Fix the hole

To him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin                               James 4:17

I join many Nigerians in saluting Governor Fayose of Ekiti State for signing into law the bill to regulate cattle grazing in the state. Many of the people who have tried to criticize the bill have not been able to find much to talk about beyond the clause that restricts movement at given times. Yes, the Constitution guarantees free movement but that is within the ambit of the law. Having lost two hectares of ready-to-harvest cassava and maize to their nocturnal peregrinations, I know enough to know that they usually perpetrate their ravaging atrocities on people’s farms under the cover of darkness. It is also an open secret that all the attacks unleashed on innocent people were carried out at night. It is trite in law that a man’s liberty stops where the liberty of others begin. It is the only reason why criminals are sent to jail. Besides, an AK47 is not a light weapon and so is not something to be brandished around in the name of self-protection. On this bill, I say kudos to Ayo Fayose! Now to today’s discourse.

Painting boats was all Joe ever did for a living. He had established a reputation for being very good at his craft even if it barely met his needs. One day, he was invited to paint a boat that had lost its paint to constant use on salty waters. In their conversation, the boat owner had specified the colour he wanted the boat painted in. So Joe came with the required tools and paint. He set to work as soon as he arrived.


However, while painting the boat, he had noticed a hole in the boat’s hull. The hole was big enough to cause havoc if the boat sailed without mending it. He wondered if the boat owner had seen the hole and why he never said anything about it. Well, he initially thought to himself, I am a painter, not a boat repairer. Maybe the boat owner had someone else in mind to fix the hole. But on further thought, he felt he had nothing to lose by fixing the hole since it was something he could easily do even though it was not part of his brief. He went ahead to paint the boat and fix the hole as well without mentioning anything about the extra work to his client. As soon as he was done, he received his cheque for the painting job and left.


Early in the morning a few days later, the owner of the boat came to the painter’s house and with tear-moistened eyes, presented him with another cheque, this time for more than double the amount he had paid for the painting job.

The poor painter could not believe his eyes. He asked himself if he was dreaming. Then he turned to the client and stuttered,

“Bbbbbbut sir, you’ve already paid me well for painting the boat!”

“Yes I know”, said the client, “but this is not for the paint job. This is specially for having repaired the hole in the boat”.

To which Joe replied, “Ah! Sir, it was such a small service. Why would you want to pay me such a huge amount for something so insignificant compared to the actual work you hired me to do?”

The boat-owner smiled and said,

“My dear friend, I know you would not understand. But let me tell you what happened. When I asked you to paint the boat, I forgot to mention about the hole. It totally escaped my mind even though I knew it was something you could fix. When the paint job dried, my kids took the boat and went on a fishing trip. They did not know that there was a hole in the hull of the boat and I was not at home at that time. I had not even remembered to tell them.

When I returned and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered that the boat had a hole. I was almost losing my mind from imagining terrible things that could have happened to them.

Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing. Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole! Do you now see what you did? You saved the life of my children! No amount of money is too much to pay for your “small” good deed.”

Our nation is in dire need of “small” good deeds that have potential to make a great difference. To do nothing because you feel that you cannot do much is to forfeit the opportunity to contribute a significant quota to social transformation. It does not require special intelligence to ignore things that you believe do not directly concern you especially when you feel that it  is someone else’s job. Those who only do what they are paid to do or what is naturally expected of them never raise the bar. They never make the difference that makes a difference. Neither do those who only complain.

The key to greatness is problem-solving. Those who constantly make themselves problem solvers will never be derelict no matter how tough the times are. When times are hard, problems are created. Problems provide the raw materials for every great achiever to work with. The world’s current socio-economic climate has caused and continues to cause many “holes” in the boats of many nation’s economies and lives. I recently read that the current oil crisis has led to the sacking of over 50,000 workers in Saudi Arabia!

You do not need a university degree to be a critic. Most of the “best” ideas about moving a nation forward are found in beer parlours where the discussants hardly get involved in providing any meaningful solution. The world was never created to reward those who only see what is wrong and what can be done. Rewards are only guaranteed to flow in the direction of those who actually do something to solve problems. For every “boat hole” you repair, you never can tell how many lives you will save. A seemingly small gesture can go a long way to prevent monumental tragedy.

Don’t just stop at doing your regular “painting job” Go beyond the call of duty. Keep your eyes open. Wherever you find a “leak” that is not beyond your competence around you, in the organization, in someone you know, fix it! No matter how many times that happens, keep at it. To have all you want, according to the wisdom of Zig Ziglar, help as many people as possible to get what they need!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!