Oct 31, 2013

Nigeria’s Revolution of the Mind

Need for attitudinal change
The huge boulder on the way of Nigeria is not the average Nigerian leader. Rather is it the average Nigerian voter. The leadership challenges that are ‘peculiar’ to Nigeria have, actually, existed in other nations that we envy today. However the difference between Nigeria and those flying nations is that the sluggish state journey lasted just long enough for the common man to perceive it. They were then swift in ensuring it ended, using the power democracy has placed in their hands. In the case of Nigeria, the people observed the blemishes barely ten years after independence but failed to end it.

If you asked an ordinary Nigerian what he thinks is the solution to Nigeria’s problem, he id likely going to give you that boring thing about a political revolution.   They will site the case of Ghana where a revolution has changed the nation even when I personally think that there isn’t much difference between Nigeria and Ghana. This answer is even the best answer compared to “we live it in the hands of God” implying they have run out of ideas and surrendered even when God has already devolved power to us.

Until the Arab Spring, I used to think that a revolution works only through a ferocious blood bath.  The Arab Spring grossly changed this diffident impression of mine. In Tunisia, it merely took the outpouring of Tunisians into the streets to compelled Zin El Abidin Ben Ali to pack his bag and baggage. In Egypt it also took the weapon of will to compel Hosin Mubarak to quit after three decades of Dracula dictatorship. Ironically, in Places like Syria where the struggle is bloody, one can confidently say that the revolution has failed despite the losses in terms of lives, maiming, the economy and the regression.

It is clear that, given the circumstance of Nigeria, the revolution of the mind is what is desired. The common man must cultivate a progressive mind that can help him identify his problem, first and foremost. This is our first problem: improper diagnosis. Aside being able to recognize our problem, we should know how to end it and be courageous enough to act towards ending it.

 We don’t know how to identify people with the capacity to give us what we want; we think it is a game of trial and error. In Nigeria, we have been administered by rulers who are slightly ahead of uneducated traditional rulers in their mindsets. They lack modern approaches to issues. While the rest of the world moves on, we stagnated in a mire, left talking about how Malaysia came to Nigeria to pick palm oil seedlings, went home and worked hard to beat Nigeria as the number one palm oil-producing nation in the world. The ordinary man in Nigeria is not able to see the difference in the way of thinking between a traditional Nigerian politician and those in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia … with whom we started. Ordinary people in Nigeria think that the right political leader is one who hangs around traditional rulers and respects, deeply, the opinion of religious leaders. On the contrary, our founding fathers designed our laws to ensure the separation of the state and the mosque/ church. Furthermore the ordinary man thinks the right political leader is one who wears a flying traditional dress without compromise. There is nothing wrong with wearing what is traditionally ours. The problem however is the use of these dresses as the yardstick for identifying the right man for the job at Aso Rock or the government house of any state.

Nigerians everywhere: behind truck wheels, riding on the spines of Okadas, selling under the open sun in the markets, in secondary schools, university/polytechnic campuses, at constructions sites … must recognize that the sole and most imperative criteria for considering a man fit for a leadership role is what he has been able to do during a previous and lower level of administration. Our refusal to heed this truly confirms that we think the choice of an excellent leader is a game of trial and error. It took just about two decades for a Nigerian, John Godson to become the first black MP. What did he do? He used money he has made to provide scholarship to students and help the poor. American President, Barack Obama, as a congressman sponsored laws that changed the plight of Africa-Americans in his constituency remarkably. He became a political superstar. We don’t need to look far to see that there are Nigerians who brought changes in the areas where they were assigned to carry out a task, even within the last fourteen years. They demonstrated the strong ability to identify the challenges of their assignment, understood how to overcome them and created the right atmosphere for their accomplishment.

Once such individuals are identified, the next thing is for Nigerians to be able to overcome polarization that revolve around emotions, religion and tribe. Refusing to vote an individual you just like because of his fine looks is not an easy decision to make. If however, you recognize that such a decision is fundamentally critical in deciding tomorrow’s trajectory of the nation then you need courage to do it. Therefore a bloodless revolution needs critical thought and courage to make a sacrifice. It is also the same where either religion or tribal considerations is tempting you to make a flawed decision. You also need critical thought and courage to make a sacrifice. I checked the national anthem and pledge to see if there is a line where the need for sacrifice is stressed. I did not find one.

If we choose the option of a violent political revolution we must also be ready to make sacrifices in terms of lives, maiming and the number of years we will have to go in the reverse direction. There is a difference between sacrificing your religion and sacrificing a wrong individual who comes from your religion. I should not be misquoted.

In Nigeria, a political revolution must come from the mind and is easy if we can build a strong courage to make sacrifices.

  ng_offshoot@yahoo.co.uk 

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