Plus ҫa change. Does anything ever change? Is there a fundamental immutability in the Nigerian liaison with Nigeria? Is the relationship between a Nigerian and Nigeria fated to be unamenable to change and congruence? Well, I think many Nigerians are by a very decent measure patriotic and consummately committed to fatherland.
But while most statespersons are inclined to stay within the observatories and watch phenomena, a few in the obverse end, with bullhorns, attempt to overwhelm the cosmos of opinions with disturbing anti-nationalist tropes.
It is concerning, as it should be for every Nigerian, the endorsement of the felony against humanity in Niger Republic and the championship of the same for Nigeria, albeit tacitly or implied, by some individuals. This is a time citizens must affirm the inviolability and supremacy of democracy as well as assert the unity of Nigeria and the integrity of its institutions – and not pollute the public sphere with reckless fulminations.
It is disturbing that a section of Nigerians is banding in folly with alien agents who are running a propaganda against Nigeria over our stance on the putsch in Niger Republic. It is deeply disturbing. To some, the interest is not about Nigeria or good governance; rather it is about politics and native leanings. Whatever position taken by the leadership on any issue is subject to protestations, regardless of the reasons compelling the decision.
This is an unpatriotic and jaundiced disposition to domestic and transnational concerns. It is obvious that to these ones what matters is not whether the leadership is competent and sufficiently prepared to fix the country, or whether the leadership is taking bold decisions for the greater good or playing a critical role in the league of nations, the dominating concern is that the leadership does not conform with their bias and some insular expectations.
But being patriotic does not mean anyone must like the government, it dictates citizens must commit to the peace and progress of the country, defend its integrity, democracy, and institutions as well as its sovereignty, regardless of the complexion of the leadership. Nigeria is too important for groundless tropes to be the definers of critical discourses.
Democracy is about having the right dialogues – varying and disparate, nevertheless. As active citizens, we should be more involved in discourses that foster nation-building and transformative leadership, and that can launch the country forward. We have a responsibility to give recommendations; proffer solutions; push innovations or back inventions, policies, programmes, and plans that will get us to where we want to be as a nation. Conversations casting the nation in a dark raiment of confusion and hopelessness are simply unyielding.
Years ago, I wrote “A nation in dire need of patriots’’. It was at a vicissitudinous moment in the life of the nation. I am inclined to reprise some of my erstwhile thoughts here.
A better Nigeria begins with me. It begins with you. It begins with us. We cannot outsource the development of our country. We must put our hands on the wheel to move it forward. We only make the country we deserve. The Chinese did not entrust their development to the Americans or anyone. Singaporeans as well did not consign their progress to any external agency. They built their country through tempest and hailstorm. They did not do so projecting the worst of the country, they acknowledged the challenges, but worked cohesively to address them.
Nevertheless, the place of leadership in the progress of these countries is unimpeachable. For China, the leadership tapestry of Mao Zedong saw the country evolve from an agrarian economy to an industrial nucleus. In the case of Singapore, the reformist deportment of Lee Kuan Yew launched the country from a divided and chaotic third state to first. Yes, we cannot excuse the place of leadership in transforming society. But we now have that leadership with transformative qualities.
A better Nigeria begins with me. Nigeria is salvageable. The traditional crotchets of inveterate pessimists and disbelievers in the Nigeria project are that only a rupturing of the entity can save its peoples. But this is an escapist’s way of avoiding responsibility to do the actual task of building the country.
Nigeria is our collective responsibility. We all have an equal share in the task of nation-building. We must begin and not stop crocheting the national fabric. Nigeria is not an option. Nigeria is the option. Nation-building cannot succeed in vacancy of the citizens. Nation-building is largely citizens building.
So, it all comes back to us. A better Nigeria begins with me. Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US president, famously said: “The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.” Ralph Nader, American activist, and author, expressed my sentiments when he said: “There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.” By the same token, Paul Collier, award-winning author, when he said: “You are a citizen, and citizenship carries responsibilities.”
We can only create a better country if we work at it. Citizenship is a right that comes with the burden of responsibility.
Project Nigeria; defend Nigeria, its people, institutions, and democracy.