By Gabriel Omoh
This article was first published last November. As Nigerians prepare for a national dialogue the hopes and wishes of Nigerians is that the conferees come up with a Nigerian dream that give every Nigerian a sense of hope and inspire patriotism.
Every American knows there is an American dream. Party affiliations are made along this dream. Every so often, the American presidents remind the people of the American dream. The dream is people centered and people oriented. This, over the years, has fired every American to hope for the best and be assured that the government is there to cater for his best interest.
The last presidential election in the US brought to mind again the American dream. The re-elected Barrack Obama spoke gloriously of this dream. He said “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
“Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.”
The American dream caused men, who believe in America to form political parties based on shared values of self-reliance, individual liberty and national unity. This is one thing that makes America great.
What about our own country? What values do our political parties enunciate other than revenue sharing, crave for power, stealing and embezzlement? That is why in our politics, we kill, maim and destroy opponents as if we are in a game of winner takes all.
As Nigerians prepare to dialogue, will Nigerian politicians and leaders learn of basing party manifestos on values? Can Nigeria begin to re-emphasis societal values instead of hero worship and money? Yes, Nigeria is a multi ethnic society, but does that make us enemies and forget our past?
Reflecting on America’s past, Obama said, “As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it, must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices. I need your help, and I will be your president too.
To ask, what is the strength of Nigeria? What makes Nigeria the giant of Africa? Its land mass, certainly not. Natural resources, no! What make Nigeria great are her people. But over the years, Nigerian leaders have not realised this. They feel oil and gas resources, mineral and land is what makes the country what it is. How else can we explain the neglect of the human resources in Nigeria? Neglect of the education sector?
Obama said, “The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals, democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope. For that is the true genius of America – that America can change?
In Nigeria, ideas have no place; it is all about money; by whatever means it is achieved is nobody’s business. That is why we are the way we are, noise and motion but no movement, no progress. Let us all ask our past and present political, social and economic leaders if our children should live to see the next century. What change will they see? What progress will we have made especially in this period of mass unemployment where those without godfathers stay five years without hope of securing any form of gainful employment?
President Goodluck Jonathan must know now that this is his chance to make a difference. This is his moment to bring hope to Nigerian youths; to put the teeming army of young graduates roaming the streets endlessly in search of jobs back to work and open doors of opportunity for those that are now in schools.
The forthcoming National Conference offers yet another opportunity for Nigeria to bounce back to reckoning. The conference must come up with principles that will give hope to all Nigerians. It must come up with a Nigerian dream. What will make every Nigerian want to die serving his country, a Nigeria that cares for all, a Nigeria that provides hope for all, a land of equal opportunity for every Nigerian citizen, a country where no citizen will be treated as a stranger in any part; a country where any of its citizens can aspire to become the president through hard work; a country that celebrates excellence not mediocrity. The National Conference must come up with logical ideals that will create an egalitarian society. That will be a dream every Nigerian will be proud of.