CREATING A NEW NIGERIA by Taupaul Oselen

 A nation is given birth to by a clearly defined vision,

 A nation has a common character founded on strong values,

 A nation is not restricted by physical or geopolitical borders,

 A nation is made up of different individuals governed by an ideology and not by laws or   decrees,

 A nation is not a country but may exist within one; for a country is simply a geographical region.

The story of the geopolitical entity called Nigeria in her first 50years as an independent country in our discuss has been likened to two scenarios;

First, let us take a trip to a very busy building site. This is usually characterised by a congregation of so many labourers carrying out so many activities. To a casual observer it may seem as a beehive of unorganised activities, but in fact it is a well coordinated group of people with clearly defined responsibilities all marked out from a well outlined blueprint (a planned design). Each worker knows his exact role in the quest to bring the design to life. This awareness is the key to achieving complimentary work and also avoids needless competition and duplication.

However, in the rare case where a design for the building is not available or not clearly communicated to each worker; chaos, duplicity of work, tear-downs, conflicting judgements, individual deadlines, frustrations and strife, capital depletion, inconsistent standards and so on will be the description of the site. Such situations do occur simply because no one has a perfect understanding of what is being built and there is no coordination of activities. Each good worker honestly tries to envision the best plan for a great building while the few bad workers try to exploit the situation.

Definitely, progress and completion of this great building will elude these good workers no matter how much resources are committed to better strategies and incentives or how much overtime is put in or how much energy is dedicated to the work or how much is spent on procurement of the best building equipment or how much effort is aimed at getting better supervisors who come with their own grand and sophisticated ideas and plans, neglecting to start with the most important question, ‘Is there an original plan?’ There are those who take advantage of this system; the few bad workers who siphon the funds and the unconcerned suppliers of the unending building materials.

It is 50years now, Nigeria and Nigerians are still building and misconstruing feelings of satisfaction derived from endless activities as signs of progress and advancement.

Second, we observe a man granted freedom after so many years of being restricted and confined in a house. He is let out the door and he immediately is excited and celebrates his freedom (road to greatness) which he always fought night and day for. He then decides to move forward; to make progress down a broad road ahead of him, believing a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. The only problem is that he somehow forgot that a journey begins with a planned destination in mind.

He may begin with some slow steps, then he increases his pace, he may also hop in a car and can begin this cycle of movement again and again. Of course, he has expended a lot of energy, covered so much ground and certainly he is no more at the house where he was in bondage but he is simply a free man that has made no progress. He may have been in perpetual motion for days forgoing sleep time and much needed rest to get as far as possible from his former masters but he still arrives at nowhere. He may have learnt good ethics like staying-power, perseverance and positive thinking and talking but will never arrive because he does not know where he is headed. Progress is only evaluated in relation to a proposed destination. For this man, he has made a commitment to so much activity and no advancement. He has ridden tirelessly and successfully a rocking-horse for days. He is caught in between the thought of returning to his former masters (forbidden by his ego) and the thought of continuous but frustrating motion (approved by his pride).

Half a century after the British left Nigeria to her fate, Nigeria has continued moving, depleting her resources as she tries to arrive at a destination. But where is this destination?

Both examples above, amongst other things emphasize the need for a clear and well communicated vision in the success of anything we are involved in, whether as a detailed plan for a building or an apparent destination before setting out on a journey. However, there was no shortage of desire for progress in both cases.

THE INADEQUACIES OF A DESIRE…

It is evident from both examples that there was a sincere quest for greatness. There was dissatisfaction with mediocrity and a strong pursuit for greatness but as someone once said, ‘hate of the status quo is not a strong enough force to attain lasting change.’ Many through the years have passionately disliked the conditions in which Nigeria has found herself and tried to make an impact but ended up frustrated by the system.

Using the building scene as a case in point, certain workers would observe cracked walls, shaky beams, faulty electrical wiring and substandard materials supplied. They are moved with anger (strong desire) and make genuine efforts to patch up the cracked walls, reinforce the shaky beams, fix the electrical wiring and offer quality checks on all materials supplied. This should fix up everything, right? But it doesn’t; these good intentioned persons mostly end up frustrated. Why?

These people dedicated so much effort, thought, and resources but never got to the root cause of the issues. The trouble was that all the problems they had identified and addressed were based on their own personal judgements of the situation. To some others, the issues dealt with may not have been considered the serious problems and to others the choice of solutions might have been different. All this is possible simply because there was a lack of a detailed building plan, a Vision.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A VISION…

The famous wise king of Israel, Solomon said, ‘where there is no vision the people perish (cast off restraints).’ This statement underlines the importance of a vision, directly linking its absence as the reason for the suffering, distress and indiscipline of a person, group or nation.

A vision could be defined as a clear and strong mental picture of a preferable future.

A vision when plainly communicated, gives a people a common and clear direction as to where they are going. Vision gives meaning and essence to the existence of any people. Vision gives originality and uniqueness, at the same time dispels unhealthy competition with others. It is the basis on which all evaluations of progress and growth are made.

Until a group of people has a unified vision they identify with, they cannot be called a nation no matter how long they dwell together.

A vision is a compulsory prerequisite for birthing a nation. Vision gives a group of people a united voice, a common drive and aspiration. It presents them with a tangible hope of a better future and births in them the discipline and focus to stay the course until that future becomes a present reality. A vision unleashes the potentials and responsibility within each member in a group to make quality contributions to the success of achieving the set vision.

The relevance of a clear cut vision can never be substituted with anything. Best practices, right moral values, great strategising, motivational coaching and the likes are of no use if there is no destination, no vision, no direction as to where the group is headed. Like the case of the building without a plan, having good people and all these good qualities will only end up in different beautiful structures with short life spans and several reconstructions but never a complete building. The vision must continually be made the only reference before adopting new policies or undertaking new strategies.

It is instructive to note that before motivational coaching can be effective in the life of a man, family, organisation or nation there has to be a definite vision in mind. Back to the example of the builders, imagine a motivational coach encouraging them to keep working hard, maintain a positive outlook and give a kind smile but day after day a different instruction is passed through the lines to destroy the previous day’s work and start all over again. Vision is key!

Vision and the Constitution

A nation’s constitution cannot birth a vision for it is rather a good understanding of a preconceived vision that guides the production of a realistic and an enduring constitution. A constitution could be likened to a rhapsody of sign posts meant to point in the direction of a predetermined destination.

Concerted efforts must be made and sought to instil the right values into the fabrics of the society. The value-system of a people reflects the accepted standards and assessments of all forms of success. In the famous words of Emerson, ‘what you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.’

If Nigeria must move forward, then she must go back (not backwards) to resurrect lost moral values on which any meaningful and sustainable progress can be made.

A very important reason for having core moral values and a vision is that they create an ideology for a people, which becomes the basis for formulating the right strategies for sustained and true progress.

THE ROLE OF STRATEGY…

Strategies connect foundation and vision. Strategies are processes or ways devised to achieve set goals (short, medium or long term) in line with ultimately fulfilling the bigger picture (the vision) but must be founded on the accepted core values of that individual, group or nation. Strategies are defined and well-thought out action plans with expected outcomes that put the vision’s attainment as paramount.

As long as a person or group has both a vision and a foundation clearly outlined in its heart, drawing up the right strategies would be automatic.

In a situation where there is a vision but no foundation, strategies will not be sustainable because there will always be a tendency to flow with the current trends and lose focus of what’s important. In another situation where there is a strong foundation but no vision, strategies will be characterised by strong determination and a lack of direction and purpose. Frustrations will be common place as no one is sure of what to do or where they are headed, all they know is the how and the why.

The last abnormal case is where both are absent; the people have lost touch of their roots and have no future to cling to. Strategies conceived in this system by both individuals and groups are governed mainly by special interests, personal judgements and selfish aspirations. In this case, no strategy is meant to last for long (rarely outlive the proposer). It is characterised by ever-changing policies, campaigns, programs, agenda, targets and goals (sometimes referred to as visions). This could be classified as the situation Nigerians created for Nigeria in 50years as an independent country.

For half a century, Nigeria has existed without a clearly communicated vision and has lacked a strong foundation; a national ideology has been absent.

These two basic elements are the pillars which transform any group of individuals into a successful community, organisation or nation. In organisations or nations where strategies, goals and targets are developed on the personal judgements or interests of the bosses of the day and not on an already existent ideology; policies, programs and set goals rarely outlive the sponsors. Nigeria must therefore decide to have a common foundation and a unified vision accepted by her citizens in order to become a nation.

Omonkhogbe Taulpaul oselen

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