There is no way anyone can tell me that the greatest nations of the world as at today and yesterday are in any way better endowed or strategically positioned than our dear native land, Nigeria. I have but do not want to bore you with statistics. You darned well know what it is I am talking about. Anyway, if you want to feign ignorance at that, I will not take exception. All I know is that every other person anywhere in the world knows us Nigerians as dogged, rugged and a determined people you have to constantly keep an eye on if you do not want to be taken by surprise at our unorthodox manner of doing things. Some see this as a negative trait and I sometimes do too only to the extent that Nigerians become that dogged, rugged mostly because there has been a system on ground that has continuously humiliated us all one way or the other. But the point where I depart from that kind of thinking is the point that recognizes that doggedness, ruggedness are mere indexes of the dynamism that is the hallmark of all human existence. Whereas some people may be known for their stiff-as-a-ramrod conservatism, others are known to be so laissez-faire and so careless that they can actually take their own lives in the solitary confines of their living rooms- a thing a Nigerian may never contemplate much less carry out.
What then in my view will always make it very difficult for us to get there, that is, to take our destiny in our hands and trample on the world in the normal civilized manner is something that still has to do with us.Our people. Our minds. Our psyche. Paradox, isn’t it? Yes, sure is. In one breathe right now we celebrate our people’s resilience and survivalist instincts even in the face of unspeakable acts of insensitivity on the part of those who were, are there, and in the next we hold him responsible for being petty in the application of his mental faculties. Well, that’s just the way it seems.
I want to dwell a little more on our people. And a little bit more on our minds by saying that from the East to the West, from the North to the South, our people are not so developed in many respects. From Mr. President to the primary school teacher, to the banker, the guy in the sleek jeep, and the guy under the bridge without a roof over his head, there is a way we are that shows that something fundamentally does not cohere. If you think otherwise, then do please explain this to me: two or three weeks ago, a certain manager, in a bank located somewhere around Ilupeju in Lagos ordered a teacher to lie right down on the floor of the bank’s premises and had the Mobile Policeman on duty deal him, wait for it, some twelve strokes of the cane. The teacher was part of a team ‘marketing’ his school, distributing information handouts at the behest of his Proprietor but did that one foolish thing to insult the security guard who had politely asked him to come remove the vehicle he parked right in front of the bank’s premises. The teacher bolted when he should have stood his ground and take responsibility for his indiscretion. Much later though, it was a miffed bank manager who insisted on an apology from the teacher. Of course, the school teacher prostrated yorubalike in remorse for insulting the police officer as precondition for the release of the school’s impounded vehicle. Yet he got a beating into the bargain.
Now, at various times in some analysis of contemporary social and political issues, I have always relied on Newton’s third Law of Motion (that action and reaction are equal and opposite and composite) to gain an insight into the issues that we face. I do this so as to assume a stance of objectivity and sometimes to be an advocate for the devil. In this case however, it has been impossible for me to adduce any possible reason why a supposedly civilized a personage as a bank manager would have another person flogged, no matter the supposed low level of the antagonist. It may have been that parking that vehicle right in front of that bank may have sent certain security signals that disrupted banking activities but tell me, is that sufficient reason to subject the antagonist to such humiliation as out rightly having that teacher flogged the way tyrants like Idi Amin Dada used to flog his people? For God’s sake, is this the dispensation of the orangutan or of millennium compliant values? Will the bank manager have flogged the teacher if he had come to the bank with ten million naira or more, or less and had parked his vehicle on the wrong spot and insulted the police on duty in the bargain? I think not. One is sadly constrained as at now to observe that some of those with the ordinary responsibility of helping to keep other people’s monies sometimes arrogate such supercilious dispositions to themselves that is often irritating. I have put this same question to a bank-manager friend of long standing and she agrees with us all that that bank manager certainly exceeded his brief. See, pundits of Management insist that managers must be able to manage self, manage trust, manage definition and manage one other tenet I cannot now remember. In this case however, I do not see how the chap who ordered the teacher to be flogged in bland day light manage himself first in that awkward situation and project whatever lesson it is that he wants the rest of us to learn. I dare say that he merely defined himself as a disgrace to the dignified business of banking, where the highest ideals of professionalism are held dear today in Nigeria. Also, I do not see why the Proprietor of that school would allow his school and member of staff to be so humiliated just because he needed to retrieve a rickety bus that may not cost up to a hundred thousand dollars. It just goes on to highlight the fact that nearly all members of the teaching profession whether they are lecturers in the Ivory Towers or secondary school teachers or even those in the primary schools are an endangered species, anywhere they are.