The ‘unmined’ goldmines
“More gold has been mined from the thoughts (minds) of men than has been taken from the earth.” –Napoleon Hill
In his classic, ‘Acres of Diamonds,’ Russell H. Conwell told the story of a certain farmer who sold his farm and went in search of diamond elsewhere. However, one sunny day, the new owner of the farm took his camel out into the garden to drink, and as the camel put its nose down into the clear water, the man noticed a reflection of light from the sand of the shallow stream. And he reached to it and pulled out a black stone having an eye of light that reflected all the colours of the rainbow. And guess what? It was diamond! It was from that farm that the most magnificent diamond mines in all the history of mankind was discovered! So, the new owner became fabulously wealthy while the original owner died a pauper!
This story, in my opinion, is somewhat similar to what’s happening in Nigeria. How? Because we have rich deposits of ‘goldmines’ that are rarely mined. We sometimes, even abandon them and go look for foreign goldmines to mine! But the goldmines in this context are not the mineral goldmines, but human goldmines. I mean the ‘hidden’ and sometimes, despised at knowledgeable, skilful and talented great young men and women that have remained undiscovered, unidentified and unrecognised in Nigeria! You may be stunned to be told that the most valuable resource we have in Nigeria is not crude oil, but human resources! But how do I know that we have these set of ‘unmined’ goldmines in Nigeria? I know, because of my bitter experience and that of other youths I’ve interacted with.
The burning question is why are our abundant goldmines in Nigeria rarely mined? Well, based on my ugly experience and observation, certain factors are responsible for this negative trend. But before I discuss them, note that the word ‘unmined’ is not found in the Dictionary. But I’m using it in this article for the purpose of convenience. So, what are the factors? They’re many, but I’d discuss only two that are prominent.
First, it’s because ‘they’ are not ready to compromise their cherished values: This, to me, is the number one reason why most goldmines have never been mined in Nigeria. From my first-hand experience, if you are a principled person who wants to live by your cherished spiritual and moral values, then, you had better not think of being recognised, let alone to be engaged to contribute positively to societal growth. Let me not bore you with my own experience, but let me share with you the ugly experience of one of my cousins. She’s a seasoned journalist in her own right. But because she refused to compromise by not selling her body out to the ‘Ogas’ at the top,’ she had been not only punished but frustrated in different media houses where she had worked.
In fact, according to her, there was one particular incident where her immediate boss hid her audition tape and refused to give it out. But guess what?
Those mediocre young ladies who slept with the so-called ogas were made to occupy attractive positions and were made to head her.
Second, ‘they’ are not in politics/don’t have godfathers: This is another strong factor responsible for allowing young minds to lie fallow in Nigeria. Because the majority of the talented youths are not in politics or they don’t have godfathers, even when the authorities know that you’re good or qualified, you’ll be sidelined. I’ve seen where mediocrities and never-do-wells are appointed into juicy positions or gainfully engaged by some government agencies, and even in some private organisations, controlling millions of naira! In fact, I have a trailer-load of instances to prove this point!
However, I wouldn’t bother myself to mention names. But the hard truth is that no matter how good you’re at what you do, I bet that you’ll hardly be given opportunity to showcase your talent, if you’re not in politics or don’t have a godfather, except by divine Intervention! And of course, that’s why we’ll continue to have more of square pegs in round holes!
Anyway, it’s no surprise to me, because it seems to me that we celebrate mediocrity at the expense of excellence. We’re in a country where honesty and integrity seem to be highly tolerated and thoroughly ‘punished’ and dishonesty is highly celebrated and lavishly rewarded! As it is now, you dare not say you want to be honest, because you’ll have more ‘enemies’ than friends! With this kind of system, Nigeria will continue to remain underdeveloped because of its young unmined goldmines! In my view, Nigeria is poor not because we lack resources, but because of the under-utilisation of the human resources, especially the young minds! Myles Munroe was apt when he said, “Nothing in the world is worse than someone (a nation) who doesn’t understand what he (it) possesses.”
I believe there are hundreds of thousands of able, knowledgeable, talented and skillful youths who are brimming with billion-dollar ideas, but are yet to be recognised in Nigeria by the relevant bodies because they’re not ‘connected’! I’ve heard some notable personalities say (with a sense of pride) that Nigeria is one of the most blessed counties with talents in the world. I agree. But how many of the ‘talented’ youths are engaged to contribute to national development? Little wonder, John F. Kennedy asserted, “A nation is not great by the talents it has, but it’s great by the talents it recognises.”
If this trend of only recognising or empowering youths based on political association or god-fatherism or nepotism continues in Nigeria, I’m afraid, that when the Pressure to Express themselves (the Young Unmined Goldmines) is continued to be repressed and suppressed, they will regressively explode – take to crime. Or, the positive-minded ones will progressively explode –they’ll travel out and excel at where they’ll be celebrated; just like the way Prof. Philip Emegwali was despised at here in Nigeria, but he’s now a genius in a foreign land –United States. This reminds of the adage which says, “A cow will not know the value of its tail until it is cut off!”
However, I’m not insinuating that leveraging on our golden connections to get what we want is bad. Please don’t get me wrong! What I’m advocating here’s that if you’re in a position to empower someone on the basis of links, it should be based on merit, and not to sacrifice excellence or talent on the altar of mediocrity! To this end, those in positions of authority should, as a matter of urgency, without any ‘political consideration’, look out for and explore young goldmines lying fallow in Nigeria! This reminds me of the interview I read in a Paper about the founder of Channels TV, John Momoh, how he got into broadcasting. According to him, he went to Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC) to start a drama presentation, and from there he was discovered to have a good voice. And the rest, they say, is history! The point is this: he was not engaged because of his ‘connection’, but because they discovered a goldmine, and they mined it! Yes, “more gold has been mined from the thoughts (minds) of men than has been taken from the earth.”
Well, as a positive-minded proud Nigerian, I have a dream, that one day, youths who are not only gifted, knowledgeable, skillful, but who’re honest and patriotic will no longer be judged by their political association, nepotism or ‘connections’, but they’ll be judged (empowered or employed) by the content of their character!
Till I come your way again next time, this is what I want the government and other appropriate bodies to bear in mind: “If you don’t give the ability of our youths responsibility (engage them positively), they may become a liability (militants, armed robbers, prostitutes, agbero’) to the society (Nigeria)!”
• Boussa, a speaker, writer, Stress/Time Management and Elocution coach, writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. firstname.lastname@example.org 08036600945.