President Goodluck Jonathan.
President Goodluck Jonathan.

IT is often that the nice complement on contributions to nation building is punctuated by the skeptic who stops you and asks why you worry so much about Nigeria. Many are even more direct. They say Nigeria is not worth saving. Just recently, it came to me with much certitude and passion at the park as I returned to Benin from a visit to Lagos where I had been reflecting on the new thrust and a sense of hope in India following the election of Neledra modi as prime minister.
One Victoria Island Restauranteur and businessman saw me, boarding a vehicle and was very quick to ask me this question “which day this country go better and when we go get beta government?” This was the notion of this concerned Nigerian who thinks Nigeria is not worth saving but something must be done, and he expressed himself in two ways, firstly, having a good country and secondly, having a good set of leaders for the country.
But is Nigeria worth saving? Shortly after landing in Benin, an Edo State resident living in Lagos confronted me and told me this country needed people like Adams Oshiomhole, Olusegun Mimiko, Rochas Okorocha and the host of others. Then I ask, what was your reason? He said persons with actions are better than talkactives. Then I made emphasis on the fact that the people do not desire to be saved. He disagreed, noting that through history, the oppressed have not always known what is best for them but that, true patriotic elite have sacrificed, inspite of those they are fighting for even being not only unappreciative but sometimes outrightly hostile. The great reward is that many years into the future, you could be vindicated for transforming the lives of many and be held in esteem by history. His views were shared by a Nigerian Professor of Accountancy in the United States who visited on a book project to chronicle 50 years of the institute of chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN). He was of the view that the option of giving up was not there. How, he said, would we to explain to the next generation how we stayed in the 19th century when the rest of the plannet moved on to the present century.
In reflecting on the perspectives, I had to take a Mandela Rivonia trial perspective. It is a cause worth dying for. So why is Nigeria a cause worth giving up even the life for. For me, Nigeria is not the geographic expression so called but home to peoples and individuals with aspirations and challenges. Among them are many who have been neighbours in both geographic and moral community, duty to neighbours and country mandate the disposition of dying a little every day that the promise of the country will be reclaimed; more importantly, moments of near despair in the quest for wearing diverse peoples into fine tapestry on a canvas provide opportunity to reflect and draw inspiration from elsewhere. Had Abraham Lincoln despaired and said America was not worth saving, the history of the country and perhaps, of the modern age may have turned out differently. But because he chose to battle on, and indeed gave his life for it, with the assassination, just as mahatma Grandhi did, we define democracy with the wards at Getttysburg, that our awkward reality has reversed that definition of democracy as government of the people, for the people, by the people; to one in which democracy is a government of politicians, for politicians and by politicians in which the people are on excuse, does not mean abdication into personal comfort zones is where the answer lies. No doubt the Ekiti election outcomes alert us to the disconnect between the development minded whose prism is oriented by deffered gratification, and some in the old style Lumpen proletariat who want his moments relief of a bowl of rice, still it does not take away meaning from trying to save them. Ignorance on the part of the deprived poor may blind them for a moment but does not keep them hostage forever. Studies of why men rebel by ted Gurr and others at the University of Maryland, suggest a process to complex that sharing bread may not be a sustainable way to keep winning elections.
If there are compelling reasons not to give up on Nigeria, what then must be done to save it? I think the first call is with the structure of the federation and the economy, a problem that could not appreciate the five points about why development minded leadership can be defeated in elections by opposition with no plans as in Ekiti. They may indeed be of the other mindset but many in the transaction games in political partners and the National Conference cause a structural shift in which government is no more about easy money from oil revenues. At that stage, those entering the arena of governance will be more peoples of ideas, knowledge, service and hard work.
When that day dawns, it will partly be  because some from today continued to point to a different way. That is why Nigeria is worth saving.
Some will say, with the advent of Boko Haram and the clamour for power to return to the North by some elites who do not appreciate Nigeria’s potential or the strength in her diversity, they are afraid that all hope is lost in the Nigeria project, nevertheless, all these are a source of breakthrough for a young country like Nigeria, at the age of 54.

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