Monday, July 25, 2016
'Parents, Change and Nigeria'. By Adesina Ogunlana
The president of the Ekoba 83 set, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, my greetings. I thank most sincerely the leadership of your association for inviting me to share my thoughts with this august body.
Interestingly, I was not given a topic for discussion, rather I was given the extra privilege and burden of the latitude to formulate my topic which in morbid terms is akin to a situation of asking a prisoner to choose not only his punishment but where he would want the execution of same.
I say this because of the relevant content of your letter inviting me to this occasion which states the theme of the speech thus: PARENTS AS INSTRUMENTS OF CHANGE IN NIGERIA.
After a little deliberation, I formulated my topic thus: PARENTS, CHANGE AND NIGERIA.
I respectfully present same with a tinge of audacity that my discourse will not disappoint too greatly.
Since the giddy days of the campaign period of 2015 General Elections which eventually saw the unprecedented and invariably historic defeat of the incumbent government at the Federal level, the word, nay term CHANGE has become perhaps the most significant political coinage in the country.
Just one word - CHANGE; only six letters, but it carries an extraordinary flavour, punch and meaning especially after the April 14 2015 elections which swept off the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration and ushered in the General Mohammed Buhari regime. The political mantra of CHANGE was and is still pervasive.
There is the cry for Change everywhere, there is a change atmosphere. There is a change movement. In all spheres of our lives, politically, economically, spiritually and sociologically.
I should like to pause here to briefly discuss what CHANGE is. My discourse will be laconic. What is change? Change is a departure from a STATUS QUO or a given position but change has degrees.
There is a change that is merely a variation. There is a change that is as elongation. There is a change that is a diminution. There is change that is a multiplication. There is change that is a CANCELATION. There is CHANGE that is an ANTI-CLOCKWISE REDIRECTION.
It will appear to me that the type of change Nigerians are desirous of in the affairs of their nation is of the last type.
The reason is obvious; our dear country has for long being very badly run, completely mismanaged by those who either imposed themselves on us as our rulers, by way of military incursion or those we have purportedly voted into power. The reason for seeking and gaining power was largely to help themselves to the contents of the public coffers. And this was at all levels of governance, stealing us blind. The implication of their avarice which was of lunatic dimensions was to incapacitate the state and throw millions of Nigerians into a continuous life of MISERY.
Since as the Solomon David of the holy bible said rather fantastically, ‘money answereth all things' and there is not much money left in the till having been transported into private pockets, the statue became incapable of looking after and providing adequately and properly for her citizenry.
What the Escaping Joe of the 'Checking Out' fame of said in 1984, is still very real today - 'Oh men, no water, no light, no job, no road, I am checking out!'
Thus Nigeria which had a very bright chance of becoming a paradise after independence given her enormous human and natural resources became not only an eye sore but hell-on-earth, very close to the infamous Hobbesian State of nature where life is short, nasty and brutish.
Because as the proverb goes, where the head is rotten, the whole fish gets bad; because of the tragedy of our political leadership, which is the most significant leadership in the temporal world, the length and breadth of our country is tragically also infected and corrupted. The insane greed and shocking selfishness of our leaders is replicated in most, if not all Nigerians.
Our true God is not Allah, Jehovah or Eledumare or Chineke or Abasi but MAMMON. First our definition of success is Material Success and the Credo by which we live our terrible life is MATERIAL SUCCESS BY ALL MEANS.
Little wonder then, that in our interaction with one another, we are enemies, cheating, lying, robbing even killing to achieve our goals or surpass the attainment of others. Everybody, everywhere in Nigeria cheats or believes in cheating.
Now that we are tired of our terrible lot, and want a radical change from all that mess, can we get the CHANGE?
My unhesitating answer is yes, change is possible. It is going to be a lot of hard-work and it's not going to be achieved quickly, but change is possible.
That is where parents come in. It has become axiomatic that the cradle and the foundation of society is the home. The home is basic unit of human congregation, and it is the little drops of water that makes the mighty river of society. Nobody is born in the Society; we can only grow up there. The home consists of parents and their children or wards or dependants.
The home has a territorial expression, it has jurisdiction, it has an administration. To be called a parent is different from being a Daddy or a Mother.
Daddyship and Mothership is Biology. Parentship is sociology. Our Fathers were wise and knew this when they postulated ONBI KO TO ONTO.
Parenting is the price you pay for activating your sexual organs in the body of another person of the opposite sex. I say this for those who may be insisting on definitions.
However not all Daddies and mummies pay the price. They abandon the consequences of their actions. These are not PARENTS. Daddies and mummies are just the air-lines that carries the child from the unseen pre-world to the world. After discharging their passengers, these air lines do not care again about the faring of their erstwhile passengers, whether they perish or survive.
Parent is not just a NOUN but a Verb. It is a non-stop job. It is a job for life. And in the case of the Yoruba parent, it is a job even after – death. Thus Yoruba say and believe that OKU OLOMO KII SUN.
To parent a child is to fill his Tabula Rasa with contents It is inevitable and the parent can only give of what he has. However even among Parents, there are parents and there are parents.
Parents are placed in the most strategic position to influence the human child because they are in control of that human being at its most impressionable age. Children are like soft clay in the hands of the potter, the heated metal in the hands of the smith, the sapling in the sweep of the wind and the steering wheel in the hands of the driver.
Generally and historically, the norms accepted by a grown up human reflect the values of these who tended him when he was young.
As instruments of change in Nigeria, parents are in a special class of INFLUENCERS, followed only by the teachers at the pre-tertiary levels. The reason again is that all other possible agents of influence like Religion, Politics, Economy deal mostly with ADULTS, who are already finished or almost finished products. The adult is like CAST IRON, while the child is like Putty.
The difference is clear.
However for the Nigerian parent to be an instrument of change in Nigeria, he needs to first change himself and his values. For as the LATIN proverb goes. EX-NIHILO NIHILO EST. I thank you for your kind attention.
BEING THE TEXT OF AN ADDRESS BY ADESINA OGUNLANA, LEGAL PRACTITIONER AND LEADER, LAWYERS4CHANGE DELIVERED AT THE EKO BOYS HIGH SCHOOL OLD BOYS ASSOCIATION 32ND ANNIVERSARY AT ALPHA PLAZA, OBAFEMI AWOLOWO ROAD, IKEJA LAGOS ON 26 DECEMBER 2015.