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Akunyili tasks students on nation building

By Dayo Adesulu

Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili has counseled Nigerians to concentrate more on the good aspect of our people in order to correct the wrong impression we have over the image of this country adding that Nigerian people are not as bad as it is being portrayed nationally and internationally.

Speaking to secondary school students both in public and private at the One-Day workshop titled: “Value Re-orientation Management” powered by the Society Icons which took place at Yaba College of Technology recently, Prof. Dora Akunyili represented by Mrs. Meg Obanya, Director Administration, Voice of Nigeria VON, said that the campaign of the slogan: “Good People Great Nation” became necessary to correct wrong impressions about Nigeria, and change certain bad habits of very few Nigerians which are taken to be the character of all Nigerians. According to her, when you hear 419, you know it is about being a criminal or being fraudulent; when you hear someone being called a prostitute, an armed robber, or a kidnapper, you know these are labels not acceptable by anyone who has honour.

Yet, in many other parts of the world, worse things happen and their citizens are not painted in bad light. Are Nigerians that really bad? She asked rhetorically.

Recalling the achievements of Nigerians within and in Diaspora, the Minister asserted that Nigerians have been making giant strides all over the world in all fields of endeavour, that Nigerians are shining stars in sports, music and arts, making waves as brilliant scholars and professionals, winning awards and laurels as authors and literary giants. “Are Nigerians not contributing to global peace and development with front line roles in many of the world’s trouble spots and international organizations? she asked

As children and students, it is important for them to understand that there is no short-cut to greatness  that it is equally important for students to realize that every single individual act, positive or negative will rub off on your family, your school and the nation at large.

The challenge of value re-orientation we face today is not of the whole population of Nigeria as most Nigerians know the evil of immorality and corruption, and would do everything possible to protect their good name and image. Those who give Nigeria bad names represent less than three per cent of the population, yet their activities are soiling the nation’s image, almost making the world to forget that names like Wole Soyinka, Philip Emeagwali, Chinua Achebe, Professor Pat Utomi, our former finance minister now the managing Director, World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to mention a few are Nigerians.”

She expressed gratitude to Society Icon for its good work in nation building and for the awards “Nation Building” bestowed on her along with Hon. Chinwe Monu Olarewaju, former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Delta State and Prof. Sylvester Monye, Executive Secretary, National Planning Commission, Abuja.

Explaining value re-orientation, Dora said, it’s all about calling attention to the finest qualities for which our nation, our people, our society have been recognized and celebrated in the past, but which are now being threatened by strange values.

She told the students that whenever our blessings and values that make us good and great, values that give us recognition, peace and love; values that really make us the pride of the black race are bastardized, it portends danger for us all as a nation, leading to loss of respect and denial of our achievements as the giant of Africa hence we need value re-orientation which serves as a remedy for corruption and immorality.

Professor Dora in her speech however noted that, for people to stop criminal activity they have to have a new set of values, such as valuing hard work, valuing other people’s property, most importantly valuing themselves. She said it must also affect our value of integrity, courtesy, valuing the law and what it stands for, valuing other people’s feelings and understanding boundaries in society.

The former NAFDAC boss observed that corruption and immorality (criminal activity) are not limited to Nigeria and Nigerians alone stressing that it is a concern all over the world and the solution to it is also very wide. Her words: “Why give our country a bad image? The progress and greatness of any nation is achieved by the toils of its citizens, their dedication, sincerity, love, unity and cooperation. It is also sustained by their respect for the laws of the nation and their discipline.

These values of course will restrain the citizens from wrong, willful and destructive deeds that can set the nation and its citizens back. There is no better way to manage value re-orientation than understanding the best of our socio-cultural ideals, showcasing them in our everyday conduct and propagating them to others.
If we have to protect them from negative influences that can affect both their future and the future of the nation, we need a change. And we must as well involve those who will ensure that the change is everlasting. We must also prepare those who will continue to fly the flag.

In this case, it is you the children as the future leaders that will carry our banners of brighter and better tomorrow, proclaiming our great nation as the land of good people. That is why you are here as the future leaders. We regard children as critical focus of development and vital agents of change. After all, there is a saying that the dreams of yesterday are the realities of today. In the same way, the dreams of today will be future realities.”


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