2.0. THE IMPERATIVES FOR NATION-BUILDING TOGETHER
Nation-building is an important, but onerous task; experiences from other climes indicate that it is less tasking when all hands of the citizens are on deck in building the nation.
The nation-state is a very important component of the contemporary World as the basic unit of human political organization and the only entity that can act or represent a national community in the comity of nations. Modern nations evolved from the ashes of collapsed empires and kingdoms and the United Nations [UN]- world organization of independent nations, was set up to preserve international peace and security and foster peaceful coexistence and the social-economic development of all nations after the two World Wars, which underscores the imperative of peace in nation-building. This reason alone must educate us to be sufficiently interested in the task of nation-building because it is not only governments mandate, but everybody’s business, nay, the entirety of mankind.
No nation on earth emerged by chance; they are built by men and women who were united in a shared vision of a future nation that guarantees their peoples welfare, security and happiness; they then developed rational strategies for moving towards that vision; dispassionately enlisted the support of critical stakeholders whose cooperation, compliance and teambuilding were necessary to optimize the potentials of the nation in achieving the vision; and instituted efficient bureaucracy that sufficiently motivated the citizens whose roles were central to implementing the strategies designed to rapidly realize the envisaged goal of nation-building. Nation-building, therefore, is a deliberate and conscious project; never-ending, usually work-in-progress; very flexible, dynamic and in constant need of nurturing with creativity and innovation to meet the exigencies of emerging new challenges imposed by fleeting and changing times. Note Allah’s allusion to this here:
“ By (the fleeting) time, Indeed mankind is in ( a state of) loss…..” [Surah Al-Asr (103), Ayah 1-3.]
Nation-building births a legitimate political entity in a defined territory on the basis of generally accepted rules, norms, and principles, and common citizenship in addition to institutions of state which symbolize the political entity such as a bureaucracy, economy, the judiciary, civil society organizations, etc.; and most importantly the building of a common sense of purpose, a sense of shared destiny, a collective imagination of belonging which literally provides the invisible rope that holds the political entity together and gives it a sense of purpose without contestation. So, unless and until all Nigerians work hand-in-hand together to create synergy by leveraging on their collective skills, strength, speed and strategies to achieve the goal of effective and efficient nation-building, the task of nation-building will be an impossible task.
By and large, the imperative for nation-building together is derived from the need to, among other things;
- Foster a very strong common national sense of purpose
- enhance social cohesion, peace, security, freedom and unity of all
- ensure the emergence of strong institutions and weak personalities to
drive the task of nation-building
- enable the rule of law, justice, fairness, transparency and
accountability in governance triumph in all sectors of our nation
- escape from the fragility trap leading to a disintegrating or failed state
- harness national human and material resources efficiently for
transformative growth and development
It is high time we united and bonded together to reinforce the meaning of indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria. We must not allow divisions to undo us. We must listen to Allah’s admonition,
“ And hold firmly all together to the rope of Allah and do not become divided. ….” [Surah Ali Imran (3), Ayah 103.]
3.0. THE CHALLENGES TO THE TASK OF NATION-BUILDING IN NIGERIA.
There are definitely some difficulties associated with the task of nation-building in a plural society like Nigeria; they include but are not limited to some factors as follows:
1) Endemic Corruption, Greed and Avarice
2) Low Social Cohesion, Intolerance and Incessant Intergroup
3) Socio-Economic Cleavages or Inequalities
4) Crisis Of Leadership And Faulty Leadership Recruitment Process 5)Duplicity, Poor attitude and Disposition of the Citizens (followership)
6) Negative Impact of Globalization
7) Over Dependence on Monoculture Economy; Dwindling Revenue Returns and Debt Burden
8) High Unemployment, Underemployment and Poverty Levels
9) Lawlessness, Arbitrariness and Impunity; Weak Institutions and Strong Personalities Syndrome
10) Militarization of the Psyche of the Civil Populace
11) External Interferences: Sabotage, Subversion, Propaganda and Increased Crime and Threat to Public Safety- Armed robbery, Banditry, Kidnappings, etc.
1) Endemic corruption, greed and avarice.
There are unanimous lamentations in the country that corruption in all of its manifestations – embezzlement, looting and contract inflation; willful mismanagement and misappropriation of fund; offering and taking bribe; nepotism and sabotaging of the electoral process, etc. has become institutionalized in Nigeria. It has permeated all tiers and arm of government and the organized private sector. It kills nation-building in many ways than one as follows:
- leads to a high number of abandoned white elephants projects all over Nigeria initiated not for reasons of altruistic national development and but motivated by corruptive kickbacks.
- embezzlement, sharing and squandering national common wealth by unscrupulous privileged officials to the detriment of national development
- inconsistency in planning and execution of government development programmes; every new government jettisons good programmes of the predecessor for new ones for no cogent reasons other than corruptive considerations.
- discourages direct foreign investment; promotes disinvestment of existing businesses as corruption pushes high the cost of doing business and compels investors to relocate to other countries with ethically conducive environment and ease of doing business.
It is a national shame that we now own corruption, as if it were a virtue, along ethnocultural, religious, regional and political divides, to the extent that when the long arms of the law catch up with corrupt officials, members of their respective tribes, religions, regions, etc. rise to their defence claiming that it is a witch hunt. Transparency International, an NGO and International Advocacy Group for Transparency and Accountability in governance, in its Corruption Perception Index Reports for 2001 and 2003 ranked Nigeria as one of the topmost corrupt nations on earth.
2) Low Social Cohesion, Intolerance and Incessant Intergroup Conflicts
The building of common citizenship is one central aspect of the task of nation-building. But despite all efforts at nation-building in Nigeria, this vital aspect of nation-building has been elusive. The reasons are as follows:
- The historical fact of divide and rule inherent in the British indirect rule policy.
- Lack of a towering rallying figure in the moulds of Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, etc. of Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya, etc. respectively; rather we had regional leaders who actually unwittingly undermined each other on account of their contradicting perspectives on nation-building.
- Failure to consolidate on true federalism to foster commonly shared values and positions whereby Nigerians see themselves first as Nigerians, instead of their ethnolinguistic groups. This is the rationale for ‘indigenes’ and ‘settlers’ imbroglio in Nigeria.
- willful sabotage of opportunities that has immense potential for making Nigeria great (the cancellation of June 12, 1993, and the 1985 palace coup that overthrew General Buhari and Idiagbon regime fall into this category).
- Inconsiderate profiling, stereotyping, denigrating, stigmatizing and intolerance of one ethnolinguistic or religious and political group by another group inflame the embers of mutual suspicion, intolerance and hatred, and intergroup conflicts; against the law of Allah:
“…. And we have made you races and tribes that you may identify each other. Surely, the most honourable among you with Allah is the most pious;…” [Surah Al-Hujurat, (49), Ayah 13]
3) Socio-Economic Cleavages (Inequalities)
Nigeria’s political economy, after 60 years of nationhood, is still fraught with profound socio-economic inequalities which pose challenges to nation-building. There exist disparities within and between regions, the rich and the poor, male and female gender with regards to all development indices in Nigeria which put deep gulf, disenchantment and resentment between those who feel marginalised against those who they perceive as their oppressors which hardly augurs well for nation-building.
4)Crisis of Leadership and faulty leadership recruitment process
The problem of leadership ranks very high amongst the problems militating against nation-building in the opinions of many Nigerians. They, however also believe that with effective leadership Nigeria has the potential to transform all the sectors of the society including the eradication of high poverty and unemployment rate. Nevertheless, the crisis of leadership and accompanying faulty leadership recruitment process ensures that this aspiration remains a pipe dream. This is because the electorates have been severally short-changed in the past and denied the right of having the people they voted to rule them as a result of thriving culture of all-pervading political violence and manipulation of the electoral process, before, during and after elections through the activities of dubious stakeholders including INEC officials, security agencies, ad-hoc staff, the electorates, etc. The leaders that eventually emerge through such recruitment process lack character, capacity, competence, capability, consistency and above all the legitimacy and confidence of the entire nation it rules.
Consequently, the leaders develop a siege mentality and start spending more on security than on schemes and programmes that will drive development and nation-building. They do not see leadership as a call to service, but an avenue for primitive acquisition. They engage in sharp practices in contract award, buying exotic properties within and outside Nigeria, entering into a partnership with foreign exploiters to set up a local branch of factories of the multi-national corporations through which they siphon money away to foreign banks, etc.  Under this unsavoury circumstances the people get disillusioned, fragmented, alienated and withholds their unalloyed loyalty from government and country thus effectively sounding the death knell for nation-building.