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The human mind and wild, wild wealth

Written by Fola Ojo - Punch, Nigeria
Fola Ojo
February 6, 1985. The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, spoke these words during his STATE OF THE UNION address to the American people: “Let us begin by challenging our conventional wisdom. There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”
The human mind is an arsenal from which all things good and bad flow. It functions like a compass which gives a navigational direction to a ship. Where the human mind travels, the physical body sails. From the human mind comes a mindset. A mind which is set on a particular course cruises unfettered until a goal is achieved. When bars of iron break and bend for a man or for a nation, they do so first in the mind. The Nigerian citizenry at this time requires a sound mind revamping and rejuvenation.

Every nation has its own mind from where values and virtues flow. The mind of a nation is driven by the minds of those in leadership. And the minds of leaders in turn influence the minds of the citizens. When a society enthrones a man with a perverted mind, all you’ll have as results are perversion, dirt and stench. When you enthrone a man whose stock-in-trade is amassing wealth through dishonest means, the result will be a nation filled and ruled by dishonest beings. Thieves beget thieves; all thieving abilities and societal ills are rooted in the soil and basement of the mind. If corruption and stealing of public funds are acceptable lifestyles in a clime, it is because the mind of that community has become a fructuous ground for reproducing the debauchery.

Although progress is made and suffering alleviated through an untainted and unbroken positive mindset of a leader, no president is naturally equipped to fight corruption alone. A leader needs the army of all citizens to get the job done. If the minds of those who fight alongside the leader are mangled, there will be no single punch landed. Until our minds are transformed, true changes we yearn for will never take place. Until the minds of those minding government business are mended, Nigeria will remain in the treadmill of life with a lot activities and no good ground covered.
All the encouraging moves of the present administration fighting corruption mean nothing to some. They believe that eventually Nigeria will go back to its “normal” abnormal ways; and the Nigerian dog will return to its vomit. I pray they are wrong. The way some Nigerian minds drive for wealth is mind-boggling. The crave and thirst for wild, wild wealth is insane. Men enlisted in politics for only one reason: to accumulate wealth. The heart of service is no longer a prerequisite for holding public office. Those who strive to get wealth have forgotten that a man is not considered to have value because of his valuables; he is not deemed a man of worth because of his net-worth. You are a man of value and worth because you work hard and the blessings of God make you rich.
Something has tweaked our minds that amassing wealth through dishonest means is a normal way of life. That’s why churches are filled to the brim when the pastor wants to blabber about “HOW TO GET RICH IN 24 HOURS”. Our young people have bought into the insanity. Big cars, big houses, and big splashes of money at events are acts that fill their fragile minds. Many of them aspire to be like the thief next door. A mind programmed to illegally amassing wealth is a sick mind. Unfortunately, a conglomerate of sick minds breeds a sick nation.
When former “this-and-that” is caught with raw stacks of cash in his or her house while people in his village are dying of poverty and disease, it is a mindset problem. What is one creature of God doing with $100bn and 1000 houses? What is sane about money stacked up to the ceiling and cash scattered from the kitchen to the bedroom of a former minister? These are ills lodged in a mindset of a pesrinality.
The message from the diary of one of Africa’s illustrious sons always comes to mind. Chief M.K.O. Abiola was Africa’s big multibillionaire in his own time. He was the man who was denied the presidency of Nigeria by our military not too long ago. As a young journalist, I had personal encounters with the chief spanning over about nine months. Abiola was the Patron of the National Sports Writers Association of Nigeria when I was elected the Secretary of Lagos State SWAN. Abiola was generous. If you went in to Abiola’s house broke, you would come out embroidered with abundance. The man was large, big, and kind-hearted. Twenty four hours before he died in the custody of Sani Abacha/Abdulsalami Abubakar, he reportedly wrote these words. Only the wise can decode the message:
“There are two reasons behind what people called my generosity. Firstly, I am a Muslim and generosity is enjoined on all Muslims by Islam. Secondly, I am also a realist. I happen to know that hoarding earthly wealth is meaningless, in so far as a millionaire, will not, when he dies, be buried with his millions. I prefer to share the little I have with those who have none at all in the belief that God, whose command I obey, will reward me in the next world. I can’t even hoard things for my children as many people do. For one thing, how do I know that my children, when I die, will not spend all the wealth I have thus amassed through tight -fistedness within 24 hours! Such a thing has happened to many so-called rich men, hasn’t it? I believe that no one but God can make anyone rich. Selfishness often runs counter to true self interest.”
Chief Abiola only echoed what Alexander III, King of Macedonia, commonly known as Alexander the Great, said about wealth accumulation. After many recorded conquests and massive accumulated wealth, he died at a tender age of 32. On his death bed, he summoned his Army Generals and told them his three ultimate wishes:
  1. He wanted the best doctors to carry his coffin.
  2. He wanted the wealth he had accumulated (money, gold, precious stones) be scattered along the procession to the cemetery.
  3. He wanted his hands let loose, and let hang outside the coffin for all to see.
One of his generals who were surprised by these unusual requests asked Alexander to explain. Here is what Alexander the Great had to say:
  1. I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal.
  2. I want the road to be covered with my treasure so that everybody sees that material wealth acquired on earth will stay on earth.
  3. I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty-handed and we leave this world empty-handed.”
Holy men of old were not wrong when they said that wealth has wings and it will fly. They are also definitely not wrong when they inferred that our days on earth are limited. The worthlessness of staying in hot pursuit of wild, wild wealth, therefore, must remain in our minds.

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