Only he deserves power who every day justifies it.” – Dag Hammarskjold 1905-61.
There is a sweltering harmattan of expectation; a deluge of hope; a mountain of anticipation; and the profound euphoria that underscores the faith that the Nigerian people have in the CHANGE MOVEMENT must determine the thrust of the present watch. Yes, the masses believe that with President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC comes a new paradigm that must redefine leadership and governance in this clime. It is believed and rightly so that it will no longer be business as usual. May God help us.
To hit the ground running, we must realize the urgency of now, we must be conscious of the fact that when Nigerians chose change over continuity, what happened in actual fact was a ballot-based revolution. We cannot assume that it was a mere political contestation that saw the APC taking the spoils. No, it wasn’t. Nigerians voted for CHANGE against an era that turned governance to a bazaar and liberalized corruption. Nigerians voted against corruption. Such is the incontrovertible challenge on our hands. We must deal with corruption. We must create monuments of deterrence and monuments of reference across the Nigerian space. We must repudiate corruption, sleaze and fleece at all levels of governance and teach our countrymen and women the primacy of service to fatherland. We must overhaul the moral margins of State and National Honours. If need be, we must revoke all honours conferred on individuals who have been convicted for a crime, and refuse to honour Nigerians whose propensities are manifestly corrupt and egocentric. We must teach our children the nobility of hard-work and set a new praxis that repudiates corruption and corruptive proclivities.
We must redefine our Federal Character normative such that at all times our enterprise must encourage excellence over mediocrity. It must always be the best man for the job irrespective of State, zone or region. We cannot lower the bar because State A or B doesn’t meet the criteria. Nigeria must be treated as a huge canvass on which only the best should paint. Our country must be treated as a huge national theatre where only the very best must perform; such is the minimum quid pro quo for greatness and progress.
I have profuse faith in the feats we must score, I have never been more hopeful in our journey to nationhood like presently. I see the promise-land. Some may think that my hope is superfluous and outlandish, but I know Nigeria. I know that we are a people with undying resolve to reach great heights. I know that we are resilient species. I know that we are kindred of the Great Zik of Africa; scions of the sage Awo; kith of the pragmatic Sarduana; kin of the dogged Isaac Adaka Boro; and offshoot of the many greats that berthed this nation. So, before us is the inviolable challenge to make Nigeria great again.
The Green-White-Green must be seen beyond the fabric and treated as our collective identity. We must locate the path to the Isle of Peace, Unity and Good-Hope through a deliberate and conscious effort at thinning down the walls of creed and clan. We must raise our interactive bar to no less an estate where religion becomes a personal affair, and on our national stage make the second stanza of the National Anthem our national prayer. The Christian and Muslim prayer normative in State functions must be made Shibboleth, and in its place, ‘Oh God of Creation’ rehearsed for such is our national prayer.
A Nigerian child doesn’t need to know if I am a Christian or a Muslim or perhaps a traditional worshipper, the child wants to see a leader who cares, a leader that creates jobs, a man who doesn’t steal and a leader that empathizes. If you must know the truth, our people are tired of rulers who profess one religion or another, but whose daily regimen vitiates even the least expectations of their faith. The linchpin of the new national orientation paradigm must be service delivery, patriotism and commitment to the good of fatherland; yes, it must be COUNTRY FIRST.
We must review the cost of governance vis-à-vis the emolument of public office holders; we cannot pay political office holders so much salary and allowance in a country so economically rudderless, bare-chested and anaemic and yet lay claim to seeking economic recovery and national growth. No, we must change the way things are done. The urgency of now is the imperativeness of a new paradigm. We must begin a massive rework of values in governance such that leadership must become responsive and responsible to the people, and such is the only permissible minimum.
Those who see partisan loyalty as the first course in the national buffet must realize that without Nigeria, the dining table will be scant or perhaps non-existent. We must therefore make the praxis of our three course meal; yes our full course, Patriotism, Service and True Brotherhood. A nation of patriots thinks more of the good of nation and its people. Service to nation is service to all, and above all true brotherhood devolves on both, when governance delivers on the promises of democracy beyond the banal bounds of partisan, religious, regional, ethnic and parochial prejudices, true brotherhood fosters.
Like the prized dietary three course meal normative, our nation is a cord of three; yes, we are a nation of three major tribes divided providentially by the waters of the River Niger and the Benue into three main regions, the North, the West and the East. We are a people of three major faiths, Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion; and remember how the Christians’ Holy Book put it, ‘the cord of two is strong, the cord of three who can break?’. Need I remind you that the Muslims’ object of prayer, the ‘Tesbiu’ is an unbreakable cord of three, and traditionally three represents the unison of spirit, soul and body; not despising the other elements.
Countrymen and women, please be mindful of this reality that no nation that is a cord of three major peoples and tendencies has ever broken up. Most have survived gruesome wars, segregation and internecine conflagrations to weave the great nations they became. Britain, USA, Australia, South Africa et al are lucid mementoes. Tell it therefore to those preaching the message of separation and to those drumming the gongs of self-determination that we are a great nation woven by an infallible God.
The urgency of now compels a huge cross on this generation of Nigerians, it is much too profound now that Nigerians voted for change in the status quo ante bellum. Before May 29, 2015, many infractions may pass unnoticed, but today the margins are different and expectations mountainous. We must not only deliver concrete democracy dividends, but we must unite the masses of our people and make the good of Nigerians the summum bonum.
We must aggregate at no greater pedestal, but that which must prize excellence over mediocrity, and make the greatness of Nigeria our collective primacy. We must congregate, Christians, Muslims, Animists, Traditionalists and the likes at the altar where nothing counts, but the good of fellow countrymen and women. And we must assemble at the place where ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand’; such is the basic practical minimum sine qua non for growth and progress.
In the final analysis, we must seize the moment and make Nigeria the pride of all, citizens and foreigners alike. We must begin a massive overhaul of our collective morality and etch hard-work as prime on our corporate canvass. We must passionately rework the margins of leadership such that egocentrics would flee the political turf. We must rejig our economy by exploring other sources of revenue outside this sickening monolithic dependence on oil. We must reawaken the time tested value of patriotism as key to national growth and encourage discipline and discretion across the various strata of state and society.
We must work so that in the end posterity will say of this generation of Nigerians, when the moment of change came, a vibrant people came at it, took it, and transformed their nation such that it never remained the same. Nay, this must indeed be done in the positive as the contrary is manifestly unthinkable, morally impermissible and divinely unpardonable. God bless Nigeria.
NB: First published August 2015