Consequential Thinking: Thinking Big Versus Thinking Small
Written by Paul I. Adujie
When the history of the world is written, whether we succeed as a nation, or what becomes Nigeria’s role and place in the world, will be determined by, our preference of the big picture over myopic and parochial worldview, in connection with resolving our national issues, deciphering where our national interests are hinged, upon which positive national outcomes that we seek and should passionately desire, would be attained.
Thinking big and thinking small, have important consequences that impact all of us, and the varied outcomes our lives presents to us all, this is human thinking, that are translated into our actions, behaviors or conducts, and naturally, some consequences are pleasant but at other times, some undesirable results are wrought upon humankind, in our fiendishly complicated world; Thinking big or beyond oneself, while forsaking instant gratification or self-ingratiation of the individual, is most desirable for our progress, this is what enthroning a common-good mantra would do for Nigeria and our developmental advancements.
All past and present human advancements, were, at some points, just mere figments of individual imaginations, these human advancements were just merely wild dreams, which means, all the magnificent castles on earth, the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, moonlanding and all, were once, just castles in the air, until they were brought forth, and actualized, through the critical thinking and positive determination by person or persons; Conversely, thinking small requires self-absorption or self-flagellation and self-indulgence or some form of individualistic extremism, with all its attendant negative impact on whole communities, societies and countries; I believe Nigerians are currently witnessing a locust-style suffusion by existentialists of the worst types, there are now too many me-first and me-firsters, me me me have become the predominant mantra, as it were. Instead of savoring the wonderfulness of Nigeria, instead of letting Nigeria be our uncontested favorite country on earth!
I make bold to assert, that Nigerians are great thinkers; Our national challenges and even uncountable failures have arisen, not because were are an unthinking lot, evidence abound, of Nigerians’ intellectual robustness and sturdiness, we have excelled, notably and remarkably, in every fields of endeavor, in every professions in both Nigeria and abroad, particularly, at home, where a reading of any policy documents or deal papers, readily reveals, how well-crafted Nigerians policies are, serving as wonderful exemplars of our intellectual prowess, we are only found lacking, however, when it comes to the implementations of these well-crafted policies, as with good laws in the books, that are not enforced or wonderful concept projects, that not executed and implemented to their logical fruition and advantage, Nigerians are by and large, great thinkers, no doubt.
We urgently need to tweak our policy implementations, to become consistent with our well crafted policy formulations, to begin to prevent the usually anguished or undesirable outcomes, that have created cynics out of too many Nigerians, as we have become unbelievably frustrated with exasperations, over past and continued public policy failures; What Nigerians lack presently therefore, are essentially, the desires and fortitude to think beyond self, the passion to think big, and take possession of the entire forest instead of the frequent internecine fights over a few trees that belong to us all, Nigerians must think less of self, we should think more about our communities, our societies our country and the possible effects or consequences that our actions or, behaviors and conducts have on our collective interests, here defined with restraint, as common-good or national interests.
Here is a hypothetical example of some Nigerians' current thought processes, and disastrous consequences produced from the sorts of small thinking mindset, note the actions and the dire consequences that follows; Paul is customs officer, due to his greed, poverty of mind or thinking small etc, he accepts bribes from a gun smuggler, who brings into Nigeria, an automatic pistol handgun, through one of the ports of entry, where Paul is stationed, subsequently, Paul, his father and best friend are killed in a botched robbery or in a politically motivated rampage, killed with the smuggled pistol, allowed into Nigeria, because Paul as a customs officer neglected and refused to enforce the law that prohibits pistol smuggling.
Of course, in real life, it is rare to have such direct connection of cause and effect or actions and repercussions, but this is essentially how consequential thinking works, those who engage in consequential thinking, forbear to take certain actions, because of the high probability of the foreseeable consequences of such actions, anticipating such adverse consequences, informs the big thinker to eschew a form of conduct, a big thinker in this instance would have upheld the laws against the smuggling of pistols, Paul’s inability to uphold the law, refuse the smuggler’s bribe, while confiscating the illegal pistol, caused subsequent havocs, as we shall soon learn, Paul was of course motivated by personal greed and short-term money benefit, that he would accomplish from the bribe, but nemesis caught up with Paul, his family and friends, as the pistol became useful, in teaching a perverse lesson to Paul who abetted its smuggling.
In another hypothesis, let say Paul receives a contract to establish a power station, to facilitate electricity generation, for the enhancement of industrial/commercial and domestic processes, suppose Paul purchases secondhand or refurbished electricity generation equipments, with short or limited lifespan and as a result, growth and development are stifled in industrial/commercial endeavors? And on the domestic front, this will mean no electricity for domestic comforts, such as air conditioners, electric fans and refrigeration etc would not be had, all due to Paul’s small thinking, and as result of his unwillingness to look at the big picture, but imagine if Paul purchased the right equipments, secured the applicable warranties, including technical service agreements that assures follow-up and after-sales service by the manufacturers and or distributors? We will all have and enjoy our money’s worth in service satisfaction.
Suppose, that the ubiquitous Paul, furthermore, enjoyed the receipt of construction contract, and he undertakes to do a shoddy job or leave the construction uncompleted or perhaps, because he is so well connected, Paul brazenly abandons the construction job outright? He has the political leadership on his payroll, literally in his pocket? And so, Nigeria ends with bad roads, roads with gullies and crater sized holes, where will Paul, his family and friends, who he wishes well, drive their cars? Paul has subverted his own interests, his family’s and friends’ interests in plying a well constructed road, commerce is impeded, death and sufferings results from the death traps, that our highways have since become, Paul is effectively Kobo wise and Naira foolish! We are all in this together
On medical supplies and equipments, we are all very familiar and know the facts regarding the consequences of fake medicines as ticking time bombs? So also, are inferior or malfunctioning substandard medical equipments, if a refusal to think big leads Paul to supply fake medicines and bad equipments, it quite likely, that Paul, his family and friends, could become direct victims of the iniquities Paul committed, in supplying fake medicines and bad medical equipments to our hospitals and healthcare facilities, Paul’s fraud plays some roles in giving our countries undesirable labels of denigrations, including certain death for those who become consumers of these fake drugs or receipients of inadequate service from faulty and substandard equipments.
There are a million examples, similar to the patterns outlined above, where individual greed or debauchery, portend dire consequences for our country, as outlined for all to see, the roles, that we have played and some continue to play individually, in our country underdevelopment, regardless of our position as minions or as the all-powerful oga-pata-pata, whether as messengers, clerks, commissioners, ministers, governors or even the president, we elevate or debase, depending on our preferred mantra, do we think big or small, do we prefer instant gratification or deferred benefits for the best interest of all and country? Do we not clearly see the perversities wrought by these corruption and depravities?
Nigerians who usurp their positions of public trust, for their personal benefits, betray themselves and all of us, invariably and inevitably, they betray the common-good of our country; Imagine, what would happen, if all the public policies in Nigeria were faithfully and thoroughly implemented to their logical conclusions and brought to fruition? What would have become of the Ajaokuta steel project that was first conceived over thirty years ago, how about the national identity card project that is more than twenty-five years old, then add the different phases of the Kainji Hydro Electric projects and the fabled manufacturing of a made in Nigeria car? Imagine all the other dead and moribund projects?
Imagine if contracts were executed promptly and completely, otherwise, for any failures, to promptly and completely execute projects, imagine if there is certainty of punishment, imagine if those who inspect project execution or those who supervise and verify completions and compliance, were incorruptible? Further imagine, if there was certitude of punishments of contractors that are found responsible project failures or for poor project execution or implementation, (these were the good sides of Buhari/Idiagbon) punishing errant contractors and project implementors.
Schools and hospitals will be built and equipped and agreements for follow-up maintenance would be scrupulously monitored and terms enforced;
Power plants would have brand-new turbines and generators installed, service agreements without inflated costs or illegal ten percent, to make enforcers look the other way, continued maintenance regimen, would ensure abundant generation and regular electricity supply for all, there will be a welcomed untimely death of the importations of personal electricity generator sets, ridding our society of the associated pollution by noise, the soot and fumes.
This also means that our roads will regain their formerly pristine conditions, just as our Paul, his family and friends, others will be spared from the lethal bullets from an automatic pistol that is smuggled into Nigeria with bribes, and the willing bribe taker customs officer or Police officer at road checkpoints, who are too willing to wave aside our laws, and the lethal dangers an illegal gun clearly present, as inherent in the smuggling of an automatic pistol (clearly not for hunting lions!) but just because a few Naira notes have changed hands as bribes, human heads may be smuggled?
We should not be competing against ourselves, we should not allow our national interests to suffer, we are not in the business of defeating ourselves. We must think big and bigger!
In producing a safe, developed and advanced Nigeria, all Nigerians must act as if we are all quality control expert in factories, in the manufacture of a product called national interests of common-good, and we must show and exert determination, not to allow impure products pass into our quality products, we must rid our production of impurities and poisons, we must maintain our market share or our place in the world, we cannot in good conscience complain, if we allow our personal and transient interests or some distractions, override our collective responsibilities, that ensures that our common interests are guaranteed.
Personal interests must take a back seat, the competition should favor overall national interests, this can be done, only by enthroning consequential thinking on a large/wide scale, without consequential thinking, some people engage in corruption, and needles greed, the accumulation of resources for their personal use, wealth that rightly belong to the public treasury, some Nigerians have reportedly siphon more money than any one person can use in a lifetime, entire lifespan, more than any human being can utilize, even if they have a lifespan, spanning a thousand years!
Without consequential thinking, some Nigerians have accumulated wealth outside Nigeria, and they prefer to continue to needlessly accumulate properties, instead of even investing in Nigeria, this has led some critics to wonder why we seek foreign infusion of investment, when, wealthy Nigerians prefer their money and children in “safe-havens” overseas! The pillaging would stop, when and if, those engaged in it, realize the best interests is served in a developed and advanced Nigeria, instead of stealing Nigeria’s assets and wealth, public resources, for the reinforcement of the growth and advancements of other countries’ economies, just as we sometime hear of wasted, confiscated or abandoned looted assets from Nigeria, stashed overseas, that could have been put to work, in contribution to putting Nigeria in good stead.
On the whole, it must be appreciated, as it is the case, that our actions or inactions and or omissions, complicities with these, (all of the above acts that defeats national interests) have had dramatic negative effects and impact on Nigeria, hence, on all of us, these dire consequences, are much more than what I am sufficiently equipped in eloquence to express, I sincerely wish that I could demonstrate more succinctly, the types of egregious behaviors Paul typified in the hypotheses, these sorts of behaviors ought to be severely punished, but our present society permits the likes of Paul to wangle their ways out of legal troubles or impediments. We must stop undermining our national aspirations!
Paul avoids repercussions for his criminal behaviors and criminal enterprise, he is on the lose to commit other crimes, or to be in complicities, aiding others to sneer at our laws; Nigeria must let the rule of law and due process surpass all other loyalties, allegiances, affiliations and affinities, as Nigeria undertake efforts to ensure the certainty of rewards and punishments for every citizen, and ensuring the certitude of punishment for citizens especcially like Paul in the numerous hypothetical examples above, Nigerians citizens who aid and abet crimes and all others in complicities, that continue to thwart our collective progress and advancement in Nigeria, such wayward citizens deserve to be visited with the fullest extent of our laws, and them some.
It is equally the case, that the far reaching implications of these nefarious activities, as we know them, the sorts that Paul regal in, in the aforementioned examples, all these improprieties, contraindicated here, affects all Nigerians, Paul, his family and friends in real life, would not be the only affected,of course, many more innocent persons, unsuspecting Nigerians, would be affected adversely as well, our communities, society and country are subjected at different levels, to Paul’s anti-social and criminal behavior, from whence comes the radioactive-like fallout of the corruptions infestations,and the debilitating consequences, that have mushroomed in our country.
Thinking big and always preferring our collective interests in positive ways, benefits us individually and all of us as a collective, it is really a win-win proposition, and it is very simple and realistic, just as the benefits are apparent; From my big picture perspective, these are the ways we can move from words to action, steering our country into rebirth and renaissance, and the exact opposite is also true, as have it have been clearly apparent and responsible for our slow march or standing-still, to development and progress.
All Nigerians who are passionate about our homeland, must now resolve henceforth, to think big, to think of the big picture, to think of the common-good that would arise or be achieved, as we become more contemplative and deliberative, in our actions and behaviors that affect Nigeria, so that, every opportunity presented is explored to the fullest by Nigerians in the consequential thinkers’ mode would do, the opposite of the numerous havocs committed by Paul in the above example, but if we persist in behaviors like Paul’s, we cannot continue to wonder why too many things are not the way we want.
Paul clearly subverted his interest and society’s interests at large, in general, and on the long run. We most certainly, must desist from undermining our national purpose.
We must eschew poverty of mind and spirit, and must instead elevate community and national interests to its pride of place and accord it the priority that it deserves, over and above our personal interests, nothing must be pursued in denigration of our common-good, no more parochial, myopic and shortsighted actions, that are sure to produce results that defeats us all; Nigeria’s development, progress and advancements, depends on the re-orientation, the refinements of all Nigerians and in this, we must not fail.