David Adeniyi: Why Should Nigerians not Demand Over and Over Again?
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” – US president John .F. Kennedy, 1961.
When the late US president John .F. Kennedy was making his epoch speech in Washington on January 20th,1961 that Americans should not ask what America can do for them, rather they should ask what they can do for America. Little did he know that the statement is only applicable in America and not in a geographical entity like Nigeria. That is,one man’s meat is another man’s poison; what works for one platform of geography may not work for another.
In spite of this popular quote of President John Kennedy, Americans are still asking and they will continue to ask and hold their government accountable. Americans are no longer asking their government for portable water, electricity, motorable roads, credible and accountable leadership as these are the main issues Nigerians are still battling with today. Rather, an average American demands for civil rights and more equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities between the haves and the have-nots.
Why should Nigerian government wait for the people to ask for the essentials before they provide them? The reason is not far fetched since the people know that government needs to be forced before they do things rigth.
President John Kennedy was a hero, a man who had his life on the line for his country. He was the president of America for only 34 months (2 years 10 months) before he was assassinated; but he was still judged by most Americans as a true leader with genuine electoral promises. Till today, an average American still believes in Kennedy’s powerful and resounding speeches.
In my dear country Nigeria, the reverse is the case. President Goodluck Jonathan campaigned vigorously through the length and breadth of the country with the army of foot soldiers working day and night to ensure his victory. Telling people what they wanted to hear; although with no particularly tangible electoral promises. Don’t think I’m being sarcastic. I’m just saying the truth. So, how do you hold someone like Mr. President who did say he would not promise Nigerians anything accountable? Of course, GEJ’s actions and inactions might be said to be justifiable.
How then should any Nigerian today not ask what Nigerian government can do for him or her? Over the years of our democratic experience, many Nigerians have been disappointed and disillusioned in their “leaders” both in the past and in the present who continue to show little knack for service and sacrifice but show a huge appetite for self-interest and corruption.
Tell me, why should Nigerians not demand over and over again from a country that has had a penchant for failing its citizens in spite of awesome resources and potentials?
Many of my country folks had simply disengaged from their country. They prefer to stay elsewhere rather than reside in their own fatherland. I almost shed tears during the just concluded London Olympics 2012, when I saw some of my country’s young men and women representing other countries in various games with all the confidence and enthusiasm in the world. You will begin to wonder what Okogie, Damilola, etc are doing with the Great Britain or USA. But I can’t blame them, I can only blame our government who has refused to harness our potentials and talents to the optimum level. I can only blame Nigerian leaders who have failed to use their eyes to see rather use their legs. Many others simply changed their citizenship and threw away their Nigerian green passports. Why? Government has given them “heart break” many times and they are not ready to trust their leaders again.
I see in President Jonathan,a man who wants to turn things around for his country, but the questions are: Can he be allowed to do it? How about the nay sayers who surround him? Has he enough courage to do what is right? How about the political hangers on, apologists, lobbyists and foot soldiers?
To a certain extent,there has been a little improvement in the electricity supply. Thanks to our questioning. More can still be done.
I laughed when I read in a report that some South-south leaders said they have not benefited any thing from their “son” in power. Is Mr. President, a president of Nigeria or a president of the South-south extraction? This is not good for our democracy.
To my mind, Nigerians need to be persuaded. Nigerians need to convinced. Nigerians need to be re-assured that government is serious and should not be taken like a pinch of salt.
Nigerians can not but ask questions from the government about their country that has produced more patronage-dispensing rulers and tyranny than committed leaders.
Nigerians must continue to ask questions. The experience of January Subsidy protest has shown what Nigerian masses can do to hold their government in the jugular. Had Nigerians not reacted the way they did, the status quo would have remained.
No country ever developed or progressed under the “see no evil, speak no evil” culture of our leaders in government. Let Nigerians query their leaders at all levels. We can’t be asking for too much!
Why, When, What, Where and How, are the basic economics questions when it comes to production. Lets use them often and often. Using them often will help to keep the cold feet and lukewarmness of our leaders close to the warm fireplace of good governance.
I’m sure if the late President Kennedy were to be alive today, he would have agreed with me that what applies in his country may not apply and can not be applied in my own country, Nigeria.
Nigerians, I challenge us, let us ask by all means because I’m sure they are hearing us. We must not be weary. We must continue to be resolute in our demands.
You should ask” what Nigeria can do for you and then get ready to help it do them”.
We all can together build a new and virile Nigeria. It is possible!
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