Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Nigeria marked her 50th anniversary as an independent country on October 1. 2010. But the Jubilee celebration in Lagos has been shadowed by growing distrust or dread concerning the future in several quarters.  This fear is fuelled by the malicious nature of the on-going campaign for the 2011 general elections.

At a time when I expect serious self examination on the part of the political elite about the failings and lost opportunities of the last 50 years, all I see is campaign exaggerated display which helps to heat up the polity and pushes our plural society towards its delicate fault-lines. While I have no problem with whatever ethnic or zonal transformation politicians come up with in the process of electing the next president and governors, the bottom-line remains that it would be much more productive if the aspirants also begin to place more importance on the welfare of the people with a view to making the right policy choices. 
With the landscape covered with broken dreams and wasted opportunities, what Nigeria today needs at practically all levels of governance are not those who can entertain the people with series of her failings since we can all see them. What the nation needs today are honest leaders who will accept responsibility for our past; as well as men and women (both at home and in the Diaspora) who will stand up and be counted in the process of her regeneration--change agents who will reposition Nigeria for the promise of tomorrow.  Fortunately, the nation has an abundance of such men and women in all fields of human endeavor. It is time for us to stand up and be counted.          

Nigeria is one hundred and fifty million citizens strong, yet, we seem to think that we are powerless and we endure this assumed powerlessness in the face of daily assaults by those at the helms of our nation's affairs. We feel too dared. 
We can actually confront poor leadership by organizing and uttering distinctly citizens' power for quality leadership. The concern which I have about our citizenship these days is that too many Nigerians appear to have surrendered Nigeria to abnormal leaders.  Good citizenship requires more.

Nigeria is like a corporation and our leaders should be seen as managing director and board members. Nigeria is a corporation into which we are heavily invested. Nigeria should be seen as a corporation which currently has poor return on our investment or no dividends at all. The careful thing for any smart investor, shareholder to do, in order to earn dividends, profits and return on investment, is to eject the errant managing director and board members. Instead, we engage in advertising the corporation to which we are heavily invested, as the worst company in the world. We publicly denounce Nigeria, as a corporation which makes the worst products in the world, and then, we all wonder why no one would buy our products and same are not attracting customers interested in our products hence a lack of profits, dividends and return on investment.
Public shaming, scolding and ridiculing have, over the years, changed nothing.   What to do? A change of tact! 

Might we start the creation of progress, development and greatness for Nigeria by becoming good citizens who are actively involved in participatory democracy? We should be unwilling to rig elections, unwilling to allow smugglers of guns and dangerous goods into Nigeria because we can be bribed. Might we first become decent citizens, brothers and sisters keeper, and reject injustice, oppression by whomever and at whatever parts of Nigeria! Our loyalty should henceforth be to the Nigerian nation and not to our ethnic, state, region or religions. Might we reject aberrant and criminal behaviors, committed by a member of our families and our friends! May we, on every individual level, reject and refuse election rigging, bribery, corruption and open robbery. In effect, the change we want in Nigeria begins with our individual selves. Our change at individual level will lead to Nigeria's development, progress and greatness. 

The 50th anniversary of our independence from Britain therefore offers our leaders (current and aspiring) a valuable moment to accept responsibility for the past and seize the future. They must begin to fashion out the required strategies necessary to overcome the human and institutional barriers that for decades have held the country back, with a focus on accountability and good governance. They must also become more serious about putting in place social and physical infrastructure that will deepen and unleash the capacities of Nigeria's next generation. All these will mean charting a new course and embracing a new form of politics.


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