“Can Nigeria ever be better?”
I’m sure every Nigerian has thought of this question even if the response was a pessimistic or optimistic one.
No one is ignorant of the “disgrace” the word Nigeria can bring or how we Nigerians collectively think the nation is a shithole and “escape” at the first chance we get.
BUT this post is not about whether Nigeria is indeed a disgrace or whether the world just emphasizes on belittling Nigerians for unjust reasons. It’s not about ranting on how the problems in Nigeria seem endless and how the hope for a better Nigeria seems impossible. It’s not even about how we as Nigerians individually contribute to the decay of the nation with our selfishness, tribalism, religious intolerance, etc.
No, this post is about what we COULD be.
I woke up this morning after my usual series of bizarre dreams that I never remember. These ones must have had to do with Nigeria because it triggered me remembering the news I heard the previous morning about Ghana having an initiative that allows African-Americans to “come home”. It also triggered everything I hear about Rwanda’s technology sector and how I wished Nigeria was also on a path to being better. That started my endless wheel of imaginations.
So, we call ourselves Nigerians but are we really? I cannot remember a time where we were ever truly united. So many things keep us divided and Nigeria has always been that way: United but actually very divided.
NOW, WHAT IF we were divided but still united?
Before you stop reading, hear me out. Trust me, I have so many scenarios you’d also wish were reality. But before that, read my disclaimer.
I’d like to put out a reminder that these were my thoughts on a random Thursday morning in the shower. I didn’t read a bunch of history books to gather “correct” facts about the millions of diverse Nigerians. Even if I did, I still wouldn’t be able to capture their realities correctly. I also didn’t “fact-check” anything, the numbers are definitely muddled up and most of the comparisons I’d be making were pulled from memories; either from seeing the news or an article I read or old discussions with people.
This isn’t supposed to be a citable source, they are simply just MY walk up a future memory lane.
SO, some things I mention may not be correct if it’s your reality. If this is so, I’d really love for you to point them out in the comments and educate me. I also want to state that my thoughts weren’t organized and it was so hard to keep a proper train of thought. However, I did manage to focus on different scenarios and put them all together. Still, I apologize if it all seems convoluted.
SO WHAT IF WE WERE DIVIDED?
In my opinion, Nigeria was made by foolishly merging together over 700? ethnic groups with no clear plan to acknowledge their diversity and capitalize on it to make a great nation.
Simply put; No clear vision.
I don’t plan to speak of the past because it was not my reality and it does nothing to change my present or improve my future. So what if we take the first steps by truly acknowledging our differences?
In my mind, I approach this from the perspective of “breaking a problem into different parts to solve it with a more defined set of steps”.
So what if Nigeria is divided into three countries? Three because:
– I believe we are actually divided as such before.
– In recent times, we all claim Nigeria has three “major” ethnic groups while mindlessly ignoring the rest.
– I like to believe these minority ethnic groups have at least some similarities to at least one of the so-called major ethnicities.
So we have three ‘countries’, the names don’t matter. Three countries mean three head leaders, lesser citizens to worry about and lesser geography to develop. Dividing doesn’t mean we go our separate ways, because the collective vision is a better ‘Nigeria’, right? So we create a council, a union or an organization, whatever it’s to be. Call it “The Nigerian Union” or whatever but its sole aim is to keep us together and aligned with the collective vision.
The union has representatives from each of the countries, with representatives from every existing ethnicity so finally everyone can have a seat at the table. It’s not a leadership system where one rep has the ultimate power, but more of a jury approach, where every rep voices their opinions (which actually is the collective opinions of his/her country and/or ethnicity) and decisions are made to accommodate and acknowledge everyone.
‘Union Laws’ are made for the countries to abide by: Freedom of religion, abolishing any form of human discrimination, visa-free but limited-duration travel, sharing of resources from each country with considerable subsidies and so many other things we can imagine to keep us together.
Long term nation plans is the major responsibility of this union. These plans are developed with collective goals to be achieved by the countries and realistic procedures and steps on how to achieve them. They are specialized to capitalize on the different strengths and resources available in each country. I once heard of a 50-year nation plan the Rwandans have and it seems to be working out well for them.
Of course, for a long term plan to actually be realised, leaders with similar visions need to be appointed. So this union also ensures the countries elect leaders whose visions align and work according to the nations plans. These leadership candidates are rigorously accessed to ensure their visions align with the nation’s plans and re-elections/re-appointments are made based on competence, ability to follow the plans and what has been achieved with the previous tenure. Leaders are free to utilize their own style and approach as long as they still work with the plans.
SO WHAT WILL EACH COUNTRY BE LIKE?
As new countries, who will be the citizens of each? We will be free to choose to remain where we already call “home” but will be encouraged to choose the country with people of similar ethnicities and/or way of life. The truth is ethnicity is able to categorise us more than any other factor because it actually divides us more than any other factor. Think about that for a minute.
Each country decides on their official languages. We will no longer be restricted to “English” as an official language. We can let our ethnic flags fly and have different official national languages. Imagine a world where speaking your native language is ‘normal’. Indigenes don’t get stereotyped or labelled as illiterates for not being fluent in “English” and English is treated for what it really is to us; a second language.
Each country gets to newly register its citizens hence having a database of every single person. You can already imagine the problems that can be solved with databases of fingerprints, blood and DNA matches, etc. Also, we finally get to know just how populated we truly are and not the random “200 million” figure.
What kind of leaders will we have? I do not know the differences between a presidential and parliamentary system but I do know you cannot get different results if you do things the same way. I also know one hasn’t worked well for us so maybe we try the other one. The new system is formed to accommodate the diversity of the people in each country. I keep emphasizing on this because no one can be left out anymore. People are tired of being brushed aside and treated like they don’t matter. Nothing will ever work if we do not start feeling like we all have a say in our country’s future.
More laws are made by these diverse representative leaders and are peculiar to the individual countries. Citizens get to have more power than ever over the future of their countries. Imagine the change that could come from citizens starting petitions, their representatives pushing for these petitions depending on number of legitimate citizen signatures and lawmakers signing and passing bills based on the actual opinions of the people.
We keep the Naira and the union ensures each country follow their nation’s development plans so the currency can be strengthened OR each country decides to have their own version of the Naira which is strengthened depending on how the country develops and grows their economy. It’s no news that Nigerians love competition so this could also be a healthy way of competition; which country grows at a faster pace and strengthens their version of the Naira and which country achieves their nation’s plans first.
I have no idea how states were named or how boundaries were established. But if we’re building new countries, we might as well ditch the states and create even smaller states. Thus, using again the approach of “the more a problem is divided into parts, the easier and more realistic it is to solve”.
As different countries now, there’s no longer the dependence on crude oil to provide for over 200 million people. Each country is mandated to maximally utilize all their resources and not depend on one. They will be encouraged to capitalize on them to generate revenue and better their economy. As already stated, the union will have trade laws that allows sharing of these resources in a way that mutually benefits the trading countries.
There was so much more on my mind but let’s pause and imagine all of these.
IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE:
– You can travel and live life without the “You’re a Nigerian” stereotype.
– Your opinions as an individual and a citizen actually matters and brings about change.
– You get to be proud of your country and not have to ‘escape’ it.
– We collectively yearn and rigorously develop the countries with ZERO selfish or ulterior motives.
– We collectively lift every single citizen out of poverty.
I once asked my sister if poor Qataris actually exist. She responded by telling me of initiatives put in place for indigenes and summarily no way anyone is actually in poverty. If they can have no citizens living in poverty, so can we.
I also watched a short documentary of the vision the current Dubai leader (King? Sheikh?) and his father had about 50 years ago and how it’s led them to where they are now. If they can achieve their vision, so can we.
If Rwandans can collectively work with a long term plan to gradually develop their country, so can we. Ghana can give African-Americans a place to call home in Africa and continually develop their country, so can we.
In the end, it’s all about piecing together different narratives that works for others and can work for us.
NOW, I may not know about the current politics or how the country currently operates but THAT IS THE POINT. I do not know and I do not need to because they clearly aren’t working. I just need to imagine a reality where policies and laws actually work and visions are actually realised. You do not need to keep iterating over our problems and how messed up things are. You just need to imagine how these problems can be solved if we use the “Divide and conquer” approach reasonably, break these problems down and solve them. Like a Math problem.
SO WHAT IF WE ALL:
– Feel this way?
– Let go of our individual selfish desires to be better and turn that to a national selfish desire?
– Believed in the collective vision and imagine what a life like that would be like?
– Worked realistically towards that vision and ensure to push it unto newer and upcoming generations?
– Acknowledge our differences and use them to unite ourselves?
– Had something called “The Nigerian Dream” and believed in it?
What if we had this Nigeria?
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