(By Tony Usidamen)
“The hero Nigeria needs is ordinary people, like you and I, who understand that a true democracy is a government of the people by the people and for the people and, as such, would get involved in the electoral process and do everything to protect their vote. People who understand that governance is as much about good leadership as it is about responsible followership, and fulfill their civic duties without persuasion.“
To say that Nigeria needs salvaging is to state the obvious. And this isn’t just about the clamour to rescue our kidnapped Chibok girls from the claws of the devilish Boko Haram insurgents, and bring them back home to their families and loved ones.
Of course, the recent actions of the Boko Haram sect in the north, like those of militant groups in the Niger-Delta, pose a huge threat to the nation. So do the age-long problems of ethnic and religious bigotry, irresponsible leadership by successive governments, and institutionalized corruption. But the greatest threat to her national life yet is her people and skewed value systems.
Nigeria is on a suicide mission and, just as the comical “Batman” is to Gotham city – a dark and foreboding place rife with crime, grime, and corruption – Nigeria desperately needs a hero to pull her out from her over 54-year downward spiral into the fathomless abyss of self-destruction. But what kind of hero can save a people from themselves?
It definitely isn’t the executive, legislative or judicial arms of government whose main motivation and goal seems to be self-aggrandizement, with policies that, at best, enrich a few oligarchs while impoverishing the masses? Who enact laws that protect thieving colleagues in public office as well as their politician friends and business mogul associates?
No, it is not the political parties (incumbent or opposition) who, beyond seizing every opportunity to tear one another apart and score cheap political points, cannot articulate a clear and realistic agenda or footprint that will move our nation forward? Or whose leadership and membership alike are embroiled in a crisis of identity and credibility?
The hero Nigeria needs is not the corporate organisations, multi-national companies or international agencies who either shortchange Nigeria and Nigerians (in remittance of taxes, payment of employee wages and conditions of service, sustainability of their business practices etc.) or give a lot in aid while taking away so much more in our collective wealth?
It is not the organized labour that only protests policies and actions of government and businesses when it appears not to favour them but turn a blind eye when it’s convenient? Neither is it the mainstream media or self-acclaimed social media activists who compromise the well-known media tenets of truth, objectivity and social responsibility, and needlessly overheat the polity in order to increase their ratings and promote the views of their paymasters?
The hero Nigeria needs isn’t even parents or teachers who can barely teach the children to read and write, let alone inculcate in them moral and ethical values, critical thinking and good citizenship? Or our pastors, imams and traditional rulers who have failed in their role as the moral compass of society?
There is a popular saying in Nigerian parlance “you no fit use Panadol cure AIDS” which simply means that every ailment requires its specific medicine or remedy. Given the peculiarity of Nigeria’s problem, what sort of hero does the country then need?
Well, you don’t need to search too far to find the answer to that question; just take a look in the mirror. Indeed, the kind of hero that Nigeria needs is you! People like you and I, with changed values and individual commitments.
The hero Nigeria needs is ordinary people, like you and I, who understand that a true democracy is a government of the people by the people and for the people and, as such, would get involved in the electoral process and do everything to protect their vote. People who understand that governance is as much about good leadership as it is about responsible followership, and fulfill their civic duties without persuasion.
The hero Nigeria needs are humanists and patriots – everyday men and women like you and I – who will rise above ethnic, religious or political affiliations and differences, and uphold the values of love, unity, mutual respect, equity and justice. People who, in their work, study or social life, will shun corruption absolutely, and imbibe a culture of honesty, diligence and perseverance.
And where do patriots exist? In government and politics, working fearlessly and tirelessly for the good of society. In business, seeking to improve the lives of the people through provision of quality goods and services. In the media and civil society groups, putting pressure on the government and corporate organisations to provide responsible leadership and foster sustainable growth and development. In the families, schools, religious institutions and traditional establishments promoting peaceful co-existence and social responsibility.
We can pray without ceasing (and as a Christian I do believe in the power of prayers) for God to send a messiah that will pull Nigeria out of the doldrums and set her on a path to restoration and progress. But without a corresponding change in our collective value systems and individual attitudes and commitments, we will only sink further into the abyss and continue to gnaw our tongues in agony. The change Nigeria so desperately needs is its people; the hero Nigeria needs is you!
Tony Usidamen, a Communications Expert, writes from Lagos.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”