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Nigeria: A Call to Personal Change

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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

20 Comments

  1. DU

    June 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    true talk.

  2. kunbisitic

    June 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Sara – God bless you…. this is so true…evry1 wants to shine – but truth of the matter is no matter how much you shine…if you shine in isolation there is no point to that shine. Everyone wants to be relevant in nigeria and it is that innate attitude that hinders our development and progress!! Once we can see past our own gain and prosperity….. and look to the overall prosperity of our country then change will occur…. seriously though it is time that we definately be the change we want to see….was at the nigerian democracy day in dublin ireland….these same sentiments were expressed.

    God Bless Naija.!!

  3. Faramola

    June 10, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    This is a poorly written and incoherent article, with no focus or central theme. More worrying it’s factually wrong. Education may be regarded highly in Nigeria but it is failing woefully. Did the writter not hear about the failure rate for WAEC 87% fail this exam. In 1976 we were 7th in the world in terms of education. In 2010 we are not in the first 100.

  4. Molicious

    June 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Nicely said…words to think on

  5. Godlovesme4me

    June 10, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Very well written and well said Sara…I believe most of us Nigerians are living up to impact a positive effect in the society…anywhere we are and may be continue to live up to that expectation by His grace. Just as I’m not ashamed to proclaim God as my Lord and personal Savior…I am not ashamed to claim Nigeria as my country…anywhere I find myself I’m readily proud to say I’m from Nigeria when asked…tho’ the image of my country is waxing cold across the world…I believe change will happen and it will be permanent when it does but first the change starts from me and you in our attitudes, characters, behaviors, values, and morals…if we can all live up to a standard way of helping one another…the change will surface sooner than we think.

    God bless 9ja!!

    BellaNaija…you rock!!

  6. salome

    June 10, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Thank u thank u Sarra, i loved every bit of it,Nigeria and Nigerians need this message,especially now with all thats been going on in the government,you did a great job and i can honestly say that living in the US. as a Nigerian i face experienced most of the things mentioned,glad to know someone else shares my views.

  7. thelma

    June 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    good job,very resourceful and i love the fact that you have a positive attitude towards change,this is a challenge to Nigerians and even people that are not Nigerians to look beyond what’s being said or has been said and to not make a conclusion about Nigerians without the necessary facts, Nigerians a doing great things and this Article is one of the great “tings” happening,God bless Naija.

  8. Ujubaby

    June 10, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    We all have a role 2 play! I have chosen 2 be part of those who make things happen and not watch things happen! The problem of Nigeria, lies within each individual, sorry 2 say! Take d world cup 4 instance, 10% believe in d Super eagles, d others…it’s a pity indeed! Even US players, who r not so good compared 2 other top countries still believe in their country, how much more “9ja”? When people don’t believe in “change 4 d better”, ‘ow will it come?!

  9. thelma

    June 10, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Re- Faramola
    I just made a comment and i noticed the other comments made, i think u need to be more positive in thinking, no offense,Nigerians a making progress in education worldwide in spite of whats going on.To say the article is poorly written is wrong and you probably need to learn a little bit more about writting, i am also a writer and to me this is a Job well done.

  10. Omo urhobo

    June 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    very well thought out points Sara!
    @ Faramola…u dey vex o! before you start calling out the writer on the “incohenrence and non factual blah blah” I suggest you read carefully what she said. There has been an increase in the amount of students.She mentioned nothing about the uality of the education. So would it be safe to say that your criticism is factually baseless?

  11. by

    June 10, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    sarra, before u put ur pen to paper u should first and foremost think about the poor, cos it seems to me that u are only speaking for the affluent. The education in Nigeria is so bad at the moment that God help u if u can’t afford the so called overpriced private schools. My kids attend a 350 thousand naira a term school and that is a primary school , now tell me how many middle class families that can afford this? when we were living in the u.k, we basically had to pay for books and extra activities it is so sad and my heart bleeds anytme i think about it. The public schools are so run down coupled with the never ending strikes, you only have to take a good look around you to see the sufferings of the masses. I personally believe that every child has a right to a good education . The Nigeria of today is a far cry from what it used to be in those days, the days when our fathers got scholarships to study abroad and were always very happy to return home to work on completion of their studies. Nigeria should borrow a leaf from the books of countries like china and korea. When i was doing my MBA programme, almost half of the class was asian and most of them were on scholarships in the u.k so also in the doctorate programmes. You can now see why over half of the world,s businesses are centred round the asian countries. People with real talents are just wasting away, even people that graduated with a first class honours are yet to get a job. you are emphasising on change and i hope and pray it comes to be because the leaders we have today are not ready for any change. I, along with two other people were once in charge of selecting final candidates for jobs in the multinational company that i used to work for and i had gone against the wishes of my boss in submitting the name of a particular guy whom i felt deserved the job. The result was that the guy was hired and i got fired a few months later. I thank God that i am in much better place right now. To sum it all up, The rich are getting richer and the poor are only getting poorer. God help us all.

  12. aminatu

    June 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    The rich are getting rich and the poor are getting poor is a true statement but that is everywhere including America…….

  13. kayhetch

    June 10, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Little or no Nigerian leader is educated or have a conscience because if they did someone would come up with a strategy towards a significant change in Nigeria. Yes it could be challenging.. but with a group of smart ppl.. even if it is only three ppl.. Change could be achieved.. cos the truth is a single person cannot change Nigeria.. take it or leave it.. it will take a group of ppl.

    For the 24years i have lived our country gets worse by the day.. the poor are getting poorer. The cost of living is going up yet.. there is no change in disposal income.. we have laws yet there is nothing done to enforce them. Nigeria seriously breaks my heart cos i love my country and would love to see something different and good happen.

    But anyone with good intentions gets killed or sent on exile. And the thought of being killed would not even allow ppl who can create change to consider being a political leader. All the stories that comes with being in politics in Nigeria can easily put ppl off. I never know how and where the change and revolution will happen.. but I know God knows! May God help and bless Nigeria.

  14. foreigner

    June 11, 2010 at 3:13 am

    change by first getting electricity – protest,march do whatever u gotta do and spend less time pretending to be HOLLYWOOD all the time. Sometimes as a foreigner looking in all i ever hear is nigerians complaining about the non light system for almost 2 decades now, but it seems ppl just complain – and go about their business – You have been without light for such a long time, no amount of glam or trying to look hollywood on red carpet means ish. Prioritise, all this nonsense on who wore what or who had the biggest wedding when is all BULLSHIT if a nation as rich as nigeria with all the natural resource till now still dont have constant electric. IT IS SHAMEFUL – not just to the greedy politicials but to all its citizens.

  15. TrueTalk previously known as TruthHurts

    June 11, 2010 at 8:11 am

    @Foreigner: in the words of MI (one of the best and socially conscious rappers in Naija)
    “I dey feel you die!!!” Meaning: I totally agree with you! Nigerians
    as a people generally all complain in our bedrooms and that’s where it
    ends. I have been saying for years (in my bedroom of course!) that
    what we need is a true revolution complete with civil disobedience if deemed
    necessary for us to turn things around. In Indonesia, I think, students overthrew
    the corrupt government of Surhato!! All we do is twiddle our thumbs while secretly
    waiting for the day we’ll get our chance to loot the treasury! lol! But
    seriously it’s time for change. Enough is enough.

  16. ibrahim

    June 12, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Sarra i wish u well and i say thanks a million, no mind all this bad belle pple wey no sabi english, imagine someone is talking about something entirely different and u pple use it as a forum to post all of una frustrations. what she brilliantly said in case una too dull to understand is that,we as a pple should be the change, instead of crying over spilt milk, lets start by taking care of our environment, striving for education no matter what, being honest and loyal,e.t.c.. need more articles like this abeg.

  17. traveller

    June 12, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Individuals make up a group. For a group to achieve a collective goal, individuals involved have to be on the same page of the same book. Meaning they all have to be in agreement both in purpose and in reasoning. The quality of the group is as strong as the weakest link. In other words, once every individual in the group plays his or her part properly, success must happen because a collection of things individually done effeciently must culminate to macro-growth in output. This is logic!. @ the Faramola individual, I dont see a reason why this article lands on a bad taste with you. The author of the article is doing something really good and worthy of emulation. Rather than discourage her, why not encourage her and play your part in the contribution to the change we’re all looking forward to in your own little way..Optimism brings goodwill while pessimism only further dampens any shred of hope. Be a builder and not a breaker. Above all, never be an enemy of progress.

  18. Omada

    June 16, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    @ Foreigner word!!! nigerians have misplaced their priorities so much!
    the things that bother us are, ‘who wore what?’, ‘who is wearing what?’,
    how long her brazilian or indian hair is, yet the real issues that affect us are swept under a carpet…
    all we do, is talk and talk, yet there is no change!
    when people are brave enough to stage a protest march we use religion or tribalism to tear them down.

    until we actually START DOING SOMETHING, change will never come!

  19. Nwosu

    June 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Sarra! Great Article and very “Well written”! I am in the military and notice a lot of the western perceptions that are mentioned in this article. I have also lived in Nigeria and seen the educational system decline rapidly.
    However, I have also seen a lot of improvements as well! It never ceases to amaze me to observe how many efficiant internet cafes there are and how many people have cell phones. I think there are alot of people working hard for change and one day all these efforts and attitudes towards self actualization will reach a critical mass. When that day comes; Like China, Nigeria and indeed Africa will have its time.

  20. ON7YBNY

    July 17, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    They say ROME was not built overnight.
    The same applies for 9ja… Lets celebrate and be positive that change will occur. Believe it and keep beliving.
    Think about all the achievements that have occured due to the belief and determination on an individual/group/country…. Yes we know all the negative things that are happening, we see it, we read it, we live it but the more negative thoughts that possess our minds, the harder it is for the positive thoughts to enter.
    Change your thinking and like Sara & Gandhi write, Be that change.

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