Today, I met a brilliant young man. He was academically talented. But I am not sure if anyone had actually guided him in his journey as a university graduate looking for work. He hated his city. He hated his country. Largely, he was annoyed with everything. The nation had failed him.
He was speaking and yelling to his friend. You could see the bitterness in his spirit. Perhaps, his model in life was to get the best grade in the university, and Nigeria would do its part. He got good grades, but Nigeria has not done the expected part. So, he fell off with his nation.
As he was talking, I called him and said “Young man, you are making a mistake. Life is more than getting good grades. The smartest people are teaching in some classrooms, and most would retire within classrooms. But those that run the world might not have passed with great grades. And those that create most jobs on earth might not have written serious exams.” I asked him some questions. He provided some answers and I explained why he was making big mistakes. He studied computer science, made good grades. But the man that invented computer science did not finish college.
Without humility, education is a waste because the greatest education is the liberation of the mind. I felt his mind was not liberated even though he passed exams in school.
I told him a story when I started my secondary school education. I came home and complained that I did not like one of my teachers. That was in Ovim (Abia State). The man did not do anything to me. The rumor was that he liked to fail students. So, I joined the wagon, hating him. But that day, I got a strong instruction from my brother: “ We are not sending you to school to decide the teacher you would like or not. You must like all your teachers. There is no alternative. It is by liking him that you would learn from him”. Indeed, I went back to school and started liking the man. Good enough, I started doing well in his class. The animosity that caged my little mind was gone. I saw him as a friend
I have extrapolated that “teacher” to include liking my country knowing that by liking Nigeria, I would have the energy to succeed in Nigeria. If I hate Nigeria, it would be challenging to make progress in Nigeria. It would be a struggle to find the strength to overcome a society you despise.
So, I told the young man: “Unless you like Nigeria, I am not sure you would get anything from Nigeria. When your mind builds bitterness in the society, you shut down the best from that society.” I explained his problem could be that everything was negative before him. And when you approach everything with that mindset, nothing seems to work.
Negative attitude happens in families and relationships; if you do not like something, you would struggle to get the best form that thing. How can you benefit from a relationship you despise? Not possible.
As a teenager, I prepared people for WASC/GCE Mathematics while in JSS3 (Junior Secondary 3). They paid me and I enjoyed the experience. I was three years off to write mine but it was evident that WAEC was a simple exam. During lessons, I devised ways to help my students. I noticed one thing: students like money-equations, and when you introduce money in equations, everyone understands. So, 8x + 6x is hard but N8 + N6 is easy. Yes, they get the Naira one but the “x” is confusing. So, I devised a technique, changing all equations with x to Naira. Magically, it became solvable. The students’ minds were opened for Naira (we like money) but the minds were locked for “x’ (we hate maths). Yes, unless you open your mind, knowledge and blessings would struggle to flow in.
As the young man listened, I told him that he would be fine if his negativity about Nigeria could turn into positivity. Nigeria is made up of people. Unless he likes Nigeria, he cannot appreciate his fellow citizens. Those fellow citizens are the people that would give him jobs. The attitude must change.
As I rounded up, he was beaten up with thoughts. I wished him the best as I left. I am confident that he would be fine.