Born in the 70’s I grew up hearing stories about the past greatness of my dearly beloved nation.
For several years, I listened to my father discuss the woes of Nigeria, and how a potentially great nation failed to fulfil its promise. My parents (just like yours) would exhaustively describe Nigeria – pre and post crude oil, and my father, being the man he was would state that the advent of crude oil is the reason for the charlatans in our politics.
Professor Wole Soyinka would later describe their generation of Nigerians as a “wasted generation”. I believe his description of their generation was borne out of too much complaints and no reaction.They complained about everything: infrastructure, government, systems, everything. In order to suppress their disdain, they will talk about the giant ground nut pyramids of Northern Nigeria, the massive cocoa farms of the West and the palm oil producing Eastern Nigeria. I believe this palliative gave them pseudo-comfort; even though the dreams of the founding fathers may have eluded them, yet they knew life in a decent Nigeria.
I remember sitting with my father to digest the president’s October 1st speech or the daily network news at 9pm, he would talk with nostalgia about the ‘good old days’, how the nation was on a path to greatness and suddenly everything fell apart and the centre could not hold. My father often pointed fingers at the incompetent hands that administered the nation with anger in his eyes and pain in his soul; like you and me, he loved our nation passionately. That love then turned to absolute disdain, he could no longer see Nigeria functioning efficiently any more. He had seen so many years of decadence and had gotten to the place (like most of my readers today) where he doubted if anything good could come out of Nigeria.
Now I can go on and on with a litany of reasons for why we are where we are, and easily too. US president, Barrack Obama succinctly said, “Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anybody can do that. Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demand more”. I totally agree.
As the new generation of Nigerians, we cannot afford to transfer the battle to reshape Nigeria to the next generation like our parents did. We must find solutions within our present predicament to build sustainable government and not just electoral transitions that lacks any real dividends for the electorate. We need to build transparent and virile institutions: strong parliaments, honest police, independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society; these are the pillars that give life to any democracy.
Notice that I did not mention once that the government should build these strong institutions; the onus lies on you and me. We the citizens of Nigeria must roll our sleeves and build these institutions. I know a few of my readers are wondering how possible it is for the average citizen to build them and the truth is it virtually impossible for an individual to do all that I have stated, but if we all choose to seize the moment and begin a dialogue about our future, we can build our democracy bottom up. History has shown us several ways by which we can change a nation; coups, civil wars, civil disobedience etc. Our nation has experienced several coups and a devastating civil war which have only served to deepen the crisis.
The time has come for us as a nation to embrace one of the most potent weapon of reformation which is meaningful dialogues.
Through ardent dedication to meaningful dialogues, we will constitute the new majority that will define our future and that of our children’s children. This new approach of having conscientious dialogues will help us demystify many myths about our nation and the tribes that make up this great nation.
Dialogue will aid in identifying our common aspirations and shared identity. Dialogue is a bold way of casting aside our past and embracing our collective destiny.
I welcome you to Nigeria Dialogue – a hub for progressive intellectuals who intend to challenge systemic and institutional realities in Nigeria. This is a platform for forward thinking Nigerians to proffer inputs into sustainable economic, infrastructural and social development through meaningful dialogues and measurable actions’
Together we will build the new Nigeria that we all crave for…welcome to tomorrow!