CHEERS TO @60TOGETHER, NIGERIA (DRINKS ON NIGAC)
O God of creation, direct our noble course
Guide our Leaders right, help our Youths the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow, and living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign
The above poem is the second stanza of the Nigerian Anthem, adopted in 1978 to replace the anthem bestowed on us during the colonial rule. This Anthem generally, and the second stanza specifically, encapsulate the Nigerian spirit, hopes, and aspirations. The concept of this article is guided by the words of the second stanza. As Nigeria commemorates her 60th independence anniversary, this essay does not actively intend to rehash the problems that Nigeria might have faced previously or is facing currently and their causes but seeks to revisit the Nigerian situation with a view to rekindle a nationalistic conversation on how the Nigerian can renew their pledge towards the country we call ours.
Nigeria as an entity comprises a potpourri of varied peoples, cultures, and traditions however working within a common system and set of laws. Since Independence from the British in 1960, we have been guided to understand the tenets and aspirations that Nigeria stands for.
It is possible to argue that along the line, as a country we have made mistakes. But this cannot remove the understanding that the Nigerian Project is a noble and just course. What we may have lacked at certain times is probably a sense of direction for Nigeria; a common noble line of sight for every Nigerian to follow through within their own means and energies.
Proper and adequate leadership or the lack of it, has been a major contributing factor to the current situation of Nigeria—leadership at micro and macro levels; individual lives, corporate systems, and governmental functions. There is no gainsaying that the totality of our respective isolatable actions as Nigerians is the reason Nigeria is where it is today, regardless of the perception you may hold about our current position.
We may consider Nigeria as a pyramid with the widest part at the bottom where the largest percentage of Nigerians dwell. When citizens at their own level of the pyramid adequately engage in performing their civic rights and responsibilities, it ensures that the Nigerian pyramid stands firm and complete, with the potential, ability, and drive to achieve its zenith.
Rights and responsibilities of the Citizens such as voting during elections, abiding by the law, proper waste disposal, eradicating corrupt tendencies and practices from everyday life are veritable means to stabilize and strengthen the pyramid. The role of the Nigerian citizen is elevated and fundamentally the most powerful position a Nigerian can occupy in Nigeria. This is for the simple reason that the Nigerian citizen gives momentum to the Nigerian project. If we consider momentum as a science of physics, then momentum will be equal to the product of mass and velocity. It is not a mean (EASY FIT) title to be labeled as “the masses”.
This endows on the Nigerian an authority that can be highly effective when put to good use — the Office of the Citizen. This is no more evident than in the election of officials to offices of government. The citizen has the right, responsibility, and authority to put the persons of their choice into positions of power to lead and govern the affairs of the country. The speed and seriousness with which the Nigerian citizen handles this responsibility indicates how willing they are to be a valuable part of the Nigerian system.
The Nigerian youths form over two-thirds of the entire population, thus making their contributions to our national life very significant by all standards. Active participation or outright lethargy towards the Nigerian dream by this valuable segment of Nigerians has a massive effect on the progress and outcome of the country. The youths must reason towards a better country and take conscious steps, in their own capacity, to enable Nigeria towards her place of destiny. Ironically, that ‘place of destiny’ is not the making of fate or destiny, but the making of every action of the Nigerian and the youth particularly.
An informed youth is an enlightened youth and thus an empowered youth. This power which knowledge brings should not be taken for granted, because in it lies the future of the youths—the future of Nigeria. Where we have experienced disappointment and frustration in our Nigerian story and collective journey, we must replace it with renewed faith, hope, strength, and vision. This should spur us on to action. Action not just to correct the misdeeds of the past, but action to steady our present track and set our eyes on new heights to be attained.
This would involve a reorientation of the Nigerian mind. We must begin to envision success possible where there was failure previously. Only then will we have the presence of mind and will to chart a revised path of action forward. This paradigm shift will have to cut across every Nigerian, but it begins with one person, one patriotic Nigerian. One person who will become a thousand and then millions.
Considering that the majority of Nigerians reside at the position on the pyramid where the largest visible change will have greater effects, this should be a gladdening proposition. As citizens of this great country, there is the need to renew our pledge together. Our pledge to our country to love one another truly, to be faithful and loyal to the Nigerian journey, to invest our strength in service to our great country, and seek to always defend the unity of our commonwealth. The honor and glory of Nigeria belong to every Nigerian citizen. The pride of our nation should fill our hearts and make us act in ways that will make us stronger and better together. As we celebrate another Independence anniversary, we must not forget the efforts of our past heroes who gave their all and even paid the ultimate price, for our dear country.
Women deserve their place in positions of decision-making and should be afforded opportunities to do so. Women also should strive to be considered as an irreplaceable part of the bigger plan. Neglect of this vital group of the population will prove detrimental to our national efforts. Despite the many difficulties that we face as a country and as a people, our resolve must be indefatigable. Our resoluteness will see us through perilous times ahead even as we battle a raging viral pandemic that seeks to destroy our very existence.
We must engage in new ways of thinking and take advantage of technology for good. Our place in the comity of nations must be strengthened so that every Nigerian within and outside the country will be proud to hold their head high.
This is possible. This is achievable. It is beyond being a fantasy. It begins with you and me — TOGETHER.
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Tim Nwaobilo is a Non-Resident Policy Fellow of the Nigerian Global Affairs Council – A Technology-based and Digital Media-driven Public Policy and Evidence-based Research Think-Tank that simplifies Government Policy Positions at all times.