19 May 2009

Good People, Great Nation – Yes we are!

A lot has been written and said about the Nigerian re-branding project. I must begin by admitting that I share in the frustration and anger of those who are against the exercise because of its perceived cart-before-the-horse approach. 
I also understand those who are against the exercise because they see it as another example of a money-wasting project that may eventually go nowhere. 

I equally feel the vibes of those who are wary of the inability of successive governments to continue with projects initiated by their predecessors. Those who take this line of argument believe that once the Yar’Adua government completes its term, the next government would probably jettison this campaign and start afresh. 

Like all rational Nigerians, I share all of the views above. However, having carefully and seriously given it a thought, I decided to embrace this current campaign after its slogan was unveiled. I must make it clear that I am not feeble-minded or gullible to be swayed by an ordinary slogan. I should also state that I do not belong to any political party - ruling or non-ruling. I have also not been paid by anyone to take this position. I chose to support this particular exercise only because of the following reasons:

1. Nigerians are good people
Though we may have bad leaders, Nigerians, from Port Harcourt toKatsina and from Kisi through Enugu to Yola are good people. We demonstrate this goodness particularly in the area of hospitality. Nigerians are extremely hospitable people. We are always ready to welcome people into our midst offering them our fatted calf – the best meal in the house, sometimes even to our hurt. 

The goodness in Nigerians is also exhibited in the way the extended family system has been nurtured as a supportive system for generations. For example, I spent most of my holidays as a young person with cousins and sometimes distant relatives. My eldest sister paid my secondary school fees though she was only 22 years old when she took up this responsibility. 

I am sure that some people will accuse me of suffering from selective amnesia by glossing over the bad side of Nigerians. I do appreciate that we, as a people, have very serious weaknesses that require urgent and continuous behavioural modification, however I have come to the conclusion that, on balance, our ‘good’ far outweighs the bad side of us and this must be celebrated. 

Re-branding or no re-branding, Are Nigerians good people? I bet we are.

2. Nigeria is a Great Nation
Again, irrespective of its ups and downs, there is no doubt that Nigeria is a great nation.

  • Nigeria is great because it happens to be the most populous black nation on earth. It is believed that 1 out of every 5 black people on earth is a Nigerian.
  • Nigeria is great because it is the largest country in the continent. We have 50 million more people than the next most populous country in Africa.
  • Nigeria is great because from Vancouver to Vladivostok, Nigerians are powering the economy of many countries around the world. I will be surprised to find a nation where Nigerians are not present.
  • Nigeria is great because we are a great foot-balling nation. Although we have allowed indiscipline to take the better of us in World Cup finals, we have however won an Olympic gold and the FIFA under 17 world cup three times. 
  • Nigeria is great because it is blessed with a variety of natural resources, chief of which is its people who in my opinion are more natural than the oil deposit in our land.
  • Nigeria is great because it is a melting pot of several peoples, cultures, and languages, and somehow, we have been able to keep this marriage of different peoples, cultures and languages going.
  • Nigeria is great because of our mostly favourable weather that means almost anything can grow on our soil from the arid North to the equatorial South.
  • Nigeria is great because it has miles of access to the sea for exports and imports.
  • Nigeria is great because it has the potential to compete with any country on many platforms be it agriculture, economy or socio-political matters.
  • Nigeria is great because it is the 8th largest exporter of oil in the world.
  • Nigeria is great because its people are resilient and hopeful.
3. The slogan could become an aspiration
I feel that even for those who doubt the goodness of our people and the greatness of the nation, the new slogan can become the aspiration of every Nigerian.  By this, I mean EVERY NIGERIAN. Not just those in government or in private or public leadership, but every individual Nigerian. In other words, if every reader makes the effort to do good in their personal, social and professional lives from now, we will achieve both the ‘good people’ and the ‘great nation’ we desire. 

Finally, I must make the point that all Nigerians, including those for and those against the exercise are patriotic citizens of this country. The intensity with which those against the re-branding project attack it is a confirmation of their passion and love for Nigeria. My hope is that we can all channel this same passion to make a difference in our individual spheres of influence.

Let us take the spirit of goodness to our homes, to our places of worship. Let us take it to our schools, and places of work. Let the teachers teach with integrity and the bosses make the welfare of their staff a top priority. 

Let goodness flow through you to the people in the city of Lagos and to those in the remote corners of Ute in Ondo State. Wherever you may go in Nigeria, from the lowest point of the Atlantic Ocean to Chappal Waddi, the highest point in Nigeria, let everyone you meet be able to tag you with goodness.  

We can truly achieve more greatness and be seen as a great nation if we allow goodness, rather than filth to litter our 853 kilometers of coastland. We can achieve greatness if you and I become conscious of our environment and stop throwing refuse in the drains. 

Let us throw away the shackles of greed and the chains of oppression that hold everyone of us – the oppressed and the oppressors - captive. I have learnt that the smile we offer people and the little help we give makes a world of a difference. Let us therefore do good not only to strangers, foreigners and the strong, but to the disabled, the weak and the poor who live right in our midst; who attend the same Church with us every Sunday, who go to the same school with us, who work in the local eatery. 

We will be great when we stop, and ponder about the future we want for Nigeria and for our children. We must not just talk about it, write about it, or shout about it. We must make it happen by the choices we make today. In doing so, we must be singly focused and not unduly bothered about what the government or the next person is doing or not doing. 

A better day is coming for Nigeria. Let us make it happen.



Nice post. I agree in general, but continue to wonder where exactly the effort is going. Some of my readers were very upset that I was optimistic about the effort and I probably lost a few.

The reality remains that since the 'launch', little has been shared about the effort. I still cannot find a website, the many recommendations I and others shared on how to take advantage of the launch still seem to have gone nowhere. Nonetheless, I still believe that Nigeria needs to work extra hard at revamping it international image and that the nation's psyche (which I have written about extensively) also needs some serious re-orientation.

As of right now, I believe that the Nigerian people are the ones who will transform our country. I just want the federal government and local/state government bodies to not stand in the way of progress.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

Take care.


Anonymous said...

Re branding one's polity is not in its capacity to change political innuendoes or the unchangeable Nigerians minds, but rather, it is people's emancipation to change a few ones that still believe in the good polity of a nation. Changing people's conscience and the normal norms of " what's bad is OKAY and it can look GOOD too " attitude. There is no amount of criticisms that can take Nigeria to its next height or chapter. It is seeing the few good deeds that some people of this nation can bring or offer, and acknowledging those facts to motivate others in the same path, Vivid example is Gov.Fashola of Lagos, Gov Sherekau of Kano State, Rotimi Amaechi from River State, Cross River Gov. etc . If today is GOOD for them ,tomorrow too can be better elsewhere in Nigeria. Right now in Nigeria , there is sunshine on top of the mountain,right now some people are in group thinking what they can do for their own country. Somewhere right now ,this minute,some governors are planning to loot their states treasury so what .When I look to this rebranding thing , Maybe the word is not right enough,but who cares. I likened re-branding to a genius medium in looking for pin in an haystack, you don't just stopped when you found the first pin that's bad , you keep looking until you find few good ones in 2nd,3rd,4th etc and it keeps toiling and toiling until the height is reached. You can't give up hope on your generation. I do not give a damn about that corrupt politician you know, he can't be so bad and richer than Abacha, or others that led us into this tyrannical situation. Where are there money today , if they are alive some of them have lots of sleepless night daily, and they are always afraid of unknown circumstances, lest they forget that when the Nigeria book of history will be written, There contributions good or bad will be mentioned and that's for their generation yet unborn's conscience to swallow and there is no amount of money then can obliterate those facts. Somebody should worry about that now before its too late. Nigeria is a good nation with good people . We can't allow few abysmal culprits disorientate us. Time will come when those possibility of today will not be possible anymore.When ? I dont know

Akin Awofolaju PhD
New Jersey

lagrandemoisson said...

I really Enjoyed this Lecture, It is so true that more than ever People need Help and hope.
The time has come to join faith with Work, Faith without work is dead in itself.
In fact faith with action or work ,could work everywhere in the World and more than ever it's time for someone to take up "his cross" and do the Job.

we can not help or win all the World but the sea is made by the combination of billions of drip of water, we must do our part.

Thank you for sharing this letter of Hope and also thank you for deciding to take up your cross for helping your nation with Love and Passion.


Anonymous said...

Nice article from a nother patriotic Nigerian. It is sad however that we may not get anywhere with the people saddled with the responsibilities of projecting the "re-branding". In the first place, we never had a brand and if we ever had, it should have been continued instead of coming up with another one.

Like the first writer said, nothing has been heared since the launch of the campaign. Our government policies and campaigns are always meant to be used as conduit pipes to steal public funds. Everybody is looking for contract to do for the re-branding project instead of projecting the brand positively. From those that are scheming to print T-shirts to those that are looking for prints. It is sad that the Nigerian state has been turned into a huge cake to be shared at any point in time.

Unless we tackle the basic problems, the re-branding won't work because the citizens don't even have electricity to watch the campaigns. Provision of good amenities is also part of branding because a nation with good infracstructure is considered a great nation but not in the case of Nigeria.

We may have the passion and patriotism for the country but our leaders do not have. As long as the bad people continue to lead this country, even the most resilient and passionate Nigerians will loose the passion and follow others. We need a drastic action against the leaders.

The branding and not "re-branding" should start from home. We need to re-orientate the masses and provide basic things to make them proud of this country.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this post. I had expressed my anger severally though moderately over the waste called Re branding Nigeria. I have endured it thus far because of our own Dora who is involved. i know like every other Government project it is bound to die a sudden death after this dispensation. However am amazed at the slogan Good People Great Nation. Nigerians are indeed good. while i was in secondary school i remember visiting Lagos perhaps for the second time. Having heard all sorts about Lagosians and not knowing the direction to where i was going, i took the risk of boarding the bus to the area without seeking help. close to last bus stop however(later learnt), I decided to ask a woman sitting beside me quietly, she exclaimed in anger, not at me thogh but at the bus conductor who is more interested in collecting his bus fare than calling the bus stops. In the process every passenger in the bus knew i had passed my bus stop. To my amazement virtually everybody wanted to help me out.It became a game of who knows the shortest route to go back to my destination. I was dazed by the genuine concern I experienced that day. one elderly man ultimately crossed the expressway with me to the other side, walked some distance to show me where to get another bus. I can never forget that. I had my Youth service at Adamawa State, I saw unparalleled love from the various tribes there, especially at the village level; these people were caring to a fault. I cant wait to go on a pilgrimage to Yola later this year to witness the wedding ceremony of the daughter of my wife's Principal(At Numan where she also served). My cousin who served in Abia State lived in a mans house for a whole year without paying rent. The mans children practically cooked and washed for him all this period. He almost ended up marrying one of them! A few moments ago, a Nigeria went out of his way to warn me not to pack along a road where my vehicle could be towed. Of course , I have seen a few other side of Nigerians, but we are naturally very good people. May God help us deal with the denaturing process our leaders subject us to. Is an hungry man not an angry man? I totally agree with you, The greatest asset of Nigeria is her good people. Most saddening however is that these good people have had no leader to manage them and the other resources. I encourage every Nigeria to be good in deed. If we work at been good as I believe we are capable of, then a great nation we have.
Bimbo Oladipo
Lagos, Nigeria