Judging from the responses to the article ‘Has God turned His back on Nigeria?’ I think I can safely say that we all agree that God has definitely Not turned His back on Nigeria.
It seems therefore that the blame for Nigeria’s failings lie squarely at the feet of Nigerians.
By Nigerians I refer to two sets of people.
1. Those that have abused and continue to abuse their positions of power and leadership for personal gain.
2. We, the electorate that continue to pray and worship, and yet refuse to take ownership and responsibility for our dear country. Please don’t get me wrong. I love my God very much, as I’m sure you all do. This is in no way a criticism of christians or muslims, or any other religion for that matter. But can I honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I have not shied away from my responsibility as a Nigerian Citizen in the past? I think not.
Before going any further I want to remind us all of something very important.
The reason president Jonathan is so secure in his seat right now is because for the first time in decades millions of Nigerians went out to vote. After falling for the hype surrounding President Jonathan and our ‘fresh start’ millions of us, myself included, went out and voted for him. Yes, I’m sure that rigging occurred in some areas. But overall I think it is quite fair to say that he won the election pretty fairly. This is the reason his position is both secure and credible right now. We voted him in. Regardless of our opinion of his performance so far, we gave him the credibility and authority to govern.
So where does the power really lie?!!
Real power lies in the hands of the electorate.
Real power lies in the hands of you and me.
By ownership and responsibility I am talking about two things in particular.
1. Love and service to one another
What I am about to say next is not mumbo jumbo. It is not supposed to make us feel good about ourselves. It is not intended to get us excited. On the contrary, my hope is that what I’m about to say will make us all pause, think, decide and commit.
You and I are not here by chance. We all have certain talents that we have been blessed with. We didn’t earn it. We didn’t buy it. We were born with it. Our creator gave them to us. Those talents that you possess are not for your glory and personal gain. They are to be used to love and serve others. They are to be used in order to fulfil whatever our God given purpose on this earth is.
If we can ALL dedicate ourselves to using our talents to fulfil our purpose, Nigeria will make giant leaps in a very short space of time. To each of us, what we do individually may seem like small and irrelevant steps. But put all our steps together and they become giant leaps.
However, so long as we all continue to use our talents for the pursuit of personal gain and personal security, Nigeria doesn’t stand a chance. Why? Because so long as we continue doing this our focus and attention will never be on what truly matters, and Nigeria will continue to be governed by people with personal and selfish agendas.
A couple of days ago I was discussing the issue of living in Nigeria with a very dear friend of mine. He was fed up with Nigeria and was considering moving oversees with his family. I told him that I fully understand how he feels (I really do). But I also asked him to ask himself and God what his purpose in life is. I told him that if his purpose in life lies in Nigeria then he Cannot and Must Not jump ship. But that if his purpose in life is not in Nigeria then he should feel free to get out as soon as possible.
Each of us has a God given purpose in life. For some, that purpose is in Nigeria. For others it is somewhere else.
For those of us that know that our purpose is in Nigeria, it’s time to stop the procrastination; it’s time to stop fearing what others may say or think; it’s time to stop allowing the past to hold us back.
Remember – it is Not about you.
It is about those around you.
It is about our country.
It is about our children’s children.
I said this yesterday, and I’ll say it again now. Do we really want a future in which our children’s children are forced to dwell in foreign lands with no identity?’
I recently made a pledge to myself. I pledged to myself that I will use the talents that God has blessed me with to fulfil His purpose for me. God’s will is for His kingdom to reign on earth. Therefore I know that so long as I am focussed on achieving His purpose for me I am also playing my part in God’s good and perfect will for Nigeria.
2. Holding governments at all levels accountable
I have no idea who the councillors of my local government are. I have no idea who the chairman of my local government is. In-fact I have no idea which political party forms my local government. This stark reality is rather sad. It’s sad for me, and even sadder because I have no doubt that there are so many more like me out there. One of the biggest reasons that we continue to experience bad governance in Nigeria is because we continue to allow the wrong people to be selected. Note – not elected. They are so easily selected because the only people that can ensure transparency, fairness and credibility (you and me) have decided to completely abandon and ignore the political process. So long as we continue to ignore the political process we will continue to have the wrong people in government.
Let’s not allow the words ‘but this is Nigeria’ to enter our minds. Yes, this is Nigeria. Yes, the political system is fraught with corruption, violence, deceit and rigging. But the change must start from somewhere.
I’m sure the words ‘but this is America’ may have filtered into the minds of black liberation and civil rights activists in America in the 1960s. But they didn’t allow those words to deter them. They didn’t allow intimidation and oppression to deter them. They kept their faith. They kept hoping, and the kept going in their fight against racial inequality and oppression. They paved the way for Barack Obama to become America’s first black president.
The change must begin with us. Politicians will only start to behave when they realise that the have to. The right people will start getting elected only after we start making it a lot more difficult for the wrongs ones to be selected.
I’ve decided to make three pledges to myself.
1. I will find out who and of what political and social bearing my local government is; then find out whether or not it is actually doing anything.
2. I will register as a member of a political party by December 2012.
3. I will inform and teach people about the power of the electorate as often as I can.
I believe that we all need to make personal pledges and commitments with regards to our various roles in the future of this nation. I hope this article inspires you to make your own personal pledges.
The future prosperity or otherwise of our country is up to us; whether or not each of us is willing to play our God given role, using our God given talents to help our beloved Nigeria to fulfil her potential.