By Longinus Okereke
Continued from Friday
HER going to sleep dimmed the hope of AfricaÂ and of course, killed the dreams of her people.
What went wrong?
Globally, there has never been any alternative to democracy and Nigeria is by no means different. The visioners of a modern Nigeria struggled for a free and independent Nigeria on the basis that she shall be governed by the collective will of the people. On the basis that the vote of a people properly cast in an atmosphere of conviviality of a properly conducted election shall determine who captains the ship called Nigeria. Then came the jack boot of the military.
The military incursion into the polity was an aberration. So much blood shed during military coup dâ€™Ã©tats desecrated the land.
The Nigerian spirit considers it a taboo for Nigerians to kill each other for the sake of leadership. Many years of bloodshed and military imposition ran counter to our national spirit.Â The military indeed broke the chord that tied our people together – the chord of unity, progressiveness, responsiveness, accountability and togetherness, and replaced same with hatred.
Economic mismanagement, corruption in the highest places all put together fouled the Nigerian spirit. Nigeriaâ€™s independence brought with it promises of everything that a nation of hope could possibly provide for her people. The expectations and hopes that were associated with freedom from many years of colonial rule were quite high.
Expectations of a good life, good roads, houses, healthcare, employment, security, education, just name it.
Having fought so hard to wrestle power from the colonial masters, it is only logical and sensible for the expectations to be met and even surpassed.
Yes! That was the intention of the founding fathers of a free Nigeria. That was their vision and game plan – to allow the Nigerian people unfettered access to every good thing that life can possibly bring.
But unfortunately, the giant called Nigeria started faltering soon after independence. The faltering of the giant brought about the fading dreams of a people. When she finally slept, the dreams died. All the hopes, aspirations, excitement and rendezvous that heralded Nigeriaâ€™s independence soon disappeared like a vapour – for no one knew when the giant would wake-upÂ (if ever it would).
The search for the Nigeria spirit
The Nigerian spirit epitomises togetherness, unity, love, peace and progress. It symbolises faith in oneself and the nation at large and faith and mutual respect for one another. It is a positive spirit that recognises the chord that binds us together as a people right from the beginning of our struggle for independence.
It is that spirit that made our great nationalists to consider the nation first before self, religion and ethnicity – for the interest of the nation supersedes every other interest.
The Nigerian spirit is that spirit of national consciousness that never left our forefathers even in their worst situation during the nationalistic era. It is the â€˜never give upâ€™ spirit that kept telling them that they would build the Nigeria of their dream. Where then is the Nigerian spirit gone?
It is highly regrettable that several atrocities were committed against the Nigerian spirit that made it desert us. But the question is: Did it leave Nigeria for another country like Ghana? Could that be the reason Ghana appears to be doing better than Nigeria today? Or did it go to a country like Angola, South Africa, or even Equatorial Guinea? Could that also account for their economic stability?
I do not believe that the Nigerian spirit left our shores to dwell in another place. The Nigerian spirit is only peculiar to Nigeria and Nigerians.Â It is indeed in Nigeria. In fact, the Nigerian spirit is in us. We are all carriers of the Nigerian spirit.
That is why anywhere you go in the world, you find Nigerians surviving even in the harshest condition. That is why also that severally the unity of the country has been tested beyond toleration, we have always had that common resolve to remain united as ever.
The vision of a new Nigeria
That the giant went to sleep as a result of the mistakes of the past can no longer be used as an excuse not to wake up and start again. The mistakes of yesteryears cannot perpetually be used to determine our collective resolve to start rebuilding. They formed part of our learning.