After studying the attitude of Nigerians for years now as part of my nation-building work, I wrote an article titled “Core Values: The Missing Ingredient”. In that article, I posited that:
“I am fully persuaded that our greatest need is for a critical mass of citizens to adopt, practice, teach and inspire these values in and through their lives. In doing so, we do not only provide the much needed foundation for credible leadership but more than that, we will see a significant rise in credible leadership at all levels of governance and in all sectors (the home, school, place of worship, workplace) of our nation.”
In his book, “The Heart of America: Ten Core Values That Make Our Country Great”, Bill Halamandaris listed ten core values that built America. Ten values with proven ability to build a world superpower:
Compassion Opportunity Responsibility Equality
Valour Ambition Liberty Unity Enterprise Spirituality
For the month of October, my focus will be on the eighth core value – Unity. The remaining two months of the year will be dedicated to the remaining two values. You can read about the first seven values – Compassion, Opportunity, Responsibility, Equality, Valour, Ambition and Liberty here.
What is Unity?
Unity is defined as the state of being united or in agreement. It also denotes a combining of all the parts, elements and individuals into an effective whole. To build a great nation we need to look beyond our past (how Nigeria was created) and focus on how we can use what we have to create a better future for our children.
A critical overview of our nation will indicate that no particular ethnic or religious group is developed and all are suffering the effects of underdevelopment. Therefore, we all have the same interest and need each other (and our peculiar qualities and assets) to develop and build our nation. The greatness of any nation is born out of unity.
Unity builds families; united families build strong communities; strong communities produce and sustain a united and developed nation. It is important to note that unity is not what government gives us but it is a state we have become and express in our words, thoughts and actions.
What benefits does this value bring to nation-building?
To see this value in action, we will look at it from its association with the other nation-building core values.
Compassion: When we attain the state of being united to fellow Nigerians of other backgrounds and religions, despite how they treat us, we will be motivated to acts of compassion towards them. Unity motivates compassion.
Opportunity: Demanding opportunity from other citizens or government and also offering it to others comes from our view of them and us as one unit. With unity, we will understand and properly express the word ‘OUR’ – OUR government, OUR fellow citizens, OUR oil wealth of the south, OUR agricultural wealth of the North, etc.
Responsibility: When we unite with fellow citizens, we share responsibility for their dreams, aspirations and challenges.
Equality: The state of unity supports the state of equality. We see others as our equals, not in an arrogant way but in light of the fact that we are united to them.
Valour: To express unity requires valour in character and in deeds but we would only see courageous acts when we’ve developed the state of unity.
Ambition: Unity helps us to develop ambitions that are beyond ourselves and it also ensures that our pursuit of that big ambition carries others along. Unity creates a common goal as the ultimate of our ambition.
Liberty: Unity inspires us to fight for the freedom of fellow citizens oppressed by government or institutions. In the eyes of this value, we see it as ‘if one is oppressed all are oppressed’. Unity amongst citizens is essential to create and maintain a liberated citizenry constantly contributing to OUR national development
Enterprise: The passion for the spirit of enterprise is born out of our need to serve citizens to the best of our ability just like we will seek for them to serve us with excellence.
Spirituality: As a foundational value, true spirituality tells or reminds us that we are one family, created by one God. With this mindset, we seek to love people in the oneness of community, and not the eyes of the various religions that seek to separate us.
How do we develop Unity as a core value?
Through study: We must consistently read stories of citizens of our nation and those of developed nations who worked and walked in unity, to get inspired and gain practical steps to put into practice. It will also enable a shift in our mindset from that of our previous generations. It is essential to add that we must ensure we are in an environment (circle of influence) of people with this value because their model (example) will shape us.
Through Practice: We need to put into practice what we’ve learnt about unity because our understanding will grow as we practice. As our understanding grows, our exhibition of unity will be stronger and more visible to others.
Through Teaching: We have a duty to teach others about this value and we do so through our communication, our modelling and our mentoring. We do this to raise the critical mass of citizens with the right mindset and core values actively participating in efforts to build a developed Nigeria.
Many will be converted into nation-building by our teaching of the core values particularly through our modelling (our example).
UNITY as a nation-building core value will create a strong commUNITY that provides the opportUNITY for citizens to develop, grow and actively participate in the building of a developed Nigeria.
Will you unite with me to build and sustain a developed Nigeria? ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’