Little wonder why they call us “ the most populous black nation” with over 135 million citizens, 250 ethnic groups and 4000 different dialects. A nation of great natural wealth, both in natural resources and human capital, Nigeria stands today as a nation that is ready in wait for positive changes. A change that could be achieved through hard work and discipline. This hunger for change and growth has been shown in our political battles, economical growth, and educational strides. Since adopting the 6-3-3-4 educational policy in 1982, Nigeria has experienced rapid growth in the amount of students yearly.
Education in Nigeria is viewed as the bedrock of our society, perhaps profound would be a better way to describe the way most Nigerians view education. DR Valentine Okaru-Bisant, a cosmopolitan, views education as a process by which society deliberately transmits accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another”. However despite the great educational strides made by Nigerians both at home and abroad, there is still plenty to be achieved, especially in the terms of how we as Nigerians are perceived by other countries.
Generally Nigerians, who live abroad, often find themselves in situations where they have to defend their home or at least I do. As the years have gone by and depending on the particular foreign country you are visiting, there are different names used to incorrectly ‘define’ who we are as Nigerians. According to our well known and loved Nigerian Artist M.I, “our reputation as Nigerians suffers worldwide, and not just as prejudice but even bordering on racial discrimination in terms of treatment during travel and immigration. It is a sad situation and sadder is the fact that we have contributed to it diligently. It is time for Nigeria to start to aggressively fight the PR battle around the world.”
There is no doubt that our reputation abroad and our own personal views of our country is in need of a serious makeover. But sometimes, I cannot help but wonder if bad press is the only reasons why we face so much prejudice. For example, a recent report in Forbes Magazine suggests that ‘there are an estimated 120 pending Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations in Nigeria alone. Several factors have caused this, including increased penetration of U.S. companies into countries like oil-rich Nigeria, where bribes are expected”. This suggests that Nigerian’s themselves have in some way contributed to such negative perceptions.
Though a lot needs be done to stop the influence of greed and corruption in our country, which has directly affected the way we are viewed as Nigerians, all hope is not lost. In an effort to change these negative views, many young Nigerians devote their time to learning and devising ways to be creative and spiritually active in their societies. For instance in a recent interview held with Nigerian youths, it is clear that being a personal example, and leading by personal change has become the new ideal for changing the negative views of Nigerians held around the world. Well known artist Tunde Akinsanmi of styl plus, who is also a Youth Ambassador for Peace, also suggests that in his battle for personal change he plans to propagate the message of Peace, Love, Uprightness, Goodwill and act as a role model in any community he finds himself in. He goes further to suggest that securing a better and a more positive future for our great nation involves a complete paradigm shift and a full re-orientation which can only be achieved through first-hand interactions and through the Media”.
For me change is something I pursue on a daily basis, I strive to be the best at what ever I do, not just to achieve success and wealth, but because I believe in the fact that collective effort is the best source of any kind of change. With positive collective effort, I believe we can help spread positive notions about Nigeria. So my question to all Nigerians is this. As Nigeria gears up to celebrate half a century of independence, what personal change will you contribute to secure the future of our great nation?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world….” Gandhi