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Nigeria: Time for the Grand Design (I)

My article of last week titled ‘’President Buhari, the ‘Messiah’ who messed up’

My article of last week titled ‘’President Buhari, the ‘Messiah’ who messed up’’ drew a welter of comments mostly in concurrence with the subject matter of the write up.

Most of those that called and wrote expressed a feeling of despondency about the prevailing situation in the country and wondered whether to use a popular term, Nigeria had “entered one chance’’ meaning that our country has probably reached the end of its tether.

This is certainly not far-fetched because even President Buhari had stated rather on a note of resignation that only God can secure the country’s borders on account of reported infiltration by criminal-minded aliens and smuggling of arms and ammunition.

But is Nigeria “finished’’ as many Nigerians will say and that it is only a matter of time that the nunc dimitis for the country will soon be sung?

I was thus tasked by my readers who challenged me to provide solutions that would bring Nigeria from the current slide to the brink and guide it on the path to glory.

Great countries emerge out of adversity

From the late 1920s through the 30s, the current global superpower the United States of America was a bankrupt country by all parameters of measurement. The country’s financial system had collapsed; with whole industries and businesses going under, leading to bankruptcies and massive unemployment. This was the period of the great economic depression in American history.

Yet from 1939, when the Second World War commenced to 1945 when it ended, a mere six years, the United States of America emerged a superpower and has been so since then.

In 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power, the German economy was so down in the dumps that one needed a wheelbarrow full of currency to buy just a loaf of bread. Yet in a matter of six years by 1939, Germany had recovered sufficiently to be able to take on the might of the world’s greatest armies.

Before 1948, Jews had no state to call their own. For over 2,000 years they were scattered all over the world enduring pogroms and all manners of discrimination and denigration wherever they were found, the climax of which was the attempt to wipe them off the face of the earth by Hitler’s Germany. From 1948 to date, since the formation of the state of Israel under adverse conditions, the country had never looked back and Jews all over the world today feel secure in the assurance that with Israel standing and having their back, no country dares mistreat them and get away with it.

In our lifetime we have witnessed the phenomenally unprecedented growth of China from debilitating backwardness to the status of global economic and military superpower breathing down the neck of the world’s preeminent superpower, the United States of America. Indeed estimates have it that at the rate it is going in the not so distant future, China is set to knock the United States off its perch in that regard.

Can Nigeria manage a similar transformation as these and other countries of the world despite the all-round state of despair and lack of confidence in the country’s future by Nigerians? Can Nigeria buck this feeling and come good? And if so, what needs to be done and how then can it be done?

I do not believe that Nigeria is “finished” as some would say. I also do not agree that Nigeria is on the way to becoming a failed state as many commentators both within and outside the country believe.

I believe that despite its current travails the core of Nigeria is solid and has proven its resilience time and time again; and that this solid core will support the transformation of Nigeria into the next stage of its development trajectory taking it to its manifest destiny as a global superpower.

Achieving this will be anchored on three major pegs; essence and mission of Nigeria, economic paradigm and political structure. These, taken together, will constitute the grand design for Nigeria’s projected emergence as a global power.

Essence and mission of Nigeria

We continue to bemoan the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria by the British colonial government as the source of our problems and challenges today. But as the Igbo saying goes, he who has his palm kernel cracked by the gods should at least show some gratitude.

The British, out of their lust for conquest and exigencies of manpower, ended up creating for us a country out of a multitude of entities populating the Nigerian space, which in a thousand years of trying we may not have been able to create by ourselves. To put this in proper perspective and comparison, it took the various European principalities and entities about 300 years from the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia to the end of the Second World War in 1945 through massive bloodletting to achieve what by convenient, almost effortless colonial fiat, the British did in 1914 in Nigeria.

The Americans started off with thirteen original states situated in the eastern side of the country in 1776. Even at that, they had to fight inch by inch for all of those in a brutal bloody War of Independence against the British.  It would take 174 years through a brutal civil war, wars against France and Spain from 1776 to 1950 for the last American state of Hawaii to make up the present fifty state structure of the United States of America.

From their dispersal during the Roman Empire, the Jews endured a torrid state of existence all over the world for over two millennia until the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Around the world, many countries have gone through similar experiences.

The question to ask is what made these countries ready to endure such trying circumstances leading to their eventual triumph? It is principally the connect with their essence and mission which translates into their manifest destiny.

For the Jews, it was their dream for a return to their ancestral land of Zion and of Eretz Yisrael, which they kept eternally burning in their centuries of living in the diaspora. For the Americans it was the dream of creating a nation from “sea to shining sea’’ meaning from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast.

The lesson here is of nations discovering their essence and mission and fulfilling it.

For us in Nigeria, we may not have to thank the British for creating the country, but rather than lamenting the creation, we should thank our good fortune for having them do what should be our task. And we should thank the gods by improving on what the British created for us through searching and connecting with our essence and mission as a nation.

What then is Nigeria’s essence and mission and how do we discover and fulfil it?

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