Rebranding Nigeria simply means to redefine our concept of Nationhood and engage wholly in the process of National renewal to attain a height where National Interest is exalted far and above personal, ethno-religious and regional interest. In other words, it connotes the renewing of our dreams, hopes and aspirations. A wholesome rededication and recommitment to the dictates of the National anthem and pledge and recognizing the lines as sacred oath of allegiance to a Country. It is also to rekindle the fire of patriotism not as a conditional loyalty and love to a Nation, but as an unflinching and unconditional love and loyalty to same. A scenario where, the domestic and international image of the Nation matters to all and sundry.
OUR ROLE AS YOUTHS
First and foremost, the Nigerian youths should realize that we have a rendezvous with destiny and that, the task of reshaping our individual and collective destinies is our sole responsibility and that, we owe the next generation a duty to craft a well projected, practical and workable blueprint for Nation building or we may be, in former US president Ronald Reagan’s word: “sentencing our children’s children into a thousand years of darkness”. Now is the right time for the Nigerian youth to overhaul his value and believe systems by discarding the imperialist ideology of Nationhood that was transferred by the colonial masters to our unsuspecting founding fathers. Who were psyched at Pre-independence, Independence and Post-independence into believing that once the British flag was brought down and replaced by the Nigerian flag and that once the people mumbled through the hurriedly composed and learnt anthem and that once the British army matched past an aped face black man in caricature military uniform and offered a half-baked salute. Behold, a Nation was born. They never thought that Nation building was not a destination, but a journey. Our innocent founding fathers never suspected that, the polarization of our Country along regional path by the colonialist was deliberately targeted at dismantling our pre-colonial inter-dependency on one another’s commerce, distinct culture and traditions, which dates back prior to the amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern protectorates by Fredrick John Dealtry, (later, Lord Lugard of Abinger) in 1914. They never realized that the colonial masters made sure that at Independence, they got only TOGETHERNESS and not UNITY, CONFIDENCE and not STRENGHT.
At these defining moments in our National lives, the Nigerian youths should be very conscious of the fact that despite our seemingly National challenges, what binds us together is far greater than what drives us apart and that it is about time we left our self-created comfort zones on a desperate search for a new and formidable National identity. We should note that, although our stories might differ from one person to the other and from one region to another, but our common National destiny is shared and that it is now in our respective hands. We need to as a matter of urgency, replace the Imperialist administrative structure inherited by our founding fathers from the colonialist which has thus far created and promoted the demon, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu described as DICHOTOMY: North/South dichotomy, East/West dichotomy, Christian/Muslim dichotomy, Military/Civilian dichotomy, Majority/Minority, Rural/Urban dichotomy, Rich/Poor dichotomy, Socialist/Capitalist dichotomy, Male/Female dichotomy, Young/Old dichotomy, to mention a few. And from which ever perspective you look at Nigeria, this is what stares you at the face. This dichotomy has become a menace that characterizes our biggest National challenge and deters National growth. And by this dichotomy, none of us have been able to capture a bigger picture of Nigeria as a sovereign Nation, rather than as a mere regional formation.
It is about time that the Nigerian youth aligned with John F. Kennedy’s statement during his inaugural address on January 20th 1961: “Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country”. By so doing, we will fortify our once existing unity and with a common sense of purpose; rediscover the virtues of hard work, patriotism, personal responsibility, optimism and faith. Let us draw a clear margin between the Nigeria we have and the Nigeria we desperately need. Let us as youths see through the tiniest hole, an enlarged picture of a United States of Nigeria, the picture of a glorious nation where men and women alike are not judged by tribe, religion or geographical placement, but in Martin Luther King’s word: ”…by the content of their characters”.
At this crucial moment of National re-birth. Let the Nigerian youth be bold enough to say that no matter what, my vote counts during elections and that, every government policies affects me directly and that, if my voice must be heard, then I need to invest my input into governance. Let the Nigerian youths bear in mind that, in spite of the fact that we have been nourished by a generation of broken promises, we can still be able to cultivate a tradition based on the simple principle that, we have stake on one another, if National Interest is seen as a tool for a meaningful National development.
THE NEW NIGERIA
If re-branding Nigeria truly matters to us as the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili is advocating, then it is imperative for us as Nigerian youths to retrace the nullified National track with a renewed spirit and a strong conviction that, though the bridge that once unites us as a Nation of states be destroyed, we will rebuild it and match relentlessly with pride towards greatness. Armed with the strongest believe that, we all have different roles to play in promoting peace, opportunities and prosperity in Nigeria. We should see a magnified picture of a Country, where like a portion of the American dream suggests: “…each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability can take him…”. We should begin to uplift our political commitments above the ancestral political jingoism. That way, we will learn to still see and accept those who do not share our political ideologies and sentiments as enemies, but as friends with different political views. This I believe will terminate the ancient political deadlock embedded along party, tribal and religious lines. The youths should also be aware that, if we must socialize the leader, we must as well socialize the follower, because if freedom is fundamentally mental as wisely opined, then we should as a Nation abuse the ‘National cake mentality’ by exploring new ideas that represents the core of a new National opportunity for all Nigerians, irrespective of tribes or religions. And if the youths will be the proverbial leaders of tomorrow. We must bid farewell to our individual egos to give the long overdue and craved for National Interest a chance. Let us with enthusiasm visualize a new Nigeria where everyone irrespective of their status or social standings are equal in the eye of the law. A Nigeria where the constitution is not seen only as a document for legal and legislative arguments, but as a sacred guide to National greatness. A Nigeria where privileges are not used for massive intimidation, but as opportunities for service. A Nigeria where access to public information, the freedom of press and of speech are respected. A Nigeria where corruption and looting of public treasury is out fashioned. A Nigeria where electioneering seasons are not perceived as opportunities to display economic arrogance or the misuse of innocent youths as instruments for political banditry or the settlement of political scores. A Nigeria where we will have mutual respect for one another, in spite of our religious and ethnic differences. A Nigeria where we will solemnize in a holy matrimony our campaign promises and democratic dividends and bring promise and practice in
to closer alignment. A Nigeria where the provisions of basic social amenities are no longer seen as privileges, but as rights. A Nigeria that is not void of National programmes and stoop to pursuing unfriendly foreign policies to the detriment of our domestic realities. A Nigeria where genuine industrialization will not succumb to the pressures of the fastest growing industry in the Nation: ’BEGGING’. A Nigeria where the materials used for manufacturing ‘SCAPEGOATS’ are out of stock. A Nigeria where National wealth is for no one in particular. A Nigeria where the gap between our professed ideals of change and transformation as a Nation and the day to day realities we witness are bridged. A Nigeria where we all are conscious of the facts that without a lasting PEACE, which can easily be achieved through ‘TOLERANCE’, we can never attain a sustained fiscal and Economic advancement, let alone stability. A Nigeria where even though, we agreed that democracy does not guarantee the equality of condition, it should at least guarantee the equality of opportunity. A Nigeria where federal, state and local government appointments, honourary degrees, chieftaincy titles and National honours are dished out purely based on merit, rather than as political compensations. A Nigeria where the National anthem/pledge are not recited as signatory tunes to announce arrivals and departures, where the flag/map pins are not used by a selected few for decorations, but by all citizens as symbols of National pride. A Nigeria where the leader is accountable to the led and vice versa. A Nigeria where there is less dependency on government while the government in her own part is committed to creating the enabling environment for its citizenry to succeed. A Nigeria where the private sector is not only aware, but equally responsive to its mandatory corporate social responsibility to the community. A Nigeria where with a genuine doggedness, we remain constantly consistent and consistently constant in our pursuit of a common National Reality.
As youths, we should see ourselves as political architects that would rather build into our National future than political archeologist that will concentrate on digging from the relics of our past political failures. We should also see Nation building as an opportunity of a lifetime given to us to discharge our obligations to a beloved Country. And that, despite our enormous challenges as a Nation, we still have the faith that we shall get to the Promised Land someday. Let us in the face of trouble share president Obama’s conviction that, “I have no doubt that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their Country can change it”. Let us convince ourselves that, if at this trying time in our history, we will collectively starve our doubts of a new Nigeria to death and regroup with a renewed mind-set of rediscovering, recreating, redefining and rebranding Nigeria, then we can boldly explore a new National creed: ‘IT IS POSSIBLE’.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
AMB. PRINCE DANIEL
Youth Ambassador for Peace
Executive Director, PEACE NIGERIA Project
+234 803 722 2259, 802 556 1618