By Hashim Suleiman
Nigeria is 60 years as a nation now and there are more than enough to be glad and encourage optimism in those citizens who have chosen the path of reality, positivity and patriotism. The major achievement in recent times is the reemergence of democracy which has so far appeared to have stabilized and one that we must work very hard to consolidate upon.
However, all of these positives and improved potentials have been less appreciated and understood by the citizenry owing to the very less information and awareness that relates to the proper understanding of situations and the processes associated with nation building. You cannot underestimate the importance of understanding the history of developed nations and how they achieved development after all the world is a global village as they say.
In my experience with compatriots over conversations related to national status and development, the prominent opinion that has become more of a cliché is comparing Nigeria to America and this is the most unrealistic comparison I have had to deal with in my little understanding of the history of America and how many years it took them to achieve what we see as a developed nation today. The journey was not devoid of major challenges that threatened the fabric of their existence.
The major of such challenges was the civil war in 1861 which lasted for four years and became about as a result of certain differences between the northern and southern states over slavery, states’ rights vs. Federal Government rights as well as westwards expansion. Certain southern states gathered to form the Confederate States of America as a result of their feeling of being economically superior to the northern states. The war was fought till 1865 when they gave up the secession after being conquered. If one does not read to know about this history, you would never have imagined that the America of today went through such challenges to become what it is today.
The above illustration amongst other challenges America has had to overcome to become what it is today is enough to make every Nigerian to have a rethink when making comparisons. It is alright to have America and other developed nations as models and benchmarks rather than expecting every process and activities to be as exact as it’s been dispensed in America or any other place; it’s unrealistic to say the least. It is also important to note that while these nations can serve as models, the processes of our growth cannot be exact owing to differences in terrain and culture.
Therefore in our 60 years of existence as a nation and about 21 years of democracy compared to the over 200 years of America’s democracy, it was safe and fair to say Nigeria has done very well managing itself and many more promises are rife only if such kinds of awareness are increased with a view to redirecting the minds of the citizens to be more realistic in terms of their expectations as well as to increase patriotism.
Furthermore, it was important to let Nigerians know that as much as we see our divisions to be only peculiar to us, America has got its fair share of diversity with the recent #BlackLivesMatter as a pointer to such. Therefore, rather than amplifying such divisions, the American dream has been developed to be over and above mediocrity and it was such a dream that led to continuous efforts of nation-building which culminated in the America of today. Such kind of dream is what is required to be developed for Nigeria after which all energy will be directed toward building a nation we all desire.
There has to be an enhanced mentality of identification and appreciation of progress so that people can be encouraged to do more for national development. It is demoralizing when citizens condemn every big and little progressive effort simply because it does not fit into the citizens expectation of Nigeria becoming America overnight. Some other expectations are those of ‘stomach infrastructure’ and all these mentalities are unrealistic and unfortunate.
While Nigeria’s democracy is developing, major developments have also resulted from it and many more potentials abound, the only thing missing is awareness, critical thinking, positivity, patriotism, the spirit of hard work, love for one another and fair understanding of our level in the comity of nations and all of these will appropriate our expectations at per time.
There are more than enough reasons to celebrate our nationhood and I implore us all to gather with friends and neighbors to give some toast to a renewed spirit of belief in our nation knowing full well that it is only us that can develop our own nation and not America. Don’t forget to observe social distancing while you are at it.
Happy Independence Anniversary to my dear nation, Nigeria.
Hashim Suleiman can be reached via email@example.com