By Iyorwuese Hagher
- Many important Nigerian opinion leaders and politicians have advocated for restructuring. I respect their views. True the country needs to be restructured. The word restructuring caries with it synonymous interpretations to also mean overhaul, overthrow, break up, and revolution! But while Nigerian leaders have been re-structuring the nation from time to time they have not been engaged very much in nation building. Nation building is the use of the power of the state in creation or repair of cultural, social and historical ties that bind people together to create a national identity. We have yet to do this! Restructuring can be done by a single broadcast but nation building requires painstaking steps by a caring leadership. Re-structuring essentially is faultfinding and tearing apart. What we need now as a fragile state torn apart by; personal, ethnic, regional, and political rivalries and grudges is to stay action on restructuring and consider nation building a fundamental priority. So let us agree to a consensus on nation building now rather than restructuring since our tensile strength cannot withstand the stress of restructuring. Restructuring is taken care of once nation building becomes a priority and not vice versa. Nation building makes demands on our creativity based on fellowship rather than isolation, love rather than pride and clarity rather than ambiguity. Nation building cannot be done for Nigeria by any foreign powers or the IMF and the World Bank. We need new leaders; who filled with love of country, will sit and fashion a way to build the society, economy and polity to meet the basic needs of the people so that we can overcome poverty, corruption, inequality, and unemployment.
- Change the adversarial political culture.
It is a proven reality that our mainstream politicians in all the parties share a peculiar political and organizational culture. Their distinctive and patterned way of thinking has been lacking in common decency. They are disrespectful to themselves in individual capacities and of the offices held by individuals. Worst still they are driven by extreme selfishness, which limits their radius of identification to self, family, ethnicity and then the nation and others come last. Patriotism is a scarce commodity. The National Assembly and state assemblies are lethal war zones where bad character and poor breeding is consistently exhibited to show case pre-modern primitivism. The choice of insulting words, and in worst cases when fists are used instead of words is a political culture we can do without. There is need for all the parties to rebrand, retool and reorganize themselves to build Nigeria and to deal with change that is coming faster than we can anticipate. We need a moral code in our national life to make it more sustainable and just for all. We need a humility code that will limit our arrogance and our desire to living only for pleasure and bring integrity to politics and politicians. We need the political class to provide space for common decency and self-restraint to make our society a caring, responsible and respecting society.
This essay expresses my pains as a Nigerian intellectual who was born before independence; saw the horror of the Tiv revolts and the ensuing police brutality. I have since watched my country degenerate in spirit and substance. I experienced the pains of the Nigerian Civil war from the Nigerian side, and the worsening mismanagement of the country by successive military administration. This essay is a call to all Nigerians to rise up to our responsibility to rebuild our country. This is a painful process that will require discipline, sacrifice and tears. There is no painless way to proceed and there should be no blame to be apportioned or motives to be impugned. All generations in Nigeria today, the young and old alike, have a compelling and irresistible duty to leave the next generations a new Nigeria based on fairness and justice, where all our people can be treated with respect, decency and understanding. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher, is President African leadership Institute USA . Dayton, Pro-Chancellor Afe Babalola University. High Commissioner of Nigeria to Canada 2008-2012.