By Kareem Shamsudeen
While we clamour for a better nation, let conscious efforts be made towards creating a better society because a better society metamorphoses into a better nation. And in every case, the citizens must be actively involved.
I was privileged to attend a symposium at UI Hotels where Prof. Adeshina Charles, the Head of Department, History, University of Ibadan, delivered the topic; Royal Curses and the Course of Yoruba History. The lecture was indeed insightful. However, during the question and answer section, a vibrant old man from the audience asked: “Is Nigeria under a curse?” Of course, he could have never been wrong to ask this question, especially if one takes a close look at the current mishaps the country is facing.
Well, Nigeria may not necessarily be under a curse, but, it looks as if we are cursed by bad leaders who endanger us with their different fake agenda. What we need to be talking about is how we can re-build this nation as a whole before it becomes too late. In the event of nation-building the citizens, youth especially, need to be at the core position. The youth are the ones to push this nation to the higher limits, and they should be made to understand this truth.
When we talk of nation building, we make the mistake, often times, by referring to the leaders only. Our leaders alone cannot bring the change we all want. Both the leaders and the citizens have major roles to play in building the nation of our dreams since it takes two to tango; in fact, the citizens especially are major stakeholders that would drive the progress of this country. But unfortunately, the citizens have been rendered incapacitated by our selfish leaders. They are made to believe the illusion that they have no stake in the development of the nation since that they are mostly subjected to an undemocratic dispensation. Or what would become of a country where its citizens are non-nonchalant about the state affairs?
So, when we talk of nation building, the citizens should be the focal point since it is from the citizens that the leader emerges. If Nigeria is to develop for the best, then there must be the existence of an “electoral integrity” so the citizens can trust the electoral process. Electoral Integrity simply means the absence of electoral malpractices. If the whole electoral process are hijacked by political leaders for selfish purposes and nothing is done about it, the citizens would have no choice than to embrace political party. Or what is the essence of voting when it does count?
One of Nigeria’s major problem is the lack of electoral integrity in the electoral process which has caused the failure of sustainable democracy in the country. If we are to build the nation, conscious efforts should be made to make the electoral process credible, so citizens can trust the electoral process and accept whoever emerges from democratization, but if not, we only deceive ourselves even when we visualize the future of this country while being hopeful.
If Nelson Mandela had posited that “Education is the most powerful weapon to rule the world,” he could never have been wrong. When we talk of nation building, we must talk of better educational system. Adequate and proper education of the citizens would give them a sense of responsibility. The citizens would be equipped to learn that serving at the corridors of power is not an avenue of making billions of dollar, but chiefly of the interest of the masses and they must pursue this as democracy dictates.
But what we have had over the years is recurrent failure of the educational system. Asides from the fact that we do not have infrastructural facilities, the universities’ communities are not aiding the students to become better leaders. It is in the University that the students would fear to speak against the shortcomings in the university’s administration for the fear of being expelled. It is in the university setting where the universities’ authorities set guidelines that limit the freedom of expression of the students while charging them to become involved in the nation’s politics. It is in the university that the students are trained to speak against tyranny while they are still coerced to do the exact opposite.
When we discuss nation building, we should remember that the citizens have to talk about the problems the country faces. The citizens have to speak and in fact demonstrate against bad governance but if otherwise, we can as well discard the discussions on nation building. Truly, the leaders are accountable to the citizens. There are political office holders, because the citizens want them. In the same vein, the citizens cannot stay mute when the leaders betray their trust. It cannot be!
But it is saddening that the leaders whose main agenda is that nation building render the citizens incapacitated when they speak against their ills. Sadly, we are battled by this reality. The Nigerian government under President Buhari promised “positive change” but the citizens witnessed a “negative change;” so they declared a revolution calling for a change governance. Ironically, those who promised “change” and “sustainable democracy” shut the citizens up. If the citizens of a country fail to speak on the issues that affect their country, it could as well mean that there are no problems in the country. But if the citizens speak out and the leaders silence them, then the problem of the country is the problem of the bad leaders.
It would be a joke to say that we are rapidly progressing as a nation. Let’s even leave out the fact that we are the World Poverty Capital. It would not be pessimistic to say that we are failing in almost all sectors of the nation’s economy. Twenty years after military hijacked the seat of power from the civilian leaders, Nigeria has not conducted a free, fair and credible election or even progressed democratically. Democratic leaders are not democratically responsible to the citizens. The nation’s wealth are siphoned by corrupt leaders when the masses are increasing in poverty. But then, it would be too early to say that we have failed as a nation, even when we are treading the path of destruction.
At this modern age, Nigeria’s power supply is epileptic and our roads are beautifully designed with pot holes. Insecurity is scaring away the citizens and the best-brained Nigerians are rapidly moving out the country, the citizens are impoverished yet our leaders say there is no hunger. Haba! Is this how degenerated our country has become?
The citizens should make conscious efforts towards nation building in Nigeria. Even at such, selfish politicians have pitched the citizens against themselves in the forsaken names of tribalism, race and even religion. When we talk of nation building, it is pertinent we start from the grass-root level. The citizens at the grass-root level must be re-oriented because a better society metamorphoses in a better country.
We should all be conscious of our society and the education of the up-coming generations must be a priority. If the citizens are trained with proper leadership skills and they imbibe by these skills, when they get to power no one would cry out on bad leadership. If we are to make good leaders, we must teach the citizens to be good leaders as well. If we are to ensure nation building, we must give the citizens the right to choose their leaders. If we want the Nigeria of our dreams, both the citizens and the leaders must have the love of the country by heart. And when all these are in place, we will thrive as a nation!