Eze Onyekpere

censoj@gmail.com; 08127235995

Fellow Nigerians, we need to have a frank discussion on our citizenship and our being part of the potentially great country called Nigeria. We need to tell ourselves the truth; ask pertinent questions and resolve to understand ourselves as a basis for our continued meaningful existence. This is not about parroting that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable but to interrogate the basis of that unity and find lasting solutions that will rally every Nigerian to the unity table. This is based on the premise that unity cannot be forced or decreed, it is usually negotiated and a product of consensus.

The first point of engagement is that developed and prosperous countries have a national dream, a national agenda bought into, by majority of the citizens across the country. Unlike other countries, there is no Nigerian dream. There is no national vision, goal, mission or set of values subscribed to by all Nigerians, with agreed roadmaps of how to arrive there. Therefore, when Nigerians have discussions about development, they have different things in mind as their definition of development. They also have different ideas and roadmaps on how to arrive at the development. For instance, what is the Nigerian vision on the type of desirable governance structure, a federation, a unitary styled governance system, presidential or parliamentary system? Nothing is sure, nothing is agreed and guaranteed.

The nearest we had in terms of agreement is the governance structure of the First Republic between 1960 and 1966 and thereafter, the governance structure agreement was thrown to the dogs. Evidently, the only agreed terms of governance were the 1960 Independence and 1963 Republican constitutions which were products of negotiation and consensus. Others were simply imposed. Until today, there is no consensus and we have been groping without direction. While a majority of the groups in the South and Middle Belt of Nigeria are championing true federalism, it appears the leadership of the North is happy with the virtual unitary government of today. So, where is the commonality of purpose? The implication is that achieving one of the two will not be a national dream but the dream of a section of the country.

Is there any national aspiration championed by our leaders and shared by a majority of Nigerians on where the country should be in the next couple of years? Who bought into Vision 2010 and Vision 2020? Did government try to promote the same as national visions? Once the authors of the visions left government, subsequent governments abandoned the vision. In education, while the southern part of the country is investing at the governmental and family levels in education, the northern part appears not concerned about educational attainments. The educational gap continues to widen by the day and there seems to be no concrete plans to bridge the divide. Concrete plans, not in terms of stopping the South from further education through the quota system and other restrictive policies, but proactive encouragement that puts education as a primary essence of governance in the North. So, how will a largely educated and a largely uneducated population find a common ground for development?

Is there a Nigerian dream of the ideal family size in Nigeria? In many parts of the South, more profoundly in the South-East, the South-South and a good part of the South-West, the family size has been constrained by the ethics of one man and one wife and about four children, which is what the National Population Policy recommends. But on the average, in other parts of Nigeria, men are entitled and indeed do exercise that franchise of marrying close to four wives and having as many as 15-20 children. The family size is larger and the ideals, dreams and visions cannot be the same as the family with four children. The implication of this development is that those who have smaller family sizes will be terrible minorities in the next couple of years if this trajectory continues. So, there is a perverse incentive of a race to the bottom, of being unreasonable and procreating children we cannot take care of. Is this the Nigerian dream?

Where are the Nigerian brands that get patronage across the country beyond the compulsive patronage that thrives in non-competitive environments? I mean brands that across the divide, we can call our own, patronise and be proud of consciously in recognition of buying Made-in-Nigeria. When the President and other senior government officials launch a buy Nigeria campaign but insist on driving foreign car brands and being virtual advertisers for foreign brands, there can be no appeal to patriotism or national vision. Such appeals will fall flat in the face and are dead on arrival. This is the fate of the change begins with me campaign. The President promised change and got elected and ridiculously started the change begins, not with him, but those who did not promise the change campaign.

The foregoing is the fate of any country that lacks sufficient homogeneity, as well as leaders who work to forge a nation instead of leading from sheer parochialism. When history is distorted and persons who led or attempted to lead Nigeria from certain prisms are portrayed as great nationalists, while those who worked for the common good, without minding the divisions are discussed as lacking vision, we accentuate the bad and the ugly and hold out unqualified persons as examples of good conduct. Persons who tell others to jump into the lagoon or suppress votes from particular groups who they believe may not vote for them cannot be described as worthy leaders. They hold no hope for Nigeria’s future.

If Nigeria must develop and progress, we must begin to elect less divisive personalities; we need charismatic leaders, dreamers and persons with great intellect and vision who will bring the country together. Our leaders must be personalities who want to engage, to dialogue, interrogate and take action to mend our faults rather than widening them. Considering that the leadership has repeatedly failed the country, the Nigerian dream should start from the bottom; from the people through electing candidates who see the entire country as their constituency.

[REGISTER] ESQ To Hold Training On Accounting Essentials For Lawyers

Date: 9th – 10th March, 2021 Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm daily Venue: Zoom Course fee: N75,000 (Seventy-five -thousand Naira Only) For contact and enquiries about this training, kindly contact Tayo (Tel: 08132676084, Email: t.samuel@esq-law.com) or Tosin (08094403711 – o.solanke@esq-law.com)

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