Friday, September 9, 2011

Nigeria: Good Sheeple! Great Nation?---VICTOR ADE

Clearly, the majority of Nigerians are good sheeple, but will that make us a great country?  The Encarta English dictionary defines the word “sheep” (applied in this context) as an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody’s courage, self assertion or leadership qualities.
In his book, A Nation of Sheep, Judge Andrew Napolitano writes about the sheep as citizens who “stay in their herd and follow their shepherd without questioning where he is leading them.” The title of his book is a shorter version of the popular quote by Edward Murrow – A nation of sheep begets a Government of wolves. 

The same dictionary defines a “wolf” as an offensive term for a person who is regarded as greedy and cruel. Sheeple are people who smile while suffering and that can only beget a government of greedy and cruel people.
Why do the Nigerian sheeple lack courage and self assertion? Could it be because they always cook up excuses for their complaisance and inaction? Excuses like: I no get pikin, I get one pikin; I no get mama, mama dey for home. The opposite end of the same spectrum  become an excuse for inaction, where those who have “pikin” will not act because they have pikin ; and those who have, will also not act because they have “pikin.”

We always have things to look forward to and so fail to live full lives today – an absurd form of delayed gratification!  Unwilling to die, we have remained dead.  The patient dog eats the fattest bone – after the “impatient” ones have striped the bone of all flesh and meat! The meek shall inherit the earth – or what’s left of it! Our culture and (mis)interpretation of religious creeds may partly be responsible for the laid back political attitude of the Nigerian sheeple.
When the colonialists plundered the continent, it was at least, for the development and welfare of their country and people, there was a larger objective for it. To what would one attribute the plundering by the wolves among us? 

The colonialists developed the processes and infrastructure necessary for sustaining their plundering enterprise – railways, roads, telecommunications, etc.  Yet the founding fathers of this nation fought very hard and courageously to liberate the country from these plunderers.   Can one imagine the fate of the country if these founding fathers had been like the “good sheeple” of present day Nigeria?
In comparison, the wolves among us are much more destructive to this country than the colonialists, because they plunder their own kith and kin for no real objective (other than selfish ones). The tragedy is that these wolves, unlike the colonialists, plunder with no thought of sustainability, they couldn’t care less what became of the country.

It would be naïve to expect that the wolves would suddenly turn from their evil ways and become less greedy and cruel: they would have to be compelled to do so. The founding fathers prevailed over the wolves of their own generation; it’ll be a shame if we fail to vanquish those of this generation.
But first we must identify the real enemy. While it is human nature to look for the causes and solutions to our problems everywhere else, but inwards, the enemy and solution can usually be found by looking in the mirror.  Cassius was right in Julius Caesar when he said, “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars – but in ourselves…”  A popular Pogo quote also captures it well, “We have found the enemy and he is us.”  We must therefore take a thoughtful look in the mirror and ask ourselves two questions: How have I contributed to the Nation’s problems? And what must I now do as my contribution to its solutions?

Most of us by simply doing nothing have long been a part of the problem; others may have actively contributed negatively. An old adage: no matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back. 
The younger a citizen, the more they have at stake in what becomes of the country, and therefore the more aggressively they should fight to make sure that the wolves among us do not mess up the future that rightly belong to them. A look around the world shows that the youth cast the deciding vote that brings about change: whether by casting of actual ballot – as in the case of putting President Barack Obama in office; by hoisting of banners (Egypt); or even by firing of bullets (in Libya).

The wolves would have to decide in what form they want the change to come – decide the currency. The recent revelations, by Wikileaks, of United States diplomatic cables have shown just what a pawn we have become in their game. One thing is certain; the state of affairs in the country has become unsustainable. The Nigerian youths cannot be left out in the process of saving the country. Let it not be said that those who had the most to lose, did the least in preventing the impending calamity.

 Many people are counting on you: the Nigerian sheeple – to lead the way in this transformation; but the wolves are also counting on you to remain weak, ignorant, and unorganized.
For the Nigerian youths, I leave you to ponder on the lyrics of a song by Bob Dylan:
“Admit that the waters around you have grown, and expect that soon, you’ll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth saving, well you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times are changing”.

The discontent of Nigerians is about as loud as it’s been in a very long time; the people are being pushed to the wall. And for the wolves, take time out from your plunder, and ponder on these words by the same musician:
“… Please heed the call, don’t stand in the doorway and don’t block up the hall, for he who gets hurt is he who has stalled. There’s a battle outside and it’s raging. It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls … Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand. The times are changing”
It will take more than just a slogan before we can truly say, Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation.

Victor Ade

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