Close your eyes (not literarily just in case you’re driving) but your minds eye and let’s daydream for a while. I beg your permission to dream of what could be. Imagine a public bus driver offering a Policeman the ‘statutory’ N20 and the officer quietly smiles and refuses the offer with the dignity of a man of Honor.
If dreams were made of plastic, we’ll just buy toys. That is just another way of saying “Na yam”. But the reality of things is that a significant percentage of police men we have today will not refuse the ‘statutory’ N20 note (and if they do it is because they only want you to give them more). If most of them will not refuse N20, how will they refuse a N50, 000 bribe? Huh!
But notwithstanding let’s dream it as though it were so. Picture in your mind’s you taking an evening stroll down a street in Oshodi that is as well laid out as the streets you can only find in places like Ikoyi, Lekki, Wuse, etc. See a time when you can rely on NEPA to give us 24/7 light so that the whole family does not have to line up at the iron board every time NEPA flashes us with light; a time when we no longer wonder that “if they take power (light), when will it come again?” See a time when we grow up and we can pick up the newspapers and we don’t have to read about how our leaders are mismanaging our funds and selling the future of the nation.
Guess what! Some days ago I read in the Nation Newspaper that N 2 billion Naira had been awarded for generator maintenance for the Presidency and the National Assembly. This I didn’t find very funny until I thought. Haa! Even in President Yar Adua’s House they shout “Down NEPA” and then he will run to his back yard and start pulling his generator…So don’t worry we are not alone. The suffering in this country cuts across all people, rich or poor, we all use the same roads, the same fuel, and the same air.
My friend I see a time when we can find heroes and mentors amongst the elders of our land in every area of endeavour and can tell tales of good deeds that our leaders have performed to secure the future of the generations to come.
Let us dream of a time when we all don’t have to be Bankers or Lawyers or Doctors or Engineers to succeed in life, but we can have Statisticians, Beauticians, Artists, Philosophers, Carpenters, and Zoologists that are professionals and excel at what they do; a Nigeria where you can chase your dream to be the world best Geologist and not have to read Sociology or Botany instead. I see a time when we are provided with the right education so that we don’t have youths failing exams and following Yahoo Yahoo means and sharp practice to make ends meet.
Now you can open you eyes. Most people I talk to about a Dream for Nigeria at first always doubt its possibility, others lay out laudable reasons why it will never happen, at least not in our lifetime by there estimation, some even laugh the thought to scorn and ask me to forget it, If you did, I hope this will be the last time.
Let me tell you a story of how I became a believer. During my time in University of Lagos, I went out of campus to the house of a friend who lived nearby in Bariga. My friend’s home was a place that was like a bus-stop for a lot of different sort of youths. It wasn’t a place for serious minded youths so I reluctantly visited the place when ever I had to because there we usually had class related assignments together and once in a while we would play soccer also. Even though the friend had a relatively ungodly life, he was a very intelligent fellow. One day I visited his place for some reason I can’t recall. I met this young guy and we got talking (he actually happened to be one of the ones I thought was in the ragamuffins). Somewhere along the line we started talking about Nigeria. At the time, I was an ardent critic of every and any thing Nigerian, coupled with the fact that my Father is a journalist who had privy information to the inside running of the operations of this country, so I had my facts and figures about how our leaders had ruined Nigeria and how Nigeria would never get better forever. So I unleashed my arsenal of information and fired away all guns blazing.
This guy listened to me intently and asked me to clarify various points. At some point in time he finally had to firmly stop me (actually I talk a lot and getting me to stop after I have gotten in gear is like stopping a moving training) he said something very profound. He said to me;
“Do you realize that you have so much faith in the information you have given me…”
I said “Yes” not realizing where he was going.
He then said… “Have you ever thought that the amount of faith in which I use to believe the negative information I have gathered over the years about Nigeria could be channeled for the good of the Nation.”
I still didn’t understand where he was going…
I said antagonistically “I don’t get it…” looking at him funny.
“Your thoughts are powerful because they control what you say and what you say ultimately draws to you and others what will manifest in reality. Do you realize that we are all partly responsible for the evil and corruption that is being created in Nigeria because we have believed in it so much that it has over powered the good in our nation.” he started…
He went on to explain that he was just like me, an Unbeliever (now imagine how I felt when he said that- I am supposed to be the Christian believer in that conversation you know) but he went on to tell me that by going around with all those facts, (that I cannot even remember now) I was preaching a gospel that got more people to believe and eventually act in a manner that would have continually entrenched Nigeria deeper in the quagmire of corruption and despair it was in. He said he loved my passion for the country but asked me to make good use of it to win others to this faith. He said he believed strongly that even though he did not contribute anything anymore beyond our discussion he would have done his part by winning me over. He finally nailed me to this cross by saying that the first step to change of any kind is the change which happens in the mind’s eye (heart). Changing what you see will change what will become a reality to you. We all wish for a change to Nigeria and pay lip-service to the things we think can and should change and if you were to ask anyone who would make the best president for Nigeria, everyone who probably say “me!” (Referring to themselves)
He went further to say that if we as a people could start seeing and believing a better future for Nigeria and getting others to believe the same. If we could see a nation not governed by corruption and deceit, but ruled in Justice and Truth. If we choose to preach hope and not despair and win more people to believe in that same hope for a better future, we would be taking the first step to changing this nation. He said we could chose to do right even if others were doing wrong all around us and stand up together wherever we are to speak against injustice and corruption.
By this time, I was silent considering all he had said. Then I asked him who taught him this perspective. He said it was a lady who he met sometime before. He said she was the one who made him change his view about Nigeria and he had spoken to so may others after then. She had made him see hope and that this hope was protected from everything that happens around, good or bad. He had also realized that somehow when ever he had spoken about it, people where longing to have something to believe in.
So finally the question that begs an answer is; Are you a believer? Can you dare to believe?
I have been a believer in the Nigerian Dream since that day (that was in 2003). At present, I’m writing a book on this subject matter. Over the years I have met many others who have the same spirit and believe in t
he same dream and we realize that a platform has to be created to bring these hearts and minds together, but that is a discourse for another day.
Written by Tolu Awobiyi
If you dare to believe, send us an e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org