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The future of Nigeria rests with its people

GOOD FOR NIGERIA?: Presidential candidates Goodluck Jonathan (left) and Muhammadu Buhari face each other at a recent event

Now that those elections have been postponed until March, author Emeka Anyanwu argues that a successful outcome rests with the country’s citizens.

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OPPORTUNITIES COME and go, but this one cannot elude Nigerians.

This 2015 election year will go down in history as one of the nation’s greatest moments. It is time to usher in a great change, time to adopt a cooperative approach, move forward, reclaim our destiny and show the world that we can define our future.

Has Nigeria drifted from the original dream of the founding fathers? No doubt, one would say yes. We know what people like Azikwe, Sardauna and Awolowo stood for at the dawn of our independence. Has Nigeria got a future? One would say, yes. I’m quite optimistic that Nigeria has a bright future. Our experiences and obstacles cannot blind us to the reality and opportunities that exist in Nigeria. We have had bad leadership through these five decades, but we cannot denythat we’ve had good leadership too.

Issues like the threat of Boko Haram in the north and the age-old one of corruption are important in this election. The biggest challenge that Nigeria faces today is security, law and order. No country in the world can prosper if its leaders take law and order for granted. This should rank most highly in the mind of every Nigerian as we elect our new leaders. Who is best able to manage the security situation in the country?

CHALLENGE

But as important as this issue is, so too is youth unemployment. It has gone well over the curve. Who is best able to unite and mobilise Nigerians into one vision and purpose? Who is best able to restore quality education in the country? This is a serious challenge that will confront whoever is the next president.

One of the best ways to confront this challenge is to pressure our leaders to empower young people through a re-structured educational system.

If we are able to train our youths to gain skills in important areas like coding and IT not only will they gain employment, the country as a whole will benefit. Nigeria will join countries like the USA, Israel, India and China in defining the global branding of goods and services. I call it smart investment. With a school curriculum driven by talent and creativity, our youths will be employers of labour straight from school rather than simply being job- seekers. There is a valid logic that relates unemployment to crime. When people don’t have jobs they take to crime as a means of livelihood. A country where talented young people can develop and apply their talents is conducive to stopping the huge brain drain of talent that has had such a crippling effect on the nation.

Also important is the need for efficient electricity and water supplies for every household. This can no longer be overlooked. It’s an issue that should have been resolved long ago. In fact reliable electricity and water supplies should be a way of life in Nigeria.


HOPEFUL: Writer and publisher Emeka Anyanwu

However these important goals cannot be achieved if Nigerians are not in the mood for change.

In my book Kalango: the personified story of Nigeria I argue that Nigerians must take responsibility. Responsibility is not something we can shirk or shift onto other people. Our responsibilities start with making the right choices about who will lead us in the 21st century. Exercising this choice is paramount to our future. If we don’t take responsibility our future as a nation will always be in the hands of other nations. As bad as the leadership has been, I believe, the citizens have far more responsibilities than the leaders because it is from among the citizens that the leader is chosen.

Until every single soul in Nigeria sees it as his responsibility to bring sanity back into Nigeria, there isn’t much the leaders can do unfortunately.

And that responsibility includes directly challenging politicians about bad leadership and corruption.

CULTURE

It also means accepting the idea that leadership starts at home; family values and culture are essential ingredients towards nation building and prosperity.

There is a saying ‘one is not responsible for the nature of their dog, but is responsible for managing it.’

Change comes slowly though. The election has been postponed until March we’re told.

Are we just going to sit back and accept this? Is this another case of the same old practices that have brought the country so much pain coming into play? Are the politicians taking notice about these important issues that face Nigeria’s citizens? Or are they just game playing and jockeying for power?


RESPONSIBILITY: Ordinary Nigerians must hold politicians to account when the elections are held in March

And, following the postponement of the elections is this not a time for Nigerians to accept responsibility, show leadership and question what is clearly a very contentious move?

The pain of doing something is less than the pain of doing nothing. We cannot be indifferent at this moment. We know that many suffer from disenchantment and apathy due to mistrust and corruption on the part of our leaders. However the wisdom of the ages shows that bad leadership is a product of people. On this basis the onus lies on Nigeria’s citizens to do something today to guarantee a better future for their children.

Learning from the mistakes of our past rather than dwelling on them is the key towards eradicating fear and ignorance.

We need to work together to move the country forward. We cannot hold back tides of change facing the country by succumbing to manipulations rooted in fear and ignorance. Nigerians are happy and progressive people.

Now that the elections have been postponed, Nigerians are watching. They are not fools but they must make their voices heard.

We shouldn’t allow the perverse and cynical views about what politics can actually achieve to have a free rein on our confidence.

And when the elections are finally held, we should never be afraid to vote and neither should we vote out of fear.
We are new Nigerians!

Emeka Anyanwu is the author of the book Kalango: the personified story of Nigeria. He is also a co-founder of C-Hub, the UK’s first Afro-creative magazine

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