By Nneoma Ekwegh
Sometime last month, Nigerian Twitter was buzzing with the news of a man who works for one of the ride-hailing services in Nigeria, who recounted how a lady had forgotten her international passport (with a yet-to-be used American visa) and her wallet in his car. He narrated all he went through to see to it that the items were returned to her. However, he was disgruntled that the lady had not ‘rewarded’ his good deed. Surprisingly, quite a number of people on twitter agreed that the lady was ‘ungrateful’ and that ‘she did not try at all’. And as I read through all the bashing the unidentified lady received I wondered if being rewarded for good deeds has become the incentive for doing good.
The media is full of stories of people tagged Good Samaritans, rewarded for their good deeds. In 2018, two Halogen security guards, Francis Emepueaku and Achi Daniel, working at Murtala Muhammed International Airport multi-level park, returned a bag forgotten by a passenger. The bag is alleged to have contained a large sum of money and other expensive items. The news went viral, causing even President Muhammad Buhari to release a statement praising the two men. An award ceremony was held in their honour, they were respectively awarded with N250,000 as well as awarded scholarship for their children. There was another incident that went viral, a Nigerian pilgrim in Mecca by the name Musa Mohammed Edotsu returned the sum of over N4 million that a pilgrim had lost. Musa Mohammed Edotsu received official recognition in Mecca for his act and the owner of the returned cash rewarded him with $200.
A Nigerian man went on his Instagram account in April, sharing with his followers how the sum of N4.5 million was accidentally sent into his account. He stated that he returned the complete sum despite his friends urging him to see it as a ‘blessing’. While this story did not go viral like the other two, and he was not rewarded with cash for his noble deed. One can argue that the numerous prayers and accolades he received on his post after going public was a reward for his good deed.
Do good deeds need to be rewarded? Should ‘Good Samaritans’ be offended when they are not rewarded? If we are going by the Good Samaritan story in the Bible, he got no reward and no praise. We never even got to know his name. The Good Samaritan did good for goodness sake and went on his way. The wounded man, who may have been a multi-billionaire never got a chance to ‘reward’ him. Proving that what made the Good Samaritan’s act good was not how it was received, but how selfless he was, not looking for any gain- monetary or otherwise.
When reading these stories, the angle is always that these good deeds were rewarded or made public to correct the negative impression the world and even citizens have about Nigeria and Nigerians. However, I think, that point is being lost on some people who are more fixated on the reward. Some days ago a man went on twitter vowing never to do a single act of kindness in his life, his reason? He had returned a lost item to the owner, but the owner insisted there was money missing from his bag and got him arrested. Now, while that is a terrible and an unfair experience, I cannot help but think, he would certainly be making a different type of vow had the outcome been a juicy amount of cash received and a commendation from the president of Nigeria. This incident along with the others all over the internet are clear indications that what is becoming increasingly important is not doing good, but how that goodness is received.