A New Year, New Mind?
Leonard Karshima Shilgba
Thanking God for giving each of us another year of opportunities of service to him would be appropriate. As leaders in our various corners and at variegated levels, we need a pause and self-examination to ascertain if we have used our influence well: Have we used it strategically in the distributive decisions in order to ease material, emotional, and intellectual distresses of the people that God has blessed us to interact with, or we have rather invested energies and extraneous resources to pursue vanities? The stature of a leader is measured by two major metrics, namely, the positive power of personal example, or what is often called moral authority, and the strategic problem-solving skills. A leader who has become a problem rather than being a problem-solver has compromised trust and threatened potential.
Why do people indulge in vanities? When their understanding is darkened they are separated from the LIFE OF GOD. The darkened understanding is also called IGNORANCE. They are genuinely convinced of the rightness of their choices and journeys in life no matter how injurious they may be to the common social cause. You may ask, "What is the cause of this ignorance?" The answer is simple: The blindness of the mind.
When the mind of the leaders is blind their society loses direction because there is no clear vision, which is the sight object of the mind.
We must intelligently and modestly determine how much is ENOUGH for us personally on the recovery trajectory to escaping the crude lusts of this life. It is only this escape that frees a man from CORRUPTION.
Quite a number of us leaders in Nigeria profess religion, but not all religion is godly. If we do not care for the oppressed or keep ourselves from the blots of the world, our religion is neither useful nor helpful. We must learn from history. One generation of leaders comes and goes. Ours will pass one day. Are we ready for the Great Day of Accountability (GDA)?
Our obscene accumulation of material wealth far in excess of our discernible or legitimate streams and means of income is not only a testimony of the blindness of our mind, but has also become an irritant to the preponderance of neighbours who believe we have abused the opportunities they have given us, and, consequently, widened the lake of material poverty into an intimidating ocean of poverty. Nothing earthly continues in perpetuity. Either we have an epiphany of needed awakening or the mass reaction will stop our inner corruption. The latter would be more damning, while the former would be more self-satisfying. The choice is ours.
Permit me to be selectively specific:
The art of legislation requires nifty minds and persuasion, and if our legislators lack both, social injustice and poverty become prevalent. What is the legislative agenda of the present national and state legislatures? There is no strategic direction I can discern. Yet, brilliant legislative work can reduce poverty and check the excesses of the Executive. It is not the work or duty of a legislator to go to their constituency or district to distribute packages of food and a few wads of money to their constituents (who have been deliberately and strategically impoverished over the years) while they have not cobbled any pieces of legislation to address, for instance, the excessively high cost of borrowing to finance business ideas; high cost of production and living instigated, in part, by the cocktail of high VAT increase, high electricity tariffs combined with epileptic electricity supply and distribution by a privatized sector that has so been for more than 7 years, hiked cost of common fuel, and official but artificial devaluation of the naira; disorderly and dismal quality, but high cost of medical care without an effective public health insurance law; horrible national and state infrastructure such as roads and trap bridges; poor services Nigerians suffer at the hands of service providers such as telecommunication companies, cable TV companies, etc.; insecurity in the nation, etc.
Legislators who understand their briefs can craft intelligent laws and put up effective oversight signatures to solve the above problems. If they only lament like the masses, and throw up their hands helplessly while passing blame around, they have failed, and are undeserving of both their present offices and higher ones.
Many State Governors in Nigeria have killed the local government system and thereby worsened poverty in Nigeria. For instance, they do not release the monthly FAAC allocation to the Local Government Councils (LGCs) in their State. Consequently, those councils are unable to provide the poverty-reducing services required of them by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (See the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution). Besides, those governors hardly allow stability or public accountability of the LGCs, as they are often changed soon after they are INSTALLED. No transparent elections hold, and so the people are not involved in electing the council members, who are thereby accountable to their governor, not the people in their Council Wards! By this impunity, the governors have destroyed democracy, worsened poverty, and stolen the national revenues of the Local Governments Areas.
How can an enlightened mind justify the shutting down of public universities in Nigeria for more than eight (8) months? How does this benefit the students or the university system? I think the National Universities Commission (NUC), which has the overwhelming statutory responsibility to manage and oversee federal universities, must sit up to stop such and similar academic compromises henceforth:
1. If a university (public or private) shuts down in the midst of an academic calendar (due to staff strike action or student riots) for a week, due NUC accreditation visitation should be denied for three (3) months; if it shuts down for two weeks, due accreditation visitation should be denied for six (6) months; if it shuts down for three weeks, due accreditation visitation should be denied for nine (9) months; if it shuts down for four weeks, due accreditation visitation should be denied for one year, and NUC must not accredit any degree programs at such universities until the Vice Chancellor is removed. Furthermore, NUC should blacklist from its visitation panels (whether Accreditation, Resource Verification, or statutory Visitations) professors and other senior staff from universities that have shut down in the midst of their academic calendars.
2. If a federal university has shut down for at least four weeks, the salaries of its staff who are striking should be paid to its students during the period as compensation.
We the leaders of Nigeria (academic, political, religious, business, and traditional) must amend our minds before we are forced to.