Piquant realities

2 Jan

I came across this pinpointing article recently. I tagged it “Piquant realities” for its refreshingly provocative nature. Every Nigerian should read this; it starts with you. In point of fact, this reality is relevant even to Nigerians studying abroad.

 


Only the best is good enough for us.
~ Bishop Samuel Adjai (Ajayi) Crowther (c. 1807 – December 31, 1891)  

I doubt if you and I would have been here if Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther had not been kidnapped by Muslim Fulani Slave hunters at the age of 12 in 1821. If Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther had not been exchanged for a horse in a slave trade by barter and later sold to the Portuguese slave traders, Providence would not have rescued him from the Portuguese slave ship, the Esperanza Felix, through the British anti-slavery warships, the Myrmidon and Iphigenia. Bishop Samuel Jayi Crowther would not have been the translator of the Holy Bible into the Yoruba language and compiled a Yoruba dictionary with a grammar book between 1843 and 1850.
Most Igbos are ignorant of the historical fact that the first book in Igbo, Isoama-Ibo, a primer, was written in 1857 by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Then, Bishop Ajayi Crowther wrote a primer in the Nupe language in 1860, and a full grammar book with vocabulary of the Nupe in 1864.
Nigeria has not appreciated the great legacy of Bishop Ajayi Crowther in the history of modern civilization and the nation building of Nigeria.

The legacy of knowledge is the greatest heritage to bequeathe to every age.
The ignorance of the lessons of history is often responsible for the prevalence of decadence in the society, because we have failed to learn the lessons of life from the tragic mistakes of the past.

How do we learn from the lessons of history when most of us are non-literates or intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites? 

Those who cannot read and write are over 76 million in Nigeria and those who can read and write, but fail to learn the vital lessons of life from reading and writing have worsened the calamity of the Nigerian society by being bad examples for the illiterate majority. The so called Nigerian elites are the intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites. They are mostly graduates of the tertiary schools, but they behave like primitive natives. Like a bank manager whose unhygenic manners are so repulsive that you wonder if he ever saw the four walls of a university. Many of them have very dirty toilets that you cannot feel comfortable whenever you visit them. Others cannot converse in English without making you question their knowledge of the language.

I know one man who is 25 years old and a student in one of the Nigerian polytechnics, but he could not read the essay I wrote when I was only 13. 
The appalling state of Nigeria is caused by the prevalence of academic decadence, intellectual ignorance or what I prefer to call intellectual illiteracy.

Nigeria today is a nation of intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites.

How do we define intellectual illiteracy?
As described by Christopher Lasch in The New Illiteracy, 
“Mass education, which began as a promising attempt to democratize the higher culture of the privileged classes, has ended by stupefying the privileged themselves. Modern society has achieved unprecedented rates of formal literacy, but at the same time it has produced new forms of illiteracy.”

Christopher Lasch was addressing a similar problem in America.
He noted that the standards of academic education have been deteriorating even at the Ivy League universities. He made references to falling standards in Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia, while the undergraduates and graduates of these highly esteemed universities are still posing and posturing as status symbols of privilege and prestige in the hypocritical American society and the less privileged are being fooled by their conceit and deceit, because they cannot tell the difference. An illiterate or semi-literate cannot tell the difference between the literati and dilettanti.
Mr. Lasch mentioned said a faculty committee at Harvard reported:
“The Harvard faculty does not care about teaching”. According to a study of general education at Columbia, teachers have lost “their common sense of what kind of ignorance is unacceptable”. As a result, “Students reading Rabelais’s description of civil disturbances ascribe them to the French Revolution. A class of twenty-five had never heard of the Oedipus complex –or of Oedipus. Only one student in a class of fifteen could date the Russian Revolution within a decade.””
~ Christoher Lasch / The New Illiteracy

The situation in Nigeria is worse.
The terrible state of Nigerian universities can be traced to the ignorance of previous leaders who misappropriated the revenue allocations meant for the sustainable development of higher institutions in Nigeria and neglected the welfare of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the students. 
Nigerian universities have been relegated to the bottom of the accredited universities in the world. No Nigerian university is even rated among the best 1, 000 universities in the world and only one Nigerian university ranked among the top 50 universities in Africa at the 44th position.

Nigerian administrators neglected Nigerian universities, sent their children to the best colleges and universities in America and the UK, and then misappropriated revenue allocations to establish their own private universities. But none of their private universities even made the list of the best universities in the world in the latest global rankings. One of the best private universities in Nigeria, the Christian Covenant University is at the bottom of the rungs in Africa at the 98th Position,  

Establishing private colleges and universities is not the solution to the falling standards of education in Nigeria, but making sure that the public colleges and universities are well equipped with the basic facilities and utilities, such as modern classes, laboratories, hostels with clean toilets and qualified academic staff. Most of the teachers and lecturers in Nigerian secondary schools, colleges and universities are not certified teachers. Having a degree is not enough qualification to teach. The teachers must be certified like the graduates of accountancy who must be certifed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) before they can become competent professional accountants.

When the academic faculty is already faulty, then the quality of education will not be up to the required global standards. Poor teachers will produce poor students. 

Before anyone can teach, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You must have completed teacher training through an approved program and you must have successfully completed the appropriate teacher certification tests for the subject and grade level you wish to teach

Investigations have shown that many of the teachers in Nigeria cheated to pass their exams and dubbed projects to earn their diplomas and degrees. When they fail to get the dream jobs in banks or oil companies, they turn to the private schools, colleges and universities springing up daily and they are often employed by these insitutions that are in desperate need for tutors to teach the thousands of boys and girls already given admission. These private institutions have already charged exorbitant school fees in thousands of naira like the so called elitist schools charging over a million naira per session for a single pupil in Nigeria!

The private schools are all over the place, competing with the churches for every available space in the towns and cities in Nigeria. To know how phony they are, you can hardly find them in the rural areas where education is needed most. They are all after the money.

Opening private schools and churches are the fastest get-rich quick schemes in Nigeria today.

To find out the truth, cross check the academic qualifications of the teaching staff and compare them with the standard criteria for teachers in America and the UK. Many of them will fail the common examination for the certification of teachers.

Dr. Suleiman Kano, ASUU President, in a news report by the Nigerian Tribune on June 17, 2007, said:
“I think we should ask ourselves this pertinent question. Do we want to produce graduates for the sake of doing so or we want to produce quality graduates? In the latest ranking of world universities, no Nigerian university made the list of the first 1,000 in the world. This is because of the rot in the system. The government should address the issue and rid the system of the rot. Proscribing ASUU will not solve the problem.”

“This is a country where the government itself says we need 47,000 university lecturers, now we have 16,000. What are we doing about getting the balance? Good students do not want to join academic staff, they prefer to work elsewhere. Many medical students do not get to see, let alone use, the equipment they will need when they start practice. What kind of graduates are we producing?” 

The rot in Nigerian education did not start yesterday, but decades ago. The falling standards can be traced to the late 1970s as chronicled by Professor Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike in his novel, Expo’ 77 published in 1981.
I am afraid that the same Nigerian secondary school pupils who engaged in the scandalous examination malpractices of the late 1970s and were never prosecuted are now the masterminds of electoral malpractices and perpetrators of other horrible and terrible crimes of corruption, the plague of the nation. 

As Jesus Christ said, by their fruits you shall know them.
Millions of Nigerians have been studying and graduating from Nigerian colleges and universities and yet most of them are still intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites, because most of them have been going to school for the wrong reasons. The first reason is for the mere acquisition of paper qualification for the sole purpose of social class struggle in their pursuit of titular status symbols of the social class hierarchy. To secure a dream job, earn a seven-digit salary, acquire a dream house, a dream car and to crown it all, acquire a dream wife or simply marry a woman to bear children who will bear their name and survive them when then die. Finis. Most of them are not thinking of how the acquisition of modern academic or professional education can be the best application for the advancement of modern civilization and as a vital tool for the nation building of a New Nigeria in the leadership of Africa among the comity of nations in the world.

We have over 20 million graduates of Nigerian colleges and universities who can boast of having first and second degrees and that they have written excellent papers, but they cannot boast of other practical achievements we can actually use as indices of sustainable human development in Nigeria. Most of them leave no other legacies than their domestic liabilities.

The majority of Nigerian contributing more to the GDP and GNP are those without any academic qualification. The Nigerian farmers, traders and artisans and not the Nigerian bankers, lawyers, engineers and their fellow so-called educated elites. 

The majority of these so-called educated elites are also the leading intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites posing and posturing with false airs and graces, because most of them cannot tell the difference between Chris Abani and Helon Habila or even tell us what makes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie different from Sefi Atta in contemporary Nigerian literature. Do not waste your time asking them why nobody won the last Nigeria LNG Prize for Science, because they will disappoint you. Yet, they can tell you the names of all the players in the first team of Arsenal Football Club or Manchester United Football Club of England. They can also tell you the full details of bizarre pornographic scenarios of the last Big Brother Africa on cable TV and their fellow intellectual illiterates aping American Pop Idols on Sound City and Channel O and corrupting the ignorant and naïve Nigerian teenage boys and girls with their psychedelic and pornographic songs and musical videos. 

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has failed to regulate what to broadcast and what should not even be authorized on any radio or television in Nigeria. 

The Nigerian lawmakers are busy fighting and slumping over contracts on how to embezzle the revenue allocations and other public funds, so they are still confused about how to address the problems of governance in Nigeria.

The same intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites are in the Nigerian banks, oil companies, insurance companies, and other corporations, so they cannot address the decadence in Nigerian education and social infrastructures. In fact, they are exploiting the situation like the capitalists fishing in the troubled waters in the Niger Delta. 

The banks employ the prettiest female graduates to be trained and used as marketing executives and sent on the mission to hook millionaires to deposit their millions of naira and dollars in their banks. They do not care if the monies were stolen or not. One of these hot legs employed by one of the banks at the zenith of Nigerian banking met me in the office of a young millionaire and was shocked at first sight. Why was she shocked? I knew her as the first daughter of strict Christian parents and here she was soliciting for the favour of a young millionaire who was happily married. She was already willing to date and mate with him. He confided in me that she was sexually harassing him and guess what? She was already engaged to be married to a man who thought he was lucky to have found such a young woman as his fiancée. What an unforeseen romantic tragedy.

The so-called Nigerian elites are the most selfish citizens in Nigeria. Their foolish pride is awesome. As Professor Pat Utomi noted in an interview on the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) published in The Guardian on Sunday of February 3, 2008, that we cannot make a sustained progress, because of the following problems:
§ The Average Nigerian Has Entitlement Mentality
§ We Have No Respect For Dignity Of Human Person
§ We Neglect Culture As A Critical Factor To Progress
§ We Have No Work Ethic and
§ We Mouth Rule of Law, but Operate “Bigmanism”

The last problem, “Bigmanism”, is in fact the worst, because it is the rat race for “Bigmanism” that makes Nigerians to become corrupt, from the Ivory Towers to the Corridors of Power and from the street to the pulpit. The lust for perishable social status symbols drives most Nigerians to exploit all means possible to acquire their dream cars, dream houses, dream wives and other highly coveted trophies of vain glory at all costs, without respect for the rule of law and without scruples. 

From the social anomie of intellectual illiteracy and intellectual hypocrisy, let us address the spiritual anomie of spiritual hypocrisy as demonstrated and exhibited in the Christian churches and Muslim mosques.

Hypocrisy is simply fooling yourself while thinking you are fooling others. 
The spiritual hypocrites use religion as the camouflage of their dubious lives. They pay lip service and eye service to God, but are incorrigible cheats, liars, crooks, rogues, prostitutes, and other evil fringe elements.

How would you describe the politicians who claim to be Christians and Muslims, but engage in rigging elections and the misappropriations of revenue allocations? 
How would you describe a woman who claimed to be a Christian and swore in her oath of office to abide by the Federal Constitution of Nigeria, but within 100 days in office, she was already engaged in corrupt practices? 

Are these Nigerians cursed to do evil?
How can anyone who claims to be a Christian or Muslim pay an adult employee N7, 000 (seven thousand naira) only monthly in the present harsh economic realities in Nigeria? 
N7, 000 is less than N300 per day. 
Can any adult live on N300 per day in Nigeria? 
For feeding, housing, clothing, transportation, health care and water supply? 

The same so called Christian or Muslim employer will later go to the church or mosque to thank God with a N500, 000 (five hundred thousand naira) donation to the pastor or Imam. 

Some are even reluctant to pay their poor workers the monthly salaries, but they are praised in churches or mosques as generous and pious members?

How can a Christian or Muslim maltreat the employees and underpay them, so that they would remain poor and underpaid and cannot even improve their living standards?
A true Christian and Muslim will treat the employees as God commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. 

I cannot send my children to one of the best schools and deprive my employee of the means to do the same for his or her children. 
A true God fearing wealthy employer will sponsor the children of the poor employee and treat them, as you would want your children to be treated and not treating them like sub humans or even like those Frantz Fanon called The Wretched of the Earth.

What the spiritual hypocrites call class struggle or the rat race is nothing more than intellectual arrogance and ignorance.

I have seen the parade of ignorance
In the masquerade of arrogance.

Look at the life of Jesus Christ and emulate him or stop pretending to be a Christian when God knows that you are not.

Ninety-nine percent of those who claim to be “Christians” in Nigeria live unchristian lives shamelessly. There is nothing Christ-like about them, they have contravened every command Jesus Christ gave those who believe in him, and how they should live their lives after him.

I have seen childish and foolish mannerisms among those who claim to be educated Christians in their daily lives.
They do not even respect their elders and cannot even pick up the broom to sweep their surroundings clean, but when they go to church, they are genuflecting and prostrating before the pastor and rushing to clean the pews all in their childish and foolish conceit and deceit. What they would not do in their foolish pride at home, they pretend to do in the office or church to curry favour or to impress those they think will never know or see their true colours. 

I have traveled and stayed in four regions of Nigeria and I have been active in Christian evangelism since my childhood. I have worked for both Christian employers and Muslim employers for years. I see little or no differences in the characters of these so-called Christians and pagans in Nigeria. The only difference I have seen is the different places of their religious worship, but as the so-called Christians leave their church and the pagans leave their shrine, they end up in the same company of partners in crime in the public sector and private sector. In fact, the pagans fear their juju more than the so-called Christians fear the Almighty God.
Pagans who swear on their juju hardly break their vows, but the so-called Christians break their vows even before the sunset.

Who is fooling whom?
The fools who think they are fooling others.

Personally, I would be pleased to make a public display of such spiritual hypocrites as Jesus Christ did. but by their fruits, you shall know them. 

Christianity is not by force.
The churches and mosques are more interested in the members who can give them more offerings and tithes and other donations.

The fact is, most Nigerians judge themselves by the amount of money or status symbols they have been able to acquire or steal.
The moneybags of the rat race and the title chasers are often eulogized and honoured with chieftaincy titles and other awards, while in most cases they have contributed little or nothing to the development of the Nigerian society, besides the donations they made to the church or mosque.
How many Nigerian Christian or Muslim millionaires or billionaires have built free homes for the poor and needy Nigerians who need comfortable accommodation? But the same Nigerians gape and mope at wealthy Americans building and giving free homes and vehicles to their poor and needy Americans in the Extreme Makeover, Home Edition on ABC TV. But how many of them are emulating such good charities? What are they copying? They are busy aping Big Brother House where a young Nigerian woman shamelessly exhibited her naked body to the whole universe in her desperation to win $100, 000 (one hundred thousand dollars) only, but did not win in the end. Tomorrow, a man would be proud to marry her? 
Or the Nigerians aping the epileptic dancers on American musical videos, but do not know how to emulate the young Americans inventing technological wonders online and offline.

Is it not a great shame that Nigerians know how to copy all the bad things in America, but fail to copy the good ones? 

Now the Nigerian apes are calling every occasion red carpet event, without any clue of the history of laying red carpet for dignitaries. Dummies are walking on the red carpet in Nigeria. 

What awards have we given the most brilliant graduates from Nigerian colleges and universities?
What is wrong in giving $100, 000 (one hundred thousand dollars) only, to the most outstanding Nigerian student every year?
Must they strip and bathe naked on TV before we can call them stars and reward them?
Must they ape American musicians and singers and lip-sync to computerized music before we can applaud them and give them awards?

We prefer to celebrate Reality TV prostitutes, gigolos, musical illiterates, and other fringe elements than celebrate Nigerian geniuses in colleges and universities and the unsung geniuses on the streets.

The list of the agonies of the ironies of the anomie plaguing Nigeria is longer, but the solution is quite simple and short.

We must celebrate our geniuses, not intellectual illiterates, and intellectual hypocrites.

We must celebrate meritocracy and not mediocrity.

We must stop wasting over $70 million daily on recharge cards for the GSM phones in useless and unproductive conversations and imagine what would happen to Nigeria if we spend only half of $70 million on buying the works of remarkable Nigerian writers, composers and inventors monthly.

The best way we can appreciate God is by the appreciation of the wonders of His creation in humans.

The developed countries are rich, because they have been appreciating themselves more than the underdeveloped countries. 
What you sow is what you are going to reap eventually.

Our banks and other corporations must stop wasting millions of naira on the sponsorships of immoral and non-intellectual TV shows and other extravagant events and spend the money on seed grants for Nigerians who can start cottage industries to boost the Nigerian economy. 

Dr. Pat Utomi has many success stories of how charity transformed the lives of many poor widows in Lagos and helped them to educate and train their children to overcome their poverty and become living testimonies of prosperity through wealth creation projects. 

We must be honest, transparent, and stop paying eye service and lip service to the best practices of work ethics, values, and virtues of a better Nigerian society.

Leadership is best by example. 
We must not compromise with bad people or bad leaders. 
We must reject bad people and bad leaders.

God said as written in the Holy Bible, that we must not accept the persons of the wicked.But ironically, wicked people have become the best friends and business partners of most of the so-called Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

We all know the truth, so let us stop all these nonsense in Nigeria and do the right thing always and do that which is best for Nigeria and Nigerians, because as Bishop Ajayi Crowther said, only the best is good enough for us, so we should not settle for less.

Michael Chima

God bless Nigeria. 

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2 Responses to “Piquant realities”

  1. Steve Araba January 2, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    I believe in the truth spoken about Nigeria, as education is becoming more and more useless with more value attached to the certificate and location from where it’s got, than the intelligence and character learnt… which is the true aim of education.

    Good thought line Michael… with the likes of you around Nigeria still has a hope in the future they profess to seek, but know not how to find it.

  2. Tunde Adebanjo March 21, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    Good write-up! I think this article had spoken the truth situation of Nigeria in general. The decadence of Nigerian societies seems to be unsolvable. I read an online newspaper (saharareporters.com) to be precised and i was so astonished to read that only 5% of the total candidates that sat for 2009NECO exam were able to make 5 credits include(maths and English). I was so distraught to hear that. But I still don’t lose hope yet and i think Nigeria is still savable if all us (progressive youth) could start making a change by rising up to the challenge to rid off these bunch of evil rulers patrolling themselves as a leaders.

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