This year, I have been highlighting and showcasing the nation-building core values with the hope of persuading citizens of the need to rebuild our value system as a prerequisite for national development.
In his book, “The Heart of America: Ten Core Values That Make Our Country Great”, Bill Halamandaris listed ten core values that built America. These ten nation-building core values with proven ability to build a world superpower are:
Compassion Opportunity Responsibility Equality
Valour Ambition Liberty Unity Enterprise Spirituality
Each month, I have focused on a core value writing one article about what it is and how we can adopt it and another article featuring a case study of a citizen of our world who has provided a great example of that value. So, we learn the theory and then see it in practice.
So far, we have covered Compassion, Opportunity, Responsibility, Equality, Valour and this month, we are focusing on Ambition. I have featured an article on Ambition and also featured Muhammad Yunis, the “Banker to the Poor”, as an excellent example of Ambition in action. To read about six core values covered so far, click here.
Deliberating about the core value Ambition, I began to critically assess the Ambition of Nigerians to see the connection between this and the current state of our underdevelopment. This is the objective of this article but before we go any further, it is important to define Ambition.
Ambition can be defined as an eager or strong desire to accomplish something and the willingness to strive for its attainment. As a nation-building core value, Ambition will create a citizenry with a strong desire to accomplish great things for Nigeria.
With this strong desire and the willingness to strive for its attainment, Nigeria will witness many citizens creating and implementing solutions that will address our numerous challenges and in doing so, create large platforms for many other endeavours (global commercial and non-commercial Nigerian initiatives).
Currently, what we have as the ambition of the typical Nigerian is:
– To attend one of the best educational institutions in the world for first degree, masters or a certificate programme. This way, we can have an impressive CV to secure a good job, a government appointment and also to be respected by our peers.
– To be in a job that will afford us the opportunity to live in our own property in a good part of the city, send our children to private primary/secondary school and university abroad, own good cars, wear good clothes and accessories and enjoy regular holidays abroad.
– Some would like to become their own boss (business owners) so that they can accomplish the same things those in paid employment desire.
– For many these days, serving in government as an elected politician, a government appointee or a government contractor will enable them accomplish the same desires of the business owner and those in paid employment.
In the main, our ambition is self-centred and as a result, it has nothing to do with our nation. Because it is self-centred, it is short term and when it is achieved, we stop living and coast through life. This is why the leisure mindset is dominant in Nigeria – this is a mindset that focuses most of our time on leisure (European football, parties throughout the week, pointless face-to-face and social media chats and groups, Telemundo/African Magic and general idleness).
When we have an ambition that is nation-focused, we will have a desire to accomplish something that is massive. The striving for its attainment will see us refocus our time and money, investing more into research and activities in line with our ambition.
In addition, we will dedicate our lifetime in pursuit of this ambition meaning that our lives will be a journey towards making impact on humanity rather than a destination we arrive at after we’ve attained society’s measure of success.
There is a Nigerian who saw a national problem – our dependence on imported commodities. He developed an ambition to reverse the trend by making Nigeria an exporter of commodity goods. He may have made money from the problem but to show his ambition, he invested heavily into it.
Today, that man is on the road to not only making Nigeria an exporter of cement but has also taken Nigeria’s presence to other parts of Africa by setting up cement plants in 14 African countries so far. In the pursuit of his national ambition, he has provided secured employment for thousands of Nigerians; produced thousands of millionaires who are shareholders of his company; pays billions of naira in taxes; provides resources of community development effort like the fight against the eradication of polio through his foundation; and most importantly, he has become an inspiration for millions of Africans (not just Nigerians).
We all know his name – Aliko Dangote, and despite becoming African’s richest man, he still invests most of his time and money in pursuit of his ambition. This continuous striving for the attainment of his ambition tells me more opportunities will be created for Nigeria and for Nigerians, contributing significantly to our national development.
Knowing how monetized our country has become; I must say that a national ambition is not limited to a business venture. It could be the ambition to eliminate child prostitution; to ensure every girl child receives qualitative education; to create a vaccine for malaria and ensure its availability to all Nigerians; to develop and implement an educational system that delivers citizens with capacity and ability for the 21st century, etc.
So, how can we shift from a self-centred ambition to a national ambition?
We can only achieve this through the adoption of the nation-building core values. For example, when we move from pity and develop compassion, we will begin to seek a permanent solution for the challenges Nigerians face, shifting focus from self. This will move us to take responsibility or ownership which will produce a national ambition in us. With a national ambition, we will identify, harness or even create opportunity, step out of our comfort zones regularly with valour, express equality, liberty and enterprise, and we do all these because we recognize that after all said and done, we will give an account to our creator, God, for what we did with the resources He gave to us (spirituality).
Knowing the crisis we face as a country, what national ambition will you desire to accomplish and strive to attain?