Building A Nigeria That Would Last By Obayomi Abiola Benjamin
“Our nation is ripe with a multitude of successful people, who have achieved much for themselves with little impact on anyone else” -Fela Durotoye
Nigeria is without any reservation, a strategic nation on earth. Let me take the next few lines to explain to you why I am so sure of this particular fact. Nigeria is among the first ten of the world’s most populous nation on earth. According to United Nations Department of Economics and social affairs estimates, Nigeria is ranked the 7th most populous country in the world with a population of 183,506,867 as at 7th March, 2015. Apart from this, Nigeria is also the most populous county in the continent of Africa and also boasts of the largest economy, which before now has South Africa leading the continent’s economic position. In terms of natural resources, especially crude oil; Nigeria boasts of 37.2billion barrel, ranking the country as the largest oil producer in Africa and the 11th largest in the world, averaging 2.28 million barrels per day. In fact, at current rate; this oil reserves can serve for 45years of supply if no new oil was discovered. All these and many more contributes to Nigeria’s strategic position on the world map.
But how Nigeria has fared over the years with these resources and her position on the world stage is something of concern. The nation is rich and yet, she is poor. From unemployment to poverty, bad governance and bad leadership, corruption and poverty has characterized this entity called Nigeria. 100 years on since amalgamation, 53 years of independence; still no meaningful development can be ascribed to Africa’s most populated and oil-rich nation. From religious sentiments to tribal insecurity, a lot of issues have bedeviled the nation’s attainment of greatness in the years past. Countries like the United States of America, Germany and even Russia who have learnt that it is only in oneness and unity of purpose that a nation can thrive have moved on and today, they are nations on earth that can be reckoned with. Although Nigeria’s motto has been “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”, we know that the nation’s has been under threat, especially since after the civil war in the sixties, and the continuous agitation for the state of Biafra in the East.
So, the question is this; how can we build a nation that would last, where all man would be equal before the law and the common resources of the people would serve everyone and not just some selected few? The answers are not far-fetched. First and foremost, it begins with building Strong Institutions. Most successful nations on earth that will know today are founded on strong and indestructible institutions. This usually starts by having established laws that bounds all and sundry, and not the type that some people would break and still go away with it like what we see here every day. People must obey the law, either willingly or being compelled to obey it. Not just having strong institutions would do, they must also be manned by people of integrity; people with proven track records of sincerity and respect for the rule of law. A lot of us have commended the immediate past of governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) for a good job in his 8 years administration of the state. But how was he able to achieve these fetes in Lagos, the man simply made laws and entrusted it in the hands of people who will ensure these laws were being adhered to. President Barack Obama said Accra on his maiden visit Africa that “What Africa needs are strong institutions and not strong men”. I totally agree with this assertion because it also depicts what is happening in Nigeria. What we need to build a Nigeria that would last are strong institutions, and not greedy politicians whose aims are to milk the nation dry.
Next to building strong institutions are Leaders with Vision. Building a Nigeria that would last requires strong leadership at every sphere of the nation. And when I talk about leaders in this context, it is not limited to the center alone. I mean leaders at every level of our society; national, state and local level. One very crucial characteristic a leader must possess is VISION– ability to see ahead. When you remove this quality from a leader, what you simply have is an empty shell. One reason why Africa as a continent is still where it is today is simply because of leadership problem. You have African leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power, rig elections in their favor. Even at old age; when they should be relaxing and enjoying their retirement benefits, they still want to continue in power. No vision for the continent, no vision for their respective countries. Nigeria is no exception from this menace. Visionless politicians recycle themselves every four years with no meaningful programs, except how to benefit their lots. Just listen to a Nigerian politician campaigning, then you can tell the stuffs he or she is made of. Building a nation that would last requires people with vision- people who can see ahead into the future and make plans for it. Countries like the US, UK are where they are today because they were or are at one point or the other has these leaders in charge of affairs. Until we get to this point in Nigeria, things may not change in a long time to come.
Lastly, for us to build a Nigeria that would last, we must work on our Values. The value I am simply talking about here is not our country’s currency worth as against the US dollars or UK’s pound sterling. Values here simply mean our moral or professional standards of behavior, principles and so on. An average young Nigerian as of today has lost the value of hard work. The endemic corrupt system that has been entrenched by our politicians has made a lot of these young folks to see things differently. It no longer news that young Nigerians now use various means and vices to want to make quick money nowadays, ranging from internet frauds, kidnappings and some even go as far as engaging in rituals. Moral standards have decayed; the youths are becoming more and more agitated to get rich quick. These issues must be addressed now if we want Nigeria to truly last. Whether we like it or not, Nigeria’s population has over 50% of it made up of the younger generation. Moral education should be taught vigorously both at primary and secondary school levels. The religious institutions should intensify the preaching of biblical and quranic morals to their youths and less of the preaching of prosperity and instigation of violence. Let me end by saying this. Nation building and human development need to go hand in hand. Good human values must be preached religiously to build a Nigeria that would last.
Thank you for reading.
Obayomi Abiola Benjamin