ince independence Nigeria has been afflicted with a ruling class whose acts in and out of office can only be described as treasonous. As a nation, we have consistently marched backwards towards the Dark Ages while most nations have successfully broken free of the shadows of underdevelopment. Our persistent underdevelopment by successive governments cannot be simply explained in terms of corruption, greed and ethnic nepotism. These vices are present in all nations and cut across tribal lines in Nigeria. Nigeria's problem is deeper and far more lethal than the character flaws of many. It is a problem rooted in scarcity of ideas, ignorance and timidity in the face of challenges.
It is the duty of the opposition, civic leaders, business leaders and intellectuals to offer the people a choice, an alternative philosophy and vision, a contrasting set of ideas to the one presented by the government. These groups have the duty of continually looking at how things can be done better. They influence the government by the quality of ideas they present. In Nigeria, the opposition, and other leaders are afflicted by the same disease as the government, a situation that worsens the prognosis by several degrees.
Great nations are known by the values they live by, the ideas they espouse, the knowledge they disseminate and the courage with which they face their challenges. These attributes form the cardinal principles of a governing philosophy that encompasses every sector of the nation. The intersection of values, vision, knowledge and courage creates a self-perpetuating phenomenon that exudes power and goodwill. The core values of a great nation include equality, fairness, justice and freedom. The values of a nation are economic matters. A nation where the government is the largest employer of labor will soon go bankrupt. It is the duty of government to provide a fair environment where companies and other cooperate citizens can thrive.
As Nigeria tethers on the precipice of failure, it will only do us good to define our values in contradistinction to the current state of things. The core values of a nation transcend the leaders, galvanize the citizens and mold any diverse country into a united nation. Every child is born with rights that derive from God/ nature that may not be infringed upon among which life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as are encapsulated by the founding fathers of the United States of America. A nation that does not value the life of its citizens inside and outside the country is a dead state. Only free men, men whose bodies are unchained as well as their minds chart the course of civilization. A nation where a few are allotted oil wells whereas most cannot afford three square meals per day cannot espouse equality. A nation where some are more equal than others is doomed to fail. A country where fairness has been out-bribed cannot be just. A country with courts that are morally compromised and distrusted is finished. Justice should never be a commodity for sale. We need leaders who will appropriate the American declaration of independence and make it truly Nigerian. Leaders that will seek to end the 'Animal Farm regime' that has controlled the country since independence. We need leaders who will see freedom and justice, fairness and equality as the bedrock of a strong nation. We need leaders who will rally the nation around commonly held values and aspirations.
The values of a nation inform their visions and the ideas create the path. Ideas are the currency of innovations and progress. Nations are built upon the visions of the leaders and the ideas of its thinkers. Thinking is an energy-sapping discipline. A hungry man may not adequately undertake such enormous task. Ideas are not fleeting night dreams or the illusions of the lazy. It may start as a flick of the imagination but it takes rigorous thinking, painstaking research and planning to become credible. What new ideas do we need? What intractable problems do we have? Which problems have defied and continue to defy conventional solutions? What new problems have come up? The answers to the above questions lead to new ideas, innovations and achievements. For example, Electricity and power generation has become a problem that is impossible to solve using conventional Nigerian means. We can contract power generation and water supply to internationally known firms, one company per Local government area or at most, two. We need governors who will declare water and power as basic necessities of life and will deliver in three years of office to all nooks and corners his state. We a President or governor who will adopt a marshal plan for the country or state for rebuilding our crumbling and decayed infrastructure and the building of new ones and new cities. We need good roads, interstate highways across the nation. These are not lofty goals in the 21st century. These are things men have done for over 3000 years from ancient Babylon to Rome, from United States to Singapore, yes we can! We need a leader who will declare that it is time for speed rails that will connect the east and west, and the north and south.
Although these proposals cost money, we invest in the future and create a new and enduring economic process for our people. We create new economic hubs and expanding existing ones by building new highways, railways, and rebuilding our outdated infrastructure. New cities will spring up along these routes with attendant economic activities. New companies will be founded, existing ones will expand and jobs will be created for our teeming jobless citizens.
More than fifty years after independence, Nigeria does not manufacture bicycles or refine our own petroleum. One of the things we need as of necessity is air-conditioning and refrigeration systems due to our weather. These appliances are today imported from other nations. We leaders who will make it a priority to make Nigeria a manufacturing hub. We should be supplying the entire African continent with electrical appliances especially air conditions and refrigerators. We produce engineers who cannot reproduce inventions already in existence. Can anyone doubt the ability of our universities to produce uneducated literates?
Leadership is not about occupying the highest offices in the land. It is not amassing wealth (corruptly) and acquiring properties and titles; it is the making of policies that uplift the country and protects all, especially the most vulnerable- the poor and weak. It is the creation of a system that ensures fairness to all no matter the circumstances of birth or regions of origin. Since independence, no Nigerian leader has articulated the values of the Nigerian state, the very ideals that can bring its diverse tribes together through common aspirations and hopes. Nigeria, formed as a British business enterprise needs to define the reason for its continued existence, a mission and a vision that captures the aspirations of her citizens.