I have observed with keen interest the musings and theatrics of the political landscape, since the transition to the “era of change” with expectation, patience, irritation, disappointment, fascination and anger. I am not here to propagate which party or leader was better or worse. God knows we all need to move on from the election results already, and address the real question of good governance.
As citizens what do we require from our leaders? What responsibilities do we owe our country? What duties do we owe ourselves and others? What can be done better?
This economic recession (scratch that), hardship has really opened up so many underlying issues we have as a country and as individuals more importantly.
Examine these statements below and responses from some individuals.
Nigeria has “rebased” its gross domestic product (GDP) data, which has pushed it above South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy.
Nigerian GDP now includes previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines, and film production.
GDP for 2013 totalled 80.3 trillion naira (£307.6bn: $509.9bn), the Nigerian statistics office said.
That compares with South Africa’s GDP of $370.3bn at the end of 2013.
Here are some typical responses you would hear from a sample of individuals in this present time.
Nigerian (A): These figures were manipulated and conjured for some time to deceive all of us that all was well. But truly it wasn’t it was all a cover up. Moreover, it doesn’t matter now we are fighting the major cause of our woes -corruption.
Nigerian (B): I don’t care, all I know is that I can’t provide for my family. This new government should start sharing the money now.
Nigerian (C): E no concern me as far as na my brother dey there before all was well. So we must bring him back!
Nigerian (D): Na my brother dey there now. He can never do anything wrong. He is infallible.
Nigerian (E): There is a conspiracy from XXXX ethnic group to subdue us after all now that forex is out of the reach of the common man how I can import my goods. I tell you they want to close down our businesses.
And so on and so forth.
The troubling reality of these very typical responses is that they are from enlightened and educated individuals. The average conversation on economic prosperity has moved from the point of logic and facts, to sentiments, innuendos, religion and ethnocentric bias.
The key indicators which are used to measure governance according to the World Bank are government effectiveness, control of corruption, political stability, absence of violence/ terrorism, regulatory quality, rule of law, voice and accountability. Sadly, though this is not the case as we have abandoned the course and chased illusive shadows wearing rose coloured ethno-religious glasses which obviously shields us from objectivity and purpose. We have neglected our core values such integrity, honesty, perseverance, love, peace as a people that should influence our way of life and interaction to build a prosperous and peaceful society.
These ideals cut across religion, race, social status which would help to unify us and not destabilize the sovereignty of our nation. There is a need for us to be awakened consciously and subconsciously to assume the office of the citizen which is so important that all our defective leaders do is to ensure we are blinded to this truth.
It’s understandable to note that at this point in time, we all feel lost and frustrated; but one thing I ask myself after a bashing session of our leaders is that what I am in my capacity doing to make my country great? The leader of a country is just one man. If we all pack up and leave this country just one man cannot make a nation.
I am not in any way exonerating the part that our leaders have to play, but take a good look at our society it goes way beyond the people.
After all, it is the people who celebrate mediocrity, encourage corrupt politicians, accept/receive bribes, encourage our children to act as their thugs etc.
The pertinent question then is on how do I truly serve my country?
Are you a civil /public servant who collects bribe before performing your duties?
A policeman who abandons his duty post and doesn’t serve his nation?
A doctor who abandons his government job for his private practice?
An engineer who inflates government contracts and receives payments to award contracts?
The trader who sells goods at overblown prices?
The religious cleric who fails to teach its flock the rewards of being a patriotic and responsible citizen?
A parent that encourages their wards to live a life of crime and debauchery as long as they are given the spoils?
A teacher who is involved in examination malpractice and facilitates more corrupt practices?
An employer who accepts or receives payments in the place of an employment offer?
The list goes on…
The facts are that with even the best economic policies and leaders, we as a people need to be ready to implement the transformation we want to see in our lives as individuals then it translates to the society at large. It is not a magical show, as development and growth is founded on the principles of hard work, commitment and perseverance.
Our institutions need to be strengthened beyond the tenure ship of a particular leader but should transcend to a point of fluid efficiency devoid of nepotism, tribalism, mediocrity and bias. The last time I checked no matter your ethnicity or tribe we all bleed red and breathe the same air, so why the segregation and division?
The reality is that no one (foreign world powers, expatriate, messiah, marabout, prophet etc.) will achieve this feat without effort from every one of us to seek the transformation we crave. We need to raise the bar of electing and evaluating our future leaders.
Since time immemorial, our politicians have swayed us with promises of the most basic of physical / social infrastructure – roads, health care, housing, power etc. Fifty-seven years down the line we still have not raised our standards, yet we seek the wonders of other civilised countries.
Desiring dynamic leadership in itself is not enough we should also hold them accountable to their offices and responsibilities after all they were elected to serve us. We indeed do them a great disservice of not criticizing and holding them accountable to their actions and deeds. Instead we defend their shortcomings in the purview of religion and ethnic sentiments. What pawns we are!
I would end with the words of Abraham Lincoln who once said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. Let’s all start to serve as patriotic citizens and assume responsibilities to restructure and redefine the future Nigeria that we can all be proud of by obeying the clarion to serve as we were all called to do.
Photo Credit: Ron Chapple | Dreamstime.com