My Dear Reader, I ask you to indulge me for the next few weeks, as I think aloud on our journey to development as a nation, as we celebrate the anniversary of our independence.
The reforms being carried out in our economy, the civil service, the police, the military and other areas of our national life are things to cheer about. At least we have some people in leadership who know what to do and who are willing to do it. We have selfless and patriotic technocrats and experts designing the processes for development.
There is, however, a dimension to the whole reform process that we need to emphasize. It is the leadership dimension. It is called vision.
When the civil service has been transformed, what will Nigeria look like? That picture of our preferable future state should be defined now. It is the best thing to communicate to the average Nigerian to galvanise us for action. The average citizen does not understand words or clichés like reform, macroeconomic factors or privatization. They should not be bored with the details of the processes. Everything should be summed up in pictures. The ability to capture and communicate that picture is a unique quality that makes a leader.
When all would have been said and done; will Abuja, Onitsha, Kano, Sokoto, Port Harcourt and Maiduguri be as beautiful as London, Tokyo, New York or Amsterdam? Will we have beautiful housing estates where the average Nigerian will be able to own a home and not a slave to serve the landlord all his life? Will the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and others around the country have eight or ten lanes? Will most of the cars on our roads be new or almost new, with the vehicle production plants churning out vehicles every day within the country?
It is such a vision that motivates people, defines the future, provides direction, becomes the standard for measuring success, engenders discipline, breeds persistence, and fosters unity. It should be communicated through television, radio, newspapers, billboards, handbills, schools, churches, mosques and very other possible means. It is natural for people to respond to it as first with scepticism. But before long, most people will be infected with enthusiasm and conviction of leadership. Our country will not succeed on what our leaders want for us. It will succeed on what we the people, want for ourselves. Whereas vision begins with a leader, it must end with the people. It must be owned by the people.
I should dare say that anyone in leadership now who cannot see the vision should leave the stage. The fact that it has been done in other parts of the world is proof that it is possible here. We just need to see it and believe it. Even if it will take two hundred years to achieve the vision, we must define it and begin the process of its attainment now.
It is my opinion that the greatest legacy the present administration can leave behind is the vision of a developed Nigeria and a plan for its attainment in the long run. Its reforms will then be seen as the foundation blocks for our long-term development. To most Nigerians today, the government’s reforms add up to nothing but sloganeering. The average person has lost faith in the system. Having a vision for the nation is unrealistic. Each one is struggling to have a vision for his or herself; a vision of being able to build a house someday, of owning a generator for electricity supply and of digging a private borehole to ensure constant water supply. We are in a battle for survival. Our country is at present the wrong soil for the seed of human potential to germinate in. However, our problem may be our greatest opportunity.
When Moses, the Biblical prophet, described a new and beautiful country to his fellow Israelites, who were slaves in Egypt, they bought the vision. They rejected the tyrannical rule of Pharaoh King of Egypt and moved en masse. You see, when the people buy into the vision, they will change things. However, when the Israelites became frustrated and lost the vision, they could not make it to the Promised Land. Neither did Moses and Aaron, their leaders. The people and their mindset are a critical factor in the process of reformation.
It is time to ask our leaders, “What is the Nigerian dream?”
Again, anyone in leadership who cannot capture and communicate the vision should leave the office. Anyone aspiring to take office that cannot see it should not bother. And if you have the vision, please step forward.
Remember Dear Reader, I am just thinking aloud. If you too are thinking, let us hear you. Write me.
Nigeria will succeed!