The preceding week… the President and the leading opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar released to the public what could rightly be termed “blueprints”.
The country’s political scene is getting complex and competitive, though I must add very exciting. The political parties are making strenuous efforts to reinvent themselves while the candidates are becoming very smart and creative, all at the same time. Like the gambler, they are not relenting in throwing their dices, but whether it is bringing expected results is another matter. What is certain is that the country’s political waters are constantly being stirred and as would be expected, the bubbles are being thrown up.
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I have used exciting very reservedly, not because there haven’t been issues with capacity to explode and disturb the peace, just that when taken on a scale of average everyone of us, the leader and the led, have managed to keep our activities within reasonable limits. This trend should be commended and encouraged; politics should be a game and not a war. It should be seen for what it really is, an attempt to find space to serve the greater interest of humanity. Like I observed earlier, politically there has not been a dull moment.
The preceding week has been special for unique political development. The President or the presidency (I don’t know which one now) and the leading opposition candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, released to the public what could rightly be termed “blueprints”. The presidency branded theirs “Next Level” and Atiku Abubakar articulated his own as “Getting Nigeria to Work Again.” Both camps released their documents few hours in-between: the presidency on Sunday evening and Atiku by Monday afternoon. To the non-political initiate, it would appear a beautiful coincidence but for practical political players like us it is indicative of stiff competition that lies ahead. One camp or both are keeping a very close tab on the other and there’s nothing abnormal about that.
That is, however, not the big issue. The main matter is found in the decision to come up with the idea of a blueprint and to see the need to present it to the citizens before the election. It is a good move and something many had longed to see happen. So in a sense it is like an idea whose time has come and if I have my way, we must get the entire nation to embrace it and make it part of the political process. We are not a nation of statistics otherwise the harm done to the citizens and the developmental processes by lack of political blueprint would have been vividly captured and what we would have seen, would have been enough to trigger bloody revolution. Thank God those statistics are not available and so we can keep the peace of the graveyard that has been our lot since we got independence.
One thing we ought to know about the making of a nation should be that it is not an error-proof process. Rather it is one in which mistakes occur even on a daily basis. So finding mistakes in the process of governance is not evil, what turns a mistake to bad and subsequently into a monster is the act of nonchalance, conspiratorial attitude of either ‘it is not serious’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’ or still when a leadership class of a particular era do not see the need to rectify mistakes though solutions built on experience. That is what the camps have sought to correct by giving us a blueprint, they should be commended. At least for now citizens have a basis from which they can ask questions and draw sound conclusions. This is very important. I have read the excerpts of the two positions and I don’t intend to dwell on them on a one-on-one basis. It is not about merits or demerits at this point. For me it is about a foundational flaw and this is vital. As we know, if the foundation is faulty there is little a very skillful worker can do. The inevitability of a collapse of the structure is a question of time; but whether it will collapse, sure it will. I dare say that has been the problem with our nation building efforts since independence. The Buhari and Atiku positions lack nationalistic and ideological pillars. They jumped into the block work regrettably forgetting the strategic place of pillars in creating a structure.
The first truth I expected them to respond to should be the fact that as of today there is nothing like a Nigerian nation, what we have is a country by the name Nigeria. This issue has been adequately treated by great social scientists like Professors Ikenna Nzimiro, Okwudiba Nnoli, Eliagu, Bala Usman and Claude Ake, that it does not need a repeat in a small space such as I have. Suffice to say that history of other nations seems to emphasize that you establish a nation and simultaneously create the citizens that would suit the nation envisioned. Founding fathers of Italy taught this lesson very powerfully when they said, “We have founded Italy, let us create the citizens.”
More than 10m souls were lost to mold China into one nation. In our case no one should die but it is enough to make us understand that building a nation is a prelude to building a great nation. Israel was first founded in 1948 and till today it is still in the business of creating the ideal Israeli. Even if you are white and you return to Israel until you pass through their reorientation process you are not an Israeli. America did the same. The essence of this is that every society requires an organic environment before sustainable progress can be made. We need a constitutional conference. We must agree to create a Nigeria and collectively agree on what to do to realize our dream. We need a new constitution, call it the peoples’ constitution which among other things would prescribe an ideological bent for the nation. We need a blueprint titled “New Nigeria, New Deal”.
The problem of our country is beyond little gestures, copying citizens’ names and giving them N5000 monthly is not a developmental program, it is at best diversionary and wasteful. Real development flows from the collective daily activity of the people; this is why you need to bond them into a productive unit under one vision. When visions are varied as is the case today, the pull is from different angles going to different directions. Past leaders did not fail because they wanted to fail, like the rest of us they had good intentions and lofty ideas. The failed because they were not core capitalists, socialists or social welfarists. They took up all the ideologies and the result is we became like the bat – neither bird nor fowl. It accounts for the huge waste and dislocation in development process. One time government says it would do something and at another time government has no right to be in business and before we could settle down, billions are gone with abandoned projects.
There is nowhere that private citizens or foreign investors built up a nation. The task of pioneering change is led by the government to be later supported by private initiatives and foreign investors in that order. We need free education, human capital development, food security, a manufacturing economy, local fuel production, streamlined but very efficient civil service, very strong military, we must be in charge of the African market, compete globally in aviation and maritime and stem migration via adequate training for the young ones. We need a world class news media to tell our stories. I am waiting for the new Nigeria.