On Goodluck Jonathan: Luck is not enough
If I stood before the unapproachable throne of the Almighty and He asked me to choose one item from the list—Luck, Strength, Courage, Understanding, and Grace, I would definitely not choose Luck. Let me tell you why. There is an illusion that comes with luck
right unto the doorsteps of a man's soul. Luck creates an illusion of achievement where there is no labour. Luck disarms a man of the necessary barometer of self-assessment; it darkens the thin veil that shields human faults. You have not arrived on the wings of luck; rather the journey has just started when luck pushes you unto the dais which is only fit for those who have tasted both the bitter pill of defeat and the sweet wine of success. Luck carries with it the burden of responsibility, to prove yourself to those who hold the consensus that you are undeserving.
Luck does not qualify a man for leadership; it questions his ability to lead. Luck does not necessarily come with excellence; it makes you the cynosure of prying eyes, coloured with the question, “Can you excel; can you distinguish yourself now?” The burden of leadership cannot be borne by those who never prepared for the opportunity. Truly, if you did not prepare for an opportunity before it came, you might waste it. Luck could be a wonderful thing, but that is if you prepared for it. The winds must have blown in your direction the suspicion that the opportunity was coming. That nudge that whispers the question: “What if...?” must be unmistaken.
There are many books on leadership. But there is something about leadership that I know; it is not conferred by luck. Luck, for instance, does not prepare you to solve societal problems. Problems don't go away by just wishing so. Luck can bring you only so far. But solving problems, which is the fastest way of assuming leadership (at any social level) involves something outside the field of luck. When the trajectory to the rostrum meant for leaders is so smooth, without corners and points of vertical tangency, only preparation can keep a man up there. In Nigeria, it is common to hear people say, “Only God gives power.” Although this statement is in itself true, its obvious intendment is false. It is generally used to imply that God does not make a mistake, and so it is immoral to question authority. This is blasphemy! The preparation of the heart is man's responsibility; the answer of the tongue comes from God.
For those who don't believe in the existence of God, let us just agree that I mean the power behind all creation—the power behind luck and fate; the cause of the big bang. So, God answers in accordance to the preparation of our heart. Luck may shoot us upwards, but heart preparation will confirm and establish us. We are all called, but we confirm it by our response. The grace of transformation appears to all, but only our personal choices make us learn from its teaching, and inherit the benefit of its salvation.
By their works, it can be concluded that foolishness lies deep in the heart of many of Nigeria's leaders, whether they be in politics or out of it; in the academia or not; in business or out of it; in religion or atheism; and at home or outside the home. Through foolishness, they have made Nigeria to register very little or no accomplishments in her seasons. The religious leaders of the nation have succeeded in hypnotizing many to “wait on the Lord and pray.” We have been urged to pray about so many needless self-contrived crises without asking questions. We are taught that luck smiles on the faithful, not the hardworking. Pastors collect our “tithes” and threaten us that “those who don't pay tithes will go to hell,” or that “things would be tight for those who don't pay tithes.” Almajiris are sent out to beg for their Mallams. Some religious leaders get bribes, gratifications and gifts of various sorts to “pray” for our political rulers. Priests at different shrines have now taken over the affairs of different parts of the nation as the political rulers only do as they are instructed by those priests. Human blood has been disgustingly spilled by the men and women in public offices as requested by the priests and religious leaders in the quest to be relevant politically.
We wait for our luck or “answered prayers.” The “men of God” live luxuriously while their congregants slide further down the pit of poverty. Well, “prosperity has not come to you because you don't have faith.” In fact, with all the uncountable worship centres in Nigeria, Nigeria is still swimming in man-made problems because we “lack faith” as a nation, isn't it? This generation of Nigerians must know something about works and faith; strength and courage. We must know that national strength protects our individual strength, and that every nation is as strong as the sum total of the strength of its constituents. Understanding is necessary to lead Nigeria at this time, not luck; understanding that, depriving one part of Nigeria of justice is denying the whole nation of peace.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, you need more than luck to steer the ship of the nation. Let me tell you your fears that must be discarded:
1. You are afraid of making “too many enemies”. Some books on political power may urge against making “too many” enemies. The problem with this counsel is that it does not define what “too many” is. I have published before that less than 18,000 Nigerians take more than N1.2 trillion a year of our commonwealth. At our protest, the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) made some pretentious noises last year about reducing the remuneration of public officials. They are quiet about it now; the news media has not followed up the issue to a logical conclusion; it is so typical (See my article, “On salaries of Nigerian public officials”). That number includes you Dr. Jonathan. If 18,000 out of a population of 150 million Nigerians is “too many”, then I wonder what I was taught in the University about comparisons. In Nigeria, more than 70 percent of the people live below poverty line. If less than 30 percent of Nigerians constitute the “too many”, then we must examine the relevance of English language in Nigeria. If one million Nigerians are the problem of Nigeria, make them all your enemies; if they are 10 million make all of them your foes. Dr. Jonathan, when President Abraham Lincoln of the USA was killed, Secretary Stanton stood by and said, “Now, he belongs to the ages.” He was shot and killed because he dared stand against injustice in his country; he stood against man's inhumanity to fellow man in America. Though dead, he still speaks today. Why should you be too pre-occupied with a dull long life when you may well sacrifice it for a good cause—the liberation and redemption of the nation? This sounds tough, doesn't it? But tough times require tough leaders.2. You may be afraid of being exposed where you may have compromised. This should be your least worry. Expose yourself and resign if you may. But first, take those redeeming actions on behalf of the nation. If you are heavily compromised, then you have lost your moral authority.3. You are afraid for your loved ones and associates. Luck has imposed on you a burden. Prove yourself. You must by your actions choose to “belong to the ages.” Don't limit yourself by your filial love or any other besides the altruistic. From now onwards, consider yourself as belonging, not only to this generation, but also the future. You must take steps that must positively serve both.4. You are afraid of your future political relevance, and concerned for your godfathers' wishes and interests. For the former, only shoddy leadership will corrupt. Read my article entitled “On Yar'adua's incapacitation, the constitution, and a dream.” I am not a prophet, but you should ponder over what I wrote in November last year. Neither President Obasanjo nor any other “strong man of Nigeria” should scare you. It is in your hands to reform the electoral system and place in charge of INEC an unimpeachable character. You could engage a similar character as the Inspector General of Police. And if you win the confidence and admiration of Nigerians in the next few months, no godfather can stop you. We the people hold the real power if you cooperate with us rather than with destroyers of Nigeria. The fear of man is a snare.5. You are afraid of being labeled a “tribalist” should you take steps that seek to enthrone justice. Justice dispensed retains its pristine character, irrespective of whether or not the recipients thereof are your folks. “This gospel of the kingdom must be preached first in Jerusalem, then, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth.” May you have understanding in all things.
For each of us human beings, our present life is the capital whose investment determines our relevance in the ages to come. Our works and words either make us adored or disdained by future citizens of the world. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said few hours before his death, you, like anyone, should love to live a long life; but longevity has its place. Just do the Lord's will and by your deeds, “belong to the ages.” Jonathan, Jonathan, although many see you as a dry stick, remember that ancient event when a dry stick budded overnight. You shall bud overnight; but it is all in your hands. Luck has done its part, do yours.
Leonard Karshima Shilgba is the President of the Nigeria rally Movement (www.nigeriarally.org ) and Assistant Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria.Email: [email protected]