National-Building- A Case of Nigeria

Wikipedia defines Nation-building as the process of constructing or structuring a national identity using the power of the state. This process aims at the unification of the people within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable on the long run. Nation-building can involve the use of propaganda or major infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth. Another definition is “The development of behaviors, values, language, institutions and physical structures that elucidate history and culture; concretize and protect the present; and insure the future identity and independence of a nation.”

Nation-building in recent times has become a popular phenomenon especially in the African continent that is still regarded as being retarded by world’s elites. In Nigeria, many people have given up on the possibility of building a new Nigeria while some relentlessly continue to make sacrificial efforts to build Nigeria into world’s most desirable nation. Yet, one question keeps me worried; which one should we build first? the systems or the structures? The infrastructures or the intrastructures? 

A former Prime Minister of Japan was acclaimed to have said if Japan was to be burnt down to scratch but the Japanese evacuated and relocated back afterwards, that the Japanese would rebuild the economy of Japan to be five times better than what it is today in 5 years! Someone asked why he confidently said that, his response taught me a great lesson – “The economy of Japan is not in Japan but in the Japanese”. People’s development must precede national development. Note how the statement of Frankiln D. Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S President supports this view; “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”.

This is in contrast to the story of an Ex-minister of Nigeria who was welcomed at the airport on his first visit to South Africa by Rev. Gbeminiyi Eboda (Senior Pastor, Harvest House Church, South Africa & Nigeria). Narrating this story at “Move Your World Conference” held in LAUTECH, Ogbomoso in 2010, Rev. Gbeminiyi said the Ex-Minister looked around in obvious admiration of a beautiful nation and said, “South indeed is the glory of the African Continent”, Rev. Gbeminiyi smiled and said politely, “Sir, Nigeria can indeed be better than this especially considering the wealth of resources we have”. To his utmost surprise, the Ex-minister vehemently disagreed strongly saying “Never” each of the three times the conversation came up. 

Nigeria has recently witnessed a lot of event that affirms the fact that the leaders of the Nation have prioritized infrastructural development over human capacity building. The future of the Nation is truly in a state of political thalidomide as suggested by Hon. Patrick Obaiagbon. A nation where 75% of its population is between the age of 17-35 years yet has insignificant proportion of the youth represented in a National Conference that is expected to determine the future of the Nation. Are the young people truly the leaders of tomorrow? For how long shall we wait for tomorrow to come? About 35million between the ages of 18-24 years are unemployed, many employed are either underemployed or misemployed. In general, the youth of the Nation are suffering from serious skill-gap and a critically low level of productivity.  

Unemployment has been a nemesis which has contributed to the depression of the economy and all antics to solve this riddle has hit the walls. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is presently stated as 35% for people within 18-24 years (SURE-P, 2012), but the true picture can be seen from the following instances; 

  • In 2011, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released a job advert of 1,500 openings for fresh graduates, over 800,000 applicants were recorded! 
  • The Dangote group announced 100 job openings for Graduate Truck Drivers in 2012. The analysis from the resulting applications received was shocking; 6 PhD, 65 MBA, 649 Msc & 8,460 degree holders applied. 

The most recent is the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise held on 15th March, 2014 nationwide where over 526,000 applicants reported for the exercise vying for 4,560 openings, regrettably leading to the death of many while several others were injured. This is a time-bomb ticking that must be averted immediately. 

As complex as any situation might look it has been proven over time that the true solution must lie in the simplicity of approach which is why I do not align with the popular school of thought that a revolution is the solution to the critical condition. Maybe because I believe strongly in the saying, “Two wrongs cannot make a right”. 

Looking closely at the challenges of Nation-building in Nigeria, it can be seen that one common phenomenal missing trait in Nigeria is “common values”. We do not seem to have values that govern our attitude. Value-reorientation is critical to nation-building because upon solid values can we build sustainable systems and then structures of a nation. Fela Durotoye, a man whose passion for nation-building has earned him the title “Nation Builder” once said, “A nation is not defined by its borders or the boundaries of its land mass Rather, a nation is defined by adverse people who have been unified by a cause and a value system and who are committed to a vision for the type of society they wish to live in and give to the future generations to come.” 

People who have been offshore will notice certain attitudes that are common but predominantly lacking in our country. For instance, I was once on a road trip to some western African countries, I was shocked when the driver of the bus – a Nigerian- announced that everyone on board should please understand that they cannot throw down anything to liter the highway from the bus as we are no longer in Nigeria. I have on several occasions been laughed at when traveling with passengers and I stop them from throwing out the window things like plastic bottles, nylons, papers and other littering materials. This is a typical example of wrong value system. 

To embrace value re-orientation, it must however be said that the people must first accept responsibilities for the challenges and stop laying blames. Responsibility itself can be defined as the ability to respond or responding to a situation with one’s ability. This suggests that everyone truly has the ability (no matter how small) to somewhat respond to any situation, ignoring this to look for someone to put all the blames on is an act of foolishness. 

I have learnt that there are three A’s that is required to change a situation; Awareness, Attitude and Action. GEMSTONE, an initiative of Fela Durotoye has identified ten (10) key values that could help Nigerians change our mentality hence approach to nation building. It is very important to be aware of these values and their importance towards nation building;


Finally, i like everyone reading this to make a commitment to nation-building. Accept responsibility to make a contribution towards solving any of the challenges we are faced with in this nation no matter at what scale and ensuring this doesn’t have any hidden motive for personal benefits, it doesn’t matter who started the problem, accept responsibility to proffer meaningful solutions. Remember that a man will be remembered for two things – The problems he created or the ones he helped solve. Fela also opined, “Our nation is ripe with a multitude of successful people, who have achieved much for themselves with little impact on anyone else”. Let me round up this piece with two quotes also from Fela Durotoye for us to ponder on;

“What we need now is a nation of great people who live to positively impact others and build enduring legacies” 

“Despite the turbulence our nation has experienced, we WILL arrive safely and without incident!” 

The piece below was recently published by GEMSTONE Nation Builders Network;

“Arise! O Compatriot!

If we sleep today, our children will be sleepless tomorrow.

The Nigeria we want is only a value system away

It is our Values that make us Valuable, but our people are being deceived to trade their Values for Valuables.

Why should one trade his Values for Valuables when Values makes us Valuable.

Character is missing somewhere, because Values have been lost.

There’s No better Nigeria without better Nigerians!

It’s time to fight for our tomorrow, not with swords and shields? But with Value Infusion.

Join the Nation Builders in Value Infusion!

Infuse in anyone that crosses your path!

Sign up to live by these Values and make a personal commitment to convert many.

You are definitely one of these 3 people:

1. Save values by storing the knowledge in your head

2. Spend it by loosing it in compromise

3. Invest it by sharing and Impacting people”

Let us build the people that will build the nation. I am Ayodele Awi and I am a Nation Builder. 

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