Growing up I heard a lot of our elders saying in Hausa, “makaryaci baida kiwuyar sata”. Literally translating as a man who lies constantly will have no qualms stealing. They also say, “da ganin biri yayi kama da mutum”. That is, mere look at a monkey tells you that it resembles man. Another one I hear to this day is “ruwa baya tsamin banza” which roughly means water will not be sour just like that or “no smoke without fire”. That to me summed up Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Some of us have kept quiet about his antecedents because of his age. It is a major problem for me. I give older people pass. Today will be an exception.
You see, as with most insomniacs, when sleep eludes me, I patch up the night by reading books, watching news or movies, surfing the net and/or reading anything and everything in from of me. And Yesterday night was one of those nights. Going through same situation I started surfing the net. I came across a piece. Apparently, some young men are angry, very angry, that they have been stiffed by no less a person than the Alhaji Lai Mohammed, our Minister of Information.
They claimed that he and the Ministry he is supervising stole an idea they gave him and did not deem it fit to even credit or acknowledge them. The young men, Mr Akin Fadeyi and Omo Bazuaye, who run a PR firm, spent 10 years nurturing and developing a wonderful idea they tagged “NOT IN MY COUNTRY”.
Fadeyi and Bazuaye spent same number of years looking for willing corporate and public institutions to take up or sponsor, until they finally presented it as a proposal to the Minister of Information in both papers and film shoots, which they claimed he collected and kept quiet about it. They “never heard anything from him” since then until they saw the unavailing of their own hardwork as “CHANGE STARTS WITH ME”.
Now they are going to court. And somehow I believe them; for (1) monkey resembles man, (2) people who lie effortlessly and shamelessly will have problem stealing, (3) water will not be sour for nothing, and importantly (3) my experience of submitting proposals in MDAs, and and waiting and waiting only to be dragged aside by someone who pitied me and whispered into my ear that my firm’s proposal was implemented by another favoured firm. Dig deep you may find that a hastily organized contract is given to another firm. So, I support them. Even if they will lose the case, they must sue. You can steal my child and rename him/her, he or she will still be my child.
The irony of this is that an old man, a part of the generation that ruined this country, who from his high horse is telling people to change first, may have stolen a character-shaping and attitude-changing concept from guys that are probably young enough to be his grandkids. Instead of, at least, acknowledging these young guys, he claimed the concept and presented it to his boss, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under a different name, but using same template.
Question, do you see why we insist that what we aspire for, first, is LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE? Again, how do you shape people’s behaviour for good by stealing other people’s ideas? Finally, how do we raise our own Zuckerbergs if people nearing their graves are stealing their innovative ideas? How? Questions!