Published on May 9th, 2008 | by Olumide1
When You Can’t Beat Them…
I was travelling to Lagos recently in a taxi. On the way, some of my fellow passengers struck up an interesting conversation and I listened with some amusement initially. As the conversation progressed however, I found myself getting annoyed. After a stage, I had to burst in and give them my own opinion, which they labeled as being “unrealistic”. The issue set me thinking, and here it is:
One of the passengers, lets call him Sule, was a retired Civil Servant. According to him, he had been serving in the Nigerian Civil Service with complete dedication and meticulousness. He was god-fearing and diligent. However, his service dates back to the times of military rule in Nigeria. Like all the Civil Servants of his time, Sule was being paid poorly. And just like most Nigerians, he was used to it. He had learnt the art of ‘suffering and smiling’.
But one day came when he could bear it no more. The minister of the Federal Republic who was in charge of his department visited his office. That day, the minister insulted all the workers and punished them unjustly. He ended his visit by suggesting smugly that the workers were being underpaid because every one knew that corruption was the game in Nigeria. He then advised workers who had not yet tasted their share of the national cake to get ‘smart’ and play the game right by learning to steal without being caught.
Sule loved the suggestion. He arranged with other members of staff on how he could avoid going to work and yet he was still being paid. This was his own form of corruption, and considering the circumstances, he felt he was still righteous. Along with many others, he became a ‘ghost worker’. And for the next 11 years, he earned salaries without visiting the office. Better days came with democracy, but he was still being ‘smart’. I met him last month, and he was announcing in that taxi that he had just been retired (he had reached the maximum number of years in service) and he was expecting his retirement benefits. THE WORST PART WAS THAT HE COULD NOT SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH WHAT HE DID!
He’s excuse was perfectly valid (everyone was doing it). His timing was acceptable (he was being poorly paid). His motives were probably even laudable (he had to feed his family). And compared to that minister (and even to the Head of State), he was a saint!
But was he right? No.
Nigeria has been suffering from the scourge of ‘everybody is doing it’. We need those who can stand out and be different. Those who can realize that little drops of water form a mighty ocean and that small contribution to the corruption drive will destroy our future. Nigeria’s problem (and solution) is not in Aso Rock. It lies with the average Nigerian. It lies with you and me.
But I’m just a person! How can I affect Nigeria positively? First, your positive drops of water will one day amount to a mighty ocean. Secondly, we have a very great power we may not know about. It’s simple: If a room is dark and you need to fight the darkness, you can turn on a candle. If it is a very large room, one candle may not make a world of difference. What if you had 2, or 3, or more?
Did you get the point? When you can’t beat the popular crowd, look for some people and teach them your beliefs. Shine your light towards them. Be an example. The people you affect will affect other people. It might not be a very quick process, but one day, you would have succeeded in lighting up the entire darkness around.
BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY!