In 2015, when Muhammadu Buhari was running for office, after trying and failing for 16 years, people said, “Buhari would be our president. He’d kill corruption.”
This is three years later. He’s running for another term. Corruption is still alive and well. Corruption is alive and kicking. It’s kicking us in the balls. We. Are. Broke.
Now, people are saying, Buhari is only waiting for his second term. That’s when he’ll really attack the corrupt people in Nigeria— the politicians, the governors— many of whom are in his party, many of whom are in his government. They’re saying if we give Buhari another chance, he’s gonna finally kill corruption.
I don’t think he will.
I don’t think he can.
I don’t think he even knows what corruption is.
The problem is: Nigeria is so deeply enmeshed in stealing. It’s so bad it’s like people go into government and they look around. The problems of this country overwhelm them, so they spend their energy on stealing money.
They don’t know where to start approaching the multitude of issues confronting the nation. So, rather than do anything concrete within their limited tenure, they try to protect themselves from those problems.
They try to protect their families. They try to protect their children. They try to protect their children’s children’s children. They’re like, You know what? I know that this country is going to shit so let me just grab as much money as I can so that my children will not be victims of this malaise.
That’s why people don’t just steal a little. It’s why they steal so much that we, looking from the outside, are dumbfounded. Please explain this: how can one man steal a billion dollars— money you cannot possibly exhaust in your lifetime?
Bill gates has $100billion. He knows he can never finish it in his lifetime. That’s why he’s giving it away. He knows that even his children’s children cannot blow all that money. So, he’s giving it away.
Yet, our people here, because of their fear, are letting things get worse for the rest of us.
They’re fixing roads and building bridges. The same things the next governments will repeat in the next four, eight, twelve, sixteen years. They’re not dealing with the institutional problems. They tackle the headache from the surface. They offer cosmetic solutions to a much-deeper, bone-marrow illness.
Now, speaking of Bill Gates. The last time he was in Nigeria, he spoke to the President. He Spoke to the governors and the politicians. He said, You need to invest in the people. You must invest in young people so that the future of this country will be better managed.
But nobody is going to listen to that. Because it doesn’t appear they even know how.
Also, they need these young people to campaign for them. To fight for them. To kill one another, and themselves, for them so that when it’s time again, the politicians can go back into government and steal more money, and retain their influence, and protect their extended families from the sickness of poverty spreading from Abeokuta to Zamfara.
That’s what this country is about.
Sadly, the thing is, even the young ones— we’re probably going to get into power and do the same damn thing. Because, honestly, the problems of this country, they’re just too many. The problems of ethnicity, the problems of greed… Well, actually, it’s largely the problem ethnicity. That’s what’s really killing us. Tribalism.
Nobody wants to give up anything for anyone. Nobody want’s self-sacrifice. We want to protect ourselves. This is what we’ve been taught in our families, our neighbourhoods, our mosques, our churches. Religion has become a vehicle for propagating tribalism and Mammonism.
Religion is killing us.
We are not alone, though. All over the world, religion is an unrelenting prick on the common good. We’ve taken the ancient philosophy of Jesus and Mohammed and turned them into religion, into doctrine, into dogma. And that’s what we go by.
We don’t remember that Jesus didn’t start a church. Jesus just preached peace, happiness, sacrifice, and kindness.
So, it’s time we changed the religions guiding everything we do. These new religions will be known for what they truly are: philosophy.
We’re going to teach them in primary schools, in secondary schools. Just like Christianity and Islam, they will be part of the curriculum. We’ll give the kids an alternative.
Why, for Nigeria to get better, I say give us 50 years. Fifty years for these kids who are still in primary school and secondary school to grow and know— let their minds be open. Let’s give them the intelligence they need to know that, Look, no matter who you are in this world, there’s just so much you can control.
Nothing you steal, no matter how large it is, can save you. Nobody here leaves this world alive. Eventually, we all die. And when we die, we don’t go with anything.
They need to know that nothing we do here is more important that helping other people, leave the world a better place. The corruption, the greed, the mindless capitalism is killing the earth. Even though we make laws to protect the planet, yet we keep finding loopholes in those rules so we can still boast about who has the biggest factories. We pollute the air, we pollute the oceans.
We need to craft a moral compass that’s powered by logic. This is what we need to believe in.
The powerful religions of today believe in miracles but the miracles have not created more ethical people. Instead, we the rich and powerful know that we can always ask for forgiveness from God, no matter what our infractions are. Heck, we can even buy indulgences, through charitable contributions, from Rome.
These philosophies we’ll be teaching do not have in them the concept of the afterlife or the divine forgiveness of sins. But they have the concept of What you sow is what you reap.
I could have said, let us all be Buddhists and embrace peace and live according to the Buddha’s philosophy. But, you know, just like they did with Jesus, they’ll want to profit from it. They’ll build large temples and compete among themselves for who can build the largest one.
And they’re going to hide the truth from the people. The hustlers will create a mystery around Buddha and position themselves as the only ones supernaturally qualified to lead you to Nirvana.
Instead of this, let’s teach stoicism. Stoicism doesn’t have an after life. It doesn’t have Nirvana. It doesn’t have Heaven. All it has are the food virtues of Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance. It also depends a lot on logic.
You know that, because you understand wealth and fame as indifferent, you know you don’t have to kill yourself to acquire property. You don’t need to. You can see the futility in that.
The earlier kids know this, the better for all of us. Plus, being a stoic helps you find your purpose in life earlier. So you don’t become another statistic, rushing about like a headless chicken, looking for a job, feeling that you must profit from government. It should make sense that, if we choose to work for government, we are actually doing it to help our fellow man.
That’s what this is going to be about.
So, I’ll say to Bill Gates: Help us.
Help us build organisations that will teach the principle that you follow, which is to make the life easier for others, too.
Which is to create more happy people, because this is what I believe: The more people are able to find their purpose in life, and the earlier they do, the fewer corrupt officials we’ll have in our system.
Let’s make that the new religion.
Above all else: I KNOW THAT I KNOW NOTHING.