Nation building driven by faith of citizens – Part 2
The fact that piece meal measures like COVID -19 palliative, other palliatives under different codes- trader moni, school feeding programme, et cetera aimed at enhancing quality living has not yielded expected results is suggestive of the need to seek alternative path. This is even more compelling now as stop gap handouts that are neither all embracing, nor sustaining, have been deployed in the past by military and elected governments in Nigeria but had achieved little to impact the problem. This obviously is not what Nigerians need now.
What would one make for instance of a high profile academia in the cadre of a professor using his position as returning officer in the 2019 elections to undermine results. The bottom line aside possible extrapolations, even mundane, is lack of faith in Nigeria.
The former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.) said in his recent interview on Arise News television that one of the reasons Nigeria has not progressed and achieved the dreams of our founding fathers was because Nigerians no longer believed in the future of their own country. Responding to a question on whether or not he still believed in the future of Nigeria, IBB said: “I do believe in the future of Nigeria, but Nigerians don’t believe in the future of their country. They created and they destroyed.” The former leader who urged Nigerians to be patriotic identified bad leadership as the major reason for the socio-economic challenges bedeviling Nigeria. He advised Nigerians to go for the person that has what it takes to transform the country in 2023.
Domestic public opinion on the need for Nigerians to be patriotic has been loudest recently. The concern is not unconnected though, partly, with the prevailing tensions in the country expressed in #EndSARS protest, banditry, kidnappings, Boko Haram and headsmen crimes et cetera. This is indicative that the gauge of patriotism among Nigerians is abysmally low.
Nigeria is not at war as some put it but a dangerous trend of violent crimes is unevenly spotted in the six geopolitical regions of the country. Some high profile kidnappings and killings attest to the severity of this problem. The attempt to torch Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of government, the recent kidnapping of Emir of Kajuru, Adamu Kajuru, a high profile traditional monarch in Kaduna and his family members as well as Thursday’s killing of a senior Army general, late Major Gen. Huseini Ahmed by unknown gunmen along Lokoja-Abuja road among other similar incidences are extremes communicating the intensity of insecurity and how vulnerable the country is security wise at the moment.
In recognition of this connection between patriotism and nation building, Information and Culture minister, Lai Mohammed has severally tasked Nigerians on patriotism and commitment to nation building. But pro-government narrative is often quick to profile critical commentaries of Nigerians against government lapses as unpatriotic. They seemingly place the burden of patriotism at the door step of Nigerians as reinforced by the ‘change begins with me’ campaign.
The dominance of this narrative by the government reflects unease whereas in ideal conditions, citizens should be patriotic as a civic duty. The reverse is the case because the government lacks integrity to earn the trust of the people.
Education of the people save putting food on the table, impinges on the human value: Accessibility to employment that guarantees living wages, Security of lives and property, equitable distribution of national wealth to impact individual citizens. Other components are fairness and justice in administration of law, inclusiveness in politics, national discourse, distribution of national wealth et cetera. A citizen that is denied this aspect notwithstanding accessing the tangible, is alienated from the society. These set of folks are not only deficient in self-worth but are largely withdrawn from happenings in society because of the feeling that their voices count nothing.
The Edo Best project, an educational programme offering qualitative and inclusiveness to Edo children in order to scuttle youth flights to Europe and other destinations oversees by the state government is an aspect of generating faith among the people in government. The effort has demonstrated leadership on the part of Edo government by tinkering on the mindset of its citizens thereby restoring their self-worth.
Provision of tangible and intangible deliverables by government will sure impact the total wellbeing of the people. And without coercion, subtle or hard, citizens would literarily have faith in the country if they are guaranteed these basics- tangibles and intangibles by government who manages their common wealth. The age long saying that experience is the best teacher though potent substantially, does not suffice in every situation because not all experiences instructs or offers opportunity to learn. The person involved though living, may be contending with time, hence derailing learning or even death. It is indeed a dangerous road to tarry in the current state of insecurity and discontentment in the country. The 2011 Arab spring episode, which started in Tunisia should be avoided. The instruction to learn from the fig tree is apt at this moment.
It is time I suppose that stakeholders in the Nigeria project should deliberately reflect on this somewhat tasking, yet important subject, if we must progress as a people leaving lasting legacies for our children and the unborn.
Nigeria should do the needful quickly to regain the faith of her citizens taking lessons from extremes in countries like Venezuela, Yemen, Syria and moderates like Haiti, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Lebanon et cetera which are fast drifting to becoming failed states.
Indeed, the existing low bar of governance in the country should be scaled up to reflect the new reality of building faith in people which is the global minimum threshold for governance.
The president should be a reassuring figure of hope for Nigerians in word, action and deed. This is the starting point to growing and sustaining faith among Nigerians in government.
Asanga, a public commentator, wrote from Akwa Ibom State.
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