In continuation of a previous write up, let us examine why True Leadership Tarries by taking
1. A fresh look at our value system
2. A fresh look at our oneness as a people
The only thing that seems to make us one with our brothers and sisters from other parts of our nation is sports! When Blessing Okagbare brought glory to Nigeria in athletics very few people knew that she was from Delta State. And it really didn't matter what state she's from. What counts is that she's first and foremost, a Nigerian.
When the Super Eagles fixed their broken wings and flew once more, winning the Nations cup for the first time in 19 years, no one cared that the top goal scorer at that competition was of Ibo extraction BECAUSE IT REALLY DIDN'T MATTER. Neither could I find anyone who could tell me for sure what part of Nigeria Victor Moses was from - my guess is that he's from Kaduna State! Not that it changes anything for deep down in my heart, I really don't want to know. What matters is that He's a great Nigerian athlete and we are glad that he chose to play for Nigeria when he could have played for England.
The day I saw John Akinyemi compete at the Olympics in 2012 as the first ever Nigerian canoeist in all of our history, I was filled with a renewed sense of hope for our nation. He's a British - Nigerian who was to represent Great Britain but He chose Nigeria! To the thousands of Nigerian Sports men and women who opt to compete for the nations of their birth rather than the nation of their origin we say its a new day in Nigeria. Your sacrifices will be appreciated and your career will be protected. Put your nation ahead of everything else. Choose Nigeria first.
Another emerging point of convergence amongst all our people is in the literary arts. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has emerged as a true protege of her mentor Chinua Achebe. Indeed she has continued from where he stopped. At this rate and with the smile of the gods upon her, she may qualify as a Nobel Prize nominee for literature someday. However, even if she doesn't make it to that point, she has done so much already to give Nigerians something to smile about. It is such a pleasure for fellow writers who read ones works across the globe to remark 'O! You're Nigerian... That's the country of the lady who wrote Half Of a Yellow Sun. And what's her name again? Adichi?'... At that point, the foreigner doesn't know if she's Hausa, Ibo or Yoruba. He doesn't even pronounce her name right. But does that matter? What matters is that Nigerian blood flows in her veins and she has the resilient can - do spirit that we all share. That spirit that sees through tears and smiles through suffering. That Spirit that bends but never breaks, twists but never turns around. That Spirit that is darkened by the sun but never scorched. That is the Spirit we share
Our leaders may have broken our wills till we are all willing accomplices of corruption but they can never break our Spirit. The Spirit is a gift from God. It may be buried but not for long... Nigeria's bloom shall emanate from beneath the dirt heaps. Our spirit isn't an egg that is smashed when hit against a brick wall, rather it is made of a tougher material that will bounce back in your face.
Why then has true leadership not come yet? Its because our oneness is still negotiable. We often speak as though we are better off divided. We listen to the foreign media and pundits who claim we will cease to exist as a nation. Such predictions are for the good of the Imperial powers. They MADE THE SAME PREDICTIONS ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA IN THE 60's and early 70's. The sad part is that these foreign profiteers have willing tools in Nigeria who threaten us with dismemberment. I have news for the prophets of doom - its not the apocalypse yet!
We Nigerians are at a point in our history when we shall say with one voice that the indisolubility of our nation is a principle we are willing to fight for. And that's not an empty boast - millions have died already in the fight to keep us as one and their labor shall not be in vain. We are at that point when all men of good will must accept that we are brothers and sisters. Our oneness shouldn't be virtual, coming only when we triumph at Sports. Our passion to be the greatest black nation on the earth must be greater than our religious differences. Our hunger for the lofty heights of National pride should stimulate us to oneness.
As I look forward to the day when I will introduce myself as being from Nigeria - that land of inventors and literary giants, the land of scientific genius and unparalleled architecture, the land of military might and visionary leadership, the land of the largest black population n earth. I look forward to a future when blacks all over the world will look on us with admiration and awe. Admiration that we forged a nation state out of the crucible of nothingness and Awe that we've emerged as a truly a great nation on the earth to the surprise of even Nigerians themselves. I look forward to the day when unborn generations will be welcomed with open arms around the world simply because they're from Nigeria and they hold the green passport. I look forward to the day when Nigeria will be associated with all things good and great, high and lofty, bright and beautiful.
In the mean time I call on all nations within this nation state to donate your best minds to the Nigerian project. You can gain prominence both for your ethnic nationality and at the same time for your nation. And even when you're asked to chose between tribal affiliation and National good! Choose your country first.
Remember Mandela... He wrote in a Long Walk to Freedom that he was first a proud Xhosa before being South African. But he chose South Africa time and time again. He chose to dream of the day when South africans wouldn't see themselves as Xhosa or Zulu or Swazi or Ndebele or Swana or Basotho or Lemba. He dreamt of a day when there wouldn't be deep divisions between whites or coloreds or indians or blacks but there would be one nation state out of several ethnic nations... One rainbow nation. In so doing he brought honor to the whole and also to the part of the whole to which he belonged - the Xhosa tribe of Qunu village in the Transkei province.
I have tried to learn from Mandela that you don't need money, you don't need things, you don't need position or power to be content or to be happy or to lead. Perhaps the one thing that is needful is to be one with the people.
(To be continued)