By; U.K. Umar
We all start changing from the very moment we are born! Nothing ever remains the same; life is in a state of constant flux. A baby born today will be a day old the next day. A governor sworn in today will mark one month in office in four weeks. In our lives, there is a consistent process of growth, transformation, development or change that can’t be reversed because time is involved.
There is always more than one way to look at things. What is “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad” are largely questions of perception. As humans, our views of our universe are determined by a combination of factors ranging from environment, to our biological nature. This is called perception.
Our perception of anything, anyone or anywhere is drawn from our experiences or knowledge of them. Hence, when we talk about “change” for instance, the term means different things to different people.
The term “Change”, before and after the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, has been about the commonest word in use by people from all walks of life. Politicians, civil servants, farmers, market women and men, the young and old, everyone, have come to know “change” to mean one thing or the other. In other words, that process of doing something differently, or someone becoming different from what they used to be is a subject of who is looking at the process.
The question of perception in the way the idea of “Change” is viewed is very important. This is why for the purpose of this article, we would limit our scope of “change” to the social, political and economic change. Our focus will be on the change we desire in our social, political and economic orders. As important as Biological change is, we would leave that for another time.
To clarify its perception of what “change” means, the APC-Led FG launched a campaign of “Change Begins With Me”. The campaign messages point to the fact that everyone is and must be involved if the changes we desire to see in our country must be achieved.
Now, the 100 million dollar question is; what is the change I desire to see in my community, State and Country? Here, my perception of the whole idea of change is being sought. This is very important because it is only when I understand what I desire that I can be able to figure out exactly the things I need to do to realise them. Not only that, when I understand what I need to do, then I will also understand the sacrifices I must make to bring about my desired outcomes. So, what is the change I desire?
As a Nigerian, I have quite a remarkable history of where my country is coming from. We have seen the good and the bad times as a people. Individually and collectively, we have played our roles in birthing the country we now have. Another question then is; are we happy or satisfied with the way we are? Is this the best we can be as a people? We must remember that Nigeria is just a name for a geographical location, what makes Nigeria, more than anything else, are the characters of the people residing in Nigeria at any given time. Regardless of one’s station in life, our thoughts, actions and even inactions all add up to form the national character.
The collective behaviours of artisans, civil servants, politicians, academics, students, parents, teachers, armed forces, civilians, etc, all form the gamut of what Nigeria has become today.
Again, I ask; are we happy with the way Nigeria is today? What do we desire to see in our country? Is there anything we, as individuals and groups, can do to bring about our desired views of change? I leave you to think and provide your own answers.
Earlier I asked; “what is the change I desire?’ Well, I desire everything good and abhore everything bad for my country. But this is not enough. Mere desire has never taken anyone anywhere. To bring about the desired good people to form a good country, we must reevaluate our individual and collective behaviours towards ourselves and others. We must work on strengthening our institutions to force us to fall in line. Our systems, at different levels, must also be reassessed to bring them in tandem with the demands of the time.
For me, I desire a country where all men and women will be free from all forms of fear to live meaningful, productive lives. I desire a country where functional laws are applicable to all people regardless of who they are. I desire to see a country where systems and institutions work efficiently. I desire a country where all people are happy to associate with.
How do we achieve the above desires? There are of course, things to be done. There are those that are the prerogative of government and there are those that individuals must, on their own, do.
For our country to be filled with free-spirited individuals that would make inroads with researches in sciences to propel our country to possible scientific heights, government must provide opportunities for conducting researches to acquire qualitative knowledge.
Qualitative learning will help our people to dispel fears, to break the shackles of retrogressive cultures and dogmas and push the frontiers of progressive thoughts that would liberate our communities from the negative outcomes of pettiness and trivialities.
At individual levels, simple attitudes of waiting for our turns while on queues, disposing waste into designated bins, being punctual, respecting the elderly, reaching out to one another, being hospitable, kind and receptive to strangers, providing qualitative upbringing for our young, etc, are things we can all do in our spheres of influence.
On the political and economic scenes, we must by now, realise that power truly belongs to the people. Our political choices have very serious consequences on all other aspects of our lives. The types of people we vote to occupy decision-making positions determines the type of leadership we end up with. Our conscience must be our guide. We must change the yardsticks we use in judging who to vote for in any election. That a candidate shares the same tribe, ethnicity, State, religion or region with you shouldn’t be you parameters. Evaluate candidates based on key promises they make and whether they have the competence to efficiently run the offices they are running for. This way, you would be making very sound political choices that would eventually give us the type of leaders that would birth the country of our desire.
The economy is closely linked to politics. Our leaders, who emerge from our political choices, are constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of making decisions that would impact on the economy. Therefore, once again, we must be guided by reason as against emotion, in our individual and collective choices for our political leaders. That is true change – the ability to rise above sentiments and do what is right even if you are the only one doing it!