We The People?

A nation gets the type of leaders it deserves.

We the people.
These are the opening words of the Nigerian constitution. The phrase may seem like a cliché especially as it is the same introduction of the constitution of the United States of America (USA) and many democratic states. The truth however is that the phrase (We the people) is pregnant with a lot of essence. A nation is nothing without her people. A country is not just a geographical entity (suffice to say that a physical territory is a crucial attribute of a state). The legitimacy of a country is precedent on the patriotism of its people. When this (patriotism) is lacking, a nation/country is at best a mere collection of people. My high school Government teacher defined Nationalism as “the patriotic sentiment of a people bound together a set of ideals”. Many allude to the fundamental flaws in the set-up of the nation. Such people are quick to point out the leaking holes in the architecture of governance. They postulate a bleak future. Call it cynical and faithless but are these farfetched? My humble opinion is that the future is predictable. Life isn’t a zero sum game and there are consequences.

Question: (i) What bounds Nigerians together?

History re-visited.
Many people consider stories from the past nothing but mere tales. There is certainly nothing more tragic. We know by virtue of experience that those who do not know history are bound to repeat the errors of the past. Their understanding of the present is also often skewed. Ninety percent (90%) of Nigerians have no clue about the real history of the country so how can they possibly make the right decisions necessary to secure her future? I established in a piece titled ” A short political history of Nigeria and other thoughts” the woes of a nation that was conceived to advance the economic purpose of her colonial masters. Nigeria is an artificial state. A certain leader of Nigerian extraction once proclaimed that the elements that make up the fabric of a country are lacking in the Nigerian enterprise. Some say, Nigeria is not a country. They say we are a nation. I say to them, we are neither a country or a nation. We are a people suffering from massive identity crisis. We are myopic and are consumed by rude pettiness and deep-seated despondency and parochialism.

Question: (ii) What is the post-colonial purpose of Nigeria? (iii) What is the Nigerian Dream?

There is something wrong with us; the people. 
According to the United Nations Human Development Report in 2003, the bottom 25 ranked nations (151st to 175th) were all African. This is almost half of the countries in Africa. According to USAID, 600 million people, representing 70% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa are without electricity. Perpetually at war, African countries don’t fight countries outside Africa. The various wars and conflicts of genocide proportions in Africa are all internal. Human lives doesn’t mean much to us. I dare the reader of this piece to take a quick survey right now, right where you are. How many of the items you are surrounded by are made in Africa? Go ahead! I would be surprised if the ratio is 30% in favor of Made in Africa products.

We produce Cocoa in massive quantities (more than a third of the global produce of Cocoa is credited to Ivory Coast) but we struggle to make chocolates. Nigeria is the sixth (6th) largest exporter of crude oil in the world but imports over 50% of the local demand for petrol. We blame the greedy and often inept Politicians as well as the silly Government for everything but we forget that they are members of our society and that we are the Government. The best of us have failed. We get no accountability because we refuse to demand for it. We are complacent and happy with the status-quo. Suffering and smiling in the face of poverty and crippling lack, yet we continue to adapt. We are a poor people not because we don’t have the wealthy amongst us. Indeed, we have a lot of those. We are poor because we define success as getting. Our accomplishments are futile. What a shame! What a people we are.

Question: (ii) What is the post-colonial purpose of Nigeria? (iii) What is the Nigerian Dream?

Something greater than us all.
The future of Africa generally and Nigeria specifically is at the mercy of we the people. The way we will build Nigeria and indeed Africa begins with the people. A change of mind first then the pursuit of progress. We must become restless. We must become selfless. We must reimagine our very essence. We must discover our pristine purpose. Individual successes and accomplishments must add up to societal advancement. We must refuse to be a generation of consumers. We must convert our potentials into real value. We must become productive. We must do more with less. We must do away with religion and embrace our un-spoilt spiritual nature. We must change from inside out. We must become the change that we seek. We must refuse to embrace the old order of things, reach out with determination, imagine a radically different future and pursue with gusto the task of building an African continent that the creator who put us here can be proud of. We owe this duty upon ourselves. We are the people. This is our grievance.

Question: (ii) What will you do?

Femi Oni

Femi’s overarching purpose is to inspire brands (individuals, organisations and nations) to unlock potentials to achieve sustainable growth and impact. His mission is to mentor 1000 brands in Africa and beyond by 2025.

Specialties and Interests: Business Model Design & Innovation, Visioning, Strategy Design & Execution, Project Management, Change Management, Strategic Branding, Operations Excellence, Process Modelling, Product Management, Productivity Management, Entrepreneurial Leadership (Startups), , Social Evangelism, Education, Sustainability, Cybernetics, Risk & Compliance.