By Mustapha Olurinola, Nigeria
It is easy for us to cast all the blame on our government as though we are saints but the question is are we not as guilty as the very government we accuse? The typical Nigerian views corruption as the sin committed by our leaders but is this really true?
In Nigeria, we as citizens are guilty of corrupt practices from our schools to our churches. For instance, our students no longer see a cogent reason to go to school or to read their books. From the primary school level, pupils have learnt to imbibe the culture of passing exams by all means no matter how dubious the method. Of course, the immediate reaction is to blame the students for lacking the moral backbone to resist the temptation. But let us not forget the teacher who refuses to come to class to teach regularly, the teacher who helps the student solve the question papers and the principal who pays invigilators to look the other way.
Let us not forget our footballers who slash about 7 or 8 years off their age just so they could fit into the under 13 team at age 20. Let us not forget affidavits sworn to in court that tell no iota of truth, the ‘change’ you gave out to jump the queue, the pirated copy of Tu Face’s CD you bought, the lie you told to sell your goods at exorbitant prices to make undue profits.
We all are guilty.
For Nigeria to indeed become a better place, we as Nigerians need to take out some quality time for introspection. Are we really who we think we are? Do we not aid, abet and commit the very crimes we criticize? As an Anglican bishop, Westminster abbey once said:
When I was young and free
and my imagination had no limits,
I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser,
I discovered the world would not change,
so I shortened my sights somewhat
and decided to change only my country.
But it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt,
I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me,
but alas, they would have none of it.
And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize:
If I had only changed myself first,
then by example I would have changed my family.
From their inspiration and encouragement,
I would then have been able to better my country,
and who knows,
I may even have changed the world.
So, next time we pray for Nigeria, and we are tempted to say ‘father forgive our leaders’ pause and say ‘father forgive us,’ for our sins as citizens are innumerable.