Despite the much talked about change and nation-building, we are still on the path of underdevelopment and very little attempt is being made by we the people to change course. There is a need therefore to properly define what Nation-building.
It is also an opportunity to address those citizens who pin their hope of our national development upon the few ‘change’ agents in government and NGOs, neglecting the role they also have to play in the task of building a developed Nigeria.
Before we go further, we must highlight some allusions about nation-building:
It is not a career or job: Nation-building is not working in or for an NGO, being called to national service (for example, from private sector to a government appointment), partnering with people talking change or even setting up an NGO.
It is not a platform to build an image: Nation-building is not an industry, producing industry experts.
It is not a business: I know we can generate ideas that will build Nigeria and earn income from it but yet, nation-building is not the building of a business empire.
It is not something we do because our Pastor or boss tells us to: Nation-building is not the wearing of branded t-shirt with face-cap and going out on church, company or NGO activities because we were mobilized by our bosses or religious leaders.
It is not something we do because others are doing it (the buzz): For example, the trend is to visit orphanages during Christmas or maybe Easter, so we assume we’ve done nation-building when we organize or participate in such activity.
It is not knowledge gained by education, reading, training attended: Attending world class institutions such as the Harvard School of Government, global leadership summits and conferences such as the World Economic Forum and the John Maxwell Workshops, is not nation-building.
Nation-building may express itself in several of these activities but it is more than that. So, what is nation-building?
In my book, ‘Nation-building: How to build and sustain a developed Nigeria’ I move the definition away from the academic (which has little or no impact in personal transformation) to the simple and easy to understand and adopt definition – “The creation of thoughts, the expression of words and the participation in action that are focused on the nation rather than self.”
Creation of thoughts
To say nation-building is first the creation of thoughts, is to acknowledge the power of thoughts as the starting point for any form of development. The state of any nation is a reflection of the citizens’ thoughts. Therefore, for nation-building to occur in Nigeria, we need to first address our thoughts.
What are thoughts?
Our thoughts are largely buried just beneath our conscious awareness and contain a massive collection of information (beliefs, values, attitudes, opinions, etc.) that we have accumulated through the years and stored away in our minds. We use these thoughts to give meaning to our outer social, physical, and spiritual world. It must be noted that our family, community and school play a key role in determining the type of information that we accumulate and how we interpret them. This means, our environment has a huge influence on nation-building.
Our thoughts are our first ‘action’ and they determine the words we speak and the real actions we take.
To build a great nation, we must have citizens who believe in Nigeria (irrespective of how she was created) and further believe that: Nigeria belongs to all of us and we are responsible for her development; Nigeria is not a built nation and the onus is on us to build her; each of us have the ability and the capacity to build and sustain a great nation with our specific God-given talent; we cannot separate our individual dreams and aspirations from that of the country; sacrifices are required from us to attain the desired result – a developed nation; and our mindset and values can and must change.
How can we change our thoughts?
Through a shift from a fixed mindset that sees our national challenges as fixed to a growth mindset that sees possibilities for growth in every of our national challenges. This is the essential starting point because our perspective of the problem would change. When that change in perspective occurs, we would no longer be problem-focused, seeing the problem as impossible, but rather, we will become solution-focused, identifying the solutions that we can offer individually and communally.
For our nation to be built, emphasis must be placed on the environment that determines these thoughts to ensure that we create nation-focused thoughts. Such environment is transformed by imbibing the nation-building core values which are:
Compassion Opportunity Responsibility Equality
Valour Ambition Liberty Unity Enterprise Spirituality
You can read more about these nation-building core values here.
Expression of words
Nation-building is also the expression of words. Words create impressions, images and expectations; they build psychological connections or barriers; and they reflect and even sustain how we think. Since thoughts determine actions, the words we speak are a connection between what we think and what we do.
Our words have creative powers enabling our nation-focused thoughts manifest into nation-focused actions. It is true that we talk a lot about the problems in the nation but this is an indication of our problem-based approach to our national issues instead of solution-based approach. This problem-based approach is a product of our self-focused thoughts.
A change in mindset and core values, will not only lead to positive talk but will encourage us to stay issue-based in discussions with other Nigerians, seeking to win them over through fact-based and respectful arguments. We will also help to significantly reduce the negative atmosphere that is so strong that it cripples citizens’ ability to shift mindset and adopt the nation-building core values.
Through nation-focused words, citizens will create and sustain an atmosphere for the full expression of the nation-building core values.
Participation in Action
Understanding and learning to consciously and intentionally implement the power of our thoughts and our words is a vital and necessary component for real, measurable and sustainable nation-building.
It is important to note that a transformed mindset and the imbibing of the nation-building core values will cause a significant change in lifestyle choices (where we invest our time, what we spend money on, the sacrifices we make, the friends we keep, etc.). This inward action is the first and most important action we participate in because it communicates to ourselves and others that we lead by example and are sacrificing for that which we fully believe in.
Building a developed Nigeria requires serious, urgent and consistent action. We need fewer commentators highlighting our problems and more citizens with transformed mindset and the right core values, regularly speaking into Nigeria’s future and working sacrificially towards her attainment of sustainable development.
Important as participation in action is, it has to be emphasized that it is merely the fruit or the effect. The cause or seed sown is the creation of thoughts and as such, it remains the most vital element in nation-building. This is why I believe that nation-building is more about our being than our doing and as a result, we do what we do because it is who we are (our inner identity) and not because of outside influences
Would you be willing to undergo a transformation of your thoughts for the sake of becoming one of the true builders of a developed Nigeria?