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A Quiet Revolution

Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis


Joseph F. Mali

In A Quiet Revolution: Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis, Joseph F. Mali argues that contrary to popular belief, corruption and failed leadership are not at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. Corruption and misrule, though they have done a terrible harm to the Nigerian society, are in fact byproducts of something much more sinister in the same way that smoke is the byproduct of fire. The real trouble with Nigeria, Mali puts it bluntly, is a lifestyle of profound selfishness, which the people and their leaders have in common. The nation is still bleeding because of this evil. Unless Nigerians cure this «disease», Mali maintains, no system of government is likely to succeed in Nigeria. In vain do Nigerians seek political solutions as long as selfishness remains their credo! Since Nigeria’s problem is moral in nature, Mali insists, the remedy must also be ethical in character. Accordingly, he proposes «A Quiet Revolution» as a cure for Nigeria’s ailment. This revolution is not a silent coup to overthrow the Nigerian government. It is not «a French-styled rebellion in which the masses on the streets, and peasants in the country put an end to centuries of absolute monarchy». Rather, the «Quiet Revolution» is an interior change; an individual transformation. As long as this change has not taken place, Mali declares, it will be difficult to repair and restore Nigeria.
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Chapter 7. A New Way of Being Nigerian


← 84 | 85 → · 7 ·


Calling for a new way of being Nigerian presupposes that there was an old way. The difference has nothing to do with a generation gap. A youth could be an old Nigerian while an elderly person could be a new Nigerian. The division also has nothing to do with Nigeria before or after independence. Those born before independence could be new, while others who came after independence could be old Nigerians. Rather, being a new Nigerian is a matter of mentality and a set of values. Greed, fraud, corruption, deceit, and violence are traits of old Nigerians. Honesty, integrity, compassion, self-sacrifice, and hard work are attributes of new Nigerians.

Here the distribution of vices is not definitive, for sometimes new Nigerians behave like old ones and vice versa. But when new Nigerians act like old Nigerians, it is not the same as the inherent wrongdoing of old Nigerians. With new Nigerians, evil is an exception. To clarify this distinction, let me compare the difference between new Nigerians and old Nigerians to good singers and bad singers. A good singer may have one poor performance, but people know that he or she is a good singer. In contrast, a bad singer may sing well on one occasion, but people know that he or she is not a good singer. Such is the difference between new and old Nigerians. The inner working of their spirits is different....

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