On April 11, 2015, the day of the election that saw 72-year-old Muhammad Buhari to Aso Rock, this country of mine, Nigeria, woefully failed me. For once, I took things very personally. In fact, it was so serious that it cost me my patriotism. That day, I was forced to arrive at the conclusion that I wasn’t worth much – or nothing – to Nigeria, and I lost every faith I used to have in her. From thenceforth, I was left with just one piece of faith: God’s. Thereafter, the most I could do for Nigeria was commend her to God who now had every bit of my faith.
What must have happened, you may already be wondering. Let me attempt a narrative. First of all, it was quite a day; a day I’d thought was possibly my last. As a national youth servant, I was conscripted into the INEC and assigned to play presiding officer to one of the many polling units of my local government of NYSC posting. In a bid to contributing my quota to the success of the polls, I gave my best to the 3-day training and refresher course (after the postponement of the election). In this same spirit, I promptly reported to the RAC in the evening of election eve as they’d instructed, and by past midnight was called up to claim the election materials for my polling unit; I did, too. In fact, I didn’t just comply with all their demands, but did so with all enthusiasm and alacrity.
However, dawn dawned on me with the first shocker: the policeman attached to my unit was both old and uncultured, and the civil defense officer assigned to support him didn’t show up. And then I complained, but was convinced to move on while he joined us. Although this scratched my enthusiasm some bit, I was still enthusiastic enough to move on. I believed them; my first mistake. The long and short of it all was that when it was really big trouble time (arising from: the drunkenness and carefree lips of my only ‘gun-less’ policeman, ‘PDP-APC’ loyalists’ clash, youth restiveness and the general atmosphere of unruly behavior), I called all those worth calling and no help came. They were reachable, but they kept promising and lying; the D.P.O., S.P.O., head of civil defense were all making the same promises and telling similar lies. It was really that really bad. And so, I was left with one last option: run for your dear life. But where could I even run to; it was their domain, and I knew next to nowhere. THEN CAME JESUS to the rescue after I said a short prayer for help. Like under a spell, indicative of prayer promptly answered, the locals just came to like me and started complying with all my instructions.
Ever since then, I’ve been unconsciously careless about so many things going on in this country. I’ve even been very much critical about Buhari’s change mantra. For me, it’s his business, and I often accuse him of been hypocritical – to a fault. I’d lost faith in Nigeria and that’s it! However, Thursday, February 18, 2016, became my turning point. On this day, I listened to Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, UNN’s 45th convocation lecturer, shed some light on his personality, convictions, and his outstanding innovations at NNPC. It made all the difference to me because here was my fellow countryman who didn’t think this country owes him anything but vehemently believes he owed himself the duty of being the best of whatever he does. Kachikwu said he is driven by legacy and not by amassment of wealth, which would obviously be nowhere when he’s dead. Dramatically, he swore that he can only do the right thing on his job.
To say the least, Kachikwu is something else. I just sat there and watched him shed his light of excellence on me. I just sat there and watched him give me a thousand and one reasons why I should not give only my best but my all to every worthy cause. While I watched him do and say all these to me, even patriotism began to germinate and grow within me. More so, having bagged his first degree from same university as me, UNN, tells me even more: excellence is not optional for me.
Finally, those that were at UNN’s Princess Alexandria Auditorium while Kachikwu spoke know what I’m talking about. Those that saw it live on national television know what I’m talking about.