Tale of Two Nigerians

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Nigeria: A Nation of 75% Idiots, 20% Tribespeople and only 5% Citizens?

Against the backdrop of the trial of Hushpuppi on multiple counts of internet fraud and other related charges on various aspects of criminality in the United States another Nigerian “Lieutenant Victor Agunbiade was awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Development Medal for his exemplary accountability. According to the US Navy, Agunbiade effectively managed its largest cash disbursing office handling $45 million which is approximately N17 billion.

The money accounted for approximately 70% of its overseas disbursing volume.
According to the award citation, Agunbiade earned the honor while serving as cash disbursing Officer at the navy’s Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, between October, 2019 to July this year.
“Additionally, he managed 100 per cent accountability of 23 million dollars (N8.7 billion) across six rigorous inspections and independent audits with zero discrepancies. By his unswerving determination, wise judgment and complete dedication to duty, Agunbiade reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States naval service” the citation read.
Agunbiade enlisted in the US Navy as a storekeeper in 2008 and was commissioned as a supply corps officer in 2013.

He has always displayed a high level of professionalism while discharging his duties. In 2018, Agunbiade was named the Navy’s 2018 Officer Recruiter of the Year, alongside 17 others and honored at the annual Recruiter of the Year ceremony in Washington D.C.”
The same Naija but different persons: what is the explanation?

“According to the ancient Greeks, the founders of modern civilization, there are three kinds of people in any society; The first kind of people in any society are the idiots, not necessarily mentally deficient, but rather one who is a totally private person; totally selfish and totally self-centered (sometimes donning expensive suits, uniform or agbada).

The idiot is always out for his personal gain and his personal interest. He does not have a public philosophy, he has no character, no knowledge and no skills to live by and to be able to contribute in a flourishing society or community. He is all out for his personal pleasures and his personal treasures. The Greeks said the idiot is just an upgraded barbarian – you see them every day in society. They are the ones who form tadpole queues and drive against traffic. They toss litter freely out of their cars and appropriate our commonwealth for their personal use; The Greeks refer to these are the IDIOTS.

The Greek also said there is a second kind of person in any society called the tribespeople. Tribespeople does not necessarily mean belonging to a certain tribe; which is not bad in itself, but when the Greeks used the word tribespeople, they meant a tribal and a tribalistic mentality. The Greeks said the tribespeople are those not able to think beyond their small tribes and their small social groups.
For the tribespeople, the primary, only and ultimate allegiance is to their tribe. Their tribe is their god and their religion is tribalism. Tribespeople are always afraid of things that are different or are a little alien to them. They are always suspicious and fearful, and they always deal with different people and difficult situations with intimidation, force and with violence. The Greeks also said the ideal person for tribespeople is the warrior, because tribespeople are a war making people.

But it was not so for the Greeks, for them, there was another kind of person, and that for them was the ideal person, and they called this ideal person the citizen. When we use the word citizen we are not talking about legal status or political status or the accident of birth; those are outcomes. We are talking about the idea and ideal of citizenship – which is a choice.
Who then is the citizen you might wonder? the citizen according to the Greeks is someone who has the skills and the knowledge to live a public life, and able to live a life of civility. The citizen recognizes that he or she is a member of a commonwealth and thus strives for the common good.
The citizen knows his right in a society but also knows his responsibility to society. The citizen can fight for his right but always with an awareness of, and with the respect for the rights and interest of others; of their neighbors, of the smallest minority and of their worst enemies.

It is citizens, the Greeks said that make up a civilized society, because citizens settle their differences with civility, they produce a civilized society, a society that truly lives up to the meaning of the name society. Society literally means friendship and friendliness.
This is the threefold distinction that the Greeks have given of people in a society. That is the choice that each and every individual, whoever he or she may be, has to make in a society.
Indeed, no sovereign can make any significant advancement when the number idiots and tribesmen far outnumber the number of citizens. When we conducted random surveys on the various cohorts of Delegates at the Ausso Leadership Academy, the perception is that; about 75% of Nigerians behave as idiots, 20% as tribespeople and only 5% as citizens. Do the results shock you enough to want to do something about it?
Nigeria is her people; If we want to see change, we have to start by being citizens of our country. According to Maria Robinson “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

The foregoing was nailed by Austin Okere, the Founder of CWG Plc, the largest ICT Company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange & Entrepreneur in Residence at CBS, New York. Austin also serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Business School Network, and on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Austin now runs the Ausso Leadership Academy focused on Business and Entrepreneurial Mentorship.

Winter is Here!

So suddenly:

New York ‘the city that never sleeps’ is now asleep, all quiet.

Paris the ‘center of romance’ lives in echos.

Rome ‘the eternal city’ is deserted.

Disney is out of magic.

London is caged in silence, the Queen speaks to her people from a hidden room.

Mecca is empty! Nobody to ‘stone the devil’.

The Chinese wall is no longer a fortress.

The G8 nations are speechless.

The developed world suddenly on its knees.

Churches, mosques, great parks, monuments, stadiums are filled with unfilled spaces.

The busiest places at present were hitherto the most dreaded: hospitals and cemeteries.

The famous football leagues, the fashion shows, exotic weddings, festivals all lost to memory.

Celebrities have run out of celebrations. Our titles, status and privileged positions are stale.

With all our boastful ‘citizenships’ we cannot step out of our houses. With all our savings in gold and cash, we can only buy food to eat and toilet papers to take care of the waste.

We usually went to watch animals in cages, now animals roam our empty streets, watching us in our ‘cages’.

With our expensive clothes and shoes, our house clothes and pyjamas are the latest fashion.

AND despite all these ‘oddities’…the world still goes on; the sun still shines; the birds still sing.

When this long night finally gets over and a new day sets in, let us not forget the lesson of the long night – that the only essential is LIFE, the rest are but dispensable prefixes and suffixes –

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Just begin

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A very inspiring tale to encourage you.

Just after I received my fee structure from Moi University for my PhD, totalling N850,000 in 2012, I met my dad, Alhaji Abubakar at Cooperative bank in Kaduna.

I explained to him that I had the admission letter and he smiled.

I told him however, “Baba, there is a problem. They need N850,000.”

He held my hands, then slowly but reassuringly, said, “Just begin, my son.”

To ensure his point went home, he got into his account and gave me N14,000 in an account that had N20,000.

I was touched.

I added N16000 and paid N30,000 into the account, and my journey to PhD began.

Today, having reached the dream, I remember the words of my father.

In everything you do, always remember, JUST BEGIN.

Just begin, no matter how difficult it seems to be.

It appeared to be difficult, but as time lapsed, I realised dad was right.

At some point after my defence, I gave up.

I still had a solid N300,000 to pay and they wouldn’t give me a chance for my final defence.

Then came a very unlikely help.

I had supported a gentleman to undertake a project evaluation two times in the year.

I received his call cautiously asking me to meet him.

He was carrying a brown envelop in his hand.

He began, “Aliyu, you will forgive me if you find my action inappropriate. For two consecutive times you have given me a job without asking for a Cent. This is very unusual with many people. I did not know how to approach you, but I am deep with gratitude. Please accept my small gift.”

I quickly peered into the envelope and saw they were two bundles, likely in hundreds.

He confirmed that it was N200,000.

I told him, “I have helped so many people, many known to me, some were my school mates who never returned a Cent. God bless you. Please don’t give it to me. Pay it straight into the university account.”

I couldn’t believe it.

The words of my father, “My son, just begin” came to mind.

Don’t worry how it will end.

Just begin.

If you are building a house, just begin.

If you are planning to buy land, just begin.

If you want to continue with your education, just begin.

If you want to pay dowry, just begin.

Nothing is more powerful than that advice.

We just need to begin.

And I have revised this philosophy.

Whenever someone is doing something, I always encourage them to just keep trying.

When things get thick, I always say, keep walking.

When things are intimidating, ignore.

Let’s keep trying.

Don’t give up on life just because your challenges appear to be insurmountable.

Do not be defeated before you begin.

Whatever looks like a mountain will soon become an anthill…but only if you begin.

Not long ago, someone asked me, “Aliyu, are we going to manage to build the office we want?”

My answer, “Let’s just begin.”

I believe in the power of starting.

No one loses a race until they respond to the sound of the gun and begin.

The secret lies in beginning.

Overtime, God has seen me through a number of projects because of this philosophy.

I have parcels of land that I acquired by simply paying N50,000…and, overtime, these have multiplied.

I persuade you this day never to allow yourself to be threatened by the size of your problem.

Begin in a small way to do something about it.

If it is lack of money do something small to get something for yourself.

If it is a marital issue, look for a way to solve it.

In whatever you face, just begin.

Even those with big debts can do something about it.

Just begin and it will shrink each day.

I was not a millionaire, but sometime ago, I wanted to have a feeling of being one.

I drew a plan of how to hold a million in my account, at least for a few days.

After some months of beginning, I discovered it was possible.

Three years and half of savings later, I got my first ever million.

Even though I used it later on investments and expenses, it felt so good.

Let’s all begin.

Let’s ignore naysayers and prophets of doom that believe we can’t do it.

JUST BEGIN!

MONEY AND THE MISER

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A conversation between a Miser and his wealth, goes thus:

“Spend me! You miserable clot,
So I can travel, visit and just be.
Have I not uplifted all your lot
With my coming and swelling sea?”

“Ha! See what is talking here;
Another creation grown astray.
Has making you collect near
Lost its purpose as any way?”

“I have existed so long before,
Making many, long before you.
Hadn’t my might sown more
Fright in you than you’ll rue?”

“My fear of you doesn’t keep,
That is why you I do amass.
How trivial your might heap
Just like any furniture was?”

“I taste the air men breathe,
Inhaled in its life and gasped.
Hasn’t the ease I could knit
Warm skeletons all trapped?”

money
“I don’t lodge or host guests
And don’t burden any to host.
Haven’t I seen your requests
Send errands until they’re lost?”

“I plunge in a lake all humble,
Help will come and does drown.
Had not man’s urge so trouble
His lust for his own crown?”

“Then I’ve unraveled your plot,
So with me you’re ever sunk.
I’ll keep man’s own twin clot.
After all, aren’t you precious junk?”

http://okadabooks.com/book/about/8481

POEMS: Swift’s Day & Bat’s Night, Fret, Again, Idols, Money & The Miser, First Pain & Wounds Of The World

SWIFT’S DAY AND BAT’S NIGHT

The cities are a big buzz of motions;
Hurried, rushed, so quick commotions.
All days lift into the very long hurry
That is civilization’s endless story.

Sunlight by they whoosh by busy.
Visible yet blur, their lives not easy.
They lit nights for more and a bite,
Workers and parasitic wonders in flight.

FRET

Knighting glories to seek,
Crows in sunrises forever.
All does becomes meek,
Fret and surely does wither.

Death in its hunger
Fills not its own anger.
Mowing earthly lawns,
It plays men like pawns.

AGAIN

Tomorrow will come again
With its morning and night,
Feignedly new with rain,
In fervent dark and bright.

IDOLS

The patience of man
Had over many ages
Given to his own land
Births of many images.

It has made gods
Of so many symbols;
Earthly made rods,
Also celestial balls.

In his long wait
His patience creates
Answers that relate
Only to his state.

The clouds of reason
Cover his horizons;
Make a sky season,
Or mystic masons.

Sight is so deceptive
That it can tilt a view,
Halo any perspective
With inspired preview.

Man looks around
And sees such beauty,
Beyond any he found
Or his own humanity.

In his natural urge
He pays respects to
Visions and courage,
Where honour isn’t due.

In his all human way,
He puts faith in those
He comprehends’ll stay;
Idolizing his very nose.

MONEY AND THE MISER

“Spend me! You miserable clot,
So I can travel, visit and just be.
Have I not uplifted all your lot
With my coming and swelling sea?”

“Ha! See what is talking here;
Another creation grown astray.
Has making you collect near
Lost its purpose as any way?”

“I have existed so long before,
Making many, long before you.
Hadn’t my might sown more
Fright in you than you’ll rue?”

“My fear of you doesn’t keep,
That is why you I do amass.
How trivial your might heap
Just like any furniture was?”

“I taste the air man breathe,
Inhaled in its life and gasped.
Hasn’t the ease I could knit
Warmth skeletons all trapped?”

“I don’t lodge or host guests
And don’t burden any to host.
Haven’t I seen your requests
Send errands until they’re lost?”

“I plunge in a lake all humble,
Help will come and does drown.
Had not man’s urge so trouble
His lust for his own crown?”

“Then I’ve unraveled your plot,
So with me you’re ever sunk.
I’ll keep man’s own twin clot.
After all, aren’t you precious junk?”

FIRST PAIN

When I felt it happen too;
Like I heard and saw it too.
I died that day that I knew;
I was just me and not new.
Then alive I sprout out again;
Living as all do, after their first pain.

WOUNDS OF THE WORLD

Visible cuts we saw,
Deep set and so raw.
It had the pretty torn
And the beholder run.

Worn with its pride
As any true bride.
A scar from a war
Is like a lion’s roar.

Not on Everest’s peak
Must anyone do seek,
For even on all hills
Are these worlds ills.

The baby that cries,
Steals away and tries;
To be his own parent,
Where he is only sent.

That spouse out back;
Behind one Holy Ark,
Leaves the same vow
Yet remains, some how.

They; as many, are
So near and not far.
Wounds made bold
In this very world.