The Chinese did not build their prosperous country by abandoning ship when it was turbulent. In fact, it was at a time of great tribulation and uncertainty that the Chinese forged the path for a glorious future. The successful nations today hurdled through moments of topsy-turvy in their history. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. If we abandon Nigeria in its time of adversity, who will save it?
Nigerians want a better country, but some are unwilling to work for it. The buck is passed, traded and discarded. There is always someone else to blame for the societal hebetudes. We await a messiah who by the wave of his wand will magic all our troubles away. We hang on to the illusion that someone somewhere will begin to put humpty-dumpty together. We wait for Godot.
A better Nigeria begins with me. It begins with you. It begins with us. We cannot outsource the development of our country. We must put our hands on the wheel to move it forward. We only make the country we deserve. The Chinese did not entrust their development to the Americans or anyone. Singaporeans as well did not consign their progress to any external agency. They built their country through tempest and hailstorm.
Nevertheless, the place of leadership in the progress of these countries is unimpeachable. For China, the leadership tapestry of Mao Zedong saw the country evolve from an agrarian economy to an industrial nucleus. In the case of Singapore, the reformist deportment of Lee Kuan Yew is a classical story. Yes, we cannot excuse the place of leadership in transforming society.
However, leaders are not made on Mars. They come from the community pool – with the same flaws and contours as everyone else. A society only gets the leaders it deserves. When a people select certain persons to steer their affairs among a cluster of choices, they are not inculpable when their leadership option fails. The led is as guilty as the leader.
No one is without blemish in the rotting of Nigeria. In our small stations, we contribute to the rot. In Abuja, it is usual to see foreigners in vehicles with diplomatic licence plates beat traffic lights. A video of a purported diplomat peeing on our road rippled on social media at the weekend. These people cannot conduct themselves in such an abhorrent manner in their own countries. But we are bad examples. ‘’The Nigerian way of anything goes’’ taints even the pristine. We must set the right examples from top to bottom.
Again, no one is coming to save the night. No one is coming to save us. If we all elect to abandon Nigeria at this moment of trial, what happens to our kith and kin who cannot afford to escape the country? Our roots in Nigeria are deep and run through the core of the earth. We cannot yank off the radicles without hurting ourselves.
A better Nigeria begins with me. Our Plan B should not be to leave Nigeria in the kerb. Nigeria is salvageable. The traditional crotchets of inveterate pessimists and disbelievers in the Nigeria project are that only a rupturing of the entity can save its peoples. But this is an escapist’s way of avoiding responsibility to do the actual task of building the country.
Nigeria is our collective responsibility. We all have an equal share in the task of nation-building. We must begin and not stop crocheting the national fabric. Nigeria is not an option. Nigeria is the option.
Nation-building cannot succeed in vacancy of the citizens. Nation-building is largely citizenship building. And really, the process starts with those we elect into office. If we elect leaders on the shade of their religious and ethnic complexions or some provincial permutations, do we expect them to protect the interest of all Nigerians or of only those with the same native identities? We have to do better. What we give is what we receive. We cannot make appreciable progress if religion and ethnicity remain the in situ conditions for electing leaders in Nigeria.
So, it all comes back to us. A better Nigeria begins with me. Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US president, famously said: “The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.” Ralph Nader, American activist and author, expressed my sentiments when he said: “There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.” By the same token, Paul Collier, award-winning author, when he said: “You are a citizen, and citizenship carries responsibilities.”
We can only create a better country if we work at it. Citizenship is a right that comes with a burden. Why should we resort to ‘’Plan B’’ and abandon our country to those who will gut it and discard its carcass? Nigeria is worth fighting for.
Nigeria needs fixing. We are the fix.