One Day A Change Will Come
Newspaper Column

One Day A Change Will Come

By Babajide Alabi

Sequel to the piece   on change that was published in this column last week, I received various comments, particularly on the subject of “Individual Rebirth”. My mission here today is not to state a case or argue any viewpoint, rather I will lay it bare on the table so as to encourage a healthy and robust argument that will shed more light on the position that without “Individual Rebirth” there can never be any change in Nigeria.

While the rebirth of the Nigerian individual is a notion well accepted across board, majority believe it would be an exercise in futility if there is no conscious effort to “change” the leadership. The “change” of leadership referred to here is however not to be taken literally to mean change at the helms of affairs of Nigeria. This “change” is the “reorientation” of the leadership.

One particular point of arguments always raised on why change in polity may be an arduous task in the country is the fact that “change” is always attempted by the leadership that believe in the “bottom to top model” rather than the other way round. With this set up, can there be a genuine and enduring change? In Nigeria, “change” is “instituted” rather than allow it to evolve. The masses are always “driven” to change while the top echelon in the society is most time not expected to live according to the rules that bind the society. A typical example of “change” is when the government announced “austerity measures” that will affect the masses and keep the status quo for the leaders.

Little wonder why we have two sets of rules in the society. There are unwritten rules for the poor and likewise there are another for the rich. You cannot be poor and expect to be “judged” by the rules of the rich. A society where the rich and the “government” enjoy immunity from prosecution or arrests for openly committed crimes. A society where citizens loot from the treasury and use same to oppress the masses that queue up everyday to “rankadede” so as to get “crumbs” from the stolen national resources.

I question how a leadership that is self appointed and self serving will effect a change. A leadership that takes advantage of the docile nature of a typical Nigerian would rather wish a continuation than a change.

It is really heart warming to hear the voices of agitation for a change becoming louder and louder, though still uncoordinated. The present agitation, though presently being championed by political parties, is one that can be nurtured to grow into something similar to the Arab Springs in the north of Africa a few years ago.

This might be an opportunity for political leaders to “preach” individual rebirth that is enduring. Rather than turn the word “change” into a political slogan, the masses that throng the campaign sites can be sensitised to work towards a reorientation. When there is individual rebirth, there is bound to be a progression to a collective change of society. A good example of this was the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) campaign of some years ago. This campaign focussed mainly on the individual. It was a simple message, driven on the platform of discipline. How do you achieve discipline if not on individual level? The programme achieved the little success it had because for once it was the individual that was targeted.

It is when the individual is disciplined that he can change the society. At that point the “leadership” has to sleep with one eye open because a “reborn” citizen (or citizenry) will “spit fire” to effect a “change”. What individual rebirth will achieve in this struggle for change will be enormous it can bring about a “revolution.” It will bring more national consciousness which will invariably result in increased patriotism. It is no doubt that lack of patriotism is one of the causes of Nigeria’s backwardness.

However, the vanguard of the “reborn” citizens would say “No” to corruption, tribalism, sectionalism, lack of development, etc and invariably it result in sweeping away the self styled leaders, corrupt politicians or ego-massaging civil servants. This is the only time any credible change can be achieved.

Agitating for “change” on the basis of reorientation of the leadership is a far “attempt” at finding a solution to Nigeria’s problems. I understand that the leadership needs to be given a rebirth, but at the individual levels. I also agree that a society is shaped by the type of leadership it has. This is understandable. However, a society is also defined principally by the followership. A followership that can see through the hearts of theIr leaders and “pick” when they are lying to them will “give birth” to a descent society. “followership” that, rather than celebrate corruption , is ready to take up arms and fight it. A “followership” that stands up and demand a better Nigeria, that will command respect in the comity of nations. The type that cannot be divided by “bread and butter.”

This is the type of change that Nigeria desires. A change that is driven by the individual and not the leadership. Putting the fate of Nigerians in the hands of a politician (or group of politicians) chanting “change” for the sake of it is nothing but criminal. These politicians are Nigerians and are (unfortunately) born and bred with the notion that access to governance is an opportunity to stabilise their families for generations.

Please do not get me wrongly, there are many Nigerians with genuine love of the country at heart, but I hasten to ask that how many of them make their ways into government houses .

In my quest for individual rebirths, I realised the need for me to do a personal reappraisal and rethink on my perception of the word change, as it relates to Nigeria. By extension, that I need to understand that there are certain things that are peculiar to us as a country. Nigeria is a country in a league of her own. This is why it is totally difficult to measure whatever may be happening in the country with what may be ideal in the outside world. Is it not understandable if Presidential aspirants do not tell the electorates how they intend to run their governments when elected? No. It is a Nigerian thing because the opposition can steal the ideals.

There is no doubt that Nigeria is a peculiar country. If it’s not, why would we ever be judged as the “Most Happy People” in the world, despite the insecurities, inequalities, social deprivation and “flagrant display” of poverty in the country. There is something in our DNAs that makes us different from others indeed. And this “something” should be the propelling factor for the change the country needs.

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