My brothers it is good as we share information on personal safety and on exercising caution as we deal with domestic staff. However, I wish we would not sweep the salient issues under the rug and miss the forest for the trees. I understand many of you, now accomplished men, keep domestic staff, from chauffeurs to security guards to cooks on your payrolls. I understand that some members of the staff that is so close to you and who possess critical access to your persons now have the tendency to victimize you. By the grace of God, they will be powerless to cause you any harm.
A friend of mine had told me their chauffeur had staged a botched kidnapping against her parents, which they escaped. I was astonished but I did not fear, since my dad had always maintained a large retinue of domestic staff that were extremely close to him, and whom we treated like family. I have always committed my family and friends to God. God is the possessor of life. But my point is domestic staff were once trusted folks in Nigeria. Contradistinctively, the criminal Evans, the kidnapper had been a domestic staff, who worked as a driver, and who even got more jobs as a driver after his first kidnapping. Fingerprinting and background checks for everyone y’all!
However, we all need to commit to fixing the Nigerian economy, politics, education, modernization process, institution of a viable human rights regime and the rule of law and welfare to uplift our domestic staff, and perhaps they would have less cause to victimize their employers. We all need to commit to purging Nigeria of corruption to fix the Nigerian spirit.
Every nation embodies some kind of spirit that the citizenry identifies with. The United States has what you call a “can-do-spirit,” or “nothing is impossible,” “rags to riches,” “USA is number 1” spirit! It is often gruff, unapologetic and in your face, and it is palpable among Americans when they go abroad. The spirit says, “I am a shot caller, and nobody pushes me around!”
What is the Nigerian spirit? Believe it or not, while you can create your own spirit and post your own labels to describe who you are, when care is not taken, others can give you a bad name from the actions of your leaders, which inevitably trickles down to the populace, who start to manifest the spirit of the leader.
Today, the world has mislabeled the Nigerian spirit as the spirit of criminality, which many Nigerian leaders have exhibited as they siphoned off billions of dollars from the coffers of the Nigerian treasury, with impunity. Consequently, it is no wonder that the Nigerian average man and the domestic staff, have become criminals like Evans the kidnapper. But the world did not always label the Nigerian spirit as criminal. My uncle, a Professor of Finance in the United States, still proudly wears the spirit of ‘76, which Murtala infused in the populace, including him, when he came to the U.S. as a student, four decades ago.
According to my uncle, Americans then, knew Nigerians to be disciplined and imbued with an uncompromising integrity in addition to exhibiting a spirit of excellence, like their leader, General Murtala Muhammad. My uncle has lived with that spirit for the past forty years in his life in the U.S. He speaks admiringly of Murtala’s discipline, uncompromising integrity and spirit of excellence, as if it were yesterday.
People that meet my uncle for the first time, observe this character in him: of discipline, unimpeachable ethics, courage, hard work and excellence. However, the Nigerian spirit was mislabeled under its former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida, who ruled Nigeria after staging a coup d’état, from 1985 to 1993, when he left our oil-rich country in a state of economic, intellectual and moral poverty, confusion, despair and more divided than ever. Our beloved country was shamefaced in the international arena, because of the malfeasance of the cabal that had usurped power for its self-aggrandizement.
Nigeria has been wearing the spirit of duplicity of the Babangida era. We need to shake it off and reject this spirit of deceit. It is a fallacy to believe that being as duplicitous as Babangida, who happily wore the sobriquet of Maradona, the Argentine soccer legend famed for his dribbling skills, which felled England in the 1986 world cup tournament in Mexico, is a sign of being smart. Simply watch his recent interview regarding his canceling of the “June 12 elections,” which he himself “proudly” calls the freest and fairest election in Nigerian history. His interviewer was a beautiful Arewa woman, who was quite bold and unwavering in her questions. At some point as he rambled on, “dribbling” himself, she almost laughed at his contradictory and inane responses. Nigerians need to shake off the spirit of criminality that the Babangida era stamped on the country. We need to overcome the image and identity defined for us by unenlightened despots. The world is laughing at Nigeria. And Nigeria is in a mess. From this forum, we can determine to have a new name for a great and noble Nigeria. Floreat!
This was communication to my King’s College Lagos classmates. King’s College, Lagos is an all-boys secondary school, founded by the British in 1909 to raise Nigerian leaders and men of excellence.