By Abdulkabeer Tijani
The caption of the letter “May your road be rough” is exactly what I wish my fellow compatriots including myself as we bow out of the year 2019. Nigerians who accept challenges and are prepared to conquer will wholeheartedly accept my wish for them. We are one big family irrespective of our tongues, tribes, and religion. So, it is also my wish for myself.
At some point in history, One of the foremost educationists in Nigeria social critic and a radical activist, Dr. Tai Solarin, who founded Mayflower School titled one of his article “May your road be rough”. Ever since I came across this outstanding piece from him, I have learned that there are no two ways for me to success than Prayer, hard work, commitment, and resilience. Whether a youth or not, one must believe that no good turn comes easily. One has to strive for the best no matter what it takes.
“May your road be rough” was simply a new year message by Tai Solarin on Jan 1, 1964. Expecting that his reader would be mad at him considering our low level of adjudging things on face values without deep thinking and also turn their fingers round their neck and snap them at him using “Back to sender”. He started this intellectual piece saying ” I am not cursing you; I am wishing you what I wish myself every year. I therefore repeat, may you have a hard time this year, may there be plenty of trouble for you this year! If you are not so sure what you should say back, why not just say, ‘Same to you’? I ask for no more.
Dr.Solarin stress further saying “our successes are conditioned by the amount of risk we are ready to take.” How many Nigerian youths are ready to follow the rough roads to success – the road of long-term plan, not the short-cut of the devil? Definitely, they are but are few. At the culminated, Tai concluded this piece with the note “If, therefore, you are out in this New Year 1964, to win any target you have set for yourself, please accept my prayers and your elixir” still repeating the phrase: “May your road be rough”. As old as this scholarly counsel, the message passed across is still been relevant, much more alive and also serves as a motivational embodiment for those that are keen on succeeding through the road of a long-term plan.
Besides, In Nigeria and even the world at large, every new year is usually a time for persistent prayers, wishes, and hope. Clergymen and politicians, family and friends, all join in the ritual of prayers, wishes, and hope. New year resolutions, success and many hopeful expressions and expectations everywhere. Amidst all of these, our actions pull the scale in the opposite direction. People pray for everything good, make resolutions, without commensurate efforts to realize them. This has been the case for Nigeria and Nigerians. We all want great things without pushing for it. We hope without exerting ourselves. We anticipate a great harvest without putting our hands to the plow.
To buttress my point, Sunny Awhefeada in his words said ” Nigeria’s problems are in our inability to rise to the challenge of genuinely confronting our foibles individually and collectively. Rather than confront our weaknesses headlong we seek solace in prayers and wishes of Happy New Year. To the discerning, all those prayers and wishes aggregate a will o’ the-wisp if they are not matched with action. Something cannot come out of nothing. Hence we need to match our prayers with action. Prayers are essential wishes and for what is anticipated to materialize, concerted and deliberate efforts must be made. One cannot plant cassava and expect to reap yam. A third class effort at scholarship cannot yield a first-class result. It is for this reason that many a new year’s wish does not come to pass. Nobody prays for failure, poverty, accident, death, robbery and other acts incidental to existential hardship. Yet, these negative indices of human existence daily confront and define us. The problem is not in our praying or not praying. The problem is not in our wishing or not wishing. The problem is in our not matching our prayers and wishes with deeds. I do concede that faith, prayer, and hope are essential to our spiritual and physical survival, but this is conditional. We must exert ourselves towards realizing what we hope for.”
In spite of the many prayers and happy New Year wishes pouring forth from Nigerians since 1914, the nation and people have tottered. We are now just hanging by the precipice. 2019 opened with an avalanche of prayers and wishes from clergymen and politicians. Side by side those prayers and wishes are exhortations to the downtrodden to be patient, dedicated, sacrificial and hopeful. Only the poor are encouraged to imbibe such attributes. The corpulent clergymen and triple-chinned political dealers have grown beyond complying with such virtues. Buhari, Osinbajo, Atiku, Obi, Saraki, Dogara, Wike, Seriake, all were joined in dishing out lavish New Year admonitions to the masses. Be more prayerful. Be patient. Be hopeful. Make sacrifices.
If only Saraki or Seriake could just for one day imbibe what they told the masses. If only either of them could exchange one of their cars, just one each, for those of my buddies Ogheneakpobo and Eyankwaire. Then they would know what it means to sacrifice. If only Dogara or Osinbajo could abandon the coziness of their Abuja home in exchange for a room in Orogun just for one day then they would know how much sacrifice we are making.
As we go into 2020 Nigerians have a choice to make. We are not likely to fully realize the benefit of that choice right away, but it is going to be a step in the right direction. We must act, plan and anticipate the result. But till then, may our road be rough, very rough!