“Look at Ben Carson, he was a black poor man but he decided to be rich and that is why he is where he is today. Look at Bill Gate, he didn’t go to school but he is the richest man on earth. He employs engineers from the best schools in the world. Brothers and sisters, success is not dependent on your level of education but your level of determination and hard work. You must stop saying it is because we are blacks. No! Barack Obama is a black man yet he is the president of the whole world. Success is yours. You cannot fail when you are hardworking. Never!”
I sat and listened begrudgingly to the sermon of one Litlun who rose from obscurity to fame. He was busy filling the ears of the credulous commuters who were on the bus I boarded to Ring Road. He spoke about prosperity and success and condemned the blacks as ones who were lazy. In my quietude, I used my eyes to vet the preacher from his head to his shoes. He could barely convince anyone he wasn’t crippled as his slovenly shoes could scarcely stand the ground. This is a young boy in his early 20s who argues he is a minister of wisdom. He continued, “Dear brothers and sisters, I have come to inspire you to work hard. You must aim high in life. I see the next Governor on this bus if only you will believe and be hard working. I brought with me, a book I titled “THE SECRET OF SUCCESS.” It’s just 500 naira. When you read it, you will witness a change of perception and know how to fight failure.” Trust me, I never intended to be the clog in his wheel of progress even though I ostensibly was not amenable to his outrageous ideas.
He soon scurried to where I was seated and asked if I was interested in his book. I replied almost spontaneously and asked him, pointing to his shoes “Is this the measure of your success?” He was in utter consternation. He wobbled to give me a reply. “How can you be the writer and knower of the secrets to success and yet you don’t look successful? Or you failed to go to school like Bill Gate in hot pursuit of financial posterity?”
Calm down. I know that was mean but I probably would have been more polite had I eaten a decent lunch and the immoral sun had not put rueful patches of despair on my forehead. Soon, I had assumed the position of wisdom while he listened. I asked him, “What do you think is the problem of the average Nigerian?” He retorted by saying laziness. I scoffed. Now, this is my point. When I was in primary school, people often visited my school with all sorts of inspiring books and so did the practice continue in my secondary school days. Gradually, the business has waned not because writers have hung their boots but because the business no longer pays. NIGERIANS know the truth. Listen, do not come here telling us to work hard. Do you know how hardworking Nigerians can be? Immensely hardworking! If success was garnered by industry, what happened to the Hausa boys who pick metal sheets all over the place? What about the women who work around the clock at various markets? What about the educated ones who graduated without jobs? What kind of hard work do
you want from a graduate who has remained unemployed for a month of Sundays after eternal attempts to eke out a living for himself? The inspirational speakers will always tell us that when you graduate and you remain idle, it is your undoing. You can start up a business. I look at these people and shake my head. To start up a caravan of biscuits and minor things including rent will cost you no less than 200,000 if not more. Who doesn’t want to be a boss? Everybody! But where do you get money from when you are a man of no means? When people steal, the same inspirational speakers will condemn them for not being diligent. The major problem is that there are no machinery set in place to succeed.
A whole class graduates and in the next six months you hear that your colleague is not a managing director. Is it because he was more hardworking? No! Modalities were already set in place. These inspirational speakers want us all to be entrepreneurs and bastions of ourselves but has the government encouraged this? Even a road side barber complains that the government is bad. You start up a business which requires constant power supply but you end up spending your paltry earnings on buying fuel. Will the same business not be a lot easier in a country with steady power supply? A friend In Ghana recently told me that since December last
year, there has been no interruption of power supply, not in the twinkling of an eye. Now tell me, Will one who runs a large printing shop in Ghana not be more successful than a Nigerian who spends all his income buying fuel and changing generators for his business? Those whose parents have left substantive wealth and asset for do not need any motivation or inspiration to be successful. How can you enter a bus coming from the suburb of Benin City and then you start telling the old ones to aim high and work hard? One cannot quantify the immense work these persons have done. Now tell me, what inspirational speaker does Buhari’s daughter need? Is she the most hardworking lady in Nigeria? The answer is in the negative. These speakers will tell us that Bill Gate did not go to school but he is the richest man because he worked so hard for it.
First of all, only the unversed will say he didn’t go to school. Bill Gate dropped out of college does not mean he didn’t go to school. He just didn’t graduate. The skill, knowledge, and enlightenment he had gathered before he dropped out is still much more invaluable than the average Masters Degree holder in Nigeria. How can you say Bill Gates did not go to school?’ Only a complete dunce should say that. Secondly, one thing we must know in life is that, the richest man in this world is a lucky man. He is not the most hardworking. Education, exposure and God’s grace is what made him attain such Olympian height. Without prejudice to their hard work, it is not the underlying bulwark behind their immeasurable triumph. For instance, the richest Nigerians are of substantively opulent provenances; is it Dangote, Alakija, Innoson, Otedola and others? Check their background. They are not the most hardworking, they are just those who had platforms already set in place for them to explore and they made good use of it.
These speakers will start comparing us with Obama, tell us he is a black man like us all. What kind of black man studies in America, does his politics over there, marries over there and lives his entire life there can be compared with the Hausa man who lives his entire life growing onions in Kano state? Obama had modalities set in place for him to explore with. For instance, Myles Monroe, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and others have written books to inspire us over here but the truth is those theories they posit cannot always work in our Nigerian society. Their writings were actuated by the realities of their systems but ours does not follow with theirs. An average American for instance is not faced with the problem of food or hygiene. Over here, the average Nigerian mother and father have forgotten about their personal fashion sense. All they care about is how to provide food and a somewhat comfortable living for the children. Sometimes, they spend heavily on treatments. Some parents suffer till they die and never experience what it is like to lead a decent standard life. What form of hard work do you think they haven’t engaged in? Ben Carson is not in the best position to tell me how to be academically successful. He had a platform and lived in an environment where even the dullest dunce, given the requisite materials will be poised for pellucid pass marks. In Nigeria, a person as dull as painted by Ben Carson may never taste of intelligence ever again; he will never know how many beans make five because he will not only be ostracized by the parents who have on several occasions been embarrassed by the child’s idiosyncratic failure but also affected by the discouraging environment to learn. Unlike Ben Carson, teachers are not interested in the dull ones so no form of encouragement or training will ever come our teachers.
Interestingly, a good number of Nigerian pastors have been tickled by the fancy of this enterprise; inspirational speaking After all, one could easily blend biblical literature into the business. However, the likes of these pastors have not helped issues. I used to have a friend who had several inspirational books written by the likes of Adeboye, Oyedepo, Sam Adeyemi, Chris Oyakhilome, Johnson Suleiman and others. He was mesmerized by these books but much to his chagrin, the very reason for which he had been buying them still came a cropper. After failing his fifth JAMB, he set them all ablaze. A rather saddening part of it all is that, many a time, those who profess these words of wisdom are strange bedfellows with what they profess. A speaker treks about in
classes selling a book he titled “SEVEN WAYS TO BE EXCEEDINGLY RICH.” How can one sell such books and still be peregrinating in lack and want? In fact, if the average Nigerian who knows seven, and not a mere one or two ways of being exceedingly rich will not tell his family members except such negotiations are predicated generously on pecuniary grounds. The problem is not with the inspiring words. No! The problem is with the impracticability and improbability of the inspiration in a moribund country charred by the combined debilitating effects of wanton corruption and remarkable incapacitation. Some of these inspirational speakers, pastors alike, they know that what they say will yield no effect especially given the audience, yet they go ahead to put pen to paper and write books, sell to thousands to garner wealth. That’s wickedness. The real problem is the country.
Nigeria is so deplorable that for a Christian to even exercise an article of faith is a waste of time. They tell us hard work is our problem and I ask them, is there a better definition for the term other than what we see in Nigeria? When the government and the country at large has not set platforms for people to build on how do you expect the common man to excel? Is it his fault that he is poor? Is it his fault that his parents are poor and could not afford him good education? Is it his fault that he had to drop out of secondary school? Is it his fault he resorted to bus driving? Is it his fault he became frustrated and sort greener pastures across the Mediterranean Sea and now he is pushing up the daisies? He may well be blamed but it is not his fault he was frustrated. Nobody intends to be. Circumstances could call for harsh measures. Sadly, Nigeria is not only encouraging harsh methods, it has even encouraged suicidal measures. How can one imagine that in the 21st century, Nigeria still cannot ensure steady supply of power; the acclaimed giant of Africa.
Rudimentary knowledge of biology tells us that growth is the irreversible increase in size but the giants of Africa have shrunk beyond belief. It is not behooving of such a title fit for probably
South Africa with better measures. The country has failed us…Plans are not working out because frustrating measures are everywhere to haunt us. If this country can provide constant power supply, majority of the problems of the average youth in Nigeria will be mollified. The
monthly income of an ordinary barber will snowball from 15,000 naira to 40,000 naira in the absence of buying fuel. The computer operator and photocopiers will smile heavy smiles of upgraded income if there is constant power supply. Companies will invest with ease. Graduates can start up entrepreneurial skills without having to consider the effect of erratic power supply anymore. Do the inspirational speakers think we don’t know the problem in Nigeria? Of course we do. It is the platform we lack. Why do people call America the land of opportunities? Simply because if a child intends to be a singer, an actor, a footballer, a porn artist, a painter, a policeman all he needs is hard work. He will be fixed where he belongs provided he can deliver effectively. In Nigeria, you can fight for an opportunity to the extent of losing your talent. What a Nigerian needs to work with his talent is not necessarily hard work. He knows he will work hard. He needs money to grease the palms of tendentiously venal overlords to gain safe passage. Some who are heavily talented were denied the opportunities because they could not compromise. To attain a public office will involve palm greasing. To seek a court order will involve palm greasing, and the money to do such is not always readily forthcoming. Footballers, dancers, models, singers and all who have worked hard are still at home. Some have given up while some may eventually rise to fame if luck and sufficient grace works on them. Some played football till the only souvenirs they could show for it were broken legs, arms or incomplete finger nails or teeth. Some who continued ended up playing under 17 cup competition at age 37. Extensively, such parents have forbidden their children to continue in the abyss of no gain. I know of a father who hanged his son on an electric pole because he failed to refrain from playing football, a game he claimed made him lose his first love, his large farmland and his Suzuki machine.
In circumstances like this, what does one do? Buy books of inspiration? After reading you go back to your impoverished state. A speaker once tried to shanghai my naivety when he told me that if I have not toiled in the sun with sweat cascading down my forehead like scarlet rain, I would not be a wealthy man. He gaffed further by saying that there is no wealthy man that has not worked in the street with backs exposed to the indecency of the sun melting hardship therein. He spoke without a tinge of wit. I may have not been so incredulous given that I was but naive, but I altogether was not aware of the grim picture of life even at age five. I went to a Chinese company some time ago. It is a spitting distance away from my abode. I saw young boys who used sledgehammers to whittle rocks and metal sheets remorselessly while a young Chinese dweeb simply ordered them on what to do next. He sat comfortably in the tranquil of his office while the boys’ backs smiled at the sun. It was horrible. This they did in earnest anticipation of 20,000 naira as a monthly salary; a rather disproportionate remuneration not in any way commensurate to the magnitude of work they did. They would work from 6:30am till 6:30pm with mattocks, sledgehammers and other inconsiderate tools of hardship. One can safely say that the tasks of those who fueled Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace of fire was no greater than this.
Dear reader, one who survives that job for a month is not only strong. Their ancestors must have played active roles in fostering slave trade with their strength. Clearly, hard work is not the problem, indecision is not the problem, and being dedicated is not the problem. Perhaps life in Nigeria is just meant to be ironically precarious. The government has failed, much emphasis has now been placed in education. The chances of being Bill Gates if you are not educated in our current Nigeria is almost dead. Except of course it is illegal. We thank God for musicians, actors, and other talented persons who have made it in Nigeria without being educated but how many are they? The ones who have made it so not intent to pave the way for others. In fact, the chances are getting slimmer day in day out. You could be a cybercriminal anyway. For those who cannot sing, dance or engage in one talent or the other, education and business now seem to be the only way. The rivalry is unhealthy; it’s a bloodbath out there. This is the reason I weep each day when I see people scramble for bread because they have lost the opportunity to sit in offices and have white collar jobs. Many a Nigerian is forced into blue-collar jobs because they are not educated. What then is the point a speaker is trying to make when he enters a bus inhabited by the old, the infirm, and the incapacitated and starts selling inspirational books for 500 naira? It’s like casting pearls before swines.
All our problem boils down to government. How pitiable! If thousands of students can be frustrated every year after graduating from various schools, what is the fate of the uneducated? In a nutshell, being inspirational is not a bad thing. Deceiving people is the can of worms. If we can change our government then we would have opened the chasm of endless possibilities in this country. In the light of the moribund Nigeria, never try to proselytize the common man by feeding his head with perfectly structured chiasmi. We need opportunities and platforms. Do not tell us we can be Bill Gates. When the legitimate platform comes we will know what we can be. Accordingly, except for those who are determined to make it, hook and or crook, living a comfortable life in Nigeria is possible and pragmatic. You can build a house, have a car, have a happy home, help those around you, give your children healthy and decent livelihood, good schools and help family. All of it is possible. You just have to work hard. Watch and pray. Be resilient and determined. You don’t have to tilt at windmills. Avarice and over blotted ambition is not the way in Nigeria without a modicum of illegality (this writer is unsure of the most viable means. All he knows is how to put two and two together #winks#). We will all be successful if we learn not to define success by the possession of fleet of cars, a thousand houses and private jets. But, if you so wish to measure it that way, it is not unattainable. I’m sure you know how to go about it too. Thread lightly.
This message is not to oil the wheels of frustration, burdened discomfort or lethargy. It is a message targeted to steamroll those who, with their saccharine expressions and overwhelming exegesis of a world so blissful have hornswoggled and led us down the isle of acute confusion. *If you thought I said all these while on the bus, I’m sorry if I made you think so. I dey chill for mah crib they yan real matters*
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