Black and White

282 views | Oladapo Akande | March 17, 2021

One of the most fascinating things about us human beings, which doesn’t just set us apart from all other living creatures but also makes us more interesting, is that we’re all so different. Wouldn’t it be odd and boring if the only type of car human beings liked was the Kia Picanto and because of that, that’s all that’s ever available? Let me elaborate on this a little. We have different tastes, different ways of doing things and different perspectives. If we were all the same, everything would be so black and white. No grey areas. The grey areas usually add the spice to life because you can’t predict what the person next to you will think, say or like. Where some people ask for beef and others chicken, you’ll also hear those who ask the madam to, “add plenty pomo”.

I’m a fan of nature programs on TV and never have I seen a lioness among the pride of lions waltz up to a hapless prey, put his nose up at it and say, “nah, this one ain’t for me. Some broccoli would have gone down nicely though”. Nor have I seen a lioness tell a frisky male lion to “shoo” because she only likes them tall, dark and handsome. Even when it comes to the law, if things are always strictly black and white, the courts will be left with no room for interpretation. It’s the uncertainty of the verdict and in who’s favour the case will eventually swing, that causes spontaneous jubilation when it goes one’s way. Let’s also say it was a given that every man and woman will live to the age 90 and die before they turn 91, so many people would live recklessly until they turn 88 and then find religion in the last one or two years. The very wild ones may opt to turn to God earlier, to give themselves time to repent enough! The simple truth is that the unpredictability of life keeps us on our toes.

But there must be instances in life when we shouldn’t over play this card. Surely, there must be times when it must be black and white; when anything else is just wrong, no matter how you look at it. There have to be times when it’s barely necessary for anyone to insist on the right thing being done because nothing else can possibly be expected or accepted; no matter where you are or who you are. The recent nomination of our immediate past Service Chiefs, who’s performance left a lot to be desired, for Ambassadorial posts is one of such times. Our dear President should understand that simply because it’s within his rights doesn’t make it right.

Studies have shown that a major factor to determine the success of an organization and even a nation is the existence of a shared vision. It’s a primary predictor of success because no matter your competence, the quality of the talent you assemble, the structure you put in place and the size of your investment, if you don’t all agree on where you actually want to go, you’ll never get there. I asked a most pertinent question in a previous article. What is the Nigerian dream? I won’t attempt to answer that but let me just say until we have one and all know it, and all buy into it, we as a nation, are going nowhere. Most of our governments at various levels have failed to sell Nigerians a vision of a better and worthwhile future. One which inspires and makes it appear worthwhile to endure the hardship and excruciating pain most of us are currently facing. This is a recipe for disaster.

According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence comprises of five components; motivation, empathy, self awareness, self regulation and social skills. All are necessary for effective leadership. Now, let’s subject the act of nominating and essentially rewarding the former Service Chiefs with Ambassadorial nominations to these competencies. What sort of vision is the government projecting by this and do the generality of Nigerians share in this vision? Is this a vision that comes with the promise of a better future? Does it instill hope? So, will rewarding a group of people, who most Nigerians agree failed in their primary duty, motivate others to pursue excellence? When excellence doesn’t appear to be a criteria for recognition or reward. Does this act by the President reveal any sense of empathy, compassion or sensitivity? Particularly for the thousands who have lost loved ones or livelihood to the nationwide state of insecurity. Does it in anyway indicate that he feels their pain and wants to help them? Does this hasty move give us the impression that the President is emotionally self-aware? Does he understand his emotions and is he aware of how they affect his performance? Does he have any idea or even care about how this action makes his compatriots see him? Even if he was to become aware of how we see him, would he be prepared to align that to his self-image? How do these nominations convince us that our President is able to self regulate? Even if he feels the impulse, for some reason, to reward this group of people, could he not consider the optics of it all? And for that reason, could he not restrain himself from yielding to it? Last but not least, what does it say about his social awareness and his social skills? In what way do his actions as a leader inspire Nigerians who elected him? What manner of argument can possibly be put up to convince Nigerians that these controversial appointments will help to resolve the multitude of conflicts that are tearing us apart? With reference to our shared vision, how does this act make Nigerians feel they’re members of the same team? It was the great Gandhi who said, “anything you do for me without me is against me”. I, for one, don’t believe many Nigerians are with you on this one Mr President. This one is black and white.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.


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