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LAGOS, Nigeria.

Some centuries ago, an eminent English, John Locke, in whose mordant work Two Treatises of Government the notion of civil liberty partly survives today, wrote: When a people gather to unite as social beings, they must quit the laws of nature and assume the laws of men in order for a society to prosper as a whole. The position, it should be explained, was a retort around a growing imperialist condition, that which sought to enthrone conquest as evidence of a civic existence, of a communal sensibility that incarnates anything recognizable as a government. In essence, the motif is simple enough. Only with consent can a man give up his natural liberty and enter into a civil society with other men. For thence, he is not really authorized by society. Instead, he authorizes that society to make laws for him, to own him as the public good of such society shall require. In other words, he resigns.

Yet societies can differ – even in visionary strains. We know also, however, that such differences can, as in the case of this century-old Niger Area, invoke a shared doubt to the shared ‘resignation’. As if to underline the morbid irony of its birth, the historic yet haunting phase almost enacts itself, fits snugly on top of one another to reach a compromise ground. These massive displeasures deserve more importance, and – more urgently still – a lapsing decency to that effect. That those skeins of a traumatic past can benumb the collective gusto of a people like Nigerians to consistent positive reaffirmation even in a defining moment as this is direr song for a certain humane necessity. A remedial mental conditioning in this case, as I hear it: the carnivals are probably some smart chap’s idea to siphon public funds. It is not to dramatize a shameful condition, but to push forward the one basic question: just where did we fail to pull it off?

As all of human nature, this probably serves an unviable note. However, I wish to emphasize very strongly that this is not aimed as another finger prodding quite awake an indicting sentiment. Even in impulse, that would rob me of the very weapon I prescribe to brave the contagious misery. I firmly believe that the challenge of Nigeria this century gone and the one to come is never merely the question of development, taking into evaluation the current and specific bounties of natural and human resources heaved upon her. Instead, it is a question of headship, the virtue of it – a resurgent incursion that inspires a people to probe the very bends of their political existence and all implementing powers, doggedness of service and wherever the threads intersect. It is a question of determination from both ends, of constitutionalism, onus, of light or rather the craving of it. Even primordial accounts of origin owe essence to that singular happening of light, for it did set the stage for any incident to be indeed called inventive.

Every nation has a core. And like the entire globe itself; for Nigeria, it is her diversity. Notwithstanding claims of a scripted 1914 mistake, a vast jewelled repository is in the likeness, as well as might be a volatile but peculiar socio-political condition that calls to itself every possible chance for dazing reparations. Each need then only identify its own, tap into it against a moral code and out of a collective social volition. History concedes to exceptional nations, past and present, – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States and so on – the resolve of nation-building as well as explorers of prospects. What differs in our present-day situation is that the questioning of indices is no longer an attribute of the endowed, all-powerful implementer; such question marks lodged behind the fact of a post-world war Japanese economic resurrection or renaissance extraordinaire of a once toppled South-Africa or even the question of what the discovery of oil in Dubai – even then diminutive – meant essentially to the progressive fiat creation of the United Arab Emirates.

Despite political turmoil and very tragic landmarks, Nigeria has not stopped to be the promising emerging market with expanding financial, service, communications and entertainment sectors. By current indices, her economy is largest on the continent.  Still, it does not rob her of the urgency to maximize the potentials of her core, which is the very unity in diversity she proclaims as national creed. Every initiative of government, institution or individual towards socio-economic expansion will mean nothing if we have not achieved peaceful co-existence, or at least, a dignity-insuring degree of it; for only in the relative union of our multi-ethnic and multi-gifted communities can we brave the tide to stand as true giant of Africa.

Of course, this would require the conception of a certain kind of Nigeria where morality and virtues have ceased to be properties of the naïve, coward and unsophisticated alone; a certain endowment of a nation where monumental resource is complemented by strong political institutions and democratic authorities. In other words, before any creative internalisation of an acceptable reality, it would require an absolute approach to rekindling the kernel of nationhood, that awareness of good purpose in reclaiming whatever dignity lies in mending the Nigerianness that binds us together and cedes us meaning other than the mere fortuitous existential ordinariness that has defined our existence as a country up till today.

I refer to this space as the Conscience Sector. It is that lone altar defiled by our masses’ praise and worship of mediocrity in place of excellence, of fleeting monetary pleasures in place of service, of everything beaten; yet if, this moment, renewed, the first threshold of light upon whose mission would be enacted a language of unparalleled altruism, of duty and of eventual possibilities of reform, in faith and in works. First, all social institutions must recognize that the time is ripe for an urgent infanticide of ethical compromise; that it is time the Nigerian public life is inundated – severely even – with the high-powered symphony of nation-building. That new gospel should befriend every voice emerging from classrooms, pulpits and minarets. It should engulf the media, every corporate mission and homes. Bus-stops and restaurants, debate podiums and billboards, that song for conscience should letter the wind.

It is obvious that no single rationalization should even attempt to defend the relapse of national prosperity. What we are only able to observe time over time is a reinstatement of the moral flaw that has characterized our very crossroads of administration. The most relevant possibility for Nigeria is the possibility of integrity. It can also only begin from the various decentralized sanctuaries of socialization, and then mount to pressure central powers, subject them to isolation in the face of a restless principled revolution. Only then shall other possibilities be given life! The possibility of the government resuming its constitutional role of harnessing budgetary resources to really protect the lives and properties of the Nigerian people; the possibility of a right investment environment for the North’s overflowing mountains of light agricultural produce; the possibility of a country whose petroleum development companies will optimize the vast national reservoir of Liquefied Natural Gas to generate power for its Agricultural Transformation Agenda and to drive domestic, commercial and industrial activities; the possibility of a nation that would escape the delusion of conflict in diversity and begin living out the true meaning of its creed.

This moment, history confirms that time is ripe for the highest-ranking officials in the government to reclaim remorse and reason, to proactively strategize on ways and means to catapult Nigeria out of this quagmire. Ours is an urgent imperative of a far-reaching economic diversification blueprint. Nigerian leadership must begin to think security, infrastructure and education.

Where every global performance index is a thumbs-down for the country, pondering possesses its own futurologist tendencies. This very gorge forms part of our nationalist mission – however not solely for democratic dividend once more, but for duty and a voice of ethics to regain itself. And it is the obligation of every soul called Nigerian, every soul who has conscientiously given up his natural liberty to become a member of this great nation.

 

Oyinfull

Oyin Oludipe is a young Nigerian writer. He is a contributing poet to several national anthologies like 52 Years After, Footmarks: Poems on 100 Years on Nigeria’s Nationhood, The African Eyeball, We Cry for Peace and others. He is the recipient of the 2013 WRR Poetry Beacon Prize. He tweets @Sir_Muell

Oyin Oludipe

Contestant 8 of the #Patriotsforchange creativity contest

Goodluck Oyin! :)

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