If you are a theologian, attended a good Seminary/Bible College, or just an avid reader, you would have come across an interesting book by C.S. Lewis called The Screwtape Letters. It involves 31 letters between an experienced demon and his young apprentice (nephew). The main aim was to promote sin and basically make “the Patient” fail in his Christian faith. One lesson embedded in The Screwtape Letters is the advantage of distraction. In other words, you can use distraction to prevent someone from living the life they were meant to live and achieving their destiny. For Christians, it means that the devil may not be interested in getting you to commit a particular sin, but instead will use distractions to prevent you from living a fulfilled life. These distractions can take the form of being busy in church activities, watching an excessive amount of TV, being online, materialism etc. So, you should always pray against distractions. Make sure you are not on a treadmill or bicycle going nowhere – full on activity but getting nowhere like the mice or someone in the rate race

Let us make an analogy with the current political clime in Nigeria. Our citizenry get easily distracted and lose focus. There is a lot of media hype about the suspension of a South-South governor and just this past week about the suspension of a minister from the same region. These “suspensions” pertain to one political party. Of course, 'they” also do not want us to forget the hoopla about the “truly” elected Chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF). The interesting part is that NGF is neither a constitutional body nor an entity with any legal standing. I might as well constitute a body called “Nonessential Preoccupied Nigerians” (NPN – no relation to a political party) and start making noise.

We are also preoccupied with whether or not the President will run for reelection under his party or jump ship. As he has “stated”, he does want to be distracted from the affairs of government. Stop speculating whether he had anything to do with the election posters posted all over Abuja earlier this year. It could be the work of the same “good” detractors that also posted Lamido/Amaechi posters last month. These phantom detractors are experts at distractions. Maybe we should start putting the adjective “distractors” before the noun “detractors” to qualify them.

Even the zoning issue is a distraction from our leadership focus. Should we not as Nigerians be looking for men and women of integrity that are qualified to lead (not rule) us, without being overly concerned about their ethnicity or geo-political zone of origin? We are so distracted by our culture of “entitlement” as opposed to “merit.” I had a conversation last night with a forensic psychologist friend based in South Florida. At that time, I was still racking my brain about the contents of my piece this week. I had already chosen the title. In our conversation, he stated that we have an “emotionalized democracy” in Nigeria. It was the first time I heard that phrase, but I immediately understood what he meant, even though he indulged me and went through the trouble of explaining himself. The crux of his hypothesis is that we are ruled by our emotions in our Nigerian democracy. As a result, I am expected to vote for an Urhobo man or an Ukwanni woman man because that is where my father and mother are from, respectively, even if there is a more qualified candidate from Isoko. It is the same mentality that allows us to perpetuate mediocrity and overlook the sins of our brothers & sisters because “na our own personal person.” Do not be distracted by jingoistic or ethnocentric preoccupation. This is nonessential when it comes to true democracy. By the way, who is my true brother or sister?

The internal wrangling or arrangements of one political party are also a nonessential preoccupation at this time. Furthermore, our democracy should be matured to the level where we examine not just pedigree but also records of accomplishment. If a politician does not have another profession, he is more than likely going to look at an election as do-or-die because he does not have anything else to fall back on, and will not allow you to remove food from his table. Most people do not understand that the minimum requirement for elected office in Nigeria is school certificate. However, should we accept that as the minimum qualification when we have so many unemployed graduates? On the hand, given the moral depravity in our university and the fact that many graduates cannot defend their certificates, should we not take a shoemaker who is morally sound and wants to genuinely serve his constituents? We should be looking for essentials instead of majoring on the minors.\

There is clearly a big security challenge facing us, along with a massive culture of corruption that hangs like an albatross over our neck as a nation. Let us not forget our energy/power crisis. These are essentials. We need to industrialize our nation and stop exporting our raw materials, only to import the finished products at exorbitant rates. These are essentials.

In one of the latter letters, Screwtape while trying to encourage irresponsibility, states the following: "(God) wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them."

God help us to stay focus and responsible as a Nation.

Prof Alex O. Atawa-Akpodiete is an author, Computer Scientist, Educator, Consultant, lawyer, Political Analyst, Public affair analyst & Social commentator. He has a Doctorate degree in Jurisprudence from the US. He has lectured Law, Ethics and Security & Intelligence Studies at the University level here in Nigeria and US. He also writes for a state daily newspaper & national monthly journal. He currently divides his time between Nigeria and USA where he runs a PR and an international capacity-building firm ATAWA GROUP. Contact him on +1(917) 972-2034 or +234(0)8138391661 or [email protected] He is also on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Articles by Prof. Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete, Esq.