I always feel a sense of irony in celebrating the independence of our nation. A young nation, filled with old very ones. Old cultures, with very old traditions and deep roots. It is ironic that on Nigeria’s Independence Day, I feel I am reflecting on a country in still its relative childhood at the age of 54. Many are watching intently as it is still developing, going through its awkward phases, inconsistencies, building and breaking relationships, rebellions, illnesses, achievements, and regression. In the internet age, with social networks sharing information at the speed of broadband, we are witness to a details of a process that few before us have ever seen. The political shadows in which to hide are ever shrinking.
With all this new available information, it is amazing how often history repeats itself. The Ebola Virus is not the first deadly disease the region has encountered. High unemployment is not new. Gender disparities are not new. Missing money from national budgets, as well as accusations of fraud are not new. The 276 girls kidnapped from Chibok, Borno State are not the first to be kidnapped and ransomed. Boko Haram is not the first despotic insurgency, Shekau is not the first elusive, but conveniently well-equipped and wired terrorist in our history. We have experienced corrupt, callous, and incompetent leadership in a variety of times in our history. Any student of world history, can see the parallels, of a nation’s maturation process. Trust is earned via displays of maturity and consistency. Displays of maturity when responding to crisis. Displays of maturity, when one has a responsibility to protect all citizens from harm by taking action regardless of political implications. Earning the trust of a diverse populace is not a new concept either. Is nothing new under the sun?
What is relatively new; is how quickly information travels, and how quickly large like-minded groups are able to organize. Ordinary citizens advocate at a speed with which those of our ruling generation lack the competencies to fully understand or mitigate. The African millennial voice is in a unique position to affect change. The demands for legitimate transparency and accountability can only be ignored for so long. With the increasing availability of information (and misinformation) the expectations of action and results only increase. Also increasing, are opportunities for ambitious, creative, and talented young minds to continue to drive the discussion. Increasing are the numbers that believe in the potential of the sleeping giant that is Nigeria, but refuse to accept the childish inconsistency and instability. Growing are the numbers that understand how much more opportunity and wealth can be created when the focus shifts from having positional power and recognition; to being direct, collaborative, and goal-oriented in confronting challenges.
When the focus of our institutions shifts from an opportunity to be recognized for position, to being recognized for results. The challenge at hand is how to provide a secure, stable and productive, with meaningful opportunity accessible for all Nigerians. All genders, all religions, all old nations. This is not Goodluck Johnathan’s Nigeria, nor does it belong to APC or PDP. Every missing child yet to be rescued, every frustrated parent owns just as much of Nigeria as anyone one in office or aspiring to be elected to office. Celebrate today as Nigerians, but also remember those who are unable to celebrate with us; especially those unable to celebrate at all.
–Tosan T. Tutse-Tonwe
Principal Consultant, TOSVERA