2024 should be the year

Hope for a renewed Nigeria

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Certainly, every nation desirous of development has a responsibility to preserve the values which gives it vitality and essence of existence. But it must also be able to re-invent those cultural elements and practices that are capable of holding it down from global relevance and competitiveness. There is an imperative for Nigeria of today to examine the various dimensions of her national cultural practices that are dysfunctional to the attainment of the lofty vision of nationhood.

After all, a nation remains a nation when it can sustain its existence in terms of sovereignty and identity, and when it is able to meet the existential needs of its constituents.  A nation will only be able to maintain its position in the comity of nations when it has a guarantee of prosperity and stability that gives room for growth and development (in human and material assets /capital).

October 1 2023, some months ago, was exactly 60 years that Nigeria became a republic given that it was 1963 that the nation’s flag independence earlier granted by the imperial government of Britain in 1960 was fully consolidated. However, many Nigerians did not get the full implication of the reality that the nation reached an epochal milestone on her journey to nationhood.  As auspicious as that day marking 63 years of Nigeria’s political independence and 60 years of republican status was most Nigerians were still locked in the fear of the new government being threatened because of the acrimony that attended the election six months earlier. Remarkably, it should have been a period for a critical evaluation of our progress so as to remind ourselves that the Nigerian Project is yet to mature. Certain schools of thought believe Nigeria is not a nation. Some think we are a failed nation.

Furthermore, a nation can only be considered developed when it possesses all the indices, the instruments and frameworks that suggest decent and quality standard of living of the citizenry, in which case, they are not threatened by poverty, disease and other features associated with underdevelopment such as illiteracy and poor access to water and health facilities, corruption and political instability.

Where do we stand in Nigeria today? Where do we want to be in the future? Can we sustain or improve our present status? What are our strengths and opportunities? What are the weaknesses and challenges of Nigeria of the future? The Millennium Development Goals, a framework of eight goals (signed in 2000) that all the 192 UN member states agreed to achieve by Year 2015 should serve as our frame of reference, even if we are yet to score excellently.

These goals serve as a benchmark for development policy for all countries, especially those of the Third World and other societies in transition who are still grappling with poverty, disease, illiteracy, and high maternal and child mortality, gender disparities in education and employment, intense environmental degradation and are also substantially de-linked from global economic opportunities. Despite our limitless potentials and opportunities, our tragedy in Nigeria is that we are still constrained by political competition.

Our diversity of peoples, culture ethnicity and religion which should have been converted to opportunities for development, celebration and international recognition is now mostly used as weapon of destabilization. Democracy, which is succeeding as a working system of government in many other countries, is unfortunately still misunderstood in Nigeria. Not just the structure or system of government is weakened in Nigeria by this national malaise, the public service, the economy and the value system are also suffering this compromise.

So the insecurity and erosion of public morality that are pervasive in Nigeria calls for concern because commitment to national ideals and integrity are of secondary consideration to the average citizen who views the nation with desperation. In this national misfortune, we often come up with different elaborate and ambitious plans and agenda, which in most instances never went beyond the short-term implementation stage before we introduce a fresh one to rubbish whatever progress we have made. So, we are often derided, even by less endowed nation, as a country of abandoned projects and unattained vision and goals.

If our currents efforts at reform and restructuring must lead us to an Eldorado, we must get to terms with some realities, the first of which is a guarantee of visionary leadership in our leadership recruitment process and the production of committed professional and dynamic successor-generation our public sector. Secondly, there is the need for national re-orientation and awareness that the seemingly free national wealth of oil cannot last forever, so the need for us to unlock ourselves from the oil dependence syndrome.

Thirdly, we must guard against the cultural disorientation and conflict that globalization, modernization and technology are inflicting on our mentality. Finally, we must intensify efforts at crafting and sustaining a national philosophy built on integrity, justice and public welfare. The thrust in all these is that Nigeria of the future must have Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership, collectively denoted as Nolan Principles of Public life There is also the need to inject dynamism and competition in our public domain now festering with crass political and economic opportunism. There is also a demand for more public deliberation and stakeholders’ involvement and participation in our public policy process.

As Nigeria marches further in her development strides, and with the prospects of tangible fruits being reaped from the ongoing efforts to stimulate growth in the national economy, coupled with the zeal and commitment being witnessed from the executive branch, it is expected the promised dividends will not be long in coming, that is public hope, would be justified and restored, not betrayed.  And in spite of our past internal crises, the beauty is that so many stakeholders in the Nigerian project are working, tirelessly, assiduously to sustain the spirit of the Nigerian nation. In these efforts are hopes of our being a true nation.

Solanke is Deputy Director, Strategic Planning & Corporate Development, Voice of Nigeria.

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