In the ever-relevant words of Chinua Achebe, “being a Nigerian is abysmally frustrating and unbelievably exciting.” That’s because you live out both extremes in real-time. Being a citizen is just like a coin; it has two sides. It’s not enough to know our rights, we should also know our responsibilities. This is particularly a tough ask because it usually seems the other party doesn’t keep their end of the bargain and as such are undeserving of your patriotism. The massive trust deficit has reduced the concept of a social contract to a matter of chicken or eggs – which comes first?
Nigeria is not just a place, Nigeria is first a people. So whether in you are here or in the diaspora, join us as we muueeve. Whilst there exists a bitter-sweet experience for most of us, we must commit to the higher calling of building. Just like one swallow doesn’t make a summer and one tree doesn’t make a forest, this is not a job for a few, it’s a mandate for all. 2021 is that year where, more than ever, you must become an active citizen. The individual success we seek cannot be in isolation but in the context of the society around us.
I was in a conference some years ago and the speaker asked a very poignant question, “If you were to be multiplied by two hundred million, what type of society would we have?” In the words of June Jordan, “we are the ones we have been waiting for” but we must also begin to model the real change we want to see. We must hold ourselves to very high standards so that we don’t become the monsters we once rebuked when our own time comes. Ten years ago, I learnt these ten things from a very wise man:
Make a Positive Impact on Everyone I Meet and Everywhere I Go
You may not be able to change the world but you can change your world. Instead of trying to touch everyone’s lives, decide to impact just one person. You may be the answer to the prayers of that person within your sphere of influence. You become his or her miracle.
Be a Solution Provider and Not a Part of the Problem
People should heave a sigh of relief when you show up and not let out a hiss. Your presence should be so coveted that your family, business and community will go to any length to ensure it. Your contributions should be profound and positive. Don’t constitute yourself into a nuisance under any circumstance.
Be a Role Model Worthy of Emulation
It is one thing for your child to tell you he or she wants to be a lawyer, doctor, musician, footballer, tech entrepreneur, and so on. It, however, hits different when he or she says, “I want to be like my daddy” or “I want to be like my mummy.” Children learn more from what they see so it means they have seen enough to be inspired by your leadership.
Be my Best in All I Do Particularly the Things I am Naturally Good At
Talent is never enough. For you to effect significant changes you must weaponise your gifts by turning them to skills. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. I have identified writing as my superpower, what is yours? You have to discover, develop, then deploy your superpower.
Do the Right Thing at all Times Regardless of Who is Doing the Wrong Thing
If everyone were to jump into fire, you certainly won’t follow suit because you know that it isn’t in your best interest. So don’t follow the multitude to commit sin, snap out of the mob mentality and think for yourself. They will pressure you, they will hate on you because you dared to be different, still, you need to own your uniqueness with your full chest.
Value Time and Make the Best Use of it
Make every second, minute, hour count – not just days, weeks, month or years. When you maximise time, you create more value as an individual. When this value is aggregated, it results in greater value as a collective. Your great ideas shouldn’t remain in your head, you have the gift on time to birth and grow them. We need to continue investing our creative energies into building a desirable future.
Care and Show Respect Through my Words and Actions
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Don’t just talk it, walk it. You have to represent us correctly in whatever you do and wherever you find yourself. Break the stereotype, the ‘labels’ and let the world know you that you will not be defined by the indiscretions of less than 1% of our population.
Consciously Build a Great Legacy Today and Every day
What will your name be remembered for? The good news is that you don’t have to get on your sickbed to find out, you can imagine it now and start doing something about it. Legacy is the story that is told of you to those coming after you, not just your children. Let them know that you lived, you loved and you made the world a better place than you met it.
Live a Life of Integrity and Honour
Live a life that speaks for itself, not one that you have to write a memoir to shalaye or that paid pens will try through very disingenuous means to force pseudo narratives about you down our throats when you’re gone, talmbout how you were such a great person. Integrity is the positive alignment of your thoughts, words and actions.
Make my Family, my Nation and my God Proud
Some Nigerians are amongst the eggheads that came up with Coronavirus vaccines, they are making their family, nation and God proud by such exemplary leadership and excellence. It could be you bringing all that praise home in your own small way. Unleash your greatness so that even those who didn’t know you from Adam will famz you as “our daughter” or “our son”. Fly your flag with pride and let the world know that this is that turning point generation.
In a heartfelt rallying cry to the warriors at Winterfell, Jon Snow made a case for camaraderie as the long night drew imminent and the White Walkers from far North of Westeros approached the city for battle:
“I’m not asking you to forget your dead. I’ll never forget mine. I lost fifty brothers the night that Mance attacked the Wall but I’m asking you to think about your children now. They’ll never have children of their own if we don’t band together. The Long Night is coming and the dead come with it. No clan can stop them. The Free Folk can’t stop them, the Night’s Watch can’t stop them and all the southern kings can’t stop them! Only together. All of us.”