek a new identity. Unfortunately for them, that is not how the world rolls. However you try, you can never completely obliterate your roots as many have found out to their chagrin. Even second, third generation immigrants are being referred to by their roots when there is a mishap. And the respect you get as a naturalized citizen is often derived from the respect given to your country of birth. So Nigerians who badmouth and paint Nigeria in stark colours might yet be haunted by their vituperations. A Yoruba proverb says those who throw stones into the market should not be surprised if one of them hits a relative. The stones they throw at Nigeria might yet hit them between the eyes.

There is a story in Sunday Vanguard of March 10 of a young man who was jailed for five years in the US. He believed he was a victim of stereotyping or profiling. He felt he would not have found himself in jail for an offence he claimed he didn’t commit had he been of a different race and nationality. I don’t know what his attitude towards Nigeria was by the time he left for the golden fleece and which eventually led him to settle in America.

It is possible he had also badmouthed the country believing his future and fortune lay elsewhere.But he is back in Nigeria now a changed man who wants to help change the narrative concerning Nigeria. Having been a victim of a stained brand, he wants to help in cleaning up Nigeria’s image. I commend his attitude. He could have been despondent and depressed. He could have continued to blamepast leaders as others do, for the poor image of the country. An image which according to him, had helped a biased judicial system send him to jail. And because of this, he is now involved in something bigger than himself because he might no longer be a direct beneficiary.

About a week before the article was published, DrAkinwumiAdeshina of the Africa Development Bank was on TV receiving a much coveted award. Many things were said about him that would make anybody proud. His brilliance, his tenacity, his confidence, his drive all came out in the different eulogies. But two things stood out. His passion for Nigeria and his passion for Africa. And for these, he was willing to go beyond himself to find solutions to Nigeria’s and Africa’s problems. His well-articulated speech also alluded to these when he listed his five-point solutions to Nigeria’s development.

But what resonated most with me was when he said ‘I am a Nigerian. I will always be a Nigerian’. That simple statement coming from a man of his stature counters many negative statements about Nigeria and brings renewed belief to a few doubting young minds.That same week marked the final rites of Herbert Wigwe, the banker whose untimely death brought his impactful life into a sharp relief. Hisbold deals across Africa symbolized the confidence and fearlessness that that have characterized Nigerians over time. In his drive to reposition and elevate Nigeria in the financial world, he was also marketing the country. He was a man daring for something bigger than himself. His passion and belief in Nigeria were obvious in his actions.

A couple of days ago, I read on one of the many platforms I am largely silent on, this simple but profound statement from a man who is unknown to me. It said; ‘I am from the Niger-delta. My purpose now is to work with others outside the Federal Government to make the area better than it is today’. That is what I call daring for something bigger than yourself. That was how Hilary Clinton described her odyssey. Seeking to make a place better than you met it should be the goal of anyone who is infused with a life of purpose. It is also, a worthier legacy than money to leave for your children.