The dumping of Nigeria by President Barack Obama in his on-going visit to Africa does not mean that Obama does not know the strength of Nigeria. Dishing Nigeria by President Obama of the United States is not to undermine the vantage position of Nigeria in Africa and the world. Visiting South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania, and leaving out a promising country like Nigeria is not a way of saying that Nigeria does not matter in the black world. Mocking Nigeria by the US president does not mean that he does not realize the potentials of this great but poorly managed country. Pretending that Nigeria is not significant enough to make his list of countries to visit in Africa does not vitiate the obvious but painful fact that Nigeria is a potential political entity.
What the flamboyant President of the United States is trying to do is to help us to do some growing up and pay attention. President Obama is trying to teach us to put our house in order. The leader of the most powerful nation on earth is trying to tell us that we can do better. The charismatic leader of the world’s largest economy is sending a powerful signal that our leaders are not getting it right. He came short of saying that despite our huge potentials, given our human and material resources, Nigeria cannot take the lead in Africa. Obama is indirectly indicting Nigeria to rise to the occasion and be responsible and responsive. He is advising Nigerian leaders that size is no guarantee to strength. Obama is telling Nigerian leaders that if leadership is measured by might, giants would have been ruling the world. It is a clarion call for Nigerian leaders to show some respect to 150 million Nigerians and do things right.
And for Nigerian leaders a lot of lessons need to be learnt in all this.
Our leaders need to do some soul searching to find out where the rains started beating us. Nigeria leaders need to do some honest self re-examination and correct themselves. We do not need to reinvent the wheel but just do what other countries are doing to attract attention. We can go back to the drawing board to reassess how we handle matters of wealth distribution in Nigeria. We must change the ways we deal with the matters of justice and rule of law. We must pay attention to things that unite us and discard things that tend to divide us. We must jettison the old idea of looking down on people who are different from us.Let the real men in Nigeria pick up this challenge. Societies have always been moved forward by the unique discoveries of few great men throughout history.
Nigeria has the potential of leading, feeding and policing Africa if we discard primordial sentiments and invest in all Nigerians irrespective of tongue, tribe, culture, religion or tradition. If the rapacious greedy lots in Nigeria can say enough is enough and that they have stolen enough, this country can be great again. Let us begin by removing the kid gloves and swear to make 2015 elections free and fair. This is the first step. Once Nigerians can elect leaders of their choice in a free and fair process, the journey to greatness can kickstart from there. Let no one deceive himself or herself we cannot be great without electing great leaders. We cannot achieve great things by deploying little-minded persons to do the job of great men. If takes extra-ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things.
I know the story of a boy in my village who was mocked by his parents for being weak in class and always getting weak passes. When the ridicule became too much this boy decided to do something to help himself. He started thinking, he began to study, he played less football and paid more attention in class. He left no stone unturned, he decided to get the respect of his parents and other siblings. He left no one in doubt that change is possible, he took the bull by the horns, he drilled the deepest well, he went extra mile and today he is a renowned and well respected oil drilling Engineer in Nigeria.
The man who tried to climb the Mount Everest failed in his first attempt. At a reception to honour him though he failed, there was a huge giant banner displaying Mount Everest behind him. This man looked at the Mountain and said:”Mount Everest, you defeated me. I will come back to defeat you”.
President Obama looked down on Nigeria in 2013. Perhaps in the next ten years things will be different and the world will pay attention to Nigeria.
This I believe!
– Joe Igbokwe, writes from Lagos
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