• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

The DNA of disorderliness

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In the year 2000, I travelled to South Africa with my family and some friends on vacation. It was our first time in South Africa. But it was the first time my children travelled abroad. After going round Johannesburg and Pretoria, one of my children who was ten years old asked me why these two cities were beautiful and organized when compared with Lagos. I told him that it was the choice of South Africans to have their cities clean and everything arranged in an orderly fashion. Though the reverse was the case in areas predominantly occupied by blacks in South Africa. Events these past few years and the behavioral pattern of people (old and young) are of very disturbing magnitude that I had to ask some friends and relations if Nigerians have a DNA of disorderliness in our systems. This is because I expect that with the passage of time, most of us would have been peacefully “born-again”.

Within the context of this article, DNA is defined as “the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something especially when regarded as unchangeable”.One would have expected Nigerians to always display positive attitude and participate actively in nation buildingbut sadly most of us have deliberately decided to contribute negatively to the development of the country. In fact, most of us have demonstrated our hatred for our dear nation through lawlessness, and love for disorderliness. Disorderliness is the act of “involving or contributing to a breakdown of peaceful and law-abiding behavior”. I wonder why most Nigerians are in love with disorderly behavior. The perpetual traffic jam at Apapa is a classic example of disorderliness. Tank farms are dotted over a large area of Apapa. Where are the health, safety and environment professionals in this matter? What was their professional submission on the disorderly arrangement of structures in Apapa? The solution to easing the traffic in Apapa is in eliminating the root cause of the problem. I strongly believe that we are not waiting for foreign investors to help us solve the perennial traffic problem in Lagos. It is unbelievable that in a country where there are several strategic thinkers, a decision was taken to have Apapa Wharf as the source of supply of petroleum products, rice, cement, sugar, fish, fairly used cars and other imported items without considering the consequences and risks associated with this decision.

Road maintenance has become a problem as it is now a culture not to complete most projects. For several years, I have not passed through the Lagos-Ibadan Express Road because of fear of being held in traffic for hours. This has been the show of disorderliness for more than 10 years. It appears we are all very comfortable with this arrangement that only very few Nigerians see it as a problem. Freedom of worship is very much allowed but it should not be to inconvenience others who are to use the Express Road. Is the FRSC not aware of this problem or is it beyond their capacity to solve?

Elections are fast approaching, we should be prepared to vote for those who are sincere, intellectually capable, and having the fear of God to direct the affairs of this country. It was Alexis de Tocqueville who theorized that “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great”. If we want Nigeria to be great, leaders and followers must arrange to get the best of physicians to remove the DNA of disorderliness from our system. We need to look for good leaders who are representatives of the people and not those who only represent their families. It was Joseph de Maistre who wrote in the year 1811 “every nation gets the government it deserves”.We must not complain as our representatives at local, state and federal levels are what we deserve as a nation. Greatness does not occur through miracle, it is earned through diligence and hard work.  Individuals excels in their respective endeavor but our collective effort is still below par because we do not present our best eleven for leadership positions.

It is the DNA of disorderliness in us that gave birth to the infamous “Nigerian factor”. The phrase “Nigerian factor” epitomizes our conviviality as a people with disorderliness. It is a phrase that is recklessly used to remind you that in Nigeria anything is possible. A country where the truth cannot be told because hands are tied, lips are sealed when Nigerian factor is at work. When the “Nigerian factor” is deliberately applied to issues of national importance, the elderly tell lies shamelessly in our society with all sides of their compass mouth. Whilst mediocrity is celebrated at the highest level of public office,some of our youths are professional thugs. If they are not beating up a judge, they are stealing, kidnapping, killing, maiming or breaking bottles on someone’s head.After committing these crimes, we all say there is youth unemployment in the country. The fact is that some of these youths are not employable because they are deficient in character. There is an anonymous writing on a wall somewhere in the USA, and what is on the wall is as follows: “when wealth is lost nothing is lost, when health is lost something is lost, and when character is lost all is lost”.

The leadership theory that “leaders are either born or made” is what I have heard severally and has been subjected to debate. We have seen instances in our clime where leaders emerge through intrigues and mischief.  If leaders are products of intrigues and mischief, disorderliness is the order of the day in the conduct of state affairs. According to Norman Schwarzkopf, “leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy”. It implies that character is vital in leadership, even when the leader is not strategic in his actions and thoughts. When leadership lacks both character and strategy, disorderliness will hold sway. Let us learn to conduct ourselves in an orderly manner in this country, it is a task that must be done for our survival.

M.A. Johnson