The Power of Choice!

by Yahaya Balogun

The last few days have been awash with bad news about the five Nigerians reportedly awaiting execution in the United Arab Emirates-UAE. It was alleged that these UAE-N5s were involved in armed robbery operations in this strictly Sharia-administered nation. Security is a serious business in the UAE. The United Arab Emirates’ law enforcement agencies have one of the most fortified security services in the world. Robbery is a serious crime and forbidden activity in the Islamic (Sharia) jurisprudence country-UAE. It is a crime that carries capital punishment.

This writer recently attended a three day seminar on “Reentry Employment Specialist” at the State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona. It feels good to be part of the eminent and resourceful participants that encompassed all the stakeholders in the state of Arizona’s penitentiary institutions. One important thing I have taken away from the event is what I call “the power of our individual choice” to determine our future either in a criminal or responsible way. When I juxtapose my experience with our situation in Nigeria, it feels frustrating, damning, concerning and terrifying to see how people wanton in critical thinking errors!

In our deliberation at this interactive program, we talked about how to help inmates about to be released from prison (we call them returning citizens) to return to their communities with resources they will need to be responsible members of the society. Subconsciously, something struck my mind as one of the speakers inteligently opined about generational poverty and crimes in any society. The case of the N5s in UAE’s prison came to my mind.

In law enforcement parlance, we believe poverty and crimes know no ethnic background, neither do crime  and poverty have race, gender, color, status, religion etc. The ability of any individual born into poverty to breakaway from generational poverty and crime is a nuance that needs to be debated. Some of us were born in squalor but the squalor was not born in us. Crimes and responsible behavior are learned; they’re not innate tendencies! A criminal mind will always do crime no matter the environment from which he or she has come from. Our nature nurtures our values; and our values shape our behavior. Our positive or negative behavior with criminal justice will determine where we will be at a particular point in time.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian clime celebrates mediocrity and relishes in disincentivizing meritocracy. When Morolake Akinosun won another gold medal in the women’s track and field event in the 2016 Summer Olympics for the United States, we all claimed her as a Nigerian-American. She wasn’t celebrated as a Yoruba-Nigerian, or Hausa-Nigeria or Ibo-Nigeria. She was collectively celebrated as a Nigerian.

In the sameness of contradictions, Dr. (Engineer) Wendy Ms. Okolo from NASA in the USA is another quintessential Nigerian being heartwarmingly celebrated now by all nationalities here in the United States. Her Nigerian counterparts are ignorantly subsumed in hateful and naughty conversations. Dr. Wendy Okolo news, as usual is expected not to make any headline in Nigeria or on social media platforms.

Unfortunately, these Nigerians come from a contradictory society where bad and sensational news enjoy more headlines than good news. Some ethnic bigots like to claim ownership of Nigeria when Nigerians distinguished themselves in the international arena; while they bring ethnic chauvinism to fore when other Nigerians commit crime in the international community. Nigeria is a bedeviled country with so many children of hate. Nigerians are wasting away in the full glare of ignorance and vanity in a wasteland.

Meanwhile, in the current Nigerian anthropology, it’s not normal to be normal in an abnormal society. If you behave normal, you’re seen as abnormal. Your normality will never make any headlines. But if you behave abnormal, you’re a normal person. Your abnormality will make bold headlines; and you will be subject of what I call cyber-canonization and naughtiness on zukerville. Even, if you’re on social media for sociopolitical awareness and mobilization for national development, the cyberborgs in this abnormal space will never read your palliative and researched opinions. They don’t care to read objectively to re-orientate their defective subconscious and stereotyped minds. But if you post pornographic images and profane talks, or the sensualization of women by women in the national dailies or on social media, the horny feeling and traffic in your outlet will be unprecedented. This is the nauseating conundrum and contradiction we have found ourselves in Nigeria. Only a determined mind can survive and thrive in a wishy-washy environment.

One of the things that readily prods or encourages one’s conscience and consciousness is being a pragmatist Nigerian in the diaspora. When you take a cursory and discerning look at our untapped or wasteful resources, you get subsumed in the admixture of joy and sadness to see how the quintessential Nigerians in the diaspora are making quantum leaps in the world.

In all areas of human endeavors, responsible Nigerians are not found culpable or wanting! In NASA, Science, Sports and Technology, Medicine, Engineering, Space exploration, Armed armament, Academics, etc. You cannot but marvel at our ingenuity and grace outside of the continent of Africa.

On the other hand, while the rest of the world is conducting R&D; consulting Google, Artificial intelligence to research into the future, some African people are enlivening a false or psudo-life of religiosity. They are in religious consultation with the fallible men and women in God’s vineyard.” My people rely religiously on the financially and politically induced or motivated predictions to “predict” (manipulate) their future. The good news is that, the emancipation of our souls is being re-created from within. People are actually waking up to the factually incorrectness of these so called “men of God” in our religious firmament….. It’s a welcome development. Almighty God doesn’t condone laziness from us! The Bible even explicitly says: If you don’t work, you don’t deserve to eat! It is as simple as that! I mused a self-subconscious documentary on how Nigeria will be the havester of robust prosperity in no distant future! I am amazed and comfortable with what my mind told me.

The evolving consciousness and optimism of Nigerian well-wishers is very encouraging. Responsible Nigerians seem to see Nigerian greatness and the handwriting on the wall. Those of us who are convinced by the courage of our convictions should continue to celebrate the good ones amongst us. We should swiftly condemn and encourage the bad eggs who spoil the name of Nigeria at home and in the diaspora. We must also see responsible Nigerians and bad eggs in the diaspora as Nigerians, not from the prism of their ethnic origins. As the successful good ones amongst us rebrand Nigerian battered image, we must continue to encourage them to distinguish themselves in all human endeavors.

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