by Bankole Eniola
In order to build a developed Nigeria, we need a new generation of Nigerians who are committed to solving our problems; a generation tired of passing the buck and willing to fix the problem wherever they find themselves. We cannot afford to transfer the battle to reshape Nigeria to the next generation like our parents did.
For years I wondered on how we can solve Nigeria’s myriad of problems and set the nation on the path of true greatness and her citizens on the path towards prosperity.
I grew up listening to my father discuss the woes of Nigeria, and how a potentially great nation failed to fulfil its promise. My parents just like yours will go at length to describe Nigeria pre crude oil and post crude oil. My father believed that the reason why we have charlatans in our politics today is because the advent of crude oil made service to the nation an opportunity for personal extraction of the national wealth rather than a selfless service for common wealth.
I can remember those days as I sat with my father to digest the president’s October 1st speech or the network news at 9pm, he would complain about how the nation was on a path to greatness and suddenly everything fell apart and the centre could not hold. My father often pointed fingers at the incompetent hands that administered the nation and the insatiable greed of personal enrichment that motivates their actions. During my father’s final years his love for the nation had turned to absolute disdain, he could no longer imagine how Nigeria will function as a successful state any more. He had seen so many years of decadence and he was confined as most of my readers today to think can anything good come out of Nigeria. My father saw the dreams of the founding fathers fade away and the promise of greatness slip into debauchery, instead of greatness, Nigeria became the classic example of a failed state.
I can make a list of excuses or reasons why we are where we are, but nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anybody can do that. Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demands that we take a critical look at our situation and no matter how bad it is, we must pull ourselves together and find a way out of this mess.
In order to build a developed Nigeria, we need a new generation of Nigerians who are committed to solving our problems; a generation tired of passing the buck and willing to fix the problem wherever they find themselves. We cannot afford to transfer the battle to reshape Nigeria to the next generation like our parents did. We must find solutions within our present predicament to build sustainable government not just electoral transitions that lacks any real dividends for the electorate. We need to, build transparent and virile institutions: strong parliaments, honest police, independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and a civil society, these are the pillars that give life to democracy. In the 21st century, these are the key to success of any modern nation.
Notice in my previous argument about what makes a successful nation; I did not mention once that the government should build these strong institutions that will ultimately serve as the bedrock of a developed Nigeria. I emphasised that we the citizens of Nigeria (me and you) must roll our sleeves and build these institutions. Now I know a few of my readers are wondering how possible it is for the average citizen to build “strong parliaments, honest police, independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and a civil society”.
It is virtually impossible for an individual to do all that I have stated, but if we stop acting as individuals and come together to form new majority, we can transform our murmurings into an unstoppable voice for change, we can build our democracy bottom up. Being part of the new majority demands a different way of thinking and actions. In subsequent weeks I will discuss how history has shown us the pattern to take in constituting the new majority, how with our good will and ardent dedication, we can come together from the four corners of this great nation and demand a new Nigeria, a prosperous country in which the system works and the institutions can be trusted.
The first tenet of the new majority is the need to identify our common aspirations and shared identity. History shows us that every civilisation is forged in the crucible of shared identity and collective aspirations. America won independence against a mighty empire 1783 by the collective will of the patriots; the Allied forces defeated Germany and its Axis in 1945 because of the same reason. Historians later informed us, that the involvement of the Allies in World War II was either natural or inevitable.
Any attempt to assume that our lives as Nigerians is not interwoven is to deceive ourselves, to think of Nigeria as divided across, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo or Ijaw lines is to deny the truth. To imagine that we are too polarised to have a united front, is the recipe for failure; the idea that we cannot work together or should not work together is to advocate disaster.
The problems that Nigerians face daily is not restricted to one ethnic group or one section of the country, we all deal with lack of infrastructure, non-existent social mobility, injustice corruption and inadequate services in education, health care and policing to mention a few. Our survival and success as a nation is predicated on our shared identity. The earlier we start thinking about Nigeria as a whole state and not the sum of many parts, the better for our development.
Now that I have given you a peep into what I call our shared identity, what is our collective aspiration; this can be summed up in two words equality and rights. Equality is the bedrock of a merit driven society and it eliminates favouritism or god-fatherism. As Nigerians, we all deserve rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The new majority will be defined as a generation forged in the crucible of scarce resources but bound by a collective aspiration to build a nation with unlimited opportunities. A country where what defines you as a Nigerian is your contribution to our collective experience irrespective of where you come from in the polity. This is a generation that as embraced the diversity of the many parts because we know that the sum of the parts is not greater than the whole. The new majority will define what next hundred years of our existence as a nation would be.
If all you ever want from the Nigerian state is summed up in those few words, then you are part of the new majority. Together we will build the new Nigeria that we all crave for…welcome to tomorrow!
Bankole Eniola is a Nigerian policy advocate who is passionate about developing economies and most especially the nation of his birth, Nigeria.He attended a number of schools and colleges in Nigeria before going to the United Kingdom to obtain an MBA from Birmingham University. ‘Banks’ as he his popularly called by his peers works as a strategy consultant and as consulted for several Fortune 500 companies, including UBS, Credit Suisse, RBS, FTSE, Lloyds TSB and many more.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.