The “Parable of the Talents”, in Matthew 25:14–30 tells of a master who was leaving his house to travel, and, before leaving, entrusted his property to his servants.
According to each man’s abilities, one servant received five talents, the second received two, and the third received only one.
The property entrusted to the three servants was worth eight talents, where a talent was a significant amount of money. Upon returning home, after a long absence, the master asks his three servants for an account of the talents he entrusted to them.
The first and the second servants explained that they each put their talents to work, and have doubled the value of the property with which they were entrusted; each servant was rewarded:
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
— Matthew 25:23
The third servant, however, had merely hidden his talent, burying it in the ground, and was punished by his master:
“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not
strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him, that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
— Matthew 25:24–30
The scenarios painted above depicts two of the options facing Nigeria today, however there is a third scenario which was not captured in the parable and that is one in which the servant squanders the talent given to him and even goes on to incur more debts as is the situation in Nigeria today under the current APC administration.
Given the fact that the APC presidential candidate has vowed to continue with the failed policies of the current administration in the unfortunate incidence that they are able to wangle themselves into power again, we cannot expect any better than what is painted in the third scenario in the traumatizing but unlikely event of APC retaining power in 2023.
However, this article was not written to entertain the traumatizing thoughts of APC retaining power in 2023 but to draw a lesson from the parable by contrasting it with the
antecedents of two of the other leading presidential candidates in Nigeria today.
In one case, we have a candidate who has a reputation for being frugal and like the servant who hid the talents given to him was saving money (in banks owned by himself) while the economy of the state was in shambles, the poverty rate was climbing and the people he was meant to cater for were becoming more impoverished.
In the other case, we have a candidate who was put in charge of the economy when he served as vice president of the country and like the servants who invested and doubled their talent, he set to work to grow the Nigerian economy and through his efforts along with other members of the team he led, they were able to grow the Nigerian economy at the highest rate in her history, increase GDP per capita by 600%, create millions of jobs
and pulled millions of Nigerians out of poverty within the same period.
The options facing Nigerians today are either to vote in a candidate that will continue to squander the little resources we have and plunge the country into further debt, a
candidate who under the pretext of being frugal would stagnate the country’s economy while people continue to wallow in poverty and a candidate who has a proven track record of growing the economy, creating jobs and alleviating people from poverty.
To me, the choice seems pretty clear but unfortunately, politicians will always obfuscate issues by resorting to propaganda and making all sorts of outlandish claims to confuse the people. This is why it is always good to resort to past records of performance in evaluating our prospective leaders and from what the parable above tells us, only those who multiply their talents are worthy of reward and not those who just save it, neither will those who squander it be worthy of any reward.
May the good Lord continue to
reward our leaders who put our resources to work for us for our collective benefit.
Kunle Oshobi writes from Lagos