To say that Nigeria needs salvaging is to state the obvious. And this isn’t just about the clamour to rescue our kidnapped Chibok girls from the claws of the devilish Boko Haram insurgents, and bring them back home to their families and loved ones.
Of course, the recent actions of Boko Haram, like those of the Niger-Delta militants, pose a huge threat to the nation. So do the age-long problems of ethnic and religious bigotry, irresponsible leadership by successive governments, and institutionalized corruption. But the greatest threats to Nigeria are her people and skewed value systems.
Nigeria is on a suicide mission and, just as the comical “Batman” is to the city of Gotham – a dark and foreboding place rife with crime, grime, and corruption – Nigeria desperately needs a hero to pull her out from her over 54-year downward spiral into the fathomless abyss of self-destruction. But what kind of hero can save a people from themselves?
It definitely isn’t the executive, legislative or judicial arms of government whose main motivation and goal seems to be self-aggrandizement, with policies that, at best, enrich a few oligarchs while impoverishing the masses? These people enact laws that protect thieving colleagues in public office as well as their politician friends and business mogul associates?
No, it is not the political parties (incumbent or opposition) who, beyond seizing every opportunity to tear one another apart and score cheap political points, cannot articulate a clear and realistic agenda or footprint that will move our nation forward? Parties whose leadership and membership alike are embroiled in a crisis of identity and credibility?
The hero Nigeria needs is not the corporate organisations, multi-national companies or international agencies who either short-change Nigeria and Nigerians (in remittance of taxes, payment of employee wages and conditions of service, sustainability of their business practices etc.) or give a lot in aid while taking away so much more in our collective wealth?
It is not the organized labour that only protests harsh policies and actions of government and businesses when it appears not to favour them but turn a blind eye when it’s convenient? Neither is it the mainstream media or self-acclaimed social media activists who compromise the well-known media tenets of truth, objectivity and social responsibility, and needlessly overheat the polity in order to increase their ratings and promote the views of their paymasters?
The hero Nigeria needs isn’t even parents or teachers who can barely teach the children to read and write, let alone inculcate in them moral and ethical values, critical thinking and good citizenship? Or our pastors, imams and traditional rulers who have failed in their role as the moral compass of society?
The hero Nigeria needs is ordinary people, like you and I, who understand that a true democracy is a government of the people by the people and for the people and, as such, would get involved in the electoral process and do everything to protect their vote. People who understand that governance is as much about good leadership as it is about responsible followership and who will fulfil their civic duties without persuasion.
The hero Nigeria needs are true humanists and patriots – everyday men and women like you and I – who will rise above ethnic, religious or political affiliations and differences, and uphold the values of love, unity, mutual respect, equity and justice. People who, in their work, study or social life, will shun corruption absolutely, and imbibe a culture of honesty, diligence and perseverance.
We can pray without ceasing (and as a Christian I do believe in the power of prayers) for God to send a “messiah” that will pull Nigeria out of the doldrums and set her on a path to restoration and progress. But without a corresponding change in our collective value systems and individual attitudes and commitments, we will only sink further into the abyss and continue to gnaw our tongues in agony. The change Nigeria so desperately needs is its people.
The hero Nigeria needs is you!
Tony Usidamen, a Communications Expert, writes from Lagos. Email: [email protected], Twitter Handle: @tonyusidamen