Sunday, 28 July 2013

Reaching the Point of Breakthrough

Perhaps, there is no limit to the amount of good effort a man should make when he is seeking an opportunity to break through. For instance, when someone is in need of employment, the most important thing is to seek for it relentlessly. Though there is a high rate of unemployment and this readily slashes down the chance of each applicant, you will get the job that is meant for you. But you've got to keep searching and applying. It is your responsibility to make a move at it. And that is where the virtue of persistence comes in.

Failure can be damaging, discouraging and diminishing. But it is now a characteristic of creative persons in the 21st century. Creative people hardly come out with their best until they've made mistakes and learnt some lessons while those who have mentors get to make less mistakes. This process of making mistakes is important because it is enlightening and useful for self-development. If we try a couple of times and throw in the trowel, our challenges may defeat us. But when we endure this tough phase with optismism and keep improving ourselves, a point will eventually come where most of the tall and mighty obstacles confronting us would become relatively easy to overcome. This is what some people call the point of breakthrough.

People refer to breakthrough as the act of gaining an eventual advantage over a challenge, task or obstacle. They believe it is the season when, after several attempts aimed at achieving a particular goal fail, they finally get a positive result. But I think there is more to it. I think breakthrough is the point where even the smallest efforts you make yield good returns.

On the field of play, it is persistence that keeps the football rolling against friction; though some call it force.
In the pursuit of inventions, it is persistence that sustains the curious mind; though some call it passion.
To overcome in life, we will face situations that will require persistence; though how much of it each person needs differs.

Therefore, for us to make meaning out of life, we must learn persistence. Imbibe persistence. And invest persistence.

Like Mr Calvin Coolidge (1872 – 1933) once said,

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
What more is there to say? Get some persistence and grow in it. Then, one day, at a prechosen hour, you will realise that you have reached the point of breakthrough and even exceeded it.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Where Does Your Honour Lie?

Photo Credits:
Adenrele is a young and passionate Nigerian who hopes to see the betterment of his nation. He hopes for a country where majority of young people would be happy and live together with understanding and positive apsirations. He dreams of a Nigeria where everyone would realise that the way forward is to take responsibility for the errors of our former leaders as concerned individuals, supportive families and responsible organisations. Every week, he spares time to disturb God from his room, praying with an utmost passion for himself, his friends and every other Nigerian youth. His request remains the same, "Oh that you may raise more young people, open their eyes of understanding and anoint them with a burning desire to create change and bring about transformation in our nation." Adenrele believes that displaced value for human lives on the part of some leaders coupled with the gradual adoption of corruption as a silent element of Nigerian culture are the basic problems the youth must fight to ensure enduring unity. He hopes that more youths who would challange what is wrong, do what is right and pursue life-changing initiatives would emerge.

Some of his friends believe he is simply fanatic about his country and consider his passion a waste of latent energy. They even refer to him as "Mr Things Go Better". They have advised him to "save his life and that of his unborn descendants by escaping from the national crisis he still calls a country." When they were back here in Nigeria, they knew he also nurtured plans to leave the country and never return. In fact, he was more determined than them all. While they were still together, he would crack jokes about why he is not meant to suffer for the wrongs of past leaders who have carefully stuffed public funds in private safes and set the nation behind. One day, he even told his mother, "When I grow up, I will run away from this country and never return." He did not consider it a threat to the woman who had just one son. He did not care that his siblings would miss him and did not wonder how his father would perceive it. But Adenrele did not know much. He did not know that SOMEONE would cross his path and tell him to join the righting process. He could not see a part to play until the questions, "Where will your honour be and for what do you think men would remember you?" were popped at him.

Later on, Adenrele realised that unlike those friends, he should not migrate to a foreign country, away from his own responsibilities. Rather, he should visit foreign soils to learn, network and equip himself. He was informed that his honour lies in seeking how to salvage the future of the land where he was born. Though he would rather have his children bear the citizenship of a foreign country where things have not gone so wrong, that they may not live as victims of his own passion, Adenrele believes that he cannot go and stay put on foreign soil. But he would like to have his children make a choice on how they want to make the world better a place.

Perhaps, like Adenrele, you are struggling with the desire to do something to solve a problem in Nigeria when you have the option of running away, you too may want to ask yourself two questions. "Where is my honour? Is it here or elsewhere?" The answer will come to you if you listen for it. If it happens that you are one of us, start solving problems in little ways.

Adenrele may be bearing a different first name in reality.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Showdown in Nigeria’s Little Tokyo: Rivers State House of Assembly

“Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” Ecclesiastes 10:17

It is not by riches that noble men and their sons are known; it is by exploits. It is not by aggression nor merry that the strength of princes are shown; it is by discipline. It is not by thuggery that brave men are enthroned; it is through the solving of problems that make people’s living better. We are praying that government in Nigeria will do exploits, exhibit discipline and solve problems so we may maximize our potentials as a people. As we travail and transform ourselves, the least our leaders should do is try to live out the answers to our prayers. But with happenings such as the one showcased below, which the producer has censored “18+”, more Nigerians lose hope.

It is sorry to be reminded that some of our leaders are still engaging physical assault as a means of establishing their opinions. Otherwise, how should one perceive the use of excessive force by one person in expressing the desire to have his acquaintance preferred by the majority?

The recent showdown that took place at the Rivers State’s House of Assembly reminds me of the movie, Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) wherein Officer Chris (Dolph Lundgren) and his policeman partner, Johnny (Brandon Lee), were hunting down a dangerous Japanese drug-dealing squad. The cops were involved in a perilous battle in pursuit of justice. They took the law into their own hands and meted judgement outside the boundary of their jurisdiction. But since it is a movie, they did not actually harm the bad guys they fought. On a light note, we may think of their vengeance as being synonymous to what Tom did to the bull dog in the video below:

In his account on Lost Rights as it relates to American liberty, James Bovard posited that “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner”. But, is that not the situation over here in Nigeria? Or, how does the smashing of carved wood upon someone else’s head affect the price of fish in the market? Who wouldn’t suspect that dangerous wolves have now become leaders? If our leaders are practicing democracy in this awkward manner, how can we, the electorate, perceive that they have our interest at heart?

Here is my final contemplation on this issue. If in the pursuit of your understanding of the meaning of justice, you embark on a violent project such as the Nigerian version of Showdown in Little Tokyo, lifting the mace, pursuing a perceived culprit and striking him on the head, how do you reprove your own child if per chance he or she is caught breaking people’s head in the neighbourhood? Again, we should ask ourselves the sort of leaders who resolve disputes by introducing thugs into the premises of their council to execute vengeance. Maybe we should even ask ourselves what kind of protégés these leaders will raise. Perhaps, we should learn from this experience how to distinguish wolves from sheep.

We are a people who need to continually pray for our leaders to be used as instruments for a good change and replaced by better leaders in future. If it happens that tomorrow becomes worse than today, then this preceding generation of leaders would have succeeded in failing their successors. This idea should humble us all.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Constructive Criticism: Know When to Drop Your Gavel

So, I was through with what I had to do in Abuja. My transit was from Gwagwalada to Central Business District, Area 1 and Jabi. Abuja seemed like a mix of Lekki Peninsula, Victoria Island and select portions of Ikoyi with wider and better road networks and traffic systems. Unlike the former capital of the Nigerian republic, the mistakes made in planning Abuja were obviously few. When it was time to leave, I halted a third cab at section 2 of Area 1. It was driven by a Hausa-looking Yoruba man. Once I spoke to him in Yoruba, he did not charge more than 400bucks to transport me to ABC transport’s office in Jabi.

Inside the Bus
            I had paid for my ticket (seat 17) and was finding my seat together with the woman whose seat number indicated that she would be my seat mate. Finally, we found the seats with the assistance of one of the officials but there was an older woman, whom I sensed to be in her early fifties, occupying one of the seats. Her ticket showed seat 27 but she intentionally chose seat 17. She argued with the rightful seat owner until a security personnel had to intervene. When this woman spoke, I wondered if the fair version of Tyler Perry’s Madea had been mistakenly deported to Nigeria. She verbally fought the security man over the seat, abused the saleswoman who had sold her a ticket for seat number 27 and claimed she was a victim of an accident. Hence, she was not going to vacate the seat. This lady was Madea redefined. The look of her skin showed that she had done some things to it before. She had heavy lightening powder, mascara and lipstick on her face and matched it with a black scarf. Her fingernails had red polish on them while the nails on her toes blinked lemon green. I must confess that I did not know what I was doing when I sat in my rightful seat, very next to her. But I cannot seat in someone else’s seat so, it was my cross to bear.

The Bus stopped over at Lokoja
Within a minute after I sat, she confessed to me that she was not an accident victim and had lied to get the seat. Then, she muttered sarcastically, “God forgive me.” She said, “I am a woman of ... I was running an NGO in Lagos before I moved to Kaduna to become a minister of ...” Without asking her, she told me her challenges. She discussed how people judge and criticise her based on what they see on the outside (heavy makeup and trousers) whenever she went to minister. She said it is what she has on the inside that matters. I kept wondering if my quietness had misled her to think I was judging her in any way. She spoke endlessly and then asked if I was watching Big Brother Africa. “Not anymore ma,” I mentioned. When she asked why, I couldn’t tell her something straightaway so she quickly guessed, “Oh, is it because they are sleeping with themselves? That does not matter.” She opined that only cheap girls go there to misbehave. She also said that watching it would let me know more about human behaviour. I was strongly against some of her ideas but I shut up all through. I believed there was a reason I had to be stuck in a seat next to hers for more than 10hours. I had decided to shut up and listen once she said, “When you sat down, … told me you are my son and I should talk with you.” Sincerely, I found a lot of things moot but her point about criticism aroused some insights on that subject.

Back to Lagos
            Some folks have decided to thrust notoriety on a conservative pastor for the dressing of his son and the son’s wife during their wedding. First, they said he shouldn’t have allowed them get married under such conditions. The minister’s picture keeps appearing on new media as though he is guilty of a crime. Second, it is unfortunate that some have even questioned why he himself remarried after the demise of his first wife. In the first case, the dressing was only wrong because it projected what the doctrine of the pastor’s church does not promote. It is strange that those who do not even attend the church felt most concerned. It was his son (a much younger pastor) and the son’s wife who decided to wed the way they did. Following criticism and the demand for justice, there is old news that the couple has apologised and the young man has been suspended from his pastoral duties. Yet, some people are still hanging around the internet with doctored diagrams carrying various labels. In the second case, I would like to know if people would rather hear scandalous rumours about a pastor than know that the man remarried. What manner of men are these who proffer delicate criticism with closed eyes, blocked ears and open mouths? If you did not know, be informed that problem-solvers are critiques who address sensitive issues with objectivity. Once the problem is resolved, they move on. Perhaps, you should look for something else to discuss with a view to making it better.

The truth is sometimes too bitter for sweetening. Criticism is good when it questions what seems wrong and influences its correction through the promotion of what seems right. But when you carry a judging gavel and keep criticizing what has been justified already, you are simply playing the role of a devil. That is not the way of people who criticise to make things better. Think about it.