It is not what a man has that is important, it is what a man is

It is not what a man has that is important, it is what a man is
January 18
07:24 2018

Rene Descartes’ quote ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’, which means ‘I think, therefore I am’ has always resonated with me. It was one of the favourite quotes of my Latin tutor. It is a rationalisation of our existence. The mere fact that we can think, is affirmation that truly we, as humans, exist and not just in a mere dream. This thinking faculty is often neglected in the rat race. I was very lucky to be advised very early on, by my brother, never to join the rat race because it is consuming.

I find our life too reactionary. I don’t think we really spend much time thinking. Perhaps this is due to the nature of life we endure, which can be nasty, brutish and short, as Thomas Hobbes had said. Two things struck a chord in me recently. Someone sent me a video via WhatsApp and in it, a reporter was asking an elderly man what he thought of the country’s situation. Amusingly, there was a sudden role reversal, as the elderly fellow suddenly heaped the blame of the country’s misfortunes on the young journalist. The elderly interviewee felt that the youths in Nigeria had been docile and complacent by allowing gerontocracy to reign in Nigeria. He felt that this had not been in the country’s best interest and he recommended that the youths of the country should get involved in politics. I thought to myself, just as I was thinking of getting out of politics, what a metaphor.

The second event was George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund investor’s, recent proclamation, ’I’m more than ready to fight back’. This was in reaction to authoritarian and nationalist critics of the work of Open Society Foundation (OSF). OSF is a foundation he formed many years ago and to which he has donated not less than USD 32 BILLION, a little under Nigeria’s foreign reserve. OSF has been helping civil society to challenge governments in countries around the world. George Soros is 87 years old, he isn’t a political office holder but he is one of the biggest backers of the Democratic Party in the United States. He could live a life of more leisure rather than engaging in these sorts of squabbles, but he would rather be involved in shaping life-changing events.

Nigeria needs collaboration between the youths and the civil society.


Nigeria needs reforms and overhauling of its entire political space. From the events happening in the country now, it is clear that the centre can no longer hold. The Government has become discredited, unpopular and it is not a question of whether it is going, rather it is a matter of which set of people will replace it. Herein lies my concern, we should question and query the credentials of our incoming leaders. The Germans fell into a trap when they cried for leadership, Adolf Hitler emerged, but they never asked for his credentials. He set about events that led to the needless loss of millions of lives in World War II.

Nigerians must ask for their leaders’ credentials.

History is repeating itself all over again. The socio-cultural groups, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Southern Leaders Forum, are all regrouping and shaking hands across the Niger. Has anyone asked for the credentials of these self-acclaimed leaders? It has been the same set of people hugging the political space for decades. There has been no leadership change in the civil society space, as it continues to be the Femi Falanas and others. No doubt they are contributing their token. However, we need fresh blood, new thinking and new energy to help oil the wheel. Old thinking needs to clash with new thinking and the spark will generate energy.


Only a closed minded person would think that restructuring is another word for balkanisation of Nigeria, likewise, only a fool would say that Northern Nigeria has no resources and cannot contribute to Nigeria’s economy. My travels around the world have convinced me that borders and nationalities should be replaced with humanity, the sole binding factor. A smile means the same thing all over the world, so do tears.

Not everybody can be a politician. Politics is not the only way of bringing about change but governance is too serious to be left to the politicians alone. The least we owe ourselves is to be the best we can be in any endeavour we set our hands on. The same should apply to Nigeria, let us all think and plan for the future. Let us agree on the kind of leaders we need that will be acceptable to the majority. We may not know them now but we know those who have failed. We must define them by the saying ‘it is not what a man has that is important, it is what a man is’. What we are, are our thoughts.


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