Using a very popular golf term, Nigeria is now TEEING-OFF on the BACK 9! And for those unfamiliar with this term, just think of it as your opportunity to go against Usain Bolt coming down the home stretch in a 4X100 meter relay final or our beloved Super Eagles of Nigeria needing to pull-off an improbable result by beating Guinea with a TWO goal margin in October’s qualifying match if they have any hopes of advancing to the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Here is the thing; before one can go forward and take on such an enormous challenge head-on, it is absolutely obligatory to take a deep breath, reflect and learn from the mistakes that helped to manifest itself in ones current state of affairs. As we say back home in NAIJA “How did I get myself in this kind of WAHALA O”?
You might ask what is the correlation between the examples aforementioned and the current state of affairs in Nigeria TODAY? Well, this week Nigeria turns 51 and the sole burden and responsibility to better our nation’s dire political and social-economic affairs lies within us not outside. Far too often we as a nation have been so quick to point the finger, place blame onto others but yet still offer no solutions. The question I choose to address is how do we keep a democratic society from slipping back into a non-democratic one?
In the past 10 months alone we have witnessed countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Cote d’Ivoire topple amidst pressure from its citizens who demand a change in governance and human rights policies. Nigeria itself has been subjected to daily acts of unrest due to frustration or failure to counter corruption, boko haram, terrorism and diminished manufacturing output, lack of electricity, insecurity and unemployment.
To my knowledge there have only been two multi-century democracies; the United Kingdom and United States. It is my hope that we as a nation avoid the site of what the rest of the world have come to witness in the aforesaid countries and a sensible corrective action plan be implemented with taught and diligence. The irony of it all is that for all their faults be it ones personal ambition to amend the constitution and run for unprecedented 3rd term in office, the unwise choice of the anointing the sickly Umar Yar’adua as his successor or the annulment of JUNE 12 elections the military officers who include Generals Obansajo, and Babangida gave Nigeria relative peace after gaining our independence from the British and should not be used as pawns in a political game to score cheap points. Rather politicians should firstly be consistent and address issues and tell the electorate what they have to offer instead of MUDSLINGING.
Going forward the populace needs to be better educated and careful in its decision making as it relates to the betterment of our country. We as the voting public and citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must improve and value the importance of thinking for ourselves, evaluating information and decision making. A good democracy calls for an educated CITIZENRY. Currently the darker parts of Nigeria’s history are glossed over since they reflect badly on our mythology as an under-achieving nation. This slant also minimizes the effort of the common people to overcome the power of the elite, most notably in labor relations.
Finally, democracy is not based on the practice of exclusion or an “Us vs. Them” attitude. It is actually based on inclusion and participation and most importantly on the will of the majority having their way while the minority has their say. At our core Nigerians are deeply optimistic and gloomy about the future of our country and they want leaders to lead. It is my hope that in these NEXT 50 years, the people of Nigeria will be energized and care so much that they take the time to show up and contribute in meaningful discussions. We will tackle tough issues and want solutions to problems that ail us. We shall make tough choices and want straight answers to straight questions.
Happy Birthday Nigeria!!!
Contributions to this blogpost were made by Awori Youth & Robert D. Feinman.
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