One of the main problems with Nigeria is that we have too many social climbers without ladders. You heard it here first. Well, maybe you have heard it before but I am repeating it here for emphasis. There are too many abracadabra, out of the blues success stories. So much fluff with no material, plus no keen sense of reality. Like everything artificial, everything that does not rest on a solid foundation, everything without a strong essence, the things they do keep collapsing like Humpty Dumpty.
You see, Abraham Maslow was not on cheap crack when he proposed his Hierarchy of Needs theory. Let’s assume he was, he couldn’t have got the entire world drugged such that his theory continues to enjoy rave analysis in business and management classes world over. You see, that is one of the problems I have with us, too many MBA holders who are neither masters of their own thoughts nor that of management practices. We keep studying and writing thesis on what people in similar classes years ago propounded. Immediately after, we go shopping for suits and become briefcase CEOs, employ staff and owe them for months.
But I digress. We were talking about Maslow. This theory remains valid today for understanding human motivation, management training, and personal development. Indeed, Maslow’s ideas surrounding the Hierarchy of Needs concerning the responsibility of employers to provide a workplace environment that encourages and enables employees to fulfil their own unique potential (self-actualisation) are today more relevant than ever.
Now, replace employer with “government” and employee with “Nigerian citizen” in the above statement and you get a glimpse of what I am on about.
You see, I was reviewing some notes recently and it hit me. Each of us is motivated by needs, true. Our most basic needs are inborn, having evolved over tens of thousands of years. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs helps to explain how these needs motivate us all. The theory states that we must satisfy each need in turn, starting with the first, which deals with the most basic need for survival itself. Only when the lower order needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied are we concerned with the higher order needs of influence and personal development.
What do we have in Nigeria today? We see people from nowhere, all sorts of characters, riffraffs, simpletons, people without a clear understanding of where they are headed themselves, suddenly doing double somersaults and unfortunately finding themselves in places and offices at the very top of Maslow’s chart, effectively skipping the preceding steps.
What happens is that when they get there, they still retain the mindset of people in the lower levels. For example, when a fellow with little or no education and no reasonable means of livelihood (an occupant of the lowest tier of the chart) who is most bothered about physiological needs of food and shelter suddenly, by associating with the right political party, finds himself in the State Assembly, he is not concerned about the esteem his new status accords him. In his mind, he is still at the ‘physiological needs’ level and so he busies himself stealing and embezzling funds just to meets those needs to such extent that he accumulates enough for two generations.
Those are the social climbers with no ladders I am talking about. The gate crashers to power and fame. Pretenders. Empty vessels. If you think they only exist in government or that this phenomenon is restricted to those in places of authority, you are, as D’Banj will say, sitting on a long thing. Perhaps you should take another look around you. Start from your blackberry messenger or whatsapp list. Navigate your way to facebook and twitter. By the time you have successfully done the blog rounds and read all the empty talk and disturbing perspectives of young people, some of whom, in fairness to them, are (by our standards) ‘successful’ people, you will appreciate what I mean when I say that the quantity of ‘matter’ without ‘mass’ we have around has entered worrying proportions.
You see, when someone suddenly begins to enjoy celebrity status by doing next to nothing or by riding on the shoulders of some forces to certain levels of influence, without putting in the requisite hard work or learning the rudiments required for such ascension, it is not hard to tell. And when a generation is no longer motivated to put in their best as dictated by their immediate needs to move to the next stage of life, but is in a hurry to fly up to the top, then you know that there is a problem.
You know, we didn’t need Maslow to even speak all the big grammar for us to appreciate this fact. From time immemorial, we know that a child will sit and crawl before standing and attempting to walk. Must we wait for oyibos to tell us about ourselves? Sad thing is, even that which they’ve told us, we have refused to learn from. Didn’t we have to rely on them to help us jail one of our worst criminals recently?