• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
businessday logo


Dare to aspire


“The level of national development attainable by any aspiring nation, (or organization) will be determined by the moral character of its people and by the principles upon which they have built their lives”. Professor Vincent Anigbogu.

When a nation unapologetically flaunts a deficit of vital core values, no matter how brilliant its development plans may be, they will amount to building castles on sand. With pinpoint predictability, doom and gloom must follow. Nigeria has been and remains a classic example of this failure. Unfortunately, neither the leaders nor the people have yet recognized this immutable fact so we continue to jump gleefully (believing we now have it all worked out) from one failure to another. As a result we have evolved over the last three to four decades, an ecosystem which not only encourages but enables people to misbehave.

Have you ever stopped to consider why Chelsea FC in the United Kingdom suddenly became the football team to support in Nigeria a few years ago? I for one don’t believe it was just because Mikel Obi or Babayaro played for them. Do you not remember seeing the Chelsea stickers with Billionaire’s Club boldly inscribed on it, proudly plastered on at least half of the Danfos (commercial buses) and Keke Marwas (tricycles) plying Lagos roads? Why do you think the music of some of our artists are so popular even though all they sing about is dollars, Roll Royce’s and Gucci shoes in a country that was just recently dubbed the poverty capital of the world? Either due to pitiful ignorance or equally pitiful desperation to belong, many proudly wear their “Gussi” or “Abibas” T-shirts instead of the Gucci and Adidas original. I believe the term we’re looking for is aspirational. And there’s nothing wrong with that. For the man in the street, the five or so minutes his favourite song plays for is a welcome opium which affords him the opportunity to escape his harsh reality. As he sings along, he can smell and feel the luxurious leather upholstery of the Phantom Rolls Royce he’s driving.

With the confidence of a popstar, he waves to the admiring chicks as his wonder on wheels glides past. For that blissful moment the focus of that song is all about him. By association, he too is a proud member of the Billionaire’s club. And as I said before, there’s nothing wrong with being aspirational but there is a condition. You have to keep in mind that you must be willing to pay a price if you’re serious about it becoming your reality.

To this end, Ghandi quite rightly maintained in his 7 Social Sins that wealth without without work and religion without sacrifice are an aberration, and both are capable of gnawing away at the fabric of any decent society. Therefore, any religion which preaches that the only sacrifice you need to make to succeed is the spiritual one is a false religion. Fasting, praying and attending vigils alone can never place you on the path to success. Sacrifice must also take the form of material hard work at what you do. A total commitment to your occupation or profession. An unshakable determination to succeed and a fathomless dedication to perfection.

Short of this, all the fasting in the world, no matter how many Bentleys you count in your favourite artist’s song, will mercilessly land you in excruciating poverty.

We must as a rule teach our children to embrace hard work as in my book, there’s no such thing as sweatless success. To tell them otherwise would be to do them a great injustice, which they may still blame us for at a time when it’s almost too late. By all means, allow them to dream but remind them it will remain a dream unless they apply themselves and adopt diligence as an integral part of their value system.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time


Oladapo Akande