Paschal Agonsi

Merit Toastmasters and the Real Question of What’s Wrong with Nigeria

Kuby, CEO EverySpeaker, called me a “Veteran Guest.” What an apt description! I had not been at Merit Toastmasters Meeting for years now. Last time should be in 2016 if I’m not mistaken. I was a guest then. And a guest again last Thursday. It was a warm welcome as always.

Immediately, I saw her charming smile, I recalled her name with ease. She said ‘she wasn’t as smart as I was and couldn’t remember my name.’ I wish I would have told her that she was unforgettable. But when words fail me, a smile never does. Mrs Aiyesimoju is the true meaning of ‘passionate and enthusiastic’, exactly what the dictionaries attempt to define.

My visit concided with the International Speech and Evaluation Contest. I was in need of a getaway and I had no idea it would be an awesome experience. Carl Orakwe vs Victoria for the spot to represent Merit at the Area/Level contest was a mind blowing spectacle.

Carl spoke beyond the red card (time limit) on the topic ‘Your Life is not a Lottery ticket’ with the command of an orator. That was not before Victoria spoke about ‘The Power of Words’, which really did connect to me on an emotional level.

Victoria, a counselor by profession, talked about how words must be ‘True, Honest, Inspiring, Nice and Kind.’ These, all together, form the acronym, THINK. Indeed, we must THINK words before we speak them to be truly powerful.

It was difficult for the judges to reach a conclusion. I was happy it was their headache and not mine. Victoria was sitted beside me the whole time. She was a bit anxious about the results. Any contestant would.

I was quick to tell her that she was a winner already and that what matters more isn’t the result of today but the will to continue tomorrow and onwards. You see, success is a daily discipline. It never ends with medals. You can see true champions, Messi and Ronaldo dominating the world of football for over a decade today. It boils down to their daily habits of excellence.

You need to hear Toastmaster Yomi speak on ‘Habits of Excellence.’ It was like watching a ‘World Champion’ speak from an inspirational video on YouTube. I wonder how his speech evaluators, Toastmasters Phillip Obih and Dr Craig were able to pick holes and advice areas of improvement.

“No matter how good a speech is, there are always ways to improve” Philip Obih resounded before he began his evaluation. Merit Toastmasters is certainly a place to be if you will love to improve your speaking and communication skills. Check out their Facebook page.

I have never spoken at the meeting. I’m content when the wand of the table topics (impromptu speeches) misses me. I have a good feeling it may not continue for so long. The question of ‘what’s wrong with Nigeria’ and our future outlook considering the present state of the nation was discussed on the table. Twice.

It got me thinking. And here’s my personal opinion. The problem of Nigeria is the same as that anywhere in the world. Believe me, the whole world is facing the same problems. The major problem affecting Nigeria and the rest of the world is the way we THINK.

When thoughts prevail, power and actions follows. Our situation today is a direct reflection of how we think as a people. Our leaders think is okay to embezzle funds. Our teachers think is okay not to stress themselves. Our youths think is okay to be okay.

Our engineers think it’s okay to abandon projects and to be mediocre at best. Banks think it’s okay to deduct all kinds of charges. Bus drivers think it’s okay to do anyhow and put lives in danger. Traders? Pastors? Traders?

Employers can treat employees anyway they like because they think it’s okay. Of course, NEPA (not PHCN or Disco. I prefer NEPA) thinks it’s okay not to aspire to supply 24 hours electricity in 2010. Sorry it’s 2020 now. Soundsultan needs to do a remix.

Police? Let’s not even go there. They’re doing their best, okay? Politicians. Courts. Legislators. Ministers. Machineries of Government, Commerce and Industry. They’re all okay doing okay.

It all seems okay because we all, the agents of change, think it’s okay.

It’s the same all over the world. It’s okay for Trump and bombs. It’s okay for wars and force. Lunatics and guns. It’s okay for humans to wed animals and all the other unnatural combinations. It’s okay that lives,either black or white, don’t matter and it’s more than okay for hard drugs to be legally available to everyone who has a prescription.

The problem of Nigeria is the same elsewhere. It’s all about the way we think. It’s a valid truth. Albert Einstein puts it beautifully “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” I certainly need to change my thinking about being a veteran guest.

I’ll pen them down always. I will.
Don P.

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