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Nigeria: Good people, great nation

16 January 2014, 15:18 Adeoye Peace

At the beginning, there was no ‘Nigeria’ as we all know it; only different factions of self-existing societies. Then came along a white man, the famous Lord Lugard who for the purpose of easy governance, brought together (amalgamated) these ‘independent’ societies. This was in 1914.

Several years after, the leadership of Nigeria deemed it fit to rebrand Nigeria and hence, they sought for a slogan/brand name; GOOD PEOPLE, GREAT NATION caught their attention. On the 17th of March 2009 upon the launching of the slogan and logo for the rebranding Nigeria campaign, the vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (as he then was) challenged Nigerians not to perceive the campaign as another ceremony or exercise in sloganeering. He said that it should be perceived as a genuine attempt at making every Nigerian have a renewed commitment to the regeneration of the country. This means that even they, the leaders, knew something was (is) grossly wrong with our nation Nigeria. It was a mere caption but it has had (or is supposed to have had) a huge impact on the psychology of Nigerians. These four words (good people, great nation) though prima facie subtle, conveys a deep message; for a nation to be great, the people must first be good. For one cannot market a bad product.

Some people, not condemnably, have lost hope in Nigeria. Some have come to the conclusion that a nation riddled with bad governance, insecurity, corruption, unemployment, and several other ills can never prosper. They believe so much in the dictum of John Maxwell that “everything rises and falls on leadership”. This poses a lot of challenge on the mentality of most Nigerians. Yes, in all honesty, we have not had the best of leaders. But then, according to an author, leadership flows out of followership; leadership and followership flow from a single river, woven from the same fabric especially in a democracy.  
The greatness of a nation is greatly dependent on the goodness of its people. The acclaimed leaders we blame for the wrongs in our society we forget that they are not distinct personalities from the nation Nigeria. They are not foreigners, they are not aliens.

They are as much Nigerians as the common man roaming the street. They are part of the people, the citizenry. For a lion cannot rule a herd of sheep, it is in its DNA to consume each of them till nothing’s left. When non-peoples of Nigeria ruled us, we know very well how that went; we literally had to fight for our freedom.

Nigeria is the giant of Africa, a tall and handsome giant I must add. But sadly, this giant is battling with lots of deformities and disabilities. The crimes perpetrated are carried out by the very people of Nigeria, corruption is the order of the day at every turn, we pollute our own environment, drains and gutters provided by the government made for water to pass through have become dumpsters, we clamp them up; causing flood. Perhaps the government is supposed to come to our individual homes to teach us how to take care of our own homes and immediate environment. Planet earth is the only planet that supports human life and it is utterly appalling to see how much levity we treat it with.

Fraud another major problem in Nigeria is perpetrated by the old and young alike. The nation Nigeria is not made up of just the land mass but also the people on it. So if Nigeria has a bad image, so does the people; the government and the governed alike. The people of Nigeria seem to have forgotten the age long assertion that we need not wait for what the government can do for us but we should also ponder on what we can do for our nation.

Nigeria is our collective responsibility. The people carrying arms and taking to the street are not wired or predisposed to be criminals, chance has placed them there. Look at what has become of the erstwhile militants when they were given the opportunity. Today many graduates are roaming the streets unemployed, not because they are lazy and haven’t searched for jobs, but for lack of experience. Many employers have 7-10 years or more as a prerequisite for employment but how can these people garner experience if they are not first given an opportunity? And by the way, these organizations are not manned by angels, but people.

Yes, the slogan good people, great nation may have been abandoned for the more fascinating ‘FASCINATING NIGERIA’ but the spirit of GOOD PEOPLE, GREAT NATION must not be abandoned.

I reiterate, Nigeria is our collective responsibility. Whether leaders, whether commoners, we are all people of Nigeria. If we remain in the state we have been in time past, there is invariably no way we can achieve the status of a good people and a great nation. Of course this does not go to say there are no good people in Nigeria. The problem is there are not enough good people, so of what use is your voice if it cannot be heard? Of what use is your strength if it cannot shake a thing? Of what use is your height and color if you cannot be noticed in the crowd? And of what use is being good if you cannot make your country great? Being good is not all; positive steps have to be taken in making our country great. It is a new year; it is another opportunity to make a difference, to be the change we want to see.

For there to be a truly fascinating Nigeria, we must move from this stage of mediocrity to being a truly good people and assuredly a great nation. HAPPY NEW YEAR NIGERIA.

Adeoye Peace, 300L Faculty of Law University of Ilorin, Kwara state Nigeria.

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