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Patience, patience and more patience!

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Seek the Almighty’s help with patient perseverance and prayer. It is indeed hard except for those who are humble.” (Quran 2:45)

If you were to ask an ordinary Nigeria today particularly those who are down there in the abyss of want and deprivation where hope for better tomorrow remains like a mirage, how he feels about this country, he would probably tell you he has lost all hopes for a better Nigeria. If you were to commit that other error of asking a politician who is out of power how feels about current situations of things in our country, he would most likely tell you things were better yesterday under P than they presently under party A. Now if you now commit the greater error of asking one of those compatriots of mine who desires that this nation breaks up so that his imaginary, rather illusory Eldorado of a nation could emerge from the ashes of a disemboweled Nigerian nation, he would declare that this nation holds no promise anymore for anybody.

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Now given closer contemplation, hardly can it be controverted that the same rain that waters the plantation in Ghana is the same that falls in Anambra; the same sun that shines over the city of Chicago is the same that we all behold in kano. I looked up in the skies and still saw the same moon and stars at night. The beautiful scenery that makes the city of Calabar attractive alluring to visitors has changed a bit from what it was years ago. When I got to the city Lagos recent, I discovered that Mushin has not changed its name, nor Surulere nor Victoria Island. What has changed in these parts of Lagos has been the change brought to bear on it by its inhabitants.

In other words, Lagos has changed and is changing from the dirtiest city in West Africa to the most beautiful. Lagos is changing not because the Lagos landscape has changed by itself. No, Lagos is changing simply because Lagosians have put in place a process that, over time, is maturing such that the city is now changing. Lagos is changing because Lagosians are allowing the process of change to take place, and peacefully too. And indeed, this goes for other states in our country that are presently recording advances and progress in infrastructural development. Sokoto is changing just like Kano, just like Bayelsa. The question then becomes urgent- what is missing in our national life? Exactly what might be the missing link in our world today?

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Responses to the above question, simple and highly innocuous as it appears, could be as multifarious as the colour of the rainbow. But a careful reflection over where we are today as a nation shows that what is missing in our lives as individuals and citizens of this great country might actually not be as hard to get as the basic necessities of life in our world. The missing link in our lives is not that which we lack such as water, electricity, good road network, state-of-the-art hospitals, modern education system etc. these indeed are necessities. In nations other than ours, these are taken for granted. In those countries, you do not have to pray for the provision of water or constantly await the ‘arrival’ or ‘return’ of electricity from some mythical principalities such as the Power ‘Holding’ Outfits. It is my opinion that what we are missing is that subtle connector, that compass that lead nations away from adversity to prosperity, from fear to hope, from dependence on their fellow men to reliance in the Almighty. What we appear to lack is patience. The missing link in our nation is Sabr.

Sabr or patience is a central Islamic value and teaching. It is repeatedly stressed in the Quran. The two words appear in the Quran more than one hundred times. This, among others, indicates the great importance that the Quran gives to this virtue, patience, in the Islamic ethical hierarchy. It reminds us that our worldly life is beset with challenges. The reason being the world we are living in presently is a world where everyone is free. This freedom creates competition and challenges which in turn creates problems constantly. We very well know that we cannot abolish the freedom given to man by God Himself. So, no human being has the power to abolish that situation which leads to competition and challenges.

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Hence, we are compelled to live in a situation of problems. Given this scenario what do we need to face the challenges of life successfully? Patience. It is patience and more patience. It is the robe constantly worn by men and women of knowledge and intuition. Patience or Sabr is not a passive attitude to life. It is not cowardice. Rather it is the creative and proactive posture against challenges of life. It is the path trodden by all Messengers of the Almighty from which they were rewarded with eternal success (Quran 46: 35). Whenever what you desire takes time to come into reality, whenever your aspirations are long in coming, keep this mind that as far as our Creator is concerned, delay is not denial; He knows exactly at what time your success should come. WAIT FOR HIM!

Afis Ayinde Oladosu is a professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies. Dean, Faculty of Arts,
University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

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