As a Nation-building Evangelist, I feel elated to see a greater number of Nigerians show great interest in the coming general elections. Many have applied and collected (or are yet to collect) their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), some are mobilising family and friends to support their candidates, a few are involved in the campaign organisations of the various candidates. This is growth for our young democracy.
However, I sense that most of us view this elections are a destination. By that, I mean most citizens believe that either an additional 4 years for President Jonathan or a Buhari Presidency will deliver our long standing desire – the building of a developed Nigeria. Even the few who’ve seen nothing good in the two leading candidates do carry the same destination mindset.
This mindset holds the view that Nigeria’s development is tied entirely to the person we elect into office as President and as Governor. Many like to call it a ‘top to bottom’ approach to leadership. Whilst I will argue that most case studies of lasting national development has been with a ‘bottom to top’ approach to leadership, there has been a few success stories of ‘top to bottom’ approach.
It is pertinent to note that the critical element for success in the ‘top to bottom’ approach is the existence of some foundation to build leadership on. But in the majority of cases of nation-building, that foundation has been non-existent and as such, it had to be put in place in the process of building that nation.
What might this foundation be? I call it the nation-building core values. It is the qualities that are common amongst a people that it defines her culture (way of life). Having studied nation-building in Nigeria, I have come to the conclusion that these core values are the vital missing ingredient in our attempt to build and sustain a developed Nigeria.
So when the majority of citizens believe that nation-building will commence in full swing when our preferred candidate wins the elections, I ask myself on what foundation will they achieve this? We have a whole generation (20-35 year olds) who were born into and grew up in lawlessness. How can this ‘engine room’ provide the values needed to support credible leadership?
Secondly, how can the generation (35-50 year olds) that is in leadership (in our homes, schools, community, workplace, politics, government, etc.) and are the key practitioners of lawlessness for many years now become the platform to support credible leadership?
Thirdly, how do we hope to have credible leadership when these core values are also lacking amongst our political class? Bottom to top and if you prefer, top to bottom, is filled with citizens without the nation-building core values.
As a friend said, “How many Nigerians will be happy to live in a Nigeria where there are repercussions for lateness, incompetence, carelessness, breaking of law, cheating, etc.?” We have enjoyed avoiding repercussions for many years that we even see developed nations as being too rigid.
Truth is, man is a lawless being and to create a stable society, we will need good laws that are regularly enforced on all classes of citizens. But there is something more than this and that is what the citizens bring to the table. We are not meant to be forced to abide by laws but in the main, we are to have qualities in us that enable us to observe that law because we see the law as good for us rather than punitive.
An American, Bill Halamandaris, took out time to research into the reasons for American’s greatness and he came up with 10 core values in his book, “The Heart of America: Ten Core Values That Makes Our Country Great”. They are:
Compassion Opportunity Responsibility Equality
Valour Ambition Liberty Unity Enterprise Spirituality
I 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.
My focus in the next 10 months is to ensure a critical mass of citizen study, practice, teach and inspire these core values and I will seek to achieve this by taking on one core value each month. This will be done through articles, short video and a case study.
When we adopt these values, practice them in our homes and workplace, and then teach others, we will witness a significant rise in citizens who care about Nigeria and are willing to make sacrifices to enable her development.
Whilst this is happening, the government of the day (Jonathan or Buhari) will have citizens who are more active in holding government to account. This will reduce the level of incompetence and impunity, support credible government in the fight against the cabals, witness an increase in citizen participation in governance and ensure we harness the abundant opportunities offered by our democracy.
Will you join me on this journey? If yes, subscribe to the website bobbyudoh.com to get the teachings on the core values in your inbox. We the citizens of Nigeria can and must build a developed Nigeria in one generation.