So President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote wanted to determine the national courage quotient of a sample of Nigeria’s population resident in Lagos. Many of his admirers did not know that he had decided to unveil his signature streak, the dominant gene in his constitution. They did not know he was going to share his top secret. Of course, if it’s something easy, every Nigerian would be an Aliko. Alas, many failed the test.
Incidentally, this test and the announcement of the result by Alhaji Dangote himself does not now look as hard as it many have seemed when he first made the call inviting many people to Borno State. To meet with internally displaced persons and generally connect with them in an uplifting way.
Alhaji Dangote announced during the recent Children for Africa Launch in Abuja that 90% of those who took his test failed. Those were not his exact words. He said 90% of those he invited from Lagos to join him in Borno State, turned down his invitation. He wanted them to set foot in that state and see first-hand the plight of many who had borne the brunt of the war on terror. Internally Displaced Persons who need all the help they can get to ‘restart’ their lives after the interruptions from terror. Of course a physical visit to Borno State would put the subject in a completely different light. And enable a better understanding of the urgency of the need.
Unfortunately, most of the people he called declined the invitation. For various reasons. He did not say what the reasons were but we can all guess the leader of the pack – fear. Doesn’t Alhaji Dangote himself fear for his life? Yet he was there with those who ‘passed’ the test, those who accepted and went to Borno. Doesn’t his conduct in this story reveal something deep about his constitution? That he would do something he is convinced about despite the presence of fear? That he would go ahead and begin a project despite the risks?
Pilate was merciful until it became risky (apologies, CS Lewis.) Pilate was willing to set Jesus free but when those baying for the blood of Jesus threatened him that they would report him to Caesar, he capitulated. He thought he would put his relationship with Caesar at risk if he did not do the bidding of those people. Earlier on he had said he found no fault in the man they had accused before him.
Identifying with virtues only to the extent at which our personal space, comfort or pleasure is considered safe does not allow real courage to show itself. And consequently, does not give us the privilege of the top crest of the gains accruable in such situations. Herein lies the substance of Alhaji Dangote’s ‘test.’ The quality of care or love we express to internally displaced persons or any other class of needy persons in society is revealed when we yield to danger and back off from embarking on actions we had hitherto considered.