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Unity as panacea for Nigeria’s disintegration

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(Photo by STEFAN HEUNIS / AFP)

United we stand, divided we fall. Rising and falling seems to be a natural rhythm of life. When there is a fall or stumble without a rise, this natural rhythm is disrupted, and disintegration is inevitable. So, the real problem is not falling. The inability to rise after a fall, disintegration, is the real danger. What is responsible for a fall? A fall occurs when the force that pulls down overcomes the force that pulls up. Fall happens when the force that binds an entity together and upholds it is overpowered. When the binding and the upholding forces give way, we have disintegration. United we stand, when we disintegrate, coupling the broken pieces to rise together is near impossible because an enormous amount of energy is required.

What are the approaches to avoid disintegration? We have two of them. First is a peaceful and gentle uncoupling of vital components. The other approach is to strengthen the binding and upholding forces of the vital components to overcome the forces that pull down. The forces that are pulling Nigeria down are obvious.

Just to mention a few, corruption, disregard for the rule of law and injustice, Insecurity, bad leadership are some of the forces working against this nation. These evil forces are obvious and clearly dominant. If we want to overcome this tyrant forces, we need to answer a vital question – What unites us? We need to figure out this question so we can position this nation for victory. This position should be our advantage to overcoming the myriads of problems bedevilling this nation.

People have touted Nigeria’s diversity as its greatest source of strength. There is little contention that there is beauty in diversity. I believe the word ‘diversity’ is not well qualified in that popular quote. It is better stated as – there is beauty in a well-managed diversity. Let us zoom into the word ‘diversity’.

According to the dictionary definition, diversity is the quality of being diverse or different; difference or unlikeness. To be diverse is to be different: Different goals, different aspirations, different beliefs, and different expectations. Diversity becomes beautiful when these diversities are understood in their different context and brought together into a larger context that help these contexts to coexist as parts of a bigger beautiful story. It is like small circles inside a larger accommodating circle. The bigger beautiful story that accommodates these different contexts, is the unifying theme, a dream, a vision. According to Fela Durotoye, a nation is not defined by its borders or the boundaries of its land mass. Rather a nation is defined by people from diverse Cultural, Ethnic, Religious and Social backgrounds who have been unified by a noble cause and a set of values that form the basis for common unity (community) in understanding what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, what is acceptable and unacceptable. When people share common values, they become brothers & sisters regardless of where they are from.

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Great people and nations have dreams and vision for their lives. We have read about the American dream. What is the Nigerian dream? What is the vision that binds us together as a nation? What is the common future we look forward to? Is it clear? Is it attractive? Is it worth living for? Is it worth dying for? Great leaders and nations have answers to these questions. The live it and seize on every opportunity to communicate it. No life or nation will work until these questions get answers. The answers are the binding and upholding force not diversity. When secessionist groups rise up and make demands, this vision should answer their demands. A nation that desires to thrive will resist every temptation to suppress dissenting views and opinions but rather seek to understand them and sell the national vision. Aside the security of life and properties, the most important function of leaders, especially of a diverse nation like Nigeria is crafting and selling of a national vision, and demonstration of commitment to that vision.

The root cause of the challenges Nigeria is facing right now is lack of visionary leadership in critical spheres of life. The word ‘vision’ has become a cliché among ‘leaders’ that many will get offended if they are called out as leaders without vision. They all claim to have a vision. What they have is an agenda not a vision. Sometimes, they fulfil their agenda without meeting the diverse needs of the people. It is like winning the battle but losing the war. Agenda concentrates power and resources to a particular set of ‘deserving’ people. A vision does what an agenda cannot do – to unite people and resources. With a clear vision, comes necessary structures wired with transparent and open system of communication that can organize diverse people and resources to achieving a common goal and derive mutual benefits. Visionary leaders help others to see the vision so they can buy into and together bring the vision to reality. They see the big future; hence they are focused and demonstrate a contagious commitment and loyalty to the vision. This is the foundation for a working nation. Every attempt to build without this foundation will result in a fall with a loud deafening noise.

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Where do the agitations, call for secession, mindless violence and threats of war that threatens Nigeria’s existence come from? How did we get here? Ask an average Nigerian about the Nigerian dream and they are clueless. When there is no vision, the people, and by extension the nation perish. It is only by keeping the law of vision that peace and happiness reigns. A man without vision is a dangerous person likewise a nation that lacks visionary leaders is anarchy waiting to happen. Vision gives people what to live for. With vision people are motivated and committed to work because they have something to lose. Without vision, people live like they have nothing to lose. They become indifferent, bitter, confused, depressed and do things unimaginable. Lack of vision leaves people in the dark, fear, and creates an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and hatred. It is the primary duty of leadership to cast and project inspiring vision. It is sad that despite the huge number of current and aspiring political leaders in Nigeria, very few live up to leadership ideals.

Little wonder the word ‘politician’ or ‘politics’ have such a negative vibe that surrounds it. This has further compounded the nation’s woe – the political leaders are not trusted or rather trustworthy. People with leadership skills are either hindered from leading or forced out. Great political leaders focus on the long-term good of their country, above and ahead of any personal short-term gains. They mentor other aspiring leaders, and practise ‘statesmanship’ as opposed to just being a ‘politician’. They have the integrity and willingness to stand up for what is right, even if it means resigning a position in government or losing an election. How many Nigerian leaders have voluntarily resigned a position when there is conflict of interest? How many of them can afford to say the truth and lose elections?

While nations of the world marche towards a sustained growth and development, Nigeria popularly called the giant of Africa is still trying to find her feet. A giant in Africa is a great position to occupy but I will recommend Nigeria is re-invented and positioned as a champion for her people because charity begins at home. Every Nigerian should feel a sense of belonging and feel safe wherever they are in any part of the country.

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Resources and investments should be deployed strategically to achieve this feeling of inclusiveness across the nation. Standing on the ground of inclusiveness, a grand vision for the nation can be birthed. That vision must be a picture of the biggest and deepest aspirations of Nigerians fulfilled. It must be empowering with clearly defined expectations of the citizens from the government and vice-versa. Then a clear roadmap to realisation of the vision should be drawn. The Nigerian project should be treated as a co-creation project, hence provisions must be made for inputs from all stakeholders. The advantage of this approach is that it helps to achieve a buying of critical stakeholders. Nigeria needs a vision that can be bought into; a vision worth investing in. Where a man’s treasure is there his heart will be. The buying into the Nigeria project will also breed loyalty, which is a key virtue for building a formidable nation.

Regardless of all the forces working against the Nigerian project, we can emerge victorious if we are ready to put in the work from head to toe. It begins with the head; the leadership. Nigeria needs to be led to a position of advantage where she can see clearly – the mountain of inclusiveness. With clear eyes, the vision of a new Nigeria that will impact everyone should be received, documented and communicated for all to see, belief and get to work. To build a united and progressive Nigeria, a national dream or vision that is clear, uniting, attractive, worth living and worth dying for is a necessity.

Osiri (a.k.a Mr. Mentormorphosis), is a mentorship awareness ambassador.

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