For the first time in
our history, we have a President not beholden to the asymmetrical
forces that have wielded power and influence in the nation. Given this
development, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s rise to power introduces multiple
columns that strengthens the structure of our nation, and creates the
opportunity for us to forge and affirm a national identity.
Our Moment by
Dr. David Ogula
yearned, hoped and prayed for a better Nigeria. However, in this quest
for a better Nigeria, there have been a few missed opportunities.
Murutala Mohammed, Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon’s
administrations, the second and “third” coming of Olusegun Obasanjo
offered opportunities for a change in direction. If you are wondering
about the reference to Obasanjo’s third coming, his influence is
viewed by this author as a continuum, not merely for the maneuvers
behind the scene that led to the current turn of events politically,
but much more significantly, for it’s implications for political
transformation. It is fairly accurate to note that with each missed
opportunity there has been a pattern of looking back with regret or
hurling blame. This pattern of behavior is analogous to the ensuing
dilemma if a door is slammed at one’s face. Spending so much time
staring at the door or contemplating on what to do about the closed
door, limits the likelihood of seeing other doors that may be open.
Thus, the culture of looking back, not necessarily to learn from our
errors, has prevented us from seizing opportunities, or from looking
ahead and setting priorities.
Given our inability to
seize past opportunities, one wonders if we would detect and seize
other opportunities for national transformation when they arise.
Events that trigger transformative change do not appear announcing
their arrival. They are detected, in part, from paying attention to
what is right in front of us. Such moments are shaped by events, and
sometimes by a convergence of unanticipated factors. When such moments
arrive, it takes discerning minds to use them for the collective good.
Some clues about our role in shaping our world are offered by Albert
Einstein’s insight that "the world we have created is a product of our
ways of thinking. It cannot be changed until we change those patterns
of thinking." Likewise, the Nigeria we have created over the last 50
years is a product of our thinking. Certainly, the Nigeria we will
create in the next 50 years will be a product of our thinking,
decisions and actions.
We have just witnessed
a moment of profound existential hope for Nigeria. Dr. Goodluck
Jonathan’s rise to the Presidency bodes well for every Nigerian.
Because of space and time constraints, I will limit myself only to
listing the possibilities engendered by this momentous turn of events.
First, the opportunities offered by the political realignments we are
witnessing holds the promise for every Nigerian, regardless of tribe
or tongue, to aspire to lead and be whomever they wish to be. Second,
it holds the promise of a future focused on the things that unite us
rather than those that separate us. Third, it opens the doors for
equal treatment for each individual and for us to build a society
where each individual has equal opportunity to elevate himself
economically. Fourth, it promises to enervate the will to break the
cycle of dysfunction in Nigeria. Fifth, it holds the promise of
dismantling ethnic sanctuaries for corrupt public officials; and
sixth, it holds the promise of a new generation of politicians who
will invest their abilities on building a nation instead of
replicating and perfecting the errors of our forerunners.
An opportunity has
also been created to weaken, if not completely dismantle, the regional
political system which has dominated the nation since independence.
For too long the fortunes of the nation have been tied to the
interests of regional elites disguised either as regional interests,
or national interests. Regional politics in Nigeria has neither
benefited the nation nor the majority of the people in the regions
whose interest regional elites claim to represent. The massive number
of poor and disadvantaged people among the dominant trio is evidence
of elite manipulation of regional sentiments. As we all know, a trivet
maintains stability only if its stands provide support symmetrically;
irregularity in any stand inexorably threatens its stability. The
converse holds if a structure has multiple columns. In our political
history there has never been a time when the interests of the dominant
trio achieved such symmetry. For the first time in our history, we
have a President not beholden to the asymmetrical forces that have
wielded power and influence in the nation. Given this development, Dr.
Goodluck Jonathan’s rise to power introduces multiple columns that
strengthens the structure of our nation, and creates the opportunity
for us to forge and affirm a national identity.
The President has in
his own words given us the standards to measure his performance in
office -the “irreducible minimums” of stabilizing power supply,
continuing the fight against corruption and ensuring a credible
electoral process. To seize this moment, the President must be taken
at his words. We must focus on his performance and judge him by the
standards, and timeline he has set for his administration.
Simultaneously, those who are scheming to derail the achievement of
nationally desirable goals should be exposed. In all, good governance
and leadership by example must be seen as an imperative for meaningful
results to occur. The doctrine of trickle down corruption, manifested
by mindless looting at all levels of government must be rejected in
As is often the case
in Nigeria, the regressive forces are pulling together, hedging their
bets on maintaining the status quo. At the same time, the
“independence generation” whose hopes for a better life as adults have
been crushed are asserting themselves, indicating that they are not
ignorant, timid or immature. The latter are clearly voicing their
rejection of the labels thrown at them by those politicians whose
flawed policies plunged the nation into this deep mess. Knowing that
the regressive forces have an infinite capacity to wreck havoc and
encourage others to indulge in difficult behavior, these Nigerians are
utilizing the new media to diseminate their message and mobilizing
against those who wish to thwart any signs of progress. They recognize
beyond any doubt that placing the vehicle of the Nigerian State in
reverse would not miraculously launch it forward. From all
indications, they have resolved not to collude with those who planted
the seeds of generational failure.
I join these
progressive Nigerians in searching constructively for the best
possible ways to improve the system and to make it work for us. I
acknowledge that the system in place is imperfect; nonetheless, I join
Nigerians in and outside Nigeria, in the discussions and actions that
will lead us logically and rationally to the conclusions that serve
To all Nigerians, I say, this is the moment to set the nation free
from the self-gratifying vision of regional elites. I feel the
momentum growing. This is our moment, this is our chance; let’s not
let it slip.