Beyond poverty of the mind and pocket we have a serious case of poverty of expectation and ambition and we have been robbed of the capacity to dream in a manner that drives progress because of counter-productive, brain numbing religious experiences…
There was once a tale of a lecturer, largely unknown and difficult to find papers he wrote, who was later selected to become a deputy governor: a rather limited and fairly inconsequential role & so, he couldn’t help but be mediocre. By ill-fate of one, he became governor. The People had hoped he’ll be different and will be significantly more progressive. He wasn’t. He simply carried on with mediocrity.
Due to the weird logic unique to us as Nigerians that where you’re from is far more important than your capacity, boom, our mediocre lecturer became VP. But again, an extremely limited role and so it was perfect cover for continued mediocrity till similar ill-luck struck again and he became the no.1 citizen.
For some weird inexplicable reason, the people expected that despite a lifetime of mediocrity, he would just vanish and suddenly be a star performer. I have to say though, the people are often mad.
Was our lecturer an outlier situation? Not at all.
An army general forced into early retirement spent 3 decades of his life doing nothing. No book, not on any board, didn’t start a foundation nor lead any sensible advocacy. 30 years as the epitome of nothingness. Exact same 3 decades when a baby boy was born, wore diapers, stopped; sucked breast, stopped; went to school, stopped and started a company. In the same 30 years of one general doing absolutely nothing, this baby established one of the largest companies in the world today and he is worth $30 billion.
But somehow, like the first lecturer, the people expect that magically, he will leave his trend of 30 years and suddenly become an excellent active achiever, deliverer and performer.
Like I said, it’s the people that are mad.
I once wrote and mentioned that beyond poverty of the mind and pocket we have a serious case of poverty of expectation and ambition and we have been robbed of the capacity to dream in a manner that drives progress because of counter-productive, brain numbing religious experiences.
But why are we mad like this? Could it be that we too, after decades of being fed that “God is a magician” who allows you sleep as a pauper and wake up wealthy without having to lift a finger to work, now fully believe it applies to all things?
Or that you can fool around in school for 4 years and after one night of vigil, without ever visiting a library to study, all your grades will magically change and become As?
Or that you can take a loan for an ill-thought out business idea and after the business fails, God will magically “disappear the records” of your loan and make you debt free?
I don’t know which God you were introduced to, but the one I know says you reap what you sow and even if you don’t know God, nature, the universe, karma are very explicit that you reap what you sow or as we Nigerians prefer “as you make your bed, so will you lie on it”!
Personally, I see a trend: you cannot sow stupidity, bad planning, inefficiency, incapacity and expect to reap wisdom, organized society, efficiency and success. If you know how or where, please teleport me to that planet.
We want a good country, top notch education; we want a better life, we want success, we want improved standards of living…We want the very basics of life but what are we willing to give? We can’t even have decent, realistic & proper expectation of our leaders.
We want criminals who cross-carpet and receive instant forgiveness as famously quoted and captured on TV, to suddenly and magically desist from their evil ways?
A fish cannot climb a tree! No, it has nothing to do with the tree nor training the fish better; it’s a capacity issue that’s drawn from a simple case of unrealistic (let me say, un-educated) expectation. And personally, I’ll rather get a monkey to climb the tree than pray for a miracle for the fish to do it. I know God can do all things, but I also know monkeys climb trees and if God wanted fish to do it, it’s not my fasting that would change what sensibility can fix.
Back to our lecturer. If you don’t value performance and you were content living as a mediocre PhD holder, then no you won’t strive to improve performance of academia.
If you didn’t value courage and strength of character to rise above your own mediocrity as Deputy Governor, Governor and Vice-President, then no, you won’t demand anything but mediocrity from those around you.
And for our General; if you didn’t value education while in school nor over a 30 year retirement; no, you won’t value it now.
If when you’re ill you see it as normal and “within your means” to fly abroad for an “ear infection”, then no, you won’t improve healthcare for the common man.
And no, the madness isn’t your incapacity, nor your failure nor your lack of vision, the madness is my expectation.
When Joseph de Maistre said “a people get the leaders they deserve”. I thought he was insane but now, I see different. Different because it isn’t about individual conviction or choice but as a collective. So, even if I, as an individual, believe that I deserve far better than I have ever received, however as a collective, we have either chosen, allowed, been complicit about or encouraged the largely sub optimal leadership we end up with, I pay the price as well.
We, the people, did this to ourselves.
Written by Zeal Akaraiwe.