Two days ago, I had the privilege of attending a discourse organised by the Nigerian initiative, Take A Stand. As the name implies, the initiative centres on getting Nigerians to ‘stop sitting on the side-lines and get involved in creating a truly dynamic Nigeria’. Eloquently put, get off your passive, selfish butt and extend your hand towards building the Nigeria of your dreams!
The event was highly interactive with almost all participants expressing their views on what they believed to be some of the profound problems of Nigeria. They also shared on what we, Nigerians, could do to fix it. Needless to say, I learnt a lot; it is almost impossible not to, when you are privileged to listen to brilliant people.
Points highlighted by speakers ranged from lack of real education, to growing dysfunctional homes, Bad Parenting, Dire Poverty, A disconnect between words and actions, Lack of civic responsibility, Disunity and so on.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to add my ‘two cents’ because I had the ‘funtunity’ (I believe I just coined a new word; Fun + Opportunity **wink wink**) of working as the photographer of the event. Nevertheless, I am going to add my two cents here because I believe that this is important, not only because I am Nigerian, but because we are at a time where we if we stand up for change, we can’t be ignored.
I remember years ago, my father said that the problem with our country is that no one is worried about his/her legacy, I agree. We are more concerned with ourselves and at the most, providing for our children and their futures. In a way, it is understandable; it is hard to be concerned about a legacy when you are not sure how you can afford to pay the next month’s rent or fuel your car or even worse, how the next meal is going to be bought.
An individual faced with such challenges (even worse), isn’t thinking of a legacy and with good reason. Now, those who can afford all of these, tell themselves they don’t have to worry about change, because their lives are fine just the way it is. They probably have benefited from an aspect of the work-less society; where it is easy to get away with anything as long as you have the right connection and cash (plenty of it). They don’t have to bother about insecurity because they can up and leave the country at a moment’s notice. Their children most probably do not live in Nigeria and have attended the best schools in other countries, so why bother? Now I will tell you why I think we should all worry… TO INCREASE THE ODDS FOR OUR CHILDREN!
Your children may already have enough money to spend for the rest of their lives and then some. They may hold more citizenship than we can imagine but the odds still aren’t in their favour. Let’s forget about the Nigerian brand for a minute and what a continuously deploring brand will mean for every Nigerian especially those who live and work in diaspora. The depleting security in Nigeria means that the ‘Rich Kids’ with their fancy cars, homes and what have you, are even at more risk than the ‘average’ or ‘poor’ kids.
Now, I’m not a statistician but my little math says, that reduces the odds considerably. The presence of terrorism also adds to security issues within the country and yes, further reduces the odds, unless of course you choose to never visit Nigeria or be a recluse, even then, there is no accounting for the security of your home.
Now on the other hand, say we all and by we all, I mean every Nigerian; those within and outside the country, leaders and other citizens, every man, woman and child, played their part, with integrity in building the nation.
We vote right and air our views actively and honestly but also, peacefully; we bring up our children with respect, values, patriotism and love; we get more involved in our governing process and DEMAND accountability from our leaders, we exhibit as much integrity as we demand from our leaders, we put aside our selfish gains, just a little, for civic responsibility, we think of the world beyond our immediate needs, not because it is easy, but because it is essential; imagine the nation we would build! A nation where our kids, nieces, nephews, god-kids, can have a chance at a better life than we did. Isn’t that what it is about at the end of the day?
That the generation that comes after us have a chance (or chances) at a better life than we did? No matter how good our lives have been, there is always better. The way I see it, this should be The Stand of Every Individual.