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‘Why a new Nigeria is possible’

Chris C. Nwani is author of ‘A New Nigeria is Possible’, a book that explores and proffers solutions to a re-imagined nation with citizens who…

Chris C. Nwani is author of ‘A New Nigeria is Possible’, a book that explores and proffers solutions to a re-imagined nation with citizens who are ready to do what it takes to develop it. Here, he talks about his inspiration, the journey so far, and more. Excerpts:


Bookshelf: Why did you decide to write ‘A New Nigeria is Possible?’

Chris C. Nwani: It started after my undergraduate days when I was in Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu. I read a magazine which talked about how powerful America is and how they ascended to that level. I realized that Nigeria and America used to have something in common and yet we are unable to develop the way they have. Nigeria has potential and I believe we can rise and become greater than America.

That same night, I had a dream where I woke in a colorful and beautiful room. My bed and chairs were changed. My wardrobe too. So I looked through the window to be sure that it was the same house I slept in. It was the same house but the environment had changed.

Outside, everything was different and people were gathered. They were gazing at a beautiful billboard where the words: “This is a new Nigeria, do not violate her. Take responsibility and build her” were written. Then I woke up from the dream.

From that day, I kept looking forward to seeing this new Nigeria. Before I finished school, Nigeria had already transited to democracy in 1999. That made me believe my dream had taken effect. Coincidentally, I finished school and served in a government institution in Abuja. But I later decided I didn’t want to work in a government establishment because of some of the things I witnessed that didn’t align with my philosophy.

Bookshelf: You wrote about re-righting our wrongs as a country. How do you think this can happen?

Nwani: We can achieve it. For example, some of us were born into poor homes, but then, our fathers saw the need for us to go to school even when they did not. They kept telling us that it is very important for our future. We got to school and saw the light. Even when our parents did not have money, we weathered the storm to become graduates. Today some of us are doing much better than our parents.

As citizens, everyone has a role to play. Leaders must learn to accept when they are wrong. If they don’t, it shows you are not ready to change. We have leaders today who tell you Nigeria is working and everything is going well, yet things are getting worse by the day.

Bookshelf: Your book proffers solutions to corruption. How would you say Nigerians can have a change of attitude towards corrupt practices?

Nwani: Nothing happens by chance. There is this saying that, a nation you did not build can never become a reality. Today, as our constitution stands, we have three arms of government and three tiers of government. When we look at things critically, we can figure out how they have failed in their different responsibilities as prescribed by the constitution.

If the constitution is amended, it will go a long way, because there are certain conditions in it that enables people get away with crime.

Most of those cannot be held for misappropriation because the court would strike it out. It can’t even pass the first reading. These are some of the things we expect the National Assembly and people who are concerned with making laws to look into. It’s like an open cheque for you to do whatever you like in governance and get away with it.

Bookshelf: You wrote that Nigeria’s power of change lies in our knowledge of the country? How do you view the long absence of history in our secondary school curriculum over time and how do you think it will affect us?

Nwani: History is very important because it helps you understand what has happened, the mistakes made and what you must do to avoid a repetition. But unfortunately, we continuously make the same mistakes and it has become our culture. There was a time when the naira was almost as strong as the pound. It is possible to get back to that level. Once, most Nigerian students went to school on scholarships, and their fathers were not senators or in government. They were selected because they were good enough. So history is very key. Taking it out of the school system has made things worse for us.

I wrote that why it is important for us to know what we have done wrong is so generations will have a reason to say no to them. We need a generation that will rise up with an alternative view.

Bookshelf: What has it been like so far trying to get the message in your book out?

Nwani: I visit schools, NYSC orientation camps, and also go to some public institutions to talk to civil servants. This is what I do on a daily basis. You can only go where you are allowed to. Sometimes in the civil service, they say there is no money and I tell them that if you don’t have money, get your people together and we will come create this awareness.

Bookshelf: Are you looking at writing another book as a follow-up?

Nwani: I have an abridged version for young Nigerians. The Minister of Education has gone through it and advised we take it to Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council for review. They liked it but said it needs to be in line with the civic education curriculum. So at the moment we have the A New Nigeria Civic Education for SS1, SS2, and SS3.




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