While growing up in Nigeria, we learned that we are lagging far behind in terms of agriculture, education and information technology. Why? It could be a result of bad governance, laziness and selfishness of our leaders. Should we not try to produce good leaders, become more caring, work harder, and become selfless, Nigeria would deteriorate to something else worse than present Nigeria.
The Nigeria we are living in is far from the Nigeria we want but we all hope to get there. How we are reaching there matters. Is it by folding our arms and watching? Is it by sitting down and looking or by laying on our beds to sleep? Let us tell ourselves the truth. We all know what should be done. We all know that those countries laughing today had really worked hard and made sacrifices before they could now (today) enjoy. They did not reach there by just mere wishful thinking. But was it through revolution? No, never. It is a crime. Revolution is not in any way and can never be the way out for Nigeria. However, there are peaceful and constitutional ways.
It is no gainsaying that it is not all Nigerians are doing what they ought to do. Instead of planning for a better future, the future is being killed. It is very sad. There were days when the headlines of the national dailies were about the call for revolution. There were so many debates even on social media platforms. Is revolution what we need now in Nigeria? This is what we should have asked ourselves first. Revolution is however not the best for us.
Mr Attahir Esq. in a paper he presented in 2018 in Gombe titled “Restructuring Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and The Way Forward”, cautioned Nigerians about the challenges of restructuring Nigeria and I quoted: The tendency to indulge in corruption is a major factor that retards progress. Therefore, whether Nigeria remains united or not we must restructure our attitudes.
Most importantly, he stressed the need for us to restructure our attitudes first. it is good to have good attitudes. We cannot swallow the bone at once. We have to break it, chew it and then swallow it if we want to. Culture has a vital role to play in our society more especially these days. But it seems like we have abandoned it.
The level of corruption in Nigeria is very high, more especially amongst top government officials and those at the grass root. If there is any factor that has been retarding Nigeria from attaining fast development is corruption. Until honesty and integrity are returned back into our system before things will smoothly move the way they are supposed to. In addition, a corruption-free society is needed.
Unity is a challenging factor that we need to reach the Nigeria we want. It is often ignored or maybe it is considered as less important. Najib Adamu Usman, a poet, called for unity among Africans. He said so in his hausa poem, “Wakar Hadin kan Afrika”. Upon his concern, I built this point. Without unity, in other words, brotherhood, we cannot achieve the aims and/or goals of modern governance. We have to wake up from our sleep and do the needful at the right time. We still have time, the sun is not yet down.
Another challenging factor is our literacy level. The level of literacy today is quite low because the level of our government investment in the education sector is low. That’s why our educational sector is in a sorry state. At this juncture, the government and the educated elites must see investment in youth (the most important pillar of every society) through education as a priority, if only they want the teeming youth to collaborate with them to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
There is no country in this world that can develop in the world without immensely investing in the education sector at this time of ours that I can call a digital era. This is in line with what Justice Ayo Salami (retd.) said and I quoted: Education is power” in his paper, “how ex-CJNs Sold Our Independence of The Judiciary To Executive”. A typical example is without the education imparted in me, I cannot write this article.
Believe me or not, education in general plays a great role in the moral upbringing of a person. Let’s take a look at some countries that advanced through investment in education. Take for example Japan, Korea, China and the rest of them. Their governments see investment in education as a top priority. The above-mentioned countries are not blessed with many natural resources but they are talented. They used human resources to develop their country. They import raw materials and export manufactured products to other countries. Even to countries bigger than them in age, size and everything. But that isn’t what we are doing, trying to do in Nigeria.
Knowledge should be considered. Knowledgeable can be found in learning institutions. Therefore, institutions should be put in place to teach our younger ones leadership traits before it becomes too late to overcome the present challenges.
The Nigeria we want should have good leaders. From the mere look of things here, there is the absence of effective leadership/good governance and the best system of government. These are also some of the problems of Nigeria today. Our leaders are corrupt, selfish and incapacitated to lead. But whose fault? Sorry to say that not all Nigerians can differentiate between suitability and eligibility and legality and legitimacy as Dr Usman Bugaje asserted in a lecture he delivered at Gombe High School in December 2018 in Gombe.
At this age of Nigeria, 60, then, it must be a shame on us. The world will laugh at us. Because the differences are very obvious. There is no day that this fire will stop burning since we know the extinguisher hence we are still looking for something else.
We want creativity to flourish in Nigeria. We Nigerians are creative and at the same time, we are careless. Maybe we don’t know. In Nigeria, most of the youth are willing and able to work but unable to find paid jobs. Unemployment is growing bigger by the day yet, there are scarce jobs. Why? We limit ourselves to only one source of employment i.e the government which also generate its revenue from the oil sector.
We want a Nigeria with a digital economy. The world is changing from an oil-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. We have to find our way out by ourselves. We have professionals and elders, why don’t we ask them to counsel us? The sectors we neglected have to be revived. We have to go back into them immensely. Reviving them is a must, if only we want the Nigeria we want.
We the subjects or more preferably the ruled or the led have our various contributions to good governance at our various levels of life. Aside from obedience and compliance with the laws so long as they are not evil and abominable. There are other positive contributions, like constructive criticisms, advising the government on good things and warning against evil as asserted by Prof. Salisu Shehu, in his book Social Justice Leadership Responsibility in Islam and prayer as well. But today we are relentless to all of these. Not all, but only a few of us are doing that.
It is high time we should pray for more peace and security in Nigeria than calling for riots. It was not too far when we cried daily. Have we forgotten when some of us could not even eat, not to mention farm? And now, some people have forgotten. Is like Nigerians don’t learn their lessons. We prioritise what is less important or unimportant in place of the most important.
Prof. Salisu Shehu, 2016 has identified justice as a very important aspect in any given society. A leader, therefore, must be just. We should pay special attention to this quality before selecting any leader in Nigeria. After this, then we can expect to have the just Nigeria we want.
Competence is another most appealing quality. The ability of a leader to overcome situations and how he handles matters mattered a lot. But do we care about that? We should not just go ahead and select a representative knowingly that the person is not competent. Prof. Shehu and Dr Bugaje have emphasised the need to select a competent, suitable leader in Nigeria for our betterment.
Our future depends on our vision earlier. We have to shape our future right from now. The Nigeria we want is attainable if only we are ready to change our attitudes in order to survive all the challenges of modern democracy we have been facing. We can reach where we want if we are ready to implement the points expounded earlier in this piece.
Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim is an award-winning journalist, fellow African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) 2020, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.