This passage is not just an admonition to the nation of Israel but an instruction and a forewarning counsel to all nations on the earth, without distinction, and without exception. It is a universal principle. So, when the Bible says that righteousness exalts a nation, it means that righteousness brings a country into favour with God who in turn lifts up such nation. Disobedience to God and rebellion against God brings God’s curse upon a nation. God withdraws his blessings and protection from a sinful nation, and the consequences are
unimaginable. The universal testimony of history attests to the veracity of the principle that the true greatness of a nation and that which determines the progress, peace and prosperity of its future lies not in the quality of its civilized population, nor its intellectual or technological advancement, nor yet in its political sagacity and tolerance; but in the quality of its moral rectitude in all its conducts, both in its private, public and international life as dictated by national set of values of the country.
This problem of neglecting the obvious problems of our moral failure is well entrenched in our psyche as Nigerians, we will rather simply blame the leaders, while we the populace dwell in self delusion that we are fine. These sentiments are repeated over and over again by well respected Nigerians. I’ll like to also quote from one of our iconic Nigerian leaders in literature because he came up with a concept that is now widely embraced by most Nigerians.
“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”—Chinua Achebe
This quotation is probably the most popularly known statement on the failure of leadership in Nigeria as a country. However, when it comes to this question of leadership, this is one area where I will beg to disagree with the doyen of Nigerian literature. Let’s examine his statement in details.
Chinua Achebe wrote “…there is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. . . ” Really? As a patriotic citizen of Nigeria myself I can easily understand where Chinua Achebe is coming from when he says there is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. When I read such a statement from him or any other Nigerian, I cannot but be sympathetic to their cause. The truth however is far from that statement. There are many things basically wrong with the Nigerian character until we consciously develop a system that’ll change them.
The things that are wrong with our national character are not just the things that are being manifested today; many things have been wrong for a long time before now. Let’s face it. We as Nigerians have issues that we must address in regards to our character and behaviors in general.
The notion that there is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character cannot be right by any means. Do you mean there was nothing wrong with the basics of our character when:
- Our people were making human sacrifices before the emergence of missionaries on our land
- Most of our people were killing and murdering twin babies
- Our people will bury innocent citizens with their deceased kings
- Our elites and aristocrats sold their fellow men into slavery in their millions
- The rulers owned everything and the citizens owned close to nothing
- Our people would marry 3, 4, 5, 20 or more wives. What does that do to the psyche of our young ladies?
- Our people would force their daughters to go through the rituals of circumcision
- Tribes and people groups annihilated other groups just because of some flimsy excuses
- Some of our people actually practiced cannibalism
- Our politicians easily amass to themselves the wealth of their people while the rest of the populace live in abject poverty
- Students and ordinary citizens are bragging about getting an opportunity to eat of the national cake
- We need “long leg” and connection before we can get matters of significance resolved
- Our people are willing to take other people’s lives to make money rituals
- People are more afraid of witches and wizards than the God of heaven
- Parents families and relatives send their children for prostitution abroad
- Our people are willing to traffic drugs that kill other people, both within and outside the country, just for them to make money
- Parents bribe their way for their children to get admission into higher institutions
- Examination malpractice is so rampant among our students
- Advanced fee fraud (419) originated from our country
- Children are willing to sacrifice their parents and parents ready to sacrifice their children just to have money, fame or wealth
The list of those things that are wrong with the basic character of our people cannot be exhausted in this here. We all know most of them. I already referred to this when I highlighted the corrupt value system of our people. We need to address it, we need to face it. Every nation under the sun has its own issues. Those countries that have faced their issues and challenge themselves to change are those we now call civilized countries.
We want to run to these societies because they have faced and challenged their demons. They have admitted their faults and have changed their ways; hence they were able to build progressive and prosperous societies that everyone of us would rather go and live in today. As I have said earlier, our leaders are only a reflection of who we are as a people. If the vices I mentioned above and more had not been so prevalent in our nation and character, there was no way we would have produced leaders with these evils.
Sunday Adelaja is a Nigeria born leader, transformation strategist, pastor and innovator. He was based in Kiev Ukraine.
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