Charles Dickson argues that we are a nation without remorse, where no one holds up to their responsibility.
At each stage in our lives, we build rafts to get us from one level to another. Pushing through Boundaries (How to create epic outcomes in life and business) —Innocent Usar
It has been a while since I read voraciously a work by a Nigerian author without dropping it. I kept reading till I was done, because not only was it well written, but I could relate to it, and it made me reflect again on the construct called Nigeria.
I do not know exactly what was the driving force for Innocent Usar, but for the barracks-raised lad turned great man, the journey through the book Pushing Through Boundaries (How to create epic outcomes in life and business) is indeed one of shared learning and teachable moments. With 43 chapters and 307 pages well-crafted into six parts, I cannot pick out which is my best part.
Reading through the first part reinforced my learning that Nigeria is where we are today because our leaders and citizens (A) do not have an aware mind, and (B) do not know the power of an aware mind. As a cautious optimist about the Nigerian project, what is the unknown? As we head toward 2023, what does our mind hold? If Nigeria was a puzzle, is there a missing piece, or is it a jigsaw all completely gone wrong, a nation of people just running “kitikiti and katakata”?
So, let me share this: in February 2019, Egypt’s transport minister resigned following a deadly train crash in Cairo that killed at least 25 people, leaving scores injured. In India, the administrative head of the nation’s railways, AK Mittal, resigned in August 2017 after two train derailments in five days in the northern state of Uttar; it was not the first time; sometime in 1999, there was a resignation too.
David Cameron resigned in June 2016 after the UK voted to leave the European Union. Afterward, the then Prime Minister said he was resigning after a divisive referendum campaign, bringing an abrupt end to his six-year reign. The British people made a big decision to reject his pleas and leave the European Union.
Same Cameron stepped down as chairman of the advisory board of the Afiniti software company in November 2021 after its founder was accused of sexual harassment and assault by other people.
In Nigeria, there are no boundaries, no limits; our minds are not aware! The question, then, is, in Usar’s words, succinctly shaping reality… As we move along, nothing is new. When one listens, we hear a cacophony of noise. The thoughts are scary. The glasses are stained, the visuals are blurred, and the perception is vague for a nation and people that cannot agree on one thing. Leaders that are stiff-necked have followers that are guided by primordial sentiments. We do not resign, because there is no remorse. No one holds up to his responsibility.
When I look at the debate on where the next President should come from, I borrow copiously from Usar’s word of caution that a map is not the territory. Our difficult differences and the odds, among many other factors, have left us a nation where our people cannot simply deal with the hard truths.
The story told by Usar in the chronicles of a barracks boy before he embarks on discussing language can be best understood when we look at the recent brouhaha between Apostle Sulieman and Pastor Bakare’s attacks on the Igbo nation and the reactions all in the battle towards 2023. When you look at and listen to the retinue of people who want to be politicians, it is clear that this country is not ready for a mental shift.
One country and its people are stuck in a whirlwind of nothingness, and the government is having a hard time explaining the pardon that it gave within the bounds of constitutional power, but one that has a lot of consequences for other people.
The Nigerian project lacks the essentials of teamwork that Usar alludes to. The Chrisland Sex tape makes the last part of the book a treasure. I asked myself, how are we measuring up on the scale of integrity? Where is the vulnerability in parenting? Is this the generation of going through the motions, where most decisions are taken with the fear of missing out? In other words, rather than getting it right, we are probably tripping on a pedestal.
Innocent, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, certainly knows that if we use his Epic Outcomes Matrix, there is a huge difference in political rhetoric and reality. We are again on a one-chance journey. The country called Nigeria is at another stage. Are we building rafts to get us past this level, or is it a case of people that are consistently and consciously destroying all that we stand for?
What do we stand for? Who are we? What is really working in Nigeria? Banditry, terror, abductions, and killings by unknown gunmen are torturing us. Every part of the country is afraid, but no one is brave enough to say that a country that should be making a big difference in the world is being terrorized from all sides.
Pushing Through Boundaries is a book that every Nigerian leader should read, and every citizen must read, with a pen by his/her side, taking notes. Sadly, we repeat, “that to hide information from the black man, put it in a book.”
We are losing it. There is a need for the many Users of this nation to stand and be counted. Very few things put a smile on the faces of Nigerians these days, but with Innocent Usar’s book, I again see the resilience, the Nigerian never-say-die spirit. We may still be able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat because, as it currently stands, the story of the barracks boy seems to be a story told once upon a time in Niagara Falls. I am afraid that we didn’t start well. Can we end well?
Dr. Dickson is a researcher, teacher, and media practitioner.