Nigeria on Fire : To Your Tents O! Nigerians V – The Unconcerned Professionals

 

A group of Nigerians came together at the peak of the June 12th crisis in 1993 to declare themselves as Concerned Professionals with a solemn vow to dedicate themselves to the genuine promotion of the progress and development of Nigeria. This writer salutes their courage and dedication under a political climate of fear induced by the then agents of a satanic government. It is therefore auspicious to take our cue from this group of Nigerians as we try to look at those professionals who hitherto had shown no concern whatsoever to the issues that pertain to their fatherland.

A professional, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, is a person ‘belonging to or is connected with a profession’ or someone who is ‘engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation’. In other words, every skilled worker is a professional. However, in the academic certificate over-conscious Nigeria, a professional must definitely be university educated and must be a registered member of one of the prestigious professional bodies. Fair enough. For the purpose of our analysis this classy definition of professional will guide us to narrow down the scope of our attention to some specific class of professionals in Nigeria. Our professionals, therefore, are: the accountants, the lawyers, the engineers, the architects, the surveyors, the estate agents, the bankers, the insurance brokers, the economists, the financial managers, the planners, the managers of all sorts and classes, and the academicians of course.

These groups of Nigerians have actively dictated, directly and indirectly and by their actions and non-actions, the macro-economic performances of Nigeria since independence. These groups, apart from the prodigal sons, are the crucial links of Nigeria with the outside world. They are the ubiquitous go-betweens with the world of foreign investors, manufacturers, international financial and banking services, the importers and exporters and such like. This group of Nigerians by the volume of transactions they have helped to conduct or have facilitated can be easily described as the mover and shaker of the Nigerian economy. It will therefore be safe to suggest that if Nigeria would have succeeded or will succeed into a progressive, industrial and developed economy, these are the Nigerians who could have or who can make the dream come true.

Frankly speaking, can we vouch for this group of Nigerian professionals ? Knowing their past records, such as:

  • Their unconcerned attitude or hypocritical concern to the larger issues that go into the building of a nation state;
  • Their turncoat habits on issues of morals, ethics and principles;
  • Their eagerness to collude, collaborate and co-operate with all enemies of the people of Nigeria who are bent on our underdevelopment;
  • Their parasitic existence as seen in the self-centred tendencies to trail after the honeypot without making any contribution in the cultivation of the beehive;
  • Their obsessive attachment to shallow monetary success and vain conspicuous life styles and consumption;
  • The lack of originality in their work as seen in their copycat and mediocre output even in the areas they claimed competency;
  • And their cowardice in the defence of the ethics of their profession when threatened and harangued by the prodigal sons.

Knowing the above few traits about our professionals, would it then be wise to put our trust on the judgement of these elite Nigerians to move our nations forward?

It is quite easy to put all the woes of Nigeria at the doorstep of the military boys and the civil servants, who are the most visible elite in the ruin of the nation. However, a little reflection shows that the real woodworm voraciously eating and destroying the foundation of the Nigeria State are the professionals. When economists want to differentiate between the productive and non-productive sector of the economy, they use the words private sector for the productive sector and public sector for the non-productive sector.

This artificial division goes further to paint a larger than life contribution of the private sector to national economies. Such as their unencumbered efficiency in both resource and financial management; their almost magical abracadabra investment capability; their immense and immeasurable contribution to wealth creation of nations and so on and so forth. In other words, if a nation is doing well it is thanks to the efficiency of the private sector. If it is doing badly, it is the fault of the public sector. It is on the basis of this self-serving economic wisdom that some professionals in Nigeria, along the usual copycat fashion of the western world, are clamouring for the privatisation of the government corporations even within the life of Abubakar’s government.

Can this calibre of professionals in Nigeria deliver the goods of development? Are they capable of managing anything apart from easy life of pleasure?

Let us put on our thinking caps as we review professionalism in Nigeria under the following:

  • Question of leadership
  • Education and Social Values
  • Education and Professionalism
  • The Need to Seek True Knowledge

The Question of Knowledge

If there is any anger remaining in the belly of this writer after the lots spilled on the prodigal sons, it is to the class of professionals in Nigeria that it should be directed. A people or society or nation comes into superior well being by the creative and productive actions of few men and women. According to Alfred Marshall, “A strong race has often sprung, in fact as well as in name, from some progenitor of singular strength of body and character.”6 It is from this understanding, I believe, every commentator has identified leadership as the most important factor in the analysis of the socio-political problems of Nigeria.

Although, this writer agrees in principle with this sweeping analysis, it is still important to further identify which leadership – Political leadership? Educational leadership? Professional leadership? Family leadership? Civic leadership? Etc. – these and many others are all forms of leadership in a society. The logic of this argument is that leadership is an all-permeating attribute. It is not an exclusive preserve of political institutions of the state. It is found also in every instance and at every level of social organisation. Of course, if all levels of leadership are statistically weighted there is strong likelihood that political leadership will score highest but still, political leadership does not occur in a vacuum. It emerges as the sum total of the synthesis of all the conceivable leaderships in a society.

We cannot continue this discourse on leadership without borrowing from some fundamental principles that have informed the moral and ethical philosophy of some world religions and even of some scientific doctrinaire teachings. There is a quiet but salient assumption that nature or life is organic. This means that, nature is very unstable or is not static. Drawing on the knowledge of chemistry, we can safely say, there is a perpetual action, reaction and interaction in the affairs of all natural phenomenon. Or from physics that there is a perpetual motion in nature as a result of either the kinetic or potential energy in the body of all things both living and non-living. Therefore, every phenomenon either spiritual or physical is actively in motion and combining with other phenomenon it is in contact with. It is this perpetual organic or inorganic action or reaction that creates new life, new objects, new companions, new languages, new sciences, new values, new philosophy, new leadership, new professions, new societies, new nations and so on and so forth.

It is as a result of these natural actions; reactions and interactions that make each new generation to look down on the past generations as not very bright. A young person in the 20th century western world can not but wonder how his/her ancestors in the 16th or even 18th century managed to cope with life without any of the modern electronic and mechanical gadgets. This fundamental truth, which was revealed to Siddhattha Gotama, the Bhudda of India, was that life and all things in nature are in a state of flux or continuous change.7 Nothing in the universe is the same in character at every point in time. There are always changes occurring from time to time. That we don’t see the minute changes physically as they are occurring is not an excuse to deny this fundamental truth.

The truth is, man and all other creations are perpetually in growth. The only One who knows the final limit of our growth is the Almighty Creator. Man grows in knowledge, which is the fundamental building block of all human development and human civilisation. It is only when a people or society have given opportunities to knowledge to grow unencumbered, it is then physical, social, political and economic development can become possible. Societies, which get themselves enmeshed in myths and superstitions, can never grow beyond the knowledge handed over to them by their ancestors.

By their obsessive unquestioning attachment to the wisdom of their forefathers these societies have wilfully and mistakenly agreed that all knowledge stopped growing after the departure of their ancestors. Therefore, any new idea that challenges the principle of their ancestral wisdom is seen as either an obscenity or heresy that may sometimes warrant a summary execution of the new thinker. Inadvertently, this type of society is saying that whatever truth and wisdom left behind by their hallowed ancestors will hold for eternity.

This is falsehood and it has its root in ignorance. As every enlightened soul knows, ignorance is the greatest sin of all, that is, if there is any sin at all. This mythical belief common to all societies that are frighten of change, is contrary to the laws of nature. Since nature is not static and will not begin to be in the twenty-first century, it is important for us to situate this crucial fundamental truth here and now.

In other words leadership grows and matures like all other things in nature. It combines with several similar factors and attributes in the society to become whole. If all the attributes, which make up the composite are defective there is no how the society can produce anything else but defective leadership.

Education and Social Values

What this section intends to do is to help Nigerians, particularly, the professionals, who are a kind of leader in the Nigerian society, to see why they have failed to make the relevant impact to the evolutionary development of the Nigeria nation despite the efforts of some few patriots. Please, don’t get me wrong, this writer does not want to be labelled a loudmouth or the man from space, I am a part and parcel of the analysis under focus. I am like every Nigerian professional that knows no better. We are the unfortunate class nurtured on an educational diet tainted and polluted with stupid values in school.

The principal doctrine that spurred most of us through school was the inalienable faith in the power of certificate (not education) that will open the doors of material success. We were taught to see academic certificate as the golden sesame-key that can unlock the secret door to a good life. We went through schools and colleges in agony like men and women serving jail sentences in purgatory. We were perpetually dreaming of the day of the final examination when we could say bye-bye for ever to school and learning.

The love of knowledge for the sole purpose of personal growth and spiritual development was never inculcated. We learnt by rote neither understanding what we studied nor cared to understand since we knew the life span of the knowledge being acquired would expire after the final examination. This is the kind of climate that produces the group of Nigerians parading the high streets of Nigeria today as professionals.

Employment was easily assured and so for every graduating student in Nigeria up to the early 1980s, there was that confidence and an almost inalienable right to a good life just because one has spent three miserable empty years within the walls of a university. The three years for most of the graduating students have done nothing to the overall enlightenment of the mind with respect to the fundamentals of the meaning of life. The period merely bloated up the superficial egos of our students but it has not made any dent or change in the original world-view or fundamental values of the final product – ‘the graduate’.

The three years never succeeded in shaking the graduates to the core of their traditional beliefs. It never opened their eyes and minds to intellectual self-reflection that is guided by logical thinking. It failed to give them a reasoning skill that could stand them in good stead for life and that could enable them, with confidence, put every parochial philosophy under the searchlight to determine its relevance or non-relevance to life of today.

In spite of the emptiness of the certificate held by our graduates, we demanded as a matter of right, all the privileges society can bestow on its kings and queens. Housing in reserved areas; transport in cars never in buses; clothing, only imported of course; and for food, foreign preferred please, etc. This is the background of most of our professionals – Very low in theory, principles, ethics and practice of their profession but very high in demanding and taking privileges, seizing and hoarding unearned honours, coveting and grabbing money and engaging in superfluous consumption. By the nature of the values of education bestowed on us, creativity and productivity are distant cousins and are practically anathema to our life goals.

With this short introduction, it will be appropriate to look at the genesis of the problem of our professionals from the precinct of the academic institution that produced them.

Education and Professionalism

The political history of Nigeria cannot be separated from the educational development or underdevelopment of Nigeria. Hence, the history of professionalism in Nigeria cannot be divorced from the political history of Nigeria. The swing and turn of the Nigeria’s history have contributed negatively as well to the value system which informed the ethics and principles of work. The ‘erudite’ scholars who populated our higher institutions are themselves the products of a retarded social and political milieu. In normal situations, the academicians are supposed to be the light of their societies. By their callings, they are supposed to be dreamers and visionaries who use the principles of scientific inquiry as the tool of modern divination. By their perpetual concern and engagement with issues pertaining to knowledge and the search for fundamental truth of life in the area of their particular chosen interest, they are expected to lead their society in truth and wisdom to a higher level of evolutionary development.

Alas! What have we got in Nigeria’s academic institutions? We have a pack of blind lost souls, empty in knowledge, vision-less in its acquisition, spiritless in their devotion to truth and lacking in commitment to uphold even the old archaic received principles and knowledge. And because they are lifeless and devoid of the truth of life that comes from true knowledge, they were easily swept aside by the forces of ignorance, wickedness, callousness, greed, tyranny and fear, which were the springboard and the hallmark of the powers of the prodigal sons. How and why did this counter-revolution of ignorance happen in the Nigerian ivory towers?

According to Walter Moberly in The Crisis in the University, “university had some responsibility for shaping moral as well as academic values within an ‘intellectual aristocracy’.”8  If one agrees with Moberly, then the professional academicians in Nigeria should be able to serve as the intellectual, ethical and moral barometer of the nation. Therefore, the standard this group sets in their personal and professional lives should be good enough for all of us. However, they failed. They could neither set any new standard nor have the courage to uphold the old colonial standard.

Hargreaves in The Idea of Colonial University noted that “in the 1940s, very real threats to the quality of work in the new colleges could be seen from two quarters – from colonial administrations preoccupied with a legitimate but myopic concern with training men to fill immediate opening in government service, and from Africans eager to secure the social status and economic benefits which in colonial society attended upon the possession of university degrees”.9 We shall not flog the contribution of the Colonial Office in this dismal performance of our academic institution but we shall recognise that they did what they had to do under the then prevailing circumstances. We shall also agree with Hargreaves that, “the most striking success of the Asquith Colleges was in fulfilling their primary role as a ‘colonial universities’10 – in building up facilities for the education of an undergraduate elite…”11

However, what happened to the thinking faculties of our “undergraduate elite”? Why couldn’t they see through the wool of colonial blindfold? How could they not understand the political game being played by the departing Colonial Office? What a pity! They could not understand because they were too intoxicated with the unearned privileges of their higher educational qualification, higher social status, and higher economic benefits to see anything else. It was enjoyment galore.

It is a simple case of a man reaping where he had not sown. The colonial government built up the administration, the infrastructure and the institutions but all our elite graduates could see and think about was how to push the colonial administration out and take their places. They never bothered to analyse the philosophy and the goal of the whole colonial operation. They thought they could easily fit into the system like a piece of mended broken furniture. Yet, they expected everything to sail smoothly afterwards. What a foolish thought?

The final straw that made nonsense of the whole university project came under the military administration of Yakubu Gowon in the 1966-75. After 1975, it became worse and worse by leap and bounds under the succeeding military administrations that followed. The illusion of any ideal the university community held before 1966 was finally shattered when Yakubu Gowon invited a few of them to serve in his cabinet or in government corporations. These lucky patriots returned to the university after their profitable meritorious services to the nation reeking of and wallowing in wealth. The conspicuously rich new life style they brought back was the envy of their colleagues who were left toiling in the classroom during their absence. These were the lecturers who had to stretch themselves to the limit to cover up for the vacuum left behind by these lucky patriots who were serving the fatherland.

However, when these patriots returned to the ivory tower, their colleagues were shocked and embarrassed by the newly cultivated rich manners – pipe-smoking, wine-guzzling, cigar-chewing, glittering limousines and so on. The question on the lips of colleagues was, how did Dr or Professor so and so came about this conspicuous wealth? How could Professor Jibiti (fraud) afford the tuition fee of his children in public schools in the United Kingdom? How did Dr Jankoriko (bandit) acquired his landed properties in Victoria Island or other posh areas in the country? The colleagues marvelled at such luck. They were amazed and naturally some of them were envious of this mysterious good fortune.

In no time, these crops of patriotic academicians who served their fatherland ‘profitably well’ became the new light of enlightenment. The dawn of renaissance was born in the Nigeria’s university. A new value system was created which accepts wealth acquisition and accumulation as a worthy pursuit even by dons and eggheads. The university community forgot to define the moral yardsticks under which wealth acquisition could be called permissive or inordinate.

From then on and until now, every ambitious academician set his or her eyes on a call from the prodigal sons to serve in government as cabinet member, adviser, consultant or any other duties the government of the day deem fit to create for our hungry academic professionals. The academicians have since formed a triumvirate with the prodigal sons and the politicians since 1966. Every military administration needs the presence of Dr Barao (thief), Professor Olodo (thick head), Professor Onyeoshi (robber) and Dr Agba-Ofo (empty barrel) to decorate his cabinet and earn some respectability. In other words the academicians became the third arm of the tripod stool of political legitimacy for military rule in Nigeria. And so till today, our academicians have become fully drawn into the rat race craze for money and the shameless game of political mudslinging.

The academicians have become so corrupted that even the administration of University campuses can no longer be democratically organised anymore unless by fiat of the military administrations. The Vice Chancellor’s post in each of the campuses have to be lobbied for and given to the most favoured lapdog among the Professors. It is sad to see that professors of history, political sciences, law, philosophy, sociology, business administration and economics can no longer organise a self-rule university government or administration except when aided by outside unconstitutional powers. Then let us think for a moment about the fate of democracy among the real illiterate masses in downtown Ajegunles of the larger society. The Holy Bible was clear about God and Mammon, the two do not agree at all. Are you still wondering what God has got to do with the university?

Don’t be a fool. Knowledge is God or God is knowledge.  The food of the soul is knowledge. It is the surest way to Paradise. It is the only commodity that can set man free and free indeed. Money does not, it enslaves. This little wisdom passed our dons by and so they were overwhelmed by the desire for material success like their next of kin in the motor spare-part trade or the military boys or the politicians. They forgot about goodness, virtue and excellence as taught by the Greek philosophers.

It is a common story often told with glee but with a sigh of regret by the academic elite of Nigeria: how embarrassing it was for them whenever they stand up to address the village or community gathering where they have nothing to offer but ‘empty’ words. Of course, it will be empty words because the speaker is not a living soul. He or she has no life in him and so the words flowing from such a mouth could not be anything but empty. The don will describe how the village rallied around and hailed the illiterate ‘business-man’ from the city that donated bails or bags of cash to the development fund. And how he quietly left the gathering in shame while no one was looking. What a double shame?

Our pretending don has missed his/her calling. He/she is not supposed to be in the Ivory Tower. If as a professor of anything (living or morbid arts or sciences) he/she has not overcome this kind of base desires. We have loads of them who cannot hold a half-an-hour seminar without a note even on subjects they professed a professorial expertise. Many students spent the most boring parts of their lives under professors that have no clue whatsoever about the subjects they are teaching. I did. I don’t know about you, though.

These are supposed to be the guiding lights of our nation. These are the men and women that are supposed to kindle the fire of knowledge in their wards. Alas, they are the blind men leading other blind youngsters and so everybody ended up in a ditch. This writer has a recollection of two lecturers who I had the misfortune of passing through their courses in the university. I will like to share with you these experiences to buttress this important point of intellectual abuse of the Nigerian students.

The first lecturer took me through two years of academic hell on a course that was fundamental to my degree programme. On the first day, he wrote his name on the blackboard without registering any emotion either of joy or sorrow or happiness or sadness. No spark or tit-bits or verbal stimulation of any kind. It was like a radio broadcast to the class. With a cold unsmiling face, he began to lecture. By this I mean, he opened a notebook and started to dictate. He only stopped when a student asked him to repeat a word or a sentence. When a student asked a question on the meaning of a term or concept he just dictated, our lecturer will merely go back to his note and repeat the line in question. He could not explain anything in his own words. After some few boring weeks, I was lucky to discover the book from which he lifted his notes verbatim from the library and so I stopped attending the lecture.

The second lecturer was also reading from an age-worn notebook. However, I never found the textbook from which he copied the notes until I accidentally discovered some old teaching notes of a deceased lecturer kept in a cupboard in the department laboratory. These were the notes of the late lecturer used some four years before my time when my second lecturer was a student in the same department. Apparently this lecturer just brought his own student notes that were copied while doing the same course years ago under the late lecturer and read verbatim to his own students. Nothing added in spite of all the new books and new theories that had emerged in the area under focus. This is no fiction. It is a true story.

The above is the familiar historical genesis of our professionals. How can the students raised under this non-nutritional educational diet grow into anything but diseased-ridden, anaemic, powerless, life-less, blind, deaf and dumb ‘profe’ – what!? These are the men and women found at every level of our institutions beating their chest and claiming to be more professional than any professional found anywhere in the world. Of course, because they are the greatest fools (those who do not know and do not know that they do not know) they became mere mercenaries aiding and abetting the international communities of fraudulent business groups who do business with Nigeria.

On a platter of gold, they have delivered every battered head of Nigerians to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, international commercial banks, financial investors, multinational conglomerates etc., just by share mental laziness and ignorance. So, how did we expect our professionals to be concerned about our plights, our under-development, and our rape by those who see themselves as ‘superior’ races both within and outside the country? How can they speak on our behalf when personal interest is the only motivation for all the actions they purportedly took on our behalf?

As we said in the opening paragraph of this section, we commend the Concerned Professionals who are spearheading a new renaissance in the country. But a word of caution, it is not enough to be moved by emotions without a collateral base of knowledge to support the ensuing actions. We all need to be cleansed from the intellectual abuse, debris and mud spat on us by our dead teachers and professors. The greatest evil any society can perpetrate on its youngsters is to populate its educational system and institutions with uninterested vacuous men and women who are daily moaning that they are unlucky to be teachers.

If there is any job on earth pleasing to the soul, it is for a human being to have the opportunity to teach others; and to groom the next generation with all the knowledge they will need to move the boundary of human development further and further. It is a spiritual calling and only those who have the calling should take the job of a teacher.

A teacher should be a spark, a battery, a lighter, a charger that ignites and sets the ignorance on fire. If a person does not have any of these attributes, then he or she has no business in the teaching profession. Our teachers of the future shall be our priests. The true priests are the natural teachers because they are the ones who reveal the knowledge of God to man. The knowledge of God is found in every atom of creation. A teacher is one who has taken time to learn of a part of creation and has no business teaching anybody until that person has found the truth of God in that particular area of interest. Until a person has received the awakening and the rebirth in knowledge and wisdom, such a person cannot be a true teacher.

Each professional therefore at this juncture of our woes, should take time to cleanse their souls. We all need cleansing from the psychological damages of the intellectual rape and abuse inflicted on us by our so-called teachers and professors. We have to re-learn our lessons all over again starting from the first ABC. To all genuine teachers, this is the most difficult task of all – to correct misinformation and wrongly acquired skills. It takes longer than to teach a fresh student the same lesson correctly. To clear our minds of all the junks and debris thrown and piled on us by our dead and soulless teachers will take another lifetime without a divine assistance. This writer now sincerely believes that it is better not to expose a person to education than to expose him or her to a counterfeit and fraudulent education.

The person so exposed will have the pretensions, and nothing else, of being educated and of being enlightened. He will have the pretence of a well-cultured person but it will only be a thing of the outward appearance and never skin-deep since he has not being formed by the all consuming and all re-creating fire of knowledge.  All the things our educated and cultured people pretend to seem to tend to an elaborate unintelligent fraudulent cover-up. This fraudulent pretension becomes more damaging when that person now takes up the role of a teacher. A damaged teacher will of course cause multiple damages to his wards. This is exactly what our universities and schools have been doing to the teeming mass of youngsters that trooped in out of our educational institutions year in year out since the 1960s.

The youth of Nigeria, not even those who earnestly yearned for Abacha, have no qualm about either buying or stealing and cheating their ways through education for that ineluctable certificate. They understand the culture of fraud set down and painstakingly nurtured by their bent and wayward parents even more than the parents. The culture of fraud started very early for most of our professionals and our sick parents condoned it.

The Nigerian parents, who claimed to love their children (a neurotic love, I suppose) will lie to get a child of four or five years old into regular primary class when the age of registration is set at six years by law. These parents will pay any price to get the child into any of the prestigious Federal Secondary schools. They will pay whatever it can cost to get that child a favourable WASC result. They will pay or use their ‘power’ to get a favourable JAMB result and a suitable placement in the university of their choice. They will be much obliged to look into and settle any professor to get the adorable child a First Class honours degree and they will not mind either to arrange a Doctorate degree for the spoilt son or daughter.

Fellow Nigerians, what do you think you are doing? What kind of deceitful and lying spirit got into all of us? These ‘loving’ parents when confronted by truth will claim as an excuse, ‘Well everybody is doing it’. Please for goodness sake because it is done by everybody does that make it right?

How come these loving parents cannot understand that the only true gift a parent can give to his ward is the gift of true knowledge. It can never be a purchased certificate of education. A purchased certificate is worthless and not only that it also kills the soul of the purchaser and the seller.

The Need to Seek True Knowledge

Dear Nigerian Professionals, your soul can only come alive when the light of true knowledge shines on it. Without true knowledge a person is a living dead incapable of true life. We live truly only when the body and the soul of a person are both alive since life is incomplete when either of the two is dead or asleep. A person who lives in body alone is a living dead. Yeshua (a.k.a Jesus) of Galilee went into great length in his lifetime to educate the Hebrews about what to do to gain eternal life and to be free. He talked about being born again. He talked about seeking, searching and asking for God and things of God. All these teachings have been misrepresented and turned into a religion of cronyism.

Believers are indirectly advised against the search for true knowledge. They are advised to just acknowledge and accept a magic name and everything will follow. They became a people of name-dropper. Whereas, the entire teaching of the Teacher was that God is found in knowledge and if a follower truly seeks after knowledge he or she will definitely found God. In seeking knowledge, a person will become born again because his spiritual half, which remains dormant after the physical exercise of being born by a woman, would have been energised and brought to life.

Dear fellow professionals, God is reflected and is present in every atom of creation. Every phenomenon, every object and everything both physical and non-physical, all of them talk and shout about God, The Creator of Heaven and Earth. It is only when we take a special interest in listening, in desiring to know, in thirsting after knowledge for the love of knowledge and not for that lucrative job, that a person can hear the tiny voice of God from the cacophony of noises all around us. Each soul is exceedingly happy when the owner of its body decides to seek after the true knowledge. There is no particular or special field of knowledge through which God cannot be sought. Everything in nature both living and non-living have something to teach about God.

So, dear fellow seeker of truth, it is not only by swallowing the re-touched and self-serving history of the Hebrews or the self-promoting autobiography of Saul alias Paul the apostle or of learning by rote the one-time chance encounter of the Arabs with God that a seeker of knowledge can found God. God is present in everything around us. But you need to devote time to any particular issue that catches your fancy. No two persons can have identical experience of God since we are all made uniquely different. Therefore the insight of God that reaches us is also unique and tailor-made for each person. As a result, any revelation or claim that treats the experience of God as a commodity of common herd experience is not genuine.

However, one thing that is fundamental to a true knowledge of God is LOVE. The true seekers and searchers of knowledge will know when they have found God by the calm and satisfying flow of feeling of love that runs through their lives and by the overwhelming humble disposition that pervade their whole personality. The person becomes truly enlightened, truly awakened and truly born again and the fruit of the new life will show. The telltale sign is the ability to love one’s neighbour as oneself. It is easy to say but never easy to practice unless you are truly born again.

My dear fellow professionals let us get back to those books we hated so much in school. Let us re-learn our theorems, hypothesis, theories and the first principles of our chosen profession. Let us seek to challenge the fundamentals of all the knowledge we possess now. Let us ask each other these fundamental questions:

  • Are the acquired knowledge possessed so far good enough to face the challenges ahead?
  • Are they relevant to the problem of today?
  • Can I engage in original thinking with respect to the areas of my expertise?
  • Can we as individuals or as groups stop the craze of parroting after western experts without due reflection on the relevance of their theories to our circumstances?

Please don’t shy away from learning and from facing the truth of your ignorance or executive illiteracy!  It is sad to say, but it must be mentioned that most of us are practically empty intellectually and spiritually.

Let us wage war on self-deceit and ignorance. A good number of us virtually bought the certificate on which the good life they are enjoying now depends. This intellectual deceit, fraud, pretences, and shamelessness are the weapons pounced upon by our blackmailers (or is it ‘whitemailers’?). All these shortcomings have to be re-addressed.

This writer believes we can do it and the future of our people depends on us. We are the light of Nigeria. Let us clean up our lanterns and let the light shine to all the nooks and corners of this great land. I believe we can do it. The future of Africa is in our hands. We cannot afford to fail.

SAM ABBD ISRAEL

29 January 1999

(To be continued)

NOTES

6. Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics: An Introductory Volume. Eighth Edition. London: MacMillan. 1930. pp. 723.

7. Geoffrey Parrinder (ed.) An Illustrated History of the World’s Religions. England: Newness Book, 1993.

8. Walter Moberly in The Crisis in the University 1949 (quoted from John D. Hargreaves in ‘The Idea of Colonial University’).

9. John D. Hargreaves, ‘The Idea of Colonial University’ in African Affairs, Vol. 72 No 286. January 1973. pp. 26 – 36.

10. Dr O. O. Onoge was quoted by Hargreaves as the author of the term, Colonial University. Dr Onoge used the term while given witness to the Proceedings of University of Ibadan Commission of Inquiry on February 15, 1971.  He defined the term colonial university as “one which paid greater attention to its standing in the eyes of foreigners than the relevance of its activities to the needs of its own country”.

11. ibid. (The British Parliament set up two Commissions to look into Higher Education in the Colonies after the Second World War. These were The Asquith Commission on Higher Education …in the Colonies (1944) and The Elliot Commission on Higher Education …in West Africa(1945). Their reports informed the establishment of University education in the colonies. University College Ibadan was one of them).

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