My Dream For A New Nigeria, a book by a clergyman, explores the socio-economic problems militating against Nigeria’s match to progress, NKRUMAH BANKONG-OBI reports
When a nation wallows into self-defeat and negligence such as Nigeria has done, it is only positive ideas and concerted effort to translate such ideas into action that can salvage the country. In Nigeria, the persisting socio-political impediments have necessitated that patriots and concerned citizens contribute their quota, by way of critical views towards burnishing the nation’s image from its current dour reputation which is largely traceable to our own faults. In a new book he authored, Edegwa J. Oghenovo, a clergyman, has brought for public discourse his conception of what he thinks Nigeria should be.
It is an interesting analysis of the Nigerian situation especially that this should not be time to wish ideas and opinions away under any guise.
In My Dream of A New Nigeria, the themes are streamlined— patriotism and nationalism. The title of the book obviously appears like a direct confrontation and rejection of the present set up. But a careful perusal or intense reading of the text will show otherwise. Oghenevo is concerned about reforming the country, taking out the oddities that are drawing the nation backwards while imbibing new social ethos that can propel her to greater heights. The dream of a new Nigeria is interpreted via five cardinal objectives: exemplary governance, transparency, accountability, a climate that favours economic investment and institution of checks and balances mechanism to checkmate corruption.
With instances, the reverend gentleman sets the stage for the understanding of his objective with an analysis of how the country’s post independence leaders deviated from the standard foundation laid by our founding fathers, and it has been unable to recover ever since. In his view, “The political class played on the multi-dimensional poverty of our people to install a class of mundane leaders whose passion for the Western style of capitalism remained unstoppable. They matured into a political cabal that created a fortress for themselves, using both local and offshore machineries and paraphernalia to achieve their selfish interests.” There is a cogent argument in the book that Nigeria’s diarchy—a government by the military and civilians, has not done the country any good. In the author’s view, the broad-based system of administering the country was jettisoned once the military and their civilian cohorts assumed political leadership positions at various times. The result is clear: infrastructure is dilapidated, ethnicity lifted to rooftops, religion is a rationale for countrymen turning guns at one another. Youths are demoralised as a result of unemployment, corruption is the most visible route to success and the fundamental virtues of truth, honest and effective service have taken second place. The gap between the leaders and the masses he bemoans, is expanding to a frightening gulf.
This position is reinforced in the subsequent chapters like “The Nigeria of Today”, where he paints a heart-rending picture of how this once fledging country has fallen to unacceptable depth. In one instance, he figures the depletion of the nation’s foreign reserve, the abandonment of the steel industry, the rising wave of intolerance, religious fanaticism, political brigandage and others as pointers to the all-time low that the country has degenerated.
It is in chapter three that Oghenovo begins to marshal his manifesto.
Aptly titled: “An Articulated Comprehensive Vision for Nigeria,” God is identified as the pillar on which the country’s socio-political endevours should be tied. With God and through him, the author foresees the provision of a fertile environment that can help businesses to flourish, lead to high employment generation and participation of young people in wealth creation if Nigerians act now.
This, he stated, can extend to food security.
The next slide of this vision is adequate provision of security of lives and property of Nigerians. He says for instance, that “the expectation of the civil society is to have a government that sees everyone on the streets as priceless, even the madman must not be killed anyhow.” The gains of effective security of lives and property are enormous; a nation is what it is by its population and how productive that population is. It flows, therefore, in this order, that an effective means of dispensing justice is necessary for fair play, peaceful cohabitation and progress. Justice and equity, it is discernible from the book, are central to having a virile nation.
“Democratic Norms” and “Case Studies” that make up chapters four and five respectively are explicit expatiation of the principles which the author considers as essential in nation building and prerequisites for attaining greater heights as nation-state. These norms centre on governance, absence of corruption, respect for human rights, rule of law and all other factors that have been discussed earlier. In case studies, the writer draws up a list of questions, like what multinational companies and higher institutions call “Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ,” which are aimed at helping the reader get through the puzzles that may arise from the text.
The discourse in this little book is worth paying attention to, in spite of the defects in the writing. The language is mumbled and views that supposed to be expressed in free flowing prose are rendered in a language that cannot out rightly be classified as verse or prose.
Thus, one will need to be patient to assimilate the message because the textual expression is clumsy. In spite of this, Rev. Oghenovo has contributed immensely to the discussion on how best we can move our country forward from its present state.