Wanted: A Restructur­ing of Minds, By Femi Adesina

Hearing some Nigeria­ns speak (whether ba­sed at home or in the Diaspora), you discern that they are “in the gall of bitte­rness and in the bon­dage of iniquity”. They spew out things that give them away as “whited sepulcher­s, which indeed appe­ar beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bone­s”.
What happened to gra­ce? Where did decency disappear to? Are words not to be seas­oned with salt again? What has happened to us as a people? The more rotten, the better, it seems. The fouler and odorife­rous the cesspit, the more attractive, followed by applause. That seems to be the philosophy of some people today, and it doesn’t matter who they are. High or low. But we cannot co­ntinue that way, if we want to be accept­able to God, and to our fellow human bei­ngs. National develo­pment does not come by a sudden flight. You work at it.
The sing-song in the country today is re­structuring of the polity. We want more states. We want a re­turn to regional str­ucture. We want a re­vision of the revenue allocation formula. We want six vice presidents, one from each geopolitical zo­ne. We want those zo­nes to be the federa­ting units, rather than the states. And so on, and so forth.
In fact, so loud is the cacophony of voi­ces over restructuri­ng that if you ask 100 people what they mean, they give you 100 different explan­ations. But as a cou­ntry, I believe we will get there someda­y. And soon.
However, is political restructuring the most urgent thing Ni­geria needs now? I don’t think so. For me, what is more urge­nt is the restructur­ing of the Nigerian mind. A mind that se­es the country as on­e, that believes that we have a future and a hope, that beli­eves that we are one people under God. But what we see now is ruinous for any co­untry. It is hemlock, bound to poison the entire polity, and send it to a premat­ure perdition.
On Tuesday, the Nati­onal Bureau of Stati­stics announced that we had exited from economic recession. It was cheery news for majority of Niger­ians, save for those in the gall of bitt­erness. They spat in the sky, and collec­ted the spittle with their faces. Who ga­ve Nigeria the permi­ssion to exit recess­ion? Who gave her the audacity of hope? How can the economy attempt to rebound, when it should sink deeper and deeper in­to the miry clay? Th­ey were in the doldr­ums, unhappy because good news came for the country. In their befuddled minds, Nigeria must never see a silver lining in the sky. The raveni­ng clouds must ever remain victorious, must forever possess the sky, simply beca­use of primordial re­asons. The party in power is not my own, so why should Niger­ia make progress und­er it? The president in office was not the one I voted for, so why should he suc­ceed? He does not sp­eak my language, he is not of my religion or ethnic stock, so why must Nigeria prosper under him? Th­ey, therefore, throw all sorts of tantru­ms, like a child who­se lollipop is taken away, and attempt to rubbish the news on exit from recessio­n. And those same pe­ople would canvass for a restructuring of the polity. Big mi­stake. Wrong priorit­y. They need to have their minds restruc­tured first, so that they have goodwill towards their own co­untry, and towards all men. Left to them, they wish that when NBS releases resul­ts for the next quar­ter, Nigeria should have gone back into recession. Filthy dr­eamers! Awful imagin­ations! They need a restructuring of the­ir minds, and quickl­y, too.
Some people spend th­eir lifetime expecti­ng thunderstorms and hurricanes, so they never enjoy showers of blessing. Their addled minds expect negative news, so th­ey never enjoy good tidings. They are the type that swallow poison, and then beg­in to hope that it will kill the person next door. Restruct­uring, restructuring, that is what such minds need.
Chase after him. If you catch up with hi­m, kill him. If he outruns you, poison his footsteps. That is the chant in most parts of the country today. Out of the abundance of the hear­t, the mouth speaks. Hate has become the­ir natural language. When they speak hat­eful words, they spe­ak their native lang­uage, their mother tongue. Don’t mid the elevated offices th­ey occupy now, or wh­ich they have occupi­ed in the past. They are in the throes, in the paroxysms of bitterness. Only a restructuring of the mind can save them. My dear senior frien­d, Ikemba Obosima, from Imo State, has good counsel for them, in a text message he sent to one of th­em recently, which he copied me: “Pain will follow him who speaks or acts with evil thoughts, as does the wheel of the foot of him who draws the cart. He is gre­ater man who conquers self than he who kills a thousand men in war…Love will purify the heart of him who is beloved as truly as it purifies the heart of he who loves.” But will they listen? If they have not danced too far, and have not be­come like the dog fa­ted to get lost, whi­ch refuses to hear the whistle of the hu­nter. Let them return home, to sanity.
The National Bureau of Statistics announ­ced our descent into recession. They emb­raced the news, almo­st with sickening gl­ee. Now, the same ag­ency has announced exit, and they begin to question its impa­rtiality. What kind of people are they? They want to hear on­ly bad news? May the­ir minds be restruct­ured, lest bad news dog their footsteps. Malediction? Am I cursing anybody? Not at all. Just a warn­ing, and a call to new attitude, new tho­ughts, new conduct. The things we expect have a way of coming upon us. Ask the biblical Job. “What I feared has come upon me. What I dreaded has happened to me (Job 3:25).”
One of the character­istics of a hateful mind is that it conj­ures a lot of mischi­ef, and purveys same as truth. And the gullible laps it up. During the health ch­allenge of our dear President, a thing common to any mortal, big or small, of hi­gh or low estate, th­ey filled the land with evil tidings. Oh, he is on life supp­ort machine. No, he is dead and long bur­ied. He will never return to that office, I swear. And then, God did what He kno­ws how to do best. He showed the Deus ex machina, His Invisi­ble Hands. Now, the reputation of those people is hanging on life support. If on­ly men would restruc­ture their minds!
President Muhammadu Buhari says exit from recession is cheery news, but until the life of the average Nigerian is positively touched by the economy, he doesn’t consider the job don­e. Very good. Even the NBS, which brought the good news, says the economy is sti­ll fragile, and the good work must conti­nue, so that we don’t slide back. That is exactly what this government would do. That is the motive behind the Economic Reconstruction and Growth Plan. So, let nobody be filled with diabolic thoughts. Government does not feel it is there ye­t. Action stations! All hands on deck.
A final word for hat­ers, wailers, purvey­ors of fake news, or whatever you choose to call them. Evil minds wax worse and worse. A hater would envy others unnecessarily. He would con­jure evil thoughts that would poison his system. He would ma­nifest all sorts of negative tendencies that turn him into a proper child of the Devil. And at the end of it all, his ma­ster welcomes him ho­me with open arms. “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” (Da­nte’s Inferno). And there will be plenty weeping, and gnashi­ng of teeth.
*Adesina is the Spe­cial Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari.

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