Nigeria and Nigerians will be known for corruption worldwide, but the tide will turn and Nigeria will also be known to righteousness worldwide. Many shall take hold of a Nigerian saying, ‘we will go with you for we have heard that God is with you. –Pa S.G. Elton (1986)
As always, I chose to begin 2022 from the premise of optimism. So, irrespective of current challenges, I readily align with the above standpoint of Pa S.G. Elton that the tide will turn for Nigeria and that our dear country will surely rise again. Though many would rather opt to celebrate the nation’s sour points, I chose to highlight her highpoints.
I choose to see a Nigeria that will become the envy of nations. I see a Nigeria that will rise above current challenges and take its place of prominence in the comity of nations. I see Nigeria that will be a true ‘Giant of Africa’.
My faith in the country has been further strengthened by an incident that occurred last Christmas Sunday. We discovered on our way to the church that my wife’s phone was missing. After the church service, we searched for it everywhere, but to no avail.
We decided to put a call through to the number and it was picked up by someone who directed us to come to a particular location. Upon getting there, an old woman disclosed to us that she picked up the phone from the ground on her way to the church. Straightway, the woman beckoned on her son to give us the phone.
On our way back home, the whole episode got me thinking. I was particularly elated that, unlike what many would want to believe, honesty and integrity still have a space in our country. From my survey of their condition, the old woman and her children were not really living in luxury, but they were content. This, of course, shows in their attitude to life.
The lesson here lies in the fact that for the progress of our nation, it is imperative to raise a critical mass that is dedicated to living above corruption, fighting dishonesty and conquering vices. No doubt, when every Nigerian is ready for positive change and truly lives for such, our collective aspiration for a better country would not be disillusioned.
We might not have had it smooth since independence, nonetheless, no nation ever really has it easy. Thus, every Nigerian has a role to play in moving the nation forward. No matter what happens, this is the only country that we can call our own.
Politics, religion, tribalism and ethnicity should not be used to divide us. That we have remained an indivisible entity since independence, in-spite of all odds, is quite remarkable. With steady economic growth (both at national and States’ level), a stable democratic government and broad support from development partners, the Nigeria of our collective dream and aspiration could be attained.
To consolidate democracy, restore a functioning economy, and promote sustainable economic growth, we need to strengthen the various organs of government and other institutions of governance. We must keep focusing; keep doing the right things for our country. We must do all we can to escape the condemnation and damnation of history and posterity.
We cannot be the people and the generation that gave up even as others fought to save their own countries. Nigeria is our country, it is the one we truly own. Let us be united in saving our nation. Our outward expression of unity will reflect our inward unity of purpose.
That we have been together as a nation for over six decades must be a lesson for us on the need for national cohesion. We should not allow needless tribal and ethnic sentiments to keep dividing us. If we do, we would only be making a mockery of our 60 years of nationhood.
Individuals and organizations with influence and means should educate the masses on the imperative for national unity, harmony and cohesion. As widely portrayed in Australia’s literature, citizens are reminded of the importance of a “fair go”; the principle that hard work and talent should always count for more than wealth or connections.
Finally, the following words of an anonymous Chinese poet should be instructive to us in the New Year:
‘Hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist, for it is like the roads that cross the earth. In the beginning, there were no roads, but when many people pass one way, a road is made’.
In our case, when many are ready to let the change begin with them, we shall see the change. We should all be the man that will be proud of this country, and the man that this country will be proud of.
This is how to stand with Nigeria.
I pray that our journey through this year will be smoother, more enriching and safer.
Olusina Thorpe is Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.