Journalism in the service of society

We are not going to give up

By Dul Johnson

NIGERIA is one of the most vibrant and dynamic countries in the world. It is probably the most difficult place to predict with any degree of accuracy, even in its politics. Who could believe that we would still be here as one nation, strong in our weak institutions, hopeful in the midst of a collapsing economy and security crises, and happy in the midst of hunger and poverty? Nigeria is tough and the tough will always survive.
I recall an advert for the Volkswagen Beetle in the 70s/80s: In it a foot (in a shoe) grinds a live beetle into the ground, but once the foot is lifted up, the beetle rises, like the Phoenix, and runs away. That is my Nigeria. That is our Nigeria. Ever resilient, ever ready to push down the wall and move forward. But where to move; where to go, we do not seem to know. The tough will always win—if they know what they want to get, and continue to remain tough.

Most Nigerians agree that our problem is that of leadership. There are those apologists, who want to blame the followers. I insist, they are ignorant who hold this view. Leadership has been, and will continue to be our problem. What we need to accept is that leadership has different levels and all the levels have problems. We can make this country great only if everyone understands the fact that every level of leadership counts. Leadership is not only when you are the president, governor, senate or house leader, etc.
My only concern, which sometimes threatens my faith in our march to progress is that we are doing two things wrongly and don’t seem to realise it: 1. No nation can develop on borrowed cultures. 2. Any nation that neglects education does so at its own peril. We all know where we are coming from, and the earlier we retrace our steps, the better for our development. The neglect and destruction of our education system by adhering to an archaic (borrowed) curriculum, allowing strikes to fester, and refusing to adequately fund the sector is a death sentence for the nation. Too much has been said about the quality of our education, which, sadly, is deteriorating by the day. Education is the springboard for EVERY kind of development. No country can toy with that sector and hope to be anywhere near those who value it.
For too long our leaders seem to have completely forgotten why they are put in those positions of responsibility. They rather see the office as a place and period to enjoy and lord it over the citizens. No wonder, those who may not have worn a pair of shoes or a designer suit before they got into the office end up with a thousand pairs and pieces, twenty-something cars, hotels, houses all over the country, airlines and so forth, their faces shining and their necks disappearing. Elsewhere, we see leaders growing grey after just a year or two in office. Leadership is service and sacrifice. Until the organisation, institution or country you lead faces a crisis of one form or another, there would be nothing to test your capability and efficiency. This is where—and for so many years—our leaders have failed us.
For those clamouring for self-determination or the creation of more states, it bears repeating that the springboard of progress is culture and education. Balkanising Nigeria into 36 countries does not, and cannot guaranty any one of the countries development and progress on a borrowed culture and a moribund education system. In spite of all these problems, we are not going to give up; not with the undying Nigerian spirit that lives in us. And so, may this day rejig the spirit in every Nigerian and make us begin to hold our leaders accountable to the people. Happy 60th anniversary.

Johnson, a Professor of Literature and Film Studies at Bingham University, Karu, is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Naija Times

8 Comments
  1. Avatar of Nannim
    Nannim says

    This was a great piece! With resilience, there’s still hope.

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