The making of a great nation-state (1)
The Almighty God created all men as equals and for some preordained purpose. It is left to each group of people to take their destiny in their hands, either in pursuit of their own self designed wayward ways or humbly along the path preordained by the Almighty God Himself to show forth His glory.
Thus there is a purpose for creation itself as well as a specific purpose for each created entity and person. Should the man of colour not then take a cue from the mind boggling natural and mineral resources the continent of Africa is endowed with to know where his destiny lies?
In our own specific case, in Nigeria; in our own self designated wayward ways, after over 100 years of coming into being as a nation, we still do not seem to have a clear idea of what we want to be as a people and as a nation. We wake up every morning, surprised that we still exist as a nation. We even elevate survival as a major achievement. For the pleasure, we seem to derive in taking active part in the national pastime of undercutting one another as a people and as a nation at every turn. Should it be a surprise that we still exist as a nation?
Our destiny is in our own hands. Let us from now on, with Nigeria at 55, make the right choices and take the right decisions and follow the right path to take our rightful place in the front seats in the comity of nations and association of societies and in any gathering of peoples and organizations anywhere in the world to make our country Nigeria and all men and women of colour proud, to the glory of God.
First, we go back to basics by seeking knowledge through:
• Identifying the ingredients and characteristics of truly great nations, societies and institutions of the world in times past and as of now and as these are distributed according to the known groupings of the areas of development action whose combined sum transmutes to national power and prestige.
• We then identify the detail components of each area, and for each area we further identify the actors and change agents as well as its major and minor stakeholders and strategic partners and well-wishers. We then distill this body of knowledge and extract, contextualise, adapt and adopt what we need, to produce a specific and unique Nigerian brand of African greatness in each area of development action and whose total sum will be comparable to other world acclaimed brands of greatness in other continents.
• This is a hunger reinforced by the frustration of the paradox that our nation is still in a sorry state at 55 in spite of its mind boggling resources and the availability of all we need to know to make our country a truly great Black African nation-state. We then stop and ask why true greatness has continued to elude us. As a necessary condition for true and sustainable greatness, we must now take remedial and corrective action on all already well known and identified shackles that have held us down, since the after effects from the days of slavery and colonialism, through the pre and post-independence and military governments eras, up through to this present democratic dispensation; not to forget the undermining reality of neo-colonialism and the seductive trap of globalisation as well as the fact that we are a people apart in a very divided and divisive nation.
Now we come to the crux of the matter. We ask: do the majority of us in this country, not just those who hunger for it for patriotic reasons and not just those who thirst and salivate for it for their selfish reasons, really, really want to be citizens of this nation and “who want to live in it in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign (Nigeria) Nation under God…” and not just because our Constitution (a man-made document) says so. If the majority of us really want to, will the majority also agree that we make this country a truly great Black African nation-state, comparable to any other great nation-state in any other part of the world?
It is very important that we resolve these two issues before we proceed any further because a lot of work will be involved. If the majority resolve both issues in the affirmative, we then lay out a very detailed roadmap and decide in practical measurable terms, with milestones, how we should actually move from where we are now to where our agreed target Nigerian brand of greatness says we should be in each component of each area of development action that have been identified in and for each epoch.
Apart from allowing ourselves to be led by the fear of God and putting all our heart and all our mind and all our strength and all our soul into this effort, from now on we should without fear or misgiving, judge all we do, say, think and write by the yardstick of whether we are moving towards target milestones or moving away from them or even worse, retrogressing.
The above requires the setting up of an efficient and effective performance monitoring, analysis and evaluation system as well as putting in place a near real time overview system to check/ascertain progress, focus, sustainability and competitiveness.
Now the big question: Where do we domicile this potentially ground-breaking national effort? With the people? Where exactly, how? With civil society? Where exactly, how? With government? Where exactly? Remember, government has led us since Independence! We, the people, including civil society; have as much a claim to our country, Nigeria, as those who are in government. It is our birthright.
In the interim, can the media organise itself and take temporary custody of this effort? Or do we set up a Board of Trustees, comprising a group of very knowledgeable, non-controversial, cool-headed, highly respected, very broad-minded, highly principled, very patriotic Nigerians to oversee this long overdue effort; overdue since our flag independence in 1960? This is without prejudice whatsoever to what this present government has in stock for the nation.
• Transforming our country Nigeria into a truly great Black African nation-state is not for us Nigerians alone. It will be a great boost for our immediate ECOWAS Sub-Region, for our continent Africa, for all of the world’s demographic Black Race and for our children’s children and generations following them, and even for the whole world.
• The majority of us, we the people, seem to have forfeited our birthright to be active participants in the development of our country, the direction this development takes, including even decisions that directly affect our livelihoods and survival. There is just far too much dependence on government, including allowing government and its agencies to take us for a ride, times without number. We should reclaim our birthright for all of us to be active change agents in the development of our country.
The absence of an all embracing and ever inspiring yet attainable and sustainable national purpose has not helped matters, indeed rendering our ship of state virtually rudderless. It is hoped this effort contributes to fill this near tragic omission. As a people and as a nation and at both the level of our leadership and followership we need to have and show far more love of nation. We also need to have far more confidence in ourselves and in our nation and learn to undermine and overwhelm ourselves and our nation far less. We also lack continuity and perseverance as a people, as a society and as a nation. We need to do something very drastic to greatly improve our currently very low level of personal, group, institutional, societal, and national disciple.
• To be continued tomorrow.
• Air Vice Marshall Koinyan, former Chairman of the defunct Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure, wrote this (abridged) from Bayelsa State to mark Nigeria’s 55th independence anniversary.