By Ayo Jimi

America is God’s Own Country. Who is the owner of the rest of the world? We know of the Great Britain. I suspect other countries will have to settle for another adjective different from being great. It all boils down to one word – CHAUVINISM.

I have no issue with the God’s Own Country; neither do I have with the Great Britain. That was just my attempt at a humorous starting line – my apologies if you didn’t find it funny. My critical focus in this mental exertion is on the thousands of Nigerian students who are deceived by the generic title every student automatically carries – GREATEST NIGERIAN STUDENTS!

And everywhere that title is proclaimed you have a thunderous response that sounds ‘GREAT!’ Students feel good to identify with this title. I wonder if they have ever sat down to ponder on the true meaning and purpose of the title. What is the goal of this title – GREATEST NIGERIAN STUDENTS? What is the origin? And how potent is it to guarantee you of greatness simply by answering to that title?

I answered to that same title as a student even though I never would have been able to answer the above questions if I had been asked. Even as at today, several years after leaving the former school system, my best bet is a guess as regards the intended effect of that generic title. It presupposes that the moment you become a student, you are not just great, but the greatest. This implies that you are greater than the great. My question is – are you truly great, let alone greater than the great?

It is time, I am persuaded, to take a critical look at this title, which to me is one of the greatest self deceits of all time. Being a student is in no way an automatic qualification for greatness. It is only an access to potential greatness. Even in God’s Own Country devil sometimes has its way. Or how do we explain 9/11? It wouldn’t matter if all Americans believe that God must be an American, there are home-grown American devils! Even in the Great Britain, there are everyday experiences that point to something exactly opposite the pole of greatness. This fact is attested to in the March 20, 2012 edition of an online journal – Mail Online. ‘British people are committing suicide to escape poverty’. So wrote Sonia Poulton in that edition.

What’s the meaning of all this? The presence of God in America does not eliminate the manifestation of the devil. The greatness of Great Britain does not eliminate the existence of the down-trodden. Nigerians are said to be the happiest people on Earth. But go to the North and see how many families are wailing over the killing of loved ones. In spite of the claim to being the greatest by Nigerian students, many of them end up confused and frustrated. It is only a matter of time. The fog will clear off and you will see that you are truly on your own.

Many students end up mediocre in life in spite of the countless times they asserted to be the greatest while in school. What is the value of your contribution to the progress of your country or to its retrogression? Are you one of those who are critical assets to the future of this country, or you are one of the liabilities? When your name is mentioned in the circles that matter, what effect does it produce on people? Do they praise the creator for making you a worthy addition to the ever growing population of Nigerians, or they silently pray people like you get consumed by a natural disaster so others can have the space they need to make impacts. If the Nigerian state were to be Noah’s Ark sinking in the deluge as a result of excess weight, are you one of those the elders will gladly throw out to perish in the violent waters, or you are one of those that the elders will volunteer to jump into the waters for? Is the forty-something years you have to spend more on earth worth a lot more than the seven years a sixty-three year old grandpa has more to spend? Or would people rather prefer having that old man for seven more years than enjoy the torture of your existence for another four decades?

Your answers to these questions will be a pointer to the direction you are heading – whether the direction of greatness or the opposite. GREATEST NIGERIAN STUDENTS! I need you to answer the above questions honestly and objectively. Sometimes we have to be hard on ourselves. If hard knock is the pathway to progress, those who pat you on the head are destiny destroyers. I choose not to be one of them and that explains my being hard on you. My apologies please, and I mean no disrespect.

I ruminated over this and concluded that GREATNESS IS A NATIVE OF NOWHERE AND GOD IS A CITIZEN OF EVERYWHERE. The collective proclamation of GREATNESS is not a password to individual attainment of that status. Personal responsibility remains the chief component of the variables that interplay to produce greatness. Though it took thousands of Israelites to collectively shout Halleluya to bring down the walls of Jericho, it will take so much more to bring down the walls of poverty, of the mind not of the pocket, which is the strongest barrier to greatness. You know why? Poverty of the mind is deaf and dumb. It needs a measure of force to bring it down because it guards greatness.

It’s alright to be part of a chorus that makes you feel good. But every verbal assertion of greatness must be backed up by well-guided actions. The responsibility is yours to study the pathway to greatness as outlined in the documentation of the life and time of the truly great that lived and died for something noble.  It will not be sufficient to just study the pathway. You will need to learn to take every necessary action and pay the necessary price. You will need to stay on that path for as long as is necessary to great to a chosen destination.

So when next someone shouts GREATEST NIGERIAN STUDENTS do not just respond by saying GREAT!  Respond by acting GREAT. That which you chorus back is only a reaction. But that which you do afterwards is the response. And response is the key to greatness, if it is the right one. Got the gist? Keep moving!


About the author: grandsimms

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