WORTHLESS NOTE OR WORTHY SON?
“Who get dis 20 nala?”
The question came from the tiny voice of a little boy. As I looked up from the church programme I was reading, I could see that he was not more than six or seven years old. There he stood, a few paces from me, pointing to a 20 naira note half buried in the sand.
He was looking at me, obviously expecting me to answer the question. The place was the premises of a ‘white garment’ church. The occasion was the Harvest and Thanksgiving Day of the church. The day was Sunday, the 24thof November, 2013.
I had gone to the church on the invitation of my very dear friend. I chose to sit outside though my friend wanted me to join them inside the church. I thought it a bit odd for me to be about the only one not wearing a sutana (white robe) and girdle inside the church, especially as there were some members sitting outside. In fact, sitting not far from me were two men in church apparel who appeared to be officials of some sort, judging from the extra decorations on their robes. They were talking animatedly about something related to the ongoing event.
The boy raised his voice a notch, just in case I was hard of hearing, I guess: “I say who get dis 20 nala?!” By then he had kicked the note out of the sand into full view. It was a brand new note. “I don’t know,” I said, smiling and shaking my head.
The boy, clad in a shining white silk robe, moved close to the two men still engrossed in their talk and repeated his question. One of the men looked at him, then at the 20 naira note in question and said to him, “Take am go,” apparently irked by the boy’s intrusion and desirous of dismissing him with his offer. The boy shook his head. “No be my own,” he said and walked away.
I was surprised. My mind went to work. Why did the boy not take the money? Could it be that he considered it worthless and probably would have taken it if it were of a higher denomination? Surely, 20 naira can still buy a few sweets, which are what boys of that age like to buy. Or was he simply a worthy little boy, keeping to his parents’ or church leaders’ instructions never to take what does not belong to him? I preferred to believe the latter – after all, there are still stories of little boys pilfering sums of lesser value from their mummies’ purses to buy delicacies at school. The experience made my day. ‘There is still hope for Nigeria,’ I thought.
I forgot about the whole thing until I got to the office on Tuesday. I was leafing through one of the national dailies when I came across the story of former Oyo State Head of Service and eleven others who were arraigned by the EFCC over alleged involvement in a 5.6 billion naira pension fraud.
According to the story by one Agboola Ayo, the Ibadan Correspondent of the Blueprint Newspaper, the erstwhile Head of Service (a woman) and her accomplices were arraigned on a 213-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money through false pretence and forgery.The EFCC alleged that they withdrew the sum in bits from accounts belonging to the Oyo State Local Government Staff Pension Board. According to the anti-corruption agency, the accounts were opened to effect payment of the pension and gratuity of retired local government workers in the state.
Now, how can a few persons steal that which belongs to the majority without a twinge of conscience? What greed leads a woman, who is supposed to be a builder of society, to plunder the sustenance of senior citizens whose virility has already been sapped by decades of abysmally recompensed servitude in a decadent civil service? How many people in Nigeria can walk away from that which is not theirs; like the little boy? And for how long will the little boy be able to preserve the sanctity of that virtue in the midst of so many looters and grabbers?
Questions and more questions. Who has the answers?
PS: This piece was first published on Facebook on November 28, 2013. It received a few interesting comments and I crave the indulgence of the commentators to reproduce them here:
Godwin Ukaa Who has the Answer? I Wonder ! I just Wonder !!! Late legendary Evang Sonny Okosun”s question” Which Way Nigeria” continues to linger and echoes in our ears and across the land. Oh!! God Help NIGERIA.
November 28, 2013 at 10:47pm · Like
Ugonma Cokey Maybe these adults didn’t have the kind of “parents/leaders/models” this litttle boy had or what do you think? Do what I say not what I do doesn’t bring much result don’t you think?As for the boy & how long,God help him.
November 29, 2013 at 12:05am · Like
Adeyemi Ogunnubi Hmnn! the difference between the boy and those who loot treasury meant for all is home training, content and fear of God! (in the case of the boy, the fear of his parents when they see him with such money). The looters will surely meet their waterloo one day but then some generation would have copied such act of chop make I chop!
Have your say.