The Ancient Chinese; Modern Nigerians:
This weekend, I, alongside other passengers, on a journey in a commercial bus, and for the umpteenth time, lamented the well entrenched culture of our security operatives on our high ways. Of course every living adult in this country can guess what we were discussing. The culture of bribe taking on our high ways, and every possible place by our security operatives, has lamentably became a tradition we forced to accept and live with. Every sane person, schooled or unschooled, knows that this common practice is unhealthy for our country. Unhealthy for our well being and our future. What is really most disturbing is the normalization of this unwholesome practice without any bother from any higher up hierarchy within the security circles. If nothing, this “criminal” practice will ensure that we will live in perpetual state of destruction, insecurity and warts and all. Of course, as always, I blame our education for failing woefully to inculcate the right spirits of sincerity, sense of duty, sacrifice, selflessness and patriotism in us.
A story of the ancient Chinese is told of how bad education could render a country unprotected and vulnerable to all sorts of destruction. The story goes:
“When the ancient Chinese decided to live in peace, they made the great wall of China. They thought no one could climb it due to its height. However, during the first 100 years of its existence, the Chinese were invaded three times. Interestingly, every time the invaders or the hordes of enemy came, they had no need to climb over the wall…they simply bribed the guards and went through the doors caused destruction.” (edited).
The lessons gleaned here, as several commentators observe, is that the authorities in the ancient China built the long wall, but forgot to build the character of the guards. In other words, building of the HUMAN CHARACTER is much more important than building structures for protection. This is to say that character building is superior, sacrosanct, and non compromising. It should come before the building of the long walls.
The ancient Chinese was probably more alike to the modern Nigeria in ways we do not imagine. It is evident that communities, ancient or modern, gradually evolve, define and redefine, assess and reassess their strengths and weaknesses and try hardest to refine and develop at reasonable pace on par with their contemporaries. Indeed we have had our share of development as a country: ditto challenges that our leaders, and all other stakeholders in our national life tried to address. We certainly cannot be perfect and I admit, we must have challenges across sectors of our life. But no mindset is more damning and uncritical than those whose minds rationalise wrongs with the impossibility of imperfection. Yes, we cannot be perfect, but we can be smart enough to preserve our future. Yes, we have some good hands in the security circles, but it is clear that the bad eggs far outnumber the good ones.
All the security challenges we face: Boko Haram in the north east, banditry and kidnapping in the north west, armed militias in the south south and south east, and the rest of criminal gangs in the country, all benefit largely and are aided to cause more destruction by our weak, inefficient, characterless security operatives. It is that weakness of our security operatives that allows light arms and weapons to proliferate our country. It is that weakness that makes bad eggs among them cooperate with thieves, terrorists, bandits and criminals to destroy our country. Carry guns or human heads in your car, so long you know how to play the game, you can get away with anything.
Of course, we have hardworking, patriotic ones, few albeit, doing the right things. But we certainly need to go back to our classrooms and build character, inculcate values and instill patriotism. We certainly need to take our education seriously. We need to go back to the drawing board. We need strong made, trustworthy individuals in important sectors for our own sake. We need character more than anything. Employ one million uniformed men and add to the quite embarrassingly inadequate security men and women we currently have, there won’t be much change. Nigeria needs a police man who thinks with its name, and not his stomach. Nigeria needs a custom officer who believes in its cause, not those who take advantage of its laws. Nigeria needs a passionate soldier who would be ready to pay the supreme price, not those who wait for salary and allowances alerts. Nigeria needs strong security hierarchies who think Nigeria not opportunists who could sell the country for a pot of porridge. The enormity of the responsibility can only be handled by truly educated patriots, not those who sell or buy jobs to build mansions or have a job respectively.