Do the poor actually get poorer? Rhetorical question I must say, because it seems to me like the catchphrase “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer“, frequently used in discussing economic inequality, is said just to satisfy the laws of writing rhymes. A poor man is poor. Take anything more away from him, then he is dead. So what state would probably be worse to receive the comparative suffix “er”?
Just as the north and south poles never meet, the catchphrase emphasizes the divergent relationship between the rich and the poor. But there exists ONLY one commonality; “God makes them all”. He makes the rich, to LOVE and GIVE to the poor and makes the poor to HUMBLY RECEIVE from the rich. Thereby fostering a relationship, between them, that can only converge, survive and blossom in an atmosphere of LOVE and HUMILITY.
During a ‘poverty and the poor’ discussion, Confucius said: “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of and in a country badly governed; wealth is something to be ashamed of“. Since a country is made up of a large group of persons, we can say: “To a person well informed, poverty is something to be ashamed of and to a person badly informed; wealth is something to be ashamed of”. Information empowers and that power is all it takes to make wealth. Give all the wealth in the world to a man that lacks information (knowledge), you are only wasting precious time and resources fuelling his poverty. Poverty is a mindset; not a “pocket-set” and we must graduate from the low level of thinking that has made us believe that poverty is a state of not having money to spend; not being able to afford or get what you want. Delineating poverty that way is like defining a noun as a name of any person, animal, place or thing. This was true to a level, but we grew up and more was expected from us. I remember how a teacher asked me in secondary school to define a noun and when I gallantly delivered the above definition thinking I had done justice to the question, she replied “that was very good for primary school, now give us a definition that proves you are now in a secondary school”. I slowly and shamefully took my seat, not having any idea what to say to prove to her that I was smarter than a fifth grader. I looked around to see if any other hands were raised to answer the question but there was NONE. Then it occurred to me, that life is in stages and everything advances as we grow, including definitions. The more reason a 7th edition dictionary supersedes the 6th because the definitions have been improved and new words have been added. Now poverty is a state of lacking not just money, but also the mental power to process and make effective use of available information. And a noun is not just a person’s name, or that of an animal, place or thing, but also a word or group of words that represents an activity, a quality or an idea, which may also be used as the subject or object of a verb. Going by the above definition, then a country is a Noun that represents the activities of the rulers, maybe “leaders” (as the case may be), and that of the people, as well as their qualities and ideas, which help us to decide who is the subject and/or the object of those activities.
Now let us break down the above definition using Nigeria as an example. We are all, through the media, familiar with the activities of the leaders and people of Nigeria, so I will not bore you with them again. I only want us to establish a relationship (if any) between these activities and their proportion to the qualities and ideas of the parties involved.
Ideas start as “thoughts”. Write down the vision (in Words); make it plain upon tables, that he who sees it may “RUN” with it. To run with your ideas is to act on them (action). And a compilation of a group of the same or sometimes different actions describes your Activities. When we critically study the trend of a man’s regular activities, both the seen and the hidden, we can tell what material he is made up of i.e. his Qualities. Simply put, in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Choose your words, they become actions. Understand your actions, they become habits. Study your habits, they become character. Develop your character, it becomes your destiny” i.e. thoughts (ideas) = words = actions = habits (activities) = character (qualities) = destiny. If we pick a present Nigerian Leader, for example, and reverse the above equation, starting from character, putting into considerations that any given process involves “TIME” and we add a time frame of say 10 years to each of these milestones, then his character (qualities) at the age of 65 depends on his habits (regular activities) at the age of 55, and those habits depend on his actions at the age of 45, and those actions depend on his words at the age of 35, and those words are a direct result of his thoughts (ideas) at the age of 25. Unequivocally proven, this is an indication that the qualities of our leaders today (who are mostly between the ages of 55 – 65) are as a result of their ideas when they were still youths (an average youth being between ages 20 – 30). Therefore, the answers to the question “what are the qualities of an average Nigerian leader?” are latent in the answers to the fundamental question “what are the ideas of an average Nigerian youth?” and the answers to the latter question determines the activities that lead to the former.
Yesterday’s Children are Today’s Youths; Today’s Youths are Tomorrow’s Leaders. Yesterday’s Youths are Today’s Leaders; Today’s Leaders are Tomorrow’s Godfathers. NIGERIAN YOUTHS!!! What are your thoughts? What ideas do you have for yourself, your immediate environment and in turn, the entire Nation? King David was never clueless. Even as a child, he had a sound character and saved his people. David Adegboyega, in his book ‘Sound Character: A Maxim for Successful Future’, said: “building your character traits is not an overnight business“. AGod-fearing, responsible and people-oriented leader is not made overnight, his formation begins from his vision as a youth. A youth that bribed his lecturers through school to graduate will automatically mismanage the Nation’s funds if he becomes the leader. A youth that cannot keep his word today cannot build a Nation tomorrow. Bad character traits could be as simple as throwing dirt out of your car on the highway, disobeying traffic and queuing rules. You want 5Million Naira but how has your immediate environment benefitted from the little 500Naira in your hand? You want to be the Governor of your State, so that every indigene can live in skyscraper. But tell me, what sacrifices did you make as a class governor in your department? He who is not faithful in little cannot be faithful in much. These things are seeds. Plant discontentment and greed as today’s youth and reap corruption and embezzlement as tomorrow’s leader. Today’s leaders may be indifferent to a paradigm shift but I believe that there is a speck of hope in the Nigerian Youth that decides to hearken to and obey the Clarion Call. I got so emotional the first time I heard over 2,600 Nigerian youths sing the National Anthem at the NYSC orientation camp during my service year. I was so moved by the harmony of the voices, male and female entwined. I said in my heart, if every single person on this ground took his or her rightful place as a Nation Builder, the story would probably have changed. We may complain that those who call us the leaders of tomorrow deny us the chance to take the “seats” but that is not an excuse rather, a challenge to get more equipped and prepared for the enormous tasks that lie ahead. Whether anyone likes it or not, some of us will find opportunities knocking on our doors soon. And the opportunity not prepared for will be misused. But then I charge you, do not wait for “opportunities” to come and knock, go break the rock and create the one you want to take.
This Nation has suffered so much for too long in the hands of “accidental heroes”. Oh God of creation, direct our course (wondering if it is still noble), guide our leaders right and just in case that is too late, then please help our youth the truth to know that the poor do not have to get poorer even when the rich get richer, that the smart do not have to think too hard till he loses his mind, and the dumb do not have to get paid for not thinking at all. Some have more food than appetite while others have more appetite than food. Artists use lies to paint the truth with a brush and our “rulers” use truth to paint lies, on which they have a crush. Parents watch as discontentment sits with their child and from his youth, greed rocks him to manhood. A bad parent begets a bad child, a bad child becomes a bad youth and a terrible youth turns out to be a horrible leader. A Sound Character is all it takes. You have it now, you have it ALL. According to a Chinese proverb “Distance tests a horse’s strength. Time reveals a person’s character“. THE LEADER YOU WANT TO SEE IS THE YOUTH YOU HAVE TO BE.