The making of a great nation-state (2)
WE need to take this huge national task away from the stranglehold of partisan politics. We need to make it a truly national effort to which we can all contribute. We also need to warn, with the greatest sense of responsibility, that the levels of poverty, underemployment and outright unemployment, particularly of youth unemployment, are dangerously high and still rising. We also need to state, with the greatest sense of responsibility that as a people and as a nation we have not given agriculture the very well coordinated seriousness it deserves to make our country, major staple foods, self sufficient and overall food secure and accessible.
• A lot has been said and written about corruption. It is still very much with us. It is said that it has moved from its alleged 10% days in the 1960s to its current unimaginable levels, multiplied exponentially by very high levels of greed and selfishness. The fight on corruption must be truly all embracing, all encompassing and truly national. It should not and must not be a Buhari war. A President who is determined and has the will power to lead the war is an excellent rallying point for what should be an unrelenting, sustained, all out, no holds barred war and irrespective of whose ox is gored. Unless we do this, corruption can easily bring to naught all our efforts to strive for greatness.
• At the organisational level it has been said by most serious minded Nigerians that a large member of our State (Government) institutions are weak and not resilient, often times operating outside laid down rules and regulations and at times unwilling or unable to implement policies effectively and efficiently and that transparency and accountability are mere buzz words in most government institutions. Striving for greatness on the layer of weak and unreliable state and private sector institutions will amount to trying to build on shifting sand.
• At the social level, we must defend with all we have the current virulent attack on the family as a natural institution, and including its very fundamental core of marriage between male and female only. We should unite against intra and inter community unrest and community conflicts. At higher levels we should emphasize inclusiveness, participation, cooperation, cohesion, mutual trust, not discrimination, division and distrust.
• At the political sphere, we need a truly free, fair and transparent electoral process. We are not there yet. While commending the immediate past Administration for creating and allowing the enabling environment for bring us this far, the current Administration should not do anything to draw the hands of the clock back. It will also be very useful to have two truly strong, national, well-focused, political parties whose primary purpose for being is to offer real, well thought out alternatives for the development of the nation, not opposition for the sake of opposition. We must therefore welcome the emergence of APC even as we help the PDP reinvent its formidable self to give APC a run for its money for the good of our nation, an enabler the PDP did not have.
• At the spiritual level, whether we believe it or not there is an Almighty God and the human person is as much a spiritual being as a political being, an economic being, a social being, a cultural being and an environmental being. So a people, a society and a nation who do not genuinely put the Almighty God in the centre of all their endeavors will not go very far. The reason? That God, the only One True Eternal God, the Almighty Creator is Love, is the most Gracious, is the most Merciful. That God created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. That each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection.
That there is a Divine Purpose for each and everything that is created. That there is solidarity among all creatures because they are created by the only One True Eternal Almighty God. That God wills the interdependence of all creatures. That man is the summit of God’s creative work. That man alone has the knowledge of God, thus uniting the spiritual and material worlds. That God created everything for man but man in turn was created to know, love and serve God and offer all creation back to God. These and many more we are told.
In sum, love God, love Neighbour. Be gracious. Be merciful. Savour our richness and diversity. Create order, not chaos. Look for the goodness in each created thing. Emphasize our solidarity, our interdependence, not destructive individualism and greed.
It is said that about 70% of our country’s population lives in the rural area which incidentally also holds the bulk of the nation’s natural and mineral resources. This is also where the bulk of the nation’s food and agricultural raw materials can be produced and poverty and unemployment more effectively tackled. Most of the nation’s over 100,000 grassroots communities are also in the rural areas. These grassroots communities are also where most Nigerians trace their ancestry to and to which a majority also has a great sense of affinity with and for. If we are really serious as a people and as a nation, this is where we should learn how to horn our skills to begin not only to solve our problems of hunger, poverty and unemployment but also among other things to learn how to harness that huge rural population and the over 100,000 grassroots communities and the massive rural landmass and the enormous natural and mineral resources therein to begin to lay a very solid foundation for transforming our country into a truly great Black African nation-state.
Our university system is expected to be permanently and effectively plugged into the world’s knowledge superhighway. If this is so, with anything between 2000 to 3000 university professors, which itself is said to be about 15% of academic staff strength in the university system, we have a very significant knowledge base which should be more effectively, directly and strategically deployed to contribute optimally to all aspects of our nation’s development process. Besides, there could be as many as one million young men and women, in the youth age bracket taking National University Commission-approved courses at various levels in our universities.
How much character molding is going on there? Will they also finally graduate, infused with the proper reorientation and equipped with proper skills and competences to be productive citizens of the nation or just be owners of beautiful certificates to join the unemployment queue? Within the four years or so that each group of these one million young people will pass through the university system, is it not possible that we could groom a few sports men and women who can compete at the world level, instead of losing some of them to cultism and other anti social behaviours.
While we wait most patiently for this Administration to reveal what it has in stock for us and the nation, let us not remain idle. Let us, we the people, get back to work too. There is no contradiction there. It is our birthright. Let all those who are convinced that striving to transform our country Nigeria into a truly great Black African nation-state is what we should be aiming for now at 55, seek ourselves out and get to work to lay the required solid foundation for this effort at the grassroots ancestral community and rural areas level. Let us take advantage of all the work that has been done in this regard. Heaven they say helps those who help themselves. Only those who dare, overcome! Let us dare.
• 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.