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Negating Nigeria as ‘negative example’

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Goodluck Jonathan

The regret expressed, the other day, by former President Goodluck Jonathan to the effect that he was ashamed that Nigeria was being used by prominent figures in the international community as an example of insecurity, poor economy and other instances of negativity, should also be the feeling of any hardworking and perceptive Nigerian.

That references made to Nigeria and its peoples are those of extreme and appalling negativity should cause Nigerians to think deeply about their future.

These negative references are sad, annoying and demoralising, especially when one considers the fact that Nigeria had occupied leading and enviable positions in global and regional affairs, and had performed with outstanding success.

Jonathan, who expressed this sentiment at the inauguration of a bridge built by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, cited recent instances of Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, mocking the poor state of security in Nigeria and the naira’s weakening status.

Jonathan was quoted to have said: “He (Ghanaian President) said Ghana is not like Nigeria where cattle roam the streets.

At another occasion in the United Kingdom, he made scathing remarks about Nigeria’s currency.

“I feel ashamed as a former President that the president of a neighbouring country used Nigeria as negative examples.

If a neighbouring African president will use Nigeria as negative examples, then we as leaders must know certain things are wrong in the country.

That means we as leaders must change the way we do things.”

Although the spate of negative and uncomplimentary remarks about Nigeria did not start today, President Akufo-Addo’s snide remarks are both insulting and disturbing, coming from a neighbouring country and regional ally.

Yet, Nigerians need not brood over this, but rather learn from the lessons afforded by their glorious past.

Nigeria used to be one of the most modern and transformed states in the world. Some decades ago, it was the toast of Africa in terms of quality education.

In stories that may seem like fairy tales to the present crop of young people, Nigeria had foreigners from Europe, America and neighbouring African countries earning degrees from its universities.

Some of the beneficiaries of Nigeria’s qualitative education back then are lecturers in some Ivy League universities.

So, the question is: How did Nigeria gravitate to this abysmal level.

As this newspaper recalled in earlier editorials, currently there are tens of thousands of Nigerian doctors in the United Kingdom and the United States of America contributing in so small measure to the healthcare system of their host countries.

This is apart from other Nigerians who are university professors, engineers, nurses, social workers, care-givers and others engaging in professions many foreigners would cringe to undertake.

Once upon a time the entire legal system of some Commonwealth countries were administered by Nigerians.

The famed Technical Aid Corps scheme of the Nigerian government was the nucleus of social engineering in many countries.

That some countries are counted among some stable nations of the world today is attributed to the commitment, service and open-handedness of Nigeria.

Just as Nollywood revolutionised the movie industry in Africa, the socio-economic activities of hardworking Nigerians have formed the commercial hub of the informal sector of many African countries.

If this is the case, why should Nigeria be used as a ‘negative example’ for other nations?

Given the record of illustrious socio-economic achievement and a history of influential outreach to other nations, Nigeria has no reason to be used as a ‘negative example.’

Alas, some of those who witnessed the glorious Nigeria of yesteryears are the senior citizens of today.

What values did they bequeath to the present crop of young leaders?

What legacy did they pass on by the lives they led, the examples they showed, the way they managed the nation’s resources, and the manner they related with one another? The classicist says “no one gives what he has not.”

How can this country earn back the respect it has lost when Nigeria is not only rich in oil, but has not tapped from, at least, 774 other products that abound in the length and breadth of its land mass?

This calls for a re-orientation of the Nigerian to trace back his or her steps to the glorious past so as to understand how and why the country is wrapped in this toga of negativity.

Leaders should come down from their high horses of lamentation and pontification to begin to solve problems.

They should get over the mentality of routine romancing of problems and make radical decisions backed up by personal commitment and a high sense of responsibility.

No leader who is personally committed to a decision, and be willing to be genuinely responsible for an action ever fails completely.

The first step in this regard is value-education for the people. People have to be cognitively restructured to fall in line, by all means, with the culture of good governance, civility, probity and responsibility.

Every Nigerian, in whatever little ways she or he can positively affect spheres of influence, should be committed to doing so.

By some stroke of good luck, it seems, the hardworking spirit of the typical Nigerian is still evident in many.

Nigerians, both leaders and the led, need to positively reflect this spirit of hard-work in all aspects of national life.

They need to recognize that all is not well with Nigeria and take decisive steps to commit themselves to addressing the problems of this country.

The edifying values of respect for the dignity of persons, truthfulness, social responsibility and commitment to the common good should be cultivated early enough in families, groups, and associations.

These values must reflect in everyday living, informal environments and personal encounters.

They should not be occasional virtues that are only to be heard in religious gatherings and casual public events.

The totality of all these which sums up as quality education should, with diligent administration of justice, be deployed to radically instill national pride, dedication, national awareness, originality, creativity, competence, etc. When leaders speak of proper education for national progress, this is what they mean.


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