The President of (TURN) Transforming, Uplifting and Reforming Nigeria, Dr. Dele Ogunremi visited Hungary in October from his base in Ottawa Canada. I had the opportunity to meet with him in his hotel over dinner. He discussed his passion for TURN which he believes is necessary to heal Nigeria from its crippling situation.
I usually have my reservations about organisations or movements claiming to fight for Nigeria and Nigerians. Yet I accepted Dr. Ogunremi's invitation without reservation. And that seems to be one of my contradictions about my country ÔÇô Nigeria. In one breathe I like GOWON and in another moment I prefer OJUKWU.
For those who may not know what GOWON and OJUKWU means in this context, I shall briefly explain. The former was the Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the civil war that lasted three years from 1967-70. His name is Yakubu Gowon and his surname was coined to mean GO ON WITH ONE NIGERIA. The latter was the one who led the Republic of Biafra which tried unsuccessfully to break away from Nigeria. His name is Dim Ojukwu ÔÇô synonymous to BREAK NIGERIA.
GOWON or OJUKWU? This is one thing I have not been able to rattle through. Those who have been able to take a position over Nigeria do not know how lucky they areÔÇŽ
Sorry for the digression o jare.....
And so it would have been unprofessional, even unethical to reject TURN or its president's invitation to meet with me, just because of my growing scepticism about similar people and their organisations. My doubts actually stems from the fact that most of those claiming to have the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart often do so for self-interest. Of course I know that every action is motivated by gain, but I detest hypocrisyÔÇŽ
I think I would have missed a lot had I allowed my sentiments to cloud my meeting with TURN president. Unless he has mastered the art of fooling people, Ogunremi did not appear to me as someone seeking self-publicity. He was articulate but not aggressive as he put across the objectives and aims of TURN.
I noticed that unlike me, he has taken a position on Nigeria. He believes Nigeria's population, geographical location and wealth is an advantage to becoming a potential great nation ÔÇô hence TURN. He would like Nigerians to overcome the accident of history and move forward. He seemed worried that Nigerian politicians are not in anyway accountable to the people.
As TURN president, he always wants Nigeria transformed, uplifted, reformed. The acronym no doubt fits Nigeria. The country and its people must alter in form, appearance, or nature; the country and its people must have high spirits and fill with optimism; the country and its people must be ready for self-improvement in behaviour or morals by abandoning some vice.
In spite of his calmness, Ogunremi was visibly sad because of what he described as a shattered dream of a nation. "Nigeria as the voice of Africa, the face of Africa and the giant of Africa is already shattered," he groaned. "It has for long become a crumble child, not only failed to grow but a violent disorganised society".
He questioned the longevity which is currently puts at 47, calling it very retrogressive. He said that human indices are all negative. Many women dying on child related matters! He was obviously baffled by what he called the degradation of quality of life, and the deadly and insidious manner that has become the characteristic of many Nigerians.
Ogunremi observed that people still have goals but want to get there in a perverted way ÔÇô almost animalistic perspective of life. "Life isn't valuable, a slide of humanity," he said, adding quickly that Nigerians are helpless; victims of circumstances and bad leadership. He declared that something has to change, and then went on to ask the question: how do we change it?
His words: "People that should change (the situation) can't see. The change can't come from outside. They can't change anything in Nigeria now because of the mindset, which has been anti-change. We don't want to change Nigeria overnight otherwise we won't do anything. To change people's way, you must enlist their support. You can't take them as enemy. It's war but not to put them in prison. It is deterrent and not enforcement that can change people. Crime prevention comes second and enforcement is third in that order. That is why TURN will engage everyone".
Though TURN is willing to partner with anyone that gives room to engage Nigerians, it is careful in recruiting. Its policy is to recognise and champion good leadership without engaging in partisan politics. The organisation it seems is not na├»ve about the fact that "it's very difficult for Nigerians to come to agreement due to diversity, religion, social and class factors".
Yet TURN believes it is highly necessary to get the language to unite Nigerians. It believes all Nigerians globally should move from "complaining about our problems" to actively participate in providing solutions! It is committed to the building of a progressive, strong, and caring fatherland whose people are proud and bound by freedom, peace and unity.
TURN current projects cantered on three major issues namely Health Services for Nigerians, Anti-corruption Campaign and Timely Payment of Salaries and Pensions.
For further information and, or contact: http://www.turnigeria.org/nigeria.aspx