Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Letter to the Nigerian Citizen... Part 1

This piece was culled from a book titled "Creating a New Nigeria" by one passionate Nigerian by the name Taulpaul Oselen. He is my first guest poster. Do read and freely make comments afterwards. I believe a new Nigeria is possible but it will take some amount of work and sacricifice by every well-meaning Nigerian.

Slightly modifying the list of national ethics as presented in the 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, we propose the following national values/ethics; Unity, Mutual respect, Self-discipline, Integrity, Resourcefulness, Service, Justice, Interdependence, and Equality. These few were proposed because of their ability to address the complexities of the old Nigeria and deliver to us our future in line with our proposed vision for a new Nigeria. However, no single one in itself is strong enough a foundation for us but working them together produces an unshakable foundation.

The first and most basic step is for you, the Nigerian citizen to identify with, personalize, model and recommend this vision. The next step would be for you to endorse the proposed national values by imbibing and continually practicing them. Remember, it is not enough for us to unlearn old habits (values) but to sustain change we must consciously learn new ones. Thus, we can;

  • Relate as individuals not tribes nor sects (breaking stereotypes)

Unity- this is the first ethic proposed because under the old system we were made to think that Nigerians could never be a people with one voice and one vision. In the new Nigeria, we would not preach ethnic/religious tolerance because we would not have to tolerate fellow Nigerians but rather we will see them as brothers, sisters, team members with our best interest at heart and relate to them as such. It is a system based on trust, not on a new found trust but one which has always been there only relegated for selfish interests. Within the old system, many of us, if not all of us at some time trusted these people (of diverse ethnicities or religions) with our greatest asset; our lives.

It may have been as a passenger in a plane, cab or bus (not having to do a check on who the pilot or the driver was); as consumers of meals at hotels, restaurants, eateries or ‘bukas’ (not being overly concerned about where the chef or cook was from); might have been as a sick patient awaiting surgery or urgent treatment at a hospital or traditional home ( not running a verification test on the qualifications of the resident physician or consultant); as our domestic staff in charge of some very personal effects and matters; as an accident victim in desperate need of a rescuer or someone stranded in unknown territory needing help... the examples are endless. Nigerians have always trusted one another regardless of ethnic or religious orientations.

The greater truth is that we did not trust them because we lacked better options; it was most times because they were the best at what they did. It was truly a case of mutual respect (not tolerance) born out of a singular pleasant experience or a series of good relations. However, this was only possible when we considered individuals as persons with unique characters and refused to have a presumed general behavioural pattern (a stereotype). We must endeavour to remove all generalizations and learn to judge each relationship as an isolated case instead of forming patterns (good or bad).

It is high time we made this the pronounced way of life at all levels and refused seeds of division sown by a selected few for selfish reasons and personal gains. Hence, no Nigerian should be regarded
as a stranger nor a settler in any part of the country for we are one people with equal stake in national peace and development. Indeed, Nigeria is our primary constituency. More emphasis should and will be placed on ‘state of residence’ than ‘state of origin’ in the new Nigeria.

  • Become worthy Ambassadors

An ambassador is an emissary of one nation to another nation. He is to uphold the acceptable standards of his nation while building a cordial relationship between his nation and the one in which he functions. Nations have no boundaries, no borders they are united by ideologies. As an ambassador it is this ideology you model everywhere you are. Our ideology is who we are and what we are known for. Your role henceforth would be to act as a worthy ambassador of the new Nigeria to the old Nigeria or to any other nation in which you may find yourself.

For this reason, you must become a student of the new Nigeria; comprehend the vision, imbibe the core values and model them. As an ambassador your life takes on a new and inspiring meaning because you may be the only Nigeria some people out there may ever see. You have thus become responsible for the success and good name of this nation. To accomplish this great task you must be able to see clearly the preferred and greater future. This will take an enormous amount of self-discipline; the ability to stay on course, to commit to whatever it requires, remaining focused. No matter what field or industry you find yourself you can be an ambassador.

Self-discipline will make you drop old habits that do not line up with your role as an ambassador and learn new habits that will facilitate your new role. It will cause you to do only the needful and to discard all unrestrained behaviours. It drives you to continually seek the right and latest knowledge regarding whatever you do, so you could be the best at it. When you are self-disciplined, you will not need anyone to motivate you for greatness because you have identified your place in the grand vision and have made a commitment to stay the course. You will continually set goals and achieve them, doing all it takes to be successful at what you do for the sake of a better future. Self-discipline causes you to delay gratification; finding yourself doing what may be inconvenient just to create a future you desire.

However, self-discipline alone if left unchecked can be disastrous. You will need of something else to keep your motives in check, which is Integrity. Integrity is a form of conscience within every man that convicts him to always want to do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. Integrity balances ambition with conscience in our quest for greatness. It is also the strength of will to say what you mean and to mean what you say; this attribute is vital in the life of an ambassador. It makes you realize the power of words; your word has to be your bond if you are to be successful as an ambassador. Integrity is the true value you place on your person.

Your integrity will help align your quest for knowledge and success with God’s plan for humanity. It will keep you from enriching yourself at the expense of the nation’s future. Integrity makes you understand that the means (process, path) is as important as the end (result, outcome). As a result of integrity, in assessing any opportunity for business or gain, you would ask ‘not only is it profitable but is it right?’ In the new Nigeria, decisions would be more people-oriented than money-oriented.

When a people have both self-discipline and integrity functioning in their lives, external warnings like; ‘do not take or give bribes’ or ‘do not dump refuse here’ or ‘do not patronize touts’ become unnecessary because these people now have an inner sense of dignity. Also, the resources committed to fighting all forms of corruption; electoral fraud, advance free-fraud and so on, could be ploughed into more productive and developmental programs. Someone once said, ‘it is much easier to switch on the light than to curse darkness.’ The truth is, if I can influence my world and you can influence your world, then we can influence our world and ultimately influence the world.

This is only possible because the Nigerian has assumed his office as a responsible citizen, a worthy and true Ambassador.

Thank you and God bless Nigeria.

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