Nigeria is the most populous black nation on earth, with a population of over 200 million. It is a land with diverse views, culture and religion laden with abundant resources to be self-sustaining. Nigerians generally exhibit the “I CAN DO SPIRIT” that helps them thrive despite difficulties. The aforementioned spirit is the distinguishing factor that sets Nigerians ahead of their peers in the international community. Fire is good when channelled properly but evil when channelled wrongly, so has been the story of Nigeria. More than 70% of spirited Nigerians engage in fruitful labour against odds to create positive change while a few bent on taking wrong routes have continued to tarnish our image. Solace is found in the fact that all nations on earth also have a fraction of her population causing shame to her image. With this established, it is important for us to survey some Nigerians scattered across the globe to get the picture of who Nigerians truly are.
SURVEY OF SOME NIGERIANS
Victor Agunbiade- When the Nigerian was called to serve as the officer in charge of dispersing and collecting money for the entire African region at the US navy camp Lemonier in Djibouti in 2019, he was able to maintain a 100% accountability of $23 million across six rigorous inspections and independent audits with zero discrepancies.
Emmanuel Eluu- As a driver attached to one of the buses that convey passengers from the terminal to the airside at Muritala Muhammed Airport terminal 2, he found and returned a bag containing $20000, pieces of jewellery and other valuables worth millions of naira forgotten inside one of the buses to the owner.
Giannis Antetokunmpo-A Greek professional basketball player with Nigeria descent has won the NBA most valuable player twice and was named the NBA defensive player in 2020.
Tony Elumelu- An economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist founded a foundation that trains and supports young entrepreneurs per year across the 54 countries in Africa.
Dr Tunji Funsho-A cardiologist and chair of Rotary International Polio eradication program is playing a critical role in vaccinating children in villages and cities to eradicate polio.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala- A Nigerian woman who currently heads the World Trade Organizationa
Anitoluwa Adewumi- A 10 years old Nigerian boy excelling in the world of chess.
Tomi Adeyemi-A best-selling novelist and creative writing coach doing Nigeria proud in the world of art.
Abubakar Abdullahi- He is Nigerian Imam who rescued about 262 Christians during the recent Plateau State attack by suspected herdsmen. He hid the women in his house while he hid the men in his mosque. When the herdsmen arrived, he convinced them that only Muslims were in the mosque.
NOTABLE QUOTES ABOUT NIGERIA
“Nigeria is a great nation and you can be proud of the progress you have made. Together you can have won your independence, emerged from military rule and strengthened democratic institutions”-Barack Obama
“There is no country in the world with the diversity, confidence and talent and black pride like Nigeria”-Binyavanga Wainaina
“When you blame politicians, civil servants or anybody. Check yourself too before we wreck ourselves because this is how Nigeria got to her present state. It is not about pointing fingers and blaming some set of people. The insecurity in the country is caused by the greed in us. WHY because we should not deceive ourselves by expecting angels from the land of evil people which you are one. Nigeria can be great, Nigeria can do better if we restructure ourselves to restructure Nigeria”-Saminu Kanti
“Well, Nigeria has played a constructive role in peacekeeping in various parts of West Africa. But unless and until Nigeria itself is democratic and respects human rights, it too may well be a source of more greater instability as political repression limits the ability of the people of Nigeria to achieve their full potential-Susan Rice”
“We can get the better Nigeria we truly desire if truly we can abandon ethnicity, religiosity, dishonesty and greed. We can build a better nation if we start doing now the things we said we are fighting for”- Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha
The geographical region now known as modern day Nigeria was once, known as a slave coast but this changed in 1870 when slavery was abolished. The landmass has been home to many ancient and indigenous pre-colonial states and kingdoms over millennia, while the name “Nigeria” was coined from the Niger River by a British journalist named flora Shaw in 1897. Due to the abundance of agricultural and natural resources, the Royal Niger Company controlled trade in the territory but after Great Britain revoked her charter, the company sold its territory to the British government for 865,000 pounds. By 1914, Lord Lugard amalgamated the southern and Northern protectorates to form one Nation before she gained independence on the 1st of October 1960. Agricultural produce from the regions catered for the needs of the country until 1958 when oil was discovered in Oloibiri. After independence, young Nigerians united to provide leadership to the citizens of this wonderful country, but a military junta and the regrettable civil war disrupted this. The war though fought together by brothers, claimed the lives of many precious Nigerians. After the war, we settled back as brethren to reconcile and work for the purpose of one indivisible nation. In 1999, fate helped us to return to civil rule. Despite these interruptions, we have remained one.
According to Collin Powell “a dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; It takes sweat, determination and hard work”. Armed with this counsel, the nation and her youths are working together presently to build a great nation for the black race. There is the establishment of presidential infrastructure development fund, construction of rails, roads and ports for easy transportation, energization of education and economies programme, insecurity war, launch of solar power Naija to deliver 5 million off grid solar connections, establishment of survival fund, National Youth Investment Fund and NSPWP to reduce unemployment etc.
Towards the end of 2020, #Endsars, an anti-police brutality protest saw a majority of Nigeria marginalized youths who make up 35.6% of the total population create a powerful movement that shook the nation and demonstrated freedom from ethno-religious tensions that usually plagued the unity of citizens. Although hoodlums hijacked the move, the Government responded in unison to disband SARS.
As a mathematics teacher in a local primary school, I am using this period to create awareness among my students from different ethnicity about overcoming corruption and insecurity, avoiding civil war re-occurrence, and how they can team to make Nigeria great. Despite disappointments in some quarters regarding the countries slow progress, this year’s topic serves as a catalyst for Nigerians to write their true story about Nigeria.
NIGERIA IN THE FUTURE
I foresee a country where together her citizens cultivate virtues of morality and uprightness, where office holders shun nepotism, where leadership becomes an opportunity to serve instead of milking the economy and where all form of differences are relegated to the background, and unity becomes the hallmark for everyone.
A Nigeria where trafficking is not practiced, where the youths that should have migrated to Europe will team to become job creators. A place where women are indispensable members of the society, where polices that protect the girl child right are enacted, and where a girl can freely choose when, where and whom to marry.
A place where everyone can recycle, and where unemployed graduates become multi-million business owners who can employ Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity.
A country where the education system is practical based and does not follow “garbage in garbage out” format. A place where students will be able to undertake jaw breaking research capable of providing cure to Aids and Cancer, and where intellectuals will be given seed capital to run businesses, and develop an entrepreneurial mind-set irrespective of their course back ground
A place where a cocoa farmer in Lagos will use a soil sensor produced by his brother from Ebonyi to know the right land for use, where my aged grand-mother in the village will use drones to monitor and harvest her palm for supply to Northern Nigeria . A society where no one will go to bed hungry for lack of food.
A Nation where youths will use their STEM knowledge to run free and fair elections, where youths will shun corrupt practices like rigging, snatching of ballot boxes and vote buying. A society where an 18 years old Governor will chair the Governors forum meeting, and where women will be able to use their smartphones to determine the outcome of an election. A place where communities will fund innovative ideas capable of playing multiple roles. A place where youths will build roads that can convert heat energy during the day to light up streetlights.
A Nation where wildlife conservation is the duty of everyone. A society where her natural habitat has the largest diversity and where our elephants will not be poached but protected by community security guards. A place where everyone is encouraged to plant and nurture a tree in his or her lifetime.
A society where Muslims from the North will freely relate with Christians from South and where everyone lives as brothers and sisters, where all land in a community belongs to everyone, where crop farmers and herdsmen can co-exist without clashes, and where all citizens irrespective of age, sex and religion can own a land.
A place where community mobile courts exist to resolve conflicts among citizens, where a poor man on the wheel chair can defeat an erring president , and where the litigation process is shortened for the benefit of all.
A place where the transport system is available, affordable and accessible by all, and where an Ijaw youth will use his meagre pocket money to embark on a trip to Kaduna, for the sake of understanding the landscape of Nigeria. A place where a sick Fulani migrant is cared for in Ogbomosho.
A place where tourists will prefer to visit for a day rather than spending a week in Las Vegas because of our love for each other, where bokoharan ,banditry and other vices are abandoned and where communities in Southern Nigeria will join hands with conflict zones in the North to create safe havens for all.
A place where a Musa, Obi, Taiwo, Akor, Terna, Ebele, Ponsak, and Okon will represent the country based on merit to win Africa’s first FIFA World cup.
A place where our refineries refine oil locally for our consumption, and a place where we all embrace the “One Nigeria” philosophy for the purpose of creating a dream nation for the generations unborn.
Nigeria is a blessed land filled with opportunities, abundant good people and a few bad eggs. Things will get better as we continue to strive for perfection as a country. So help us God. Amen