Making Nigeria Work

By Kayode Oladele


How can we make or construct a Nigeria of our dream? How can we create a place where everybody will have a fair share of whatever that exists, where citizens' rights are not trampled upon, and where people are treated with a sense of dignity? How can we build a Nigeria where people can realize their potentials where merit counts and where hard work is rewarded? 

Four things must happen even though, they are not exhaustive. First Nigerians must be truly patriotic; second they must be hardworking; third, they must be accountable, and lastly, merit must be core in appointments into public office and governance.

Let us take each of these factors and examine or explain them. Patriotism defined as love of and/or devotion to one's country. However, patriotism has had different meanings over time, and its meaning is highly dependent upon context, geography and philosophy. Although patriotism is used in certain vernaculars as a synonym for nationalism, nationalism is not considered an inherent part of patriotism. In the United States of America, for instance, it is better for somebody to accuse one of corruption than to question one's patriotism. In America, patriotism stands first before anything else. However, patriotism is also the reason why Americans will not expect that anybody will do anything that undermines the union, that will do things to undermine the effort to build a better society and state.

Nigerians are very proud of their country, they are also very patriotic, but they feel let down by their leaders and our value system. This has made some of them to act or behave in ways that undermine the pride of the country thus given it a bad name and terrible image abroad. In a sense, some Nigerians do not see the connection between their love for country and their behavioral activities. They do not perceive that it is important for them to be consistent in what they do or say to tally with their love for country. Patriotism is not just about love for country but also duty and commitment to that country. Our duty to Nigeria is not to engage in 419 or undermine other people or to dupe them. As citizens, our goal should be to live a decent life, to be upright at all times and to serve as role models to others.

Second, Nigerians are hardworking and goal -oriented people. They can do anything just to survive in order to keep afloat or eke a decent living. They earn poor wages and engage in multiple modes of livelihood just to keep afloat. However, Nigerians want accountability, personal, institutional and public accountability. The questioning of accountability starts when it comes to public institutions and structures. People believe that government business is nobody's business. The fear of tomorrow, greed and selfishness make people to be corrupt and unaccountable. However, accountability is not just about money, it is also about attitude and disposition towards other people, it is about opening the books, and it is about collective responsibility. In a word, accountability is the opposite of arbitrariness. The insensitivity of those who hold public posts/positions, their arbitrariness that often manifests in authoritarian disposition towards subordinates is core to the crisis of patriotism in Nigeria. It is impossible to say that those who loot public treasury and who are arbitrary are patriots. The psychic impact and ripple effect of such values are quite devastating and destructive of the political system and social fabrics.

The most tragic thing in Nigeria is lack of merit in governance and government appointments. Although I believe that, the consociational or coalitional principle of federal character allows for an inclusive and harmonious political mode, however, there is need for merit to be applied even in reflecting the federal character principle. The bane of Nigerian politics is that those who govern have no business with governance; those who lead have not business with leadership. Many of our leaders, lack ideas, they are shallow, hedonistic, selfish, individualistic and they do not share a wider vision like the ordinary people of Nigeria. They are driven by selfish instinct rather than the public good. The sad aspect of it all is that everything conduct of such people suggest that they prefer external and foreign things than Nigerian derived and Nigerian made things. They shop abroad, even for their drinks and body lotion. Their children study abroad, they have foreign bank accounts, they go for medical treatment abroad, they own property abroad, their feeling is that abroad is better, secure and safer than Nigeria.

These same leaders join other ordinary Nigerians to complain about the "Nigerian problem". However, they little realized that just like Chinua Achebe state din the first paragraph of his little pamphlet titled The Trouble with Nigeria, that the real problem with Nigeria is the failure of leadership. There is leadership failure because what we do in governance is not driven by ideas, merit and hard work. The most uncreative and unimaginative people are the ones governing Nigeria today. As such, they do not know their left from right, they are best in corruption. They do not know the limits of arbitrariness because of the fear of their own weakness-they are victims of their own phobia. To cover up and turn attention away from themselves, they begin to bully and harass their subordinates and people. They deny their subordinates their rights, and they insist on the wrong way of doing things. To them, followership should be blind to what they do, because followership means total submissiveness. This sis what ahs been happening in all public institutions in Nigeria from Local Government level to the federal level. In our schools, hospitals, water and energy Boards, to any sphere of public institutions that exist.

Nigeria needs reform, but it is not the reform that says "mirror others only and leave me out". It is not the reform that says a few privileged people can steal the wealth and resources of the country and people should turn the other way, while those who commit minor crimes get severe punishment. It is not the system that has abused Plea bargaining in a situation where entire states and communities have been denied basic utilities and services because of the misdeeds of a few public officers. Accountability in governance is important, but that accountability starts with how we consider public officer, the premium we place on the political mandate and our collective will to bring about change in society. We must all be interested in politics, we cannot abandon politics to others and say government business is nobody's business, or that politics is a dirty game. Such claim is convenient to the polite elite who continue to use that slogan to scare people away from active political participation while they have a field day. We must not allow ourselves to be deluded or deceived. As citizens and responsible ones at that, as tax payers and people who believe in accountability we have a right to ask for accountability in all public institutions. To have the moral basis to do this, we too must be accountable.

It is unbelievable that enormous amount of money that is daily declared by EFCC were stolen in Nigeria. It is unbelievable that, with utmost contempt and insensitivity, some Nigerians collude with others to defraud their country, all in the name of doing sharp and quick business or moving on the fast lane. This is not patriotism. However, those who give Nigeria a bad image abroad are few. They are not just the Cybercrime or Yahoo-Yahoo boys, they are not just the Mugu ideologues, they are also people who hold responsible positions in government; they are also people who rule over us. It is therefore an irony that many of the unpatriotic people are found in responsible leadership positions in Nigeria. However, this group are what we call a dominant minority. This is what makes people outside the shores of Nigeria to have the feeling that majority of Nigerians are corrupt. The first major way to tackle this cankerworm is to internalize the principle of leadership by example. Our leaders must see themselves as role models that the youth will want to copy, for good or for bad. They are a window on Nigeria for which every foreign dignitary, foreign journalist and research will wish to relate with on first hand to know their values and disposition. Second, we must mainstream best practices in all we do. This will make public departments and agencies to instutionalize a culture of probity and accountability. If our leaders practise these, then the followership will take a cue from them; learning by example and precepts will become the rule and not the exception. This is the way we can make patriotism have meaning and well rooted.

We need to realize that the ordinary Nigerians have nowhere else to go except Nigeria, if the health centers and schools are bad, they still have nowhere to go. That is why patriotism is their generic condition because patriotism to them is about survival and it comes so naturally to them. Whereas to the elite, patriotism is a pass time, a luxury that they can decide to indulge in or jettison, they wear it when it is convenient and abandon it when it is expedient. However, the ordinary people cannot afford such a luxury, because for them, ground is the limit and the stakes are so high amid no-choice situations.


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Re: Making Nigeria Work
Babalobi posted on 05-06-2009, 15:26:40 PM
Nigeria has always been a good brand. It does not need to be re branded. Nigeria though a failed state is inherently a great nation.

What we need is good management to enable the country fulfil its huge potentials

Read full article at:
Re: Making Nigeria Work
Zuma posted on 05-06-2009, 15:32:44 PM
Nigeria has always been a good brand. It does not need to be re branded. Nigeria though a failed state is inherently a great nation.

Now this is what I call a riddle.

What do you call a failed state that is inherently a great nation?



I really don't know at this point.
Re: Making Nigeria Work
Pukpabi posted on 05-06-2009, 23:00:32 PM

You are right that Nigeria can be made better, but first what are the parameters?

There is no nation called Nigeria. What we have is the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, and other minority nations. For Nigeria to be a nation, there has to be an agreement where the various nations surrender their nationhood and collapse into one political arrangement called nation-state. This has not happened.

As at now, Nigeria is a contraption, where nations are forced to be together, with the black gold as the motivating factor. And I say this with a great sense of responsibility. Those who labor to build a strong and verile nation out of Nigeria as it is presently constituted labor in vain.

I would like to be in the vanguard to build a strong and united Nigeria, but the framework is not just there; the current efforts at "rebranding Nigeria"(whatever that means) seem to me an effort in futility.

Paschal Ukpabi, esq.
17600 Northland Park court, Ste. 205
Southfield, MI 48075
Tel. 248.506.8784, 248.694.1441
Re: Making Nigeria Work
Katampe posted on 05-07-2009, 01:17:46 AM
I think the real issue is making Nigeria come alive.Right now, it is dead as dodo. I mean it is fiction.What we have are humans that belong to ethnic groups contending for space and resources within a constricted and mapped place called Nigeria and inherited from the British. But there is hope.

Hope means a mental shift of allegiance, not to ethnic groups but to the nation spaces that make up Nigeria. Let there be open citizenship to everyone to become Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, or any other ethnic group that exists in the country. It really means when you are born in Igbo land, you are Igbo irrespective of who your father is or mother is, it also means when you have lived in Yoruba land for a period of time, you acquire the citizenship to be called Yoruba.

Until we can wire that into the nation, or better still wire into the rules , constitution and the psychology of Nigerians we can't really move forward as a nation. We should start seeing ourselves less as ethnic-humans , and more as people that have been entrusted to preserve the culture and the physical spaces where these cultures exist. I think that should be the premium.

In the sense I am arguing for, meritocracy can thrive. Development can be spurred. National cohesion can be realised when thriving centers build wealth for the commonwealth and there is no competition between humans but more of competition between spaces. Then, at least we know you can acquire citizenship of tribe/ethnicity if you so choose.

I thank you.
Re: Making Nigeria Work
DeepThought posted on 05-07-2009, 02:33:41 AM

Let there be open citizenship to everyone to become Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, or any other ethnic group that exists in the country. It really means when you are born in Igbo land, you are Igbo irrespective of who your father is or mother is, it also means when you have lived in Yoruba land for a period of time, you acquire the citizenship to be called Yoruba.

I thank you.

Interesting , if radical thinking

I've heard about ethnic morphing over generations . I 've never seen this kind of instananeous acquisition of a different ethnic identity before.
Re: Making Nigeria Work
Dewdrops posted on 05-07-2009, 09:45:06 AM
Yes, Nigeria will work. It will take 200 years. Nigeria will work, when all the tribes become extinct.
Re: Making Nigeria Work
Zuma posted on 05-09-2009, 18:02:49 PM
Making Nigeria work means getting rid of the old dirt bags that have imprisoned Nigerians for the past 50 years almost. We need more Nigerians with the right orientation. We can only get them from outside Nigeria with a real education in public service.

Nigerian, Miss Mma Okafor, 19, at Northern Illinois University, wins internship in US Congress
By Paul Ohia, 05.08.2009
Friday, May 8, 2009

A 19-year-old Nigerian student in the United States, Miss Mma Okafor, has won a scholarship with three other American students to learn and work in Washington D.C under a new university-established congressional internship programme.

Okafor of Northern Illinois University (NIU) will be attached to Congressman Daniel Lipinski, an Illinois congressman of the Third District and report to work for more than 40 hours per week and complete the internship by August.

The other winners are Hunter Huffman and Matthew Venaas and each will be given $5,000 to defray the costs associated with the internships. The three NIU students will live in houses provided by George Washington University, located in the centre of Washington, D.C., just a short walk from the Capitol.

Okafor hopes to return to Nigeria one day and contribute to political developments.

Her words: ““I am interested in politics in Nigeria. I hope to return home and change the political system through grassroots involvement in politics just like President Obama has done here. But also on a broader scale, my goal is to advocate for development in Africa as a whole, through microfinance and other similar programmes.”

She added: “The focal point of my life, having come from humble means myself, is centred on giving back to the poor.”

Huffman will intern with U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo (16th District); and Venaas with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (14th District). Each of the students will report to work on May 25.

“At NIU, we value experiential learning,” a statement from the university quoted President John Peters, who is a political scientist by training, specializing in studies of public policy and Congress as saying: “These scholarships will allow some of our top students to work in the halls of Congress, network with our nation’s movers and shakers and participate in the inner workings of our democracy.”

NIU Political Scientist Matthew Streb and Department Chair Christopher Jones worked with President Peters and Vice-President for External Affairs Kathryn Buettner to establish the scholarship programme.

“This is simply an opportunity that we can’t provide in the classroom,” Streb said. “I can teach the theories of Congress, but I can’t show students the experience. And, from the point of view of members of Congress, it’s a great programme because we're giving them top-notch interns.”

“We’re hoping to expand the programme a year from now,” Streb added. “We already have lawmakers lined up.”

The scholarships are competitive. More than 20 highly qualified students applied for the three internships this summer.

Each of the scholarship winners is not only a top student but also is highly involved in university and service activities.

Born in Minnesota and raised in Nigeria, Okafor is a junior honors student (she started at NIU at age 16), majoring in political science with a minor in economics. She is a member of the NIU debate team and has been active in tutoring and peer advisory.

Behold the Nigerian Obamas of the future.
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