At various times in our lives, we must have stopped to ponder and ask ourselves: why did he just do what he did; or why did I say that? When did I become like this? Well, the answer is simple: Nigerians have a book they live by. A book most of us didn’t even know exists. A book steeped in culture and values; a book containing various principles in its several chapters. Let’s take a look at some of the chapters together.
The first chapter to be highlighted instructs us as road users about our consideration for other road users and our disposition to traffic rules. Let me quote a few verses for you: this verse says, and I quote:
“whenever you approach a traffic stop, unless you have the green light, slow down, look around to be sure there are no law enforcement agents around, then zoom off, no matter what the light tells you to do”
Another verse says:
“do not tolerate anybody taking the space in front of you; increase your speed if you have to. And if you cut off someone on his/her lane, do not bother to apologize, it only shows how weak you are; just drive off like nothing happened.”
Some, if not most of us can relate with these verses on a personal level. It’s not as if we plan on doing these things when driving, they just happen. Am I right?
My second chapter of interest addresses us as people in power, authority or positions of influence. A verse says in this chapter:
“you’re not the source of anybody’s misfortune, so pay no attention to anybody’s needs…
It goes further to say:
“whenever possible, use people to your maximum advantage, unless they’re members of your immediate family.”
There is also this verse that says:
“as employers of labor and business owners, capitalism should be our watchword…after all, dictating the tune should be directly proportional to how much the piper is being paid. Drive them hard and appreciate them with as little reward as possible.”
Are we following?
The last chapter I want to talk about speaks to us as subordinates, employees and apprentices.
A verse in it says:
“the welfare of your employer should never be considered. Be concerned for the welfare of the business only because you make your living out of it. Commit the barest minimum of your efforts because you’re not going to spend eternity at the job. Make sure you short-change your boss whenever possible in exchange for the inhumane working conditions you’re being subjected to. Everything you do must be in your interest alone.”
The major qualities these chapters have addressed, if you agree with me, are compassion and integrity…but despite the fact that this very book was written by contributions from you and contributions from me, we certainly are not to blame for it. Most of us had these qualities woven into the very fabric of our existence right from the cradle. And most times, we base our decisions and reactions upon the precepts outlined in these chapters.
The environment we live in, the very system that supports our living has not only taught us to live by these principles, but has also made us believe it’s the right way to live.
Corruption is celebrated, mediocrity is praised, and injustice is tolerated.
In an atmosphere that frowns on sincerity, criticizes diligence and disparages lawfulness, very few people can disregard the overwhelming stimuli that constantly bombard the various senses.
But the good news is that we can re-write these chapters of the book. It takes a lot to re-write a book, but with conscious, concerted efforts, a little from you and a little from me, the entire book will be re-written for the better. Like the proverbial man in the mirror, we will each be the change we desire to see. It may not be convenient, it certainly won’t be, but it will be rewarding and fulfilling in the end and we will one day be able to boldly say, with pride: in my time, these chapters have been re-written for the better in the book of Nigerians.