Do I really deserve eternal peace? Will God ever forgive me? Are my good deeds accepted? Why do I keep sinning even when I know it is bad, and after I have repented sincerely? This is the chain of thought that lingers in most of our minds much of the time. We wonder if God is or will ever be pleased with us. And we wonder what our fate will be in the next life.
Sin. This 3-letter word is a problem we all have, but only a few worry about. The world, today, is almost nothing but a reservoir of sin, taking different shapes and various manifestations. Sin takes the forms of beer parlours, movies, beauty pageants, fashion, lottery, music etc. No man is immune to sin, except of course, extra-ordinary men such as Prophets of God. As long as man continues to be imperfect with a possession of volition and free-will, sin will continue to be. It is part and parcel of the human nature. As it is, in philosophical parlance, a universal (phenomenon), I believe it is a subject worthy of discussion.
To say that sin will always be inter-woven with the world is not to suggest that it’s rampancy cannot be checked. Just like any other affliction, disease or malady, it can be restrained. There is a popular saying that a problem known is half-tackled and an enemy sighted is half-defeated. In this light, what is sin and what are its attributes? Even a toddler would have an idea of what sin is. It is an act that breaks a religious or moral law. It contravenes natural ethics and divine commandments.
One of the most conspicuous attributes of sin is that it is ubiquitous. It exists all over the globe, in almost every nook and cranny. It is only in Utopia: the ideal world that can be reached through our imagination, that sin perhaps does not exist. Therefore, an attempt to wipe it out will prove futile, yet fruitful.
Another major attribute of sin is that is often endearing and attractive. Even the most dastardly and horrendous acts are still, to some people, luring. It is like an unclad fiery beauteous lady calling you to copulate with her. You know, full well, that you will get terribly burnt if you answer the call, but you still go ahead to do exactly that. Such is sin, the tool of the devil, used by man against himself.
Also, sin is a boon companion to darkness, a brother to isolation and an ineluctable offshoot of excessive privacy. It becomes weak whenever it encounters light and togetherness. But this only so if those keeping us company are friends in virtuous progress and not in sin. That is, if our objective of being friends or meeting is not originally to commit sin. Someone planning to sin would long for extra freedom and would always be on a qui vive to ensure no one is watching. I needn’t provide evidence to prove that people find it more comfortable to perpetuate heinous crimes such as larceny, suicide, rape, murder and even cyber-crimes in corners and in the dark.
Furthermore, sin is very addictive. It comes in tit-bits, proposing the small versions of a bigger sin first, pulling you to its den, gradually and gradually, poco-a-poco. And once you’re inside, there is hardly an escape, for addiction is a room with no doors. To break out requires great effort. A murderer today must have been an assaulter yesterday. An armed robber today must have started as a pickpocket. And someone who fornicates must have started as a patroniser of pornography. Hence, it is indisputable that little sins are bread-crumbs that eventually lead to the great ones.
Apart from these, another of ‘sinal’ behaviours is that it is expensive. Never is it free. For a man to indulge in amoral things, he will unavoidably have to forfeit some of his most precious possessions. It may be his intelligence, money, health, reputation, family & friends or time, the only product that cannot be recycled if wasted. It is for this reason that veritable sinners live the most miserable lives. They are often not okay financially, medically, socially, academically and psychologically. Many would, as a result of addiction to a particular sin, resort to stealing, substance and human abuse just to satisfy they amoral urge.
Lastly, sin often appears in a facade. It is not usually advertised as what it really is, but rather as a contest, entertainment, fashion, pastime, freedom/right etc. In essence, pornography and gambling are disguised as contests, music as entertainment, substance abuse(alcoholism and smoking) as pastime and gaiety, lesbianism & indiscriminate abortion are masqueraded as fundamental rights. In order to promote evil and make money, it is dressed up by a set of people as something not pernicious. Consequently, people realise too late the implication of what they have gotten themselves into.
At this juncture, I will attempt to discuss the cures, panaceas and possible remedies to the scourge of sin. Although, we cannot achieve a state of ‘sinlessness’, we can at least strive to make efforts towards a considerable decline in it.
Firstly, we must identify what is sin and what is not. Very few are incapable of discerning between right and wrong. However, the problem most people have is accepting a sinful deed as evil and unworthy of indulgence. We find it hard to do this because of the gain and pleasure we get from it. Apart from this, some people erroneously categorise some sins as small and immaterial. Hence, one of the first things we must do is to evaluate and correct our mentality towards some sins, making sure we use the scriptures as our yardstick. As I always say, the right mentality begets a good personality and a good personality gives rise to a great society.
Then, we should maintain a close propinquity with religious gatherings and righteous people. This will assist us in the remembrance of God and prevent us from considering committing sin. This is the case only when our attendance at religious programmes is done solely to gain knowledge, increase in piety and remind oneself of the content of the scriptures. It is disheartening that many who go to mosques and churches today, go for reasons such as charging of phones, meeting of friends, flirting, feeding the eyes or because others are going and we do not want to be left at home. Equally important are the acquaintances we keep. A person aiming at improving his spiritual life cannot do it alone. He must seek the advice, company and succour of others with similar aims.
In the same vein, one must avoid going to dishonourable places such as beer parlours, gambling joints (aka. Baba ijebu), music concerts, queer houses etc. Bad companies must also not be kept. It is a factual reality that one’s friends will always have impact, whether positively or negatively, on us. They will either make or mar us. It is therefore very vital that we make meticulous and felicitous selections of our friends.
John Green once wrote that ‘some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom most people find sin.’ Hence , an avoidance of isolation, privacy and excessive freedom is important as these are the fertilisers with which a sinful soul can easily grow. This can be achieved by having room-mate(s) at home and in school, never being on the net in an extremely private area, not inviting strangers & someone of the opposite sex into a deserted place & not accepting such invitations, and of course endeavouring to enter into a valid marital contract as early as possible.
There is an old saying that ‘Idleness is the beginning of all vices’ and that ‘idleness is the devil’s handy work’. Even Walter S. Gaston once said that ‘the real source of almost all our crimes, if the trouble is taken to trace them to a common origin, will be found to be in idleness’. It is apparent from these that idleness is very harmful, and must be shunned at all cost. This should go hand in hand with not giving procrastination room in our daily activities. Whenever, we feel like doing something productive and rewarding, we should do it with utmost alacrity.
Furthermore, it is usually helpful if one openly preaches against an act one intends to desist from. No one wants to be caught doing what he boldly advises others not to, as it would amount to being labelled as inconsistent. If you want others to accept your advice, personally follow it and if you want to follow an advice, preach it to others.

… (contd.)





Written for the purpose of: BASIC TRUST INT’L ESSAY CONTEST 2011

Award: 5th position.

It would be a dream come true for me to have a half hour private audience with the number one citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the person of Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The pieces of advice I would give him if I had this opportunity are many as the problems bedevilling the nation are myriad. But since I do not have enough time to touch most of the problems, I will limit my advice to one probable solution to them.
As a student, I attach great importance to Education. I strongly believe that qualitative education is the bedrock of National development. Hence, if I was opportune to have a private audience with my President, I would emphasise the importance of Education and advise him to focus on and improve the sector.
The Education sector functions like an industry whose main product is human capital. Without an effective Education sector, citizens cannot obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to man the labour force and lead productive lives. Developing the Education sector will have a ripple effect on other sectors, be it social, political, health or economic.
While discussing the importance of Education at the African Leadership Development Centre, Bishop David Oyedepo rightly said; “quality education would raise the right kind of leaders, promote the right kind of values and ensure that the right kind of students graduate which would in turn bring about the kind of changes that the nation desperately requires today.”
While conducting a research into the importance of Education, I discovered that the percentage of literates in a country affects the level of Economic growth and development of that country. According to Wikipedia, Benin republic, Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa have literacy rates of 34.7%, 68%, 71.4% and 86.4% respectively. And the CIA world fact book states that the Nominal GDP (on the basis of purchasing power parity) of these four countries are 1500, 25500, 6200 and 10,700 respectively (all in billion USD). With these figures, we can easily deduce that a low literacy rate tends to impede the economic development of a country.
The importance of Education is not restricted to the economic sector. It also helps to reasonably reduce, if not totally curb social maladies such as poverty, unemployment, corruption, drug abuse, STDs and so on.
With our enormous national wealth, poverty will certainly be alleviated if the gap between the rich and the poor is bridged. And this can be achieved if the citizens have equal educational opportunities. This point is backed up by a statistic that states that for every year of schooling children have, their salary as an adult will increase by an average of 10%. Hence, education is the best long-term solution to poverty.
In the aspect of unemployment, I guess President Barack Obama has said it all at Wakefield high school, during his address to a group of new students. He said the ingenuity and creativity developed in all classes is needed to build new companies, create new jobs and boost the economy.
Aside from these, qualitative education will also help to abate the effect of STDs, especially HIV/AIDS. Creating awareness about the causes, effects and preventive methods will go a long way in preventing non-victims from getting infected. This is because a large percentage of HIV infections is due toignorance and illiteracy.
The decay in the sector leaves much to be desired. As vital as it is to national development, little attention has been paid to it by past governments and this has translated into mass failure in both internal and external examinations, incessant cases of strike actions and examination mal-practice, lack of essential infrastructures in various schools etc.
I enjoin Mr. President to confront these problems head-on by disbursing more money into the sector. I am aware that the Education ministry is the second most funded ministry. Last year, it was allocated #249 billion and this year it is #306 billion; but how much of this money serves its purpose and not the purse of government officials and contractors? The government needs to increase the allocation to an appreciative level, and ensure that the money is judiciously spent.
In addition to this, more learning institutions should be built, especially in rural areas. The existing ones should be developed and modernised so as to compete actively with others in this technologically advancing world. The schools must be well funded, staffed and equipped. I find it appalling and disgraceful that only 8 of Nigerian universities made it to the top 100 African universities list, while Egypt and South Africa boast of 16 and 18 respectively. In fact, the top 9 are all South African institutions.
Furthermore, teachers need to be well-paid. Their current salary scheme is just too derisory for such a noble and highly tasking profession. If this is done, it will put an end to strike actions, they will be encouraged to put more effort in their job, not having to seek income at other avenues and youths will be encouraged to take up teaching as a career.
I would like to remind the President of his inaugural speech in which he said “…over the next four years, attention will be focused on rebuilding our infrastructure. We will create greater access to quality education…” Nigeria’s problem is not policy formulation but rather policy implementation.
Lastly and in conclusion, I quote the words of Francois de la Rochefoucauld, who said; “we can give an advice but we cannot give the wisdom to profit by it.” I agree but I also know that Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan possesses that wisdom and he, along with the good people of Nigeria, will profit by my advice.