5) Indiscipline, Poor attitude and Dubious Disposition of the People (followership)
If the crisis and conduct of the leadership constitute a problem to nation-building, the duplicity, indiscipline, poor attitude and disposition of the followership or people do more violence to the task of nation-building. Truth be told, Nigerians have always been too undisciplined, selfish, accomplice to evil, unwilling to strive and sacrifice today’s comfort for greater success tomorrow. Consequently, we end up with leaders who do not love the people and who the people in turn do not love. The leadership and followership deserved each other for according to George Orwell:
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victims….. but accomplices!”
What is more, Nigerians even fight their incorruptible leaders and call them names for having the integrity, vision, love and requisite courage to take hard and painful decisions in the short run, for long term benefits. Benjamin Bruno deprecated this attitude of African generally in these words:
“Each time I want to fight for African rights, I use only one hand – because the other hand is busy trying to keep away Africans who are fighting me.”
This is unfortunate, to say the least, and undoubtedly demoralize aspiring leaders and nation-builders. The citizens should understand that leadership involves taking hard and bitter decisions when necessary; it is far from being a popularity contest. We must under such circumstances show some understanding, support, obey our leaders with pray. It is a command by Allah;
“ O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you, …” [Surah An-Nisa (4), Ayah 59.]
6) Impact Of Globalization
Globalization entails the speeding up of movements and exchanges (of human beings, goods and services, capital, technologies or cultural practices) all over the World. It literally fosters the collapse of international physical borders; hence it is called global village. On account of globalization, nowadays nations excel only on the basis of their human and natural resources, especially the former, and the ability to harness them through the application of requisite knowledge, cutting edge skills, industry, productivity, competitiveness, accountability, transparency, justice, probity and prudence in the management of national commonwealth.
However, Nigeria was ill-prepared to adapt, cope and effectively compete with other developed countries because globalization caught her in the throes of political instability due to military misrule, when there were wanton corruption; public infrastructure and utility had also gone into serious dilapidation; road networks were in bad shape, schools and hospitals deteriorated, telecommunications and power supplies became erratic and continued till the present day. So, success in the contemporary world is knowledge-based; so also is the task of nation-building. It is therefore high time we heeded the admonition of Rasulullah to his Ummah:
“Seek you knowledge, even if it is in China”
7) Over Dependence on Monoculture Economy; Dwindling Revenue Returns and Debt Burden
Nigeria’s prevailing harsh economic outlook is not a recent problem. It is rooted in her over-dependence on monoculture economy, specifically oil wealth. The dependence on crude oil displaced agriculture, which accounted for over 80% of employment and 50% of the GDP at independence. Now oil and gas which accounted for 10% of foreign exchange in 1970 has risen to 65% as at 2018 becoming Nigeria’s economic jugular. Thus, a slight downward adjustment of crude price in international market expectedly set off shock waves and economic convulsion in Nigeria. This has been witnessed since 2015. Accordingly, the collapse of oil prices and the failure to revive The agricultural sector and non-oil export in the past has led to a drastic reduction in foreign exchange earnings and compelled;
•large parts of the foreign exchange earned go into importation of food and essential commodities;
•manufacturing and construction sector depend on importation of raw materials, machinery, spare parts and technology fueling inflation ;
•despite dwindling revenue, the government is obligated to continue financing beneficial capital projects borrowing incessantly creating a debt burden which levies severe stress on the economy, engendering recession, even as debt stock rose.
The inadequacy of funds to finance capital projects and meet sundry recurrent expenditure forebodes ill for nation-building, just as the debt burden constitutes draw-backs on the task of nation-building given that large portions of resources is reserved for debt servicing, which in turn constrains provision of public infrastructure and utilities that would enhance the process of nation-building.
8) High Unemployment, Underemployment and Poverty Level
The combined effect of the myriads of challenges militating against nation building in Nigeria exacerbate the twin evils of high unemployment and poverty to explosive levels and economists agree that both impact negatively on nation-building in two dimensions, namely adverse effect on the people and a threat to national security.
a) Adverse effect of unemployment on the people
•induces poverty as the unemployed can no longer meet basic needs and other financial obligations.
•increases susceptibility to malnutrition, illness, mental stress, and loss of self-esteem leading to depression and high incidence of suicide
•causes underemployment as the unemployed workers take jobs that do not fit their skills
b) Threat to national security
Devoid of means of livelihood, a lot of the unemployed, mostly youths, is characterized by poverty, hunger, anger, despondency, frustrations, etc. which predispose them to anti-social behaviours which limit the prospects of nation-building. These include, but are not restricted to:
•Drug trafficking and Abuse
•Cultism, gangsterism, thuggery and political violence.
•Violence and militancy
•Kidnapping for ransom
9) Lawlessness, Arbitrariness and Impunity; Weak Institutions and Strong Personalities Promoting Lawlessness, arbitrariness and impunity are evil and mutually exclusive to nation-building. Many development and legal experts share this opinion and that the doctrine of rule of law is intimately bound with the practice of democracy and by extension the task of nation building. In the recent past in Nigeria, all shades of leadership -political, military, traditional, clerics, bureaucrats, etc. are beholden to lawlessness, arbitrariness and impunity.
Some leaders refuse to be accountable and responsive to the people, nor yet take responsibility for their actions because the institutions of state have been made weak and the officials or personalities very strong. So, the public detests and mistrust government, withhold their loyalty and mount virulent opposition to anything associated with government thereby rendering the task of nation-building nugatory. Lawlessness, arbitrariness and impunity have no place in the Ummah of Muhammad. The messenger of Allah in repudiation of impunity once said:
“Even if Fatimah (the Prophet’s beloved daughter) stole, I would cut her hand off.”
10) Militarization of the Psyche of Civil Populace
The Military terminated the life of the First Republic in 1966 and ushered in long Military interregnum in Nigerian politics the lasting up to 1999 after the sudden death of the leader of the previous military junta, General Sani Abacha in 1998. One tragic legacy of long military rule is the militarization of the social life of the average Nigerian to the extent that at a stage, it became increasingly difficult to differentiate between the military and the civilians because of the similarity in their political dispositions. The military in a bid to hang onto power in a fast democratizing world were becoming civilianized while the civilians in a bid to avoid open and fair political contest and risk losing access to power were becoming militarized.
The militarization of social life has compromised accountability, transparency, probity, prudence in the management of public funds; respect for human rights and due process. The military plays zero-sum politics, treating governance as war and all the perks of public office as booty. What is more, you are either an enemy to be crushed or a friend to be cultivated. The impartation of military psyche on the civil population largely accounts for the perception of politics and elections as a do-or-die affair in Nigeria, which is a blow to sustainable democracy and nation-building.
11) External Interference: Sabotage, Subversion, Propaganda and Increasing Crime and Threat to Public Safety- armed robbery, banditry, kidnappings, etc.
Nigeria is in dire straits and in a state of asymmetric war with armed faceless local and international non-state operators engaging in banditry and terrorism. They revel in the indiscriminate killing, kidnapping, raping, arson, cattle rustling and looting of properties in some parts of the country, especially Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Katsina, Kebbi and Zamfara.
A country at war, asymmetric or not, would expectedly mobilize and channel a large part of its resources to war efforts to the detriment of other needs that promote nation-building. The citizens are also reduced to living in fear, emotional and psychological trauma because of immediate and imminent the danger of increasing daily crimes and threat to public safety which drag the country several notches down the ladder of nation-building.
5.0 THE WAY FORWARD:
We have seen that nation-building refers to the all-embracing historical and political processes of creation, institutional consolidation, stabilization and sustainable development of nations, from the earliest stage of nationhood up to modern times. It is very wide in scope, work-in-progress of sorts, usually never-ending, engaging the attention of every generation, to contribute their quota, within the limits of opportunities and options their era and circumstances provide. It requires creativity, innovation, and above all, a synergy between the entire leadership and followership, in each generation, without regards to age, gender, tribe, religion or status.
Nation-building is also enough task already; it is even more tasking in a plural or multicultural society like Nigeria given the enormous challenges bedevilling the task of nation-building. The challenges have tasked and still continuing to task the dexterity of even the most ardent of nation builders and include, but are not restricted to; endemic corruption, greed and avarice; low social cohesion, endemic intolerance and intergroup conflicts; socio-economic inequalities; the crisis of leadership cum faulty leadership recruitment process; indiscipline, poor attitude and dubious disposition of the followership; impact of globalization process; monoculture economy, dwindling revenue returns and the debt burden; high rate of unemployment and poverty level; lawlessness, arbitrariness and impunity, which promote weak institutions and project strong personalities; militarization of the psyche of the civil populace over time; sabotage, subversion, propaganda against the country; and increased crime and threat to public safety including armed robbery, banditry, kidnappings, etc. This explains why despite the “labours of our heroes past”, efforts at nation-building in Nigeria have not yielded satisfactory results.
Be that as it may, to not engage in nation-building at all is not an option, but a recipe for monumental disaster for Nigeria. There is bound of course to be variances, in the rate of success in the trajectories of nation-building in every generation ranging from relatively successful; to weak but stable; to previously stable, but considerably less so now; and lastly, to usually extremely fragile and on the verge of collapse and failed State. In all these, however, we must be frank enough to admit where our generation belongs and take urgent steps to remedy the situation.
So, all hope is not lost. Nation-building is feasible in Nigeria. Some of the world’s most multicultural and populous societies, like Nigeria, are doing it. India is doing it; Argentina is doing it; America and Brazil are doing it. Why not Nigeria? Nigeria can do it too! However, we must of necessity do what those who are doing it successfully do. We cannot do the same thing year in and year out and expect different results. It is not possible for, in the immutable words of Allah, we reap whatever we sow.
“ So, whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it. And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” [Surah Az-Zalzalah (99), Ayah 7-8.]
Thus, firstly, it is imperative that we turn a new leaf altogether to do what is right at all times; secondly, we should sincerely resolve to come together as one to face and overcome the task of nation-building in all ramifications. It is a fact of history that well-functioning public institutions require certain habits of mind (correct value re-orientation), and all hands-on must be on deck to build a nation that will stand the test of time while also easily navigating the arduous, but necessary complex issues in the process of nation-building. The emergent nations under such ideal circumstances, resist being captured by the whims and caprices of rapacious compatriots. This is the lesson when Allah instructs us that:
“…. Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in their hearts…” [Surah Ar-Ra’d (13), Ayah 20.]
With the newfound national reorientation, brand new ethical values and cooperation of all across hitherto existing barriers, it becomes very easy to rally the populace to embrace the concrete measures to be adopted to mitigate whatever challenges that the task of nation-building might throw up in Nigeria. Some recommended measures are as follows:
•Institution of a sustainable nationwide ethical rebirth that lays emphasis on integrity, accountability, transparency, probity, and the promotion of social goods for all over selfish consideration for self or a group.
•Justice, fairness, equity and equality of all citizens should be the cornerstone of governance in Nigeria, not only to win the confidence of the entire population, but also to promote civil patriotism over local or ethnic nationalism. Accordingly, Leaders in the three tiers and arms of government in the country, as well as traditional leaders, the clergy, captains of industry, civil society organisations and labour unions, etc. should “walk their talk” by practically doing what they demand of their followers. Indeed Allah prizes high the doing of justice!
“…. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear Allah” [Surah Al-Ma’idah (5), Ayah 8.]
•all tiers of government should reposition and reinforce their respective poverty alleviation agencies; build individual and institutional capacities to enhance service delivery including the provision of social safety nets to improve the lives of vulnerable families and individuals experiencing poverty and destitution so as to ultimately reduce all forms of social inequalities and resentment they evoke.
•effectively restore power to the people by allowing them to vote in leaders of their choice in a transparent, free, fair and credible elections devoid of violence, vote-buying, suppression and other forms of election rigging leading to the institution of a legitimate government that resonates with the people and wins their trust and unalloyed loyalty.
•adequately fund the quest for knowledge including the acquisition of vocational and entrepreneurship skills; promoting and rewarding excellence, industry, productivity, competitiveness to reposition Nigeria to be able to cope and be an effective player in the current era of globalization.
•diversify the economy to sure-up the country’s dwindling revenue base, reduce incessant borrowing, save resources that would have been used for debt serving and invest same in massive infrastructural development to promote economic growth, stimulate employment generation, wealth creation and poverty reduction and ultimately usher in an era of peace and stability in Nigeria.
•ensure that all citizens, no matter their age, gender, tribe, creed and status, are equal before the law; guarantee that in thought and practice lawlessness, arbitrariness and impunity are stamped out in Nigeria; promote unequivocally the dispensation of justice without fear or favour, malice or ill will by the judiciary without eternal interference; and conscientiously strive to have strong institutions and weak personalities as against the current state of affairs in the country.
•relentless sensitization and awareness campaigns to promote the ethos of democratic culture and the benefits to the task of nation building with a view to weaning the people off military mentality imbibed over the years which manifestations still threaten the democratic process and by extension nation building efforts.
•the threat to the security and safety of one compatriot should be regarded as a threat to the security and safety of all; security and public safety should be viewed by all, not as the concern of security agencies alone, but the concern of all Nigerians; all Nigerians should support the efforts of the government to overcome the increase in crime including sabotage, subversion, propaganda, armed robbery, kidnappings, banditry, terrorism, etc. for lasting peace which is sin qua non for sustainable nation-building.