By: Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
A speech delivered at the National Youth Discourse on Peace, Unity and integration at the Banquet Hall of Arewa House, Kaduna. On Saturday 19th May 2012, Organized by The Nigerian Youth Forum (NYF).
Truth is the only solution to all problems, without it, no measure works.
According to a story narrated by Agha Tareq in his article Titled, WHAT YOU GIVE TO LIFE, LIFE GIVES BACK. He narrated a story of a successful business man who was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children to succeed him as the CEO, he decided to do something different.
He called all the young executives in his company together. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.. “The young executives were Shocked, but the boss continued.”I am going to give each one of you a SEED today – one very special SEED… I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed that will be given to you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.
Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the seed to grow, but there was nothing. A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot to the CEO. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right and He decided to take his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful –in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him! When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.
Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!” When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed and he told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!”.
Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said. Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”
Ladies and gentlemen,
* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
* If you plant hard work, you will reap success
* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation
* If you plant faith in GOD, you will reap a harvest,
So I ask my dear respectable audience, what have we planted in Nigeria?
What did the Northern leaders plant and what did the South planted? What did the Christians plant and what did the Muslims planted? And finally, what did the elders planted and what are the youths now planting?
I humbly greet everyone seated in this hall as i duly observe all protocols.
Excellencies and distinguish personalities, the greatest Nigerian youth and members of the press, I respectfully greet you all with the most precious and adorable greeting, that May the peace, guidance and the blessing of the Almighty be with you all.(Amen).
Fellow Compatriots, The truth must never be substituted for any other thing if we truly want to progress, that is why they say sincerity is the best policy. When we avoid telling the truth, that is when the nation crumbles because without truth, nothing works. Some people would tell half truth in some cases, but even with that, progress would be delayed, because when we avoid telling the truth as it should be told, we are preventing progressiveness as we should progress.
I took it upon myself to talk about truth, because I see it as the beginning and the end of our challenges as a nation.
Some people have opined that, inefficient leadership, corruption, unemployment and others are the major problems facing Nigeria, but what I consider the major problem holding us down is the lack of truth. If the leaders are truthful, they would lead truthfully and if the followers are truthful, they would support nothing but the truth. So I ask where is the truth in our leaders and us the followers. The Nigerian leaders have with time, shaped every citizens reasoning to their way of thinking for easy exploitation, whereby making it almost impossible to reason properly without a trace of sentiment and sectionalism. 90% of our leaders are fake with no a single trace of public consideration while in office, they only hide under the banner of the North and South to deceive the populace of their respective regions and exploit our sentiments as created by them. Since ethnicity in our part of the world has been positioned by these leaders to be seen as the only guarantor of personal security, they ride under this tenant to continue their deceit to seek reelection or appointments. The leaders do not tell the followers the truth, any thing they say is a mere word to mislead the people, neither are the followers willing to listen to the truth anymore, since time again and again have proven that none of the present set of Nigerian leaders are genuinely truthful in the real sense. This now generated a situation where the poor are no longer truthful to the rich and neither are the rich to the poor, men are not to women neither are women to men, Parents not to children and neither are children to parents. We have fake pastors and imams who mislead people in the absence of truth, business organizations, banking sector, even in our universities a supposed center for learning, the governors, ministers and even the president all sink in insincerity, always suspecting each others. So how do we expect Peace and progress in the midst of suspicion, deceit and insincerity?
The corruption, bad leadership, lack of power, unemployment etc that were tagged as the problems facing Nigeria are secondary problems in my opinion. There is a primary problem which when handled properly, would gradually eliminate the secondary challenges in their numbers. To understand the primary problem, we must ask ourselves some basic questions like, why do we have the bad leadership? Why the corruption? Why unemployment, Keep asking yourself why that challenge you think is responsible for our problems is happening and the simple answer you would get is the lack of truth. Ladies and gentlemen, with due respect to all the distinguished personalities seated, I would say that the Northern leaders are not truthful in its relation to the country after several years of leadership, but I do not expect that anyway, since they are not even truthful to their own people. Neither are the southern leaders, since they are collaborators in the same government. They do not care about the life of the ordinary people, but would claim to be fighting for the region’s interest. What other better interest should any responsible leaders be more concerned about other than the well being of its people? Why is it that the leaders are only enriching themselves and their allies at the expense of the people? How much do they worth before holding public offices and after leaving, how much do they worth? What difference did they make in the live of the ordinary citizens other than bringing hardship, pain and sorrow? Yet they would continue to claim to be fighting for the north or south while those they claim to be fighting for hardly have 3 meals a day.
In this gathering, we have various northern leaders, who have occupied one position or the other, why are you the leaders so rich and we the people so poor? Why is there no difference in the live of the people during or after you tenure but your live and that of your allies changed drastically? Are you not supposed to serve us? Aren’t the people supposed to be the boss? Mallam Nuhu Ribadu said in one of his presentations that Nigeria need good managers, who would properly interpret the challenges of our failure, but I do not see any failure except the lack of truth. As young as I am, I can tell you the effect of the lack of truth, for example, If a students school fee is N50, 000, but instead of telling the parents the right amount which is N50, 000, he said it is N100, 000. If After some time, his parents got to realize his school fee is N50, 000 and not N100, 000 as they have been paying, the seed he sowed would begin to grow. His parents would not only feel disappointed and angry, but would always question anything coming from him; some parents would even go to the extreme of stopping to pay his fees. If the parents could react to lie and insincerity in this manner, we should understand that the other relatives would probably react more harshly.
Excellencies Sir, The Issue of Nigeria is not like that of parents and children, it is that of different people coming together to live as one, how then would we expect others to quickly forget our untruthfulness in relating with them?. It is now clear to the Nigerian youths that our leaders are the same (Partner to exploit) be it from the south or the north and we shall question every action and decision you make henceforth, unless every one of you go back to the people, apologize for you wrong doings and deliver as much as he can to regain the people’s trust so that we can return this land to tranquility. Let me refer to a popular quote which says: Hurt me with the truth, but never comfort me with a lie, because the truth on ground right now is the fact that, the Nigerian youths only recognize one Nigeria, there is no north or south. Ladies and gentlemen, if you hurt me with the truth, the bitterness of the truth would eventually fade away, because according to – Arthur Schopenhauer.”Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident.”
My dear people, the comfort we derive from lie may be desirable and sweet, but the seed of lies and deceit is everlasting sorrow, appalling and discord. What we are witnessing today in Nigeria is the natural fruit of discord, which usually occur between two or more insincere partners, relating with each other deceitfully. If those who sowed the seed of deceit didn’t live to rip it, surely, their offspring would unless it is corrected.
There is no point over emphasizing on the fact that this entity called Nigeria was founded on falsehood, these was done by our then colonial masters under the leadership of Lugard, A man who acquired the title of Lord based on his comfort in insincerity. The amalgamation of Nigeria was fought by every party involved, but later succumb to persuasion. This explains our mutual reasoning and understanding. The amalgamation is close to 100 years now, but the political elites are still dwelling on this past to exploit the people’s sentiments as designed by them and their predecessor. There is something is would like us to understand here today, though Nigeria was based not on our choice, but it is the will of God and a blessing in disguise. According to the Quranic teaching, the Quran established that, some actions may be carried out by your oppressor for their benefit, even if its hurts you, they wouldn’t care provided it is to their benefit, but God made it possible because it’s a design to comfort you at the end, when it manifests, you would then realize it is indeed a blessing. To relate this to our situation, Ladies and gentlemen, I would like us to reason historically, the fruits man eats grows naturally. Man eats the fruit and dumps the seeds. After some times, the combination of dumped seeds around the environment is seen as unbefitting, it litters the surrounding. Man then decided to hide the seed in a place that would be hidden. It is in the quest of comforting man that the idea of burying the seed under the ground emerge. Man didn’t bury the seed because he wanted it to grow and produce more fruits; he did to suit himself at the expense of destroying the seed. After some while, the same seed buried to rote, rose from the ground and brought out fresh flowers and with time, produces more beautiful fruits. The buried seed is Nigeria which was buried to hide its glory. It was buried for the comfort of its oppressors, but not the master can prevent it from re germinating and producing beautiful offspring’s. Nigeria is like a seed crop, not one seed can germinate from the ground, two or more seeds must be sowed to germinate and grow abundant harvest, Our oppressors were used by God to sow the upcoming great nation ,comprising the Yorubas’,Hausa’s,igbo’,ijaws,idoma’s,Nupe’s etc. Before these seeds were brought together, they have stood individually comfortable, but after being sowed together to grow, none can stand alone ever again. If any part is removed after it has been buried, the whole of the seed would be destroyed. Until we realized this, we shall continue to struggle. Igbo’s would continue to talk about Biafra, Hausa’s would continue to talk about Arewa and Yoruba would continue to talk about Oduduwa and other groups too.
If the seed buried is not allowed to germinate for the betterment of all, it would be destroyed for the benefit of none. Let me respectively send a warning message to all elder statesmen in Nigeria talk about region standing alone, Nigeria is an already buried seed ready for germination, an attempt to remove it in its entirety or removing any part of it would destroy it. No one group or region in Nigeria can survive on its own. That is the design of the Almighty and we must not challenge it. We are a seed plant bounded together to grow, if you remove any part, the seed is destroyed and none of the others parts shall grow. Contrary to what some people are saying, we have mineral resources, we have oil, we have agricultural produce, we can stand alone, and did I hear you say every one can stand alone? Hum, all these things you are seeing making you to feel we can are physical delusions. I replete, no tribe or region in Nigeria can stand alone out side this entity called Nigeria, don’t try it, it is the will of God, instead protect it as you have stake in it.
We must all realize that building a great nation is not about having resources or man power; as most people feel, it is about having truth, because only truth builds a nation. The Truth is the only thing that makes you great, greatness built on lies and deceit ends up sorrowful. A nation built on Oil shall dry, that which is built on man power shall be powerless, if built on a good land shall fade away, Only nation that is built on truth shall survive. We must therefore converge to discus about being truthful with each other, taking responsibility and clearing our mind of suspicion. Though, The Nigerian leaders have effected every citizen of this country with the negative attitude and way of reasoning, where by making crime,immorality,violence and cheat a part and parcel of our daily lives, but you can correct it yourself now before the youth finally arrive on path that will leave miserable forever. Don’t underestimate us, we shall get there and take this nation to the promise land.
In light of the foregoing, every one of us must therefore retrace our steps to withdraw from the bad ways, guide ourselves away from becoming a shadow and ensure we overcome any person or group of people involved in any of it, be it a politicians, Religious preacher, or ordinary citizens.
These would not only help us become better people, but it would help to us overcome all our numerous challenges as a nation and prepare the future for responsibility and genuine leadership.