Monday, 24 November 2014

Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria call, will you obey? A must read!

Dreams are not just some drama scenes in the realm of sleep, they are realities away from challenges that keeps us awake from sleep. In actual sense the future belongs to men and women who have the ability to see beyond the present and believe that tomorrow is worth the efforts we make right now. 
Saw Mrs. Elizabeth Uwaifo's speech, which she made in Barcelona at the Edo Global Organization Annual Conference in 2010. It is a must read for all who are aspiring to drive some form of change wherever we are and you should. The time is right, the time is now, Arise o compatriots, Nigeria call will you obey? It's time to change Nigeria. Please continue for the must read article.

We are all gathered here today in Barcelona because we care about Nigeria, our dear country, and Edo State in particular. Over the next 20 minutes or thereabout I want to explore ideas about how to facilitate change in Nigeria. We may be thousands of miles away but we would like to see the Nigerian society change for the better.

We have had the privilege to reside in countries where basic infrastructure such as power and water supply is taken for granted. We pay our taxes and we expect to receive certain public services such as health care, emergency services and education. We take an active interest in the performance of the elected officials. Those employed in the public sector including the elected politicians are held accountable for their actions. Public servants are expected to be motivated by the desire to serve and the accolade they get from their involvement in decisions that have improved the lives of the community.
We look with despair at Nigeria; where greed and corruption pervades the society like cancer; -virtually all aspects of life in Nigeria are affected by corruption;-sub-standard services are accepted as the norm;-many have no appetite for change because they aspire to benefit from the corruption; and-those who would have been minded to speak out are either intimidated to do so or feel powerless;The tragedy of the Nigerian situation is that even the young, the leaders of tomorrow aspire to have positions in government because they see it as the route to riches and self-fulfillment.The hopelessness of the Nigerian society mirrored in Edo State is often the subject of discussion at our informal gatherings. We need no help in identifying what is wrong in the society. In our discussions with each other we regularly lament at the incidents we have come across that demonstrate the malfunctioning of the society.
We hope and pray for a leader with the right intentions and the strength of character and courage to effect the change required. Many will remember the days of General Buhari and General Idiagbon and the schemes they put in place to promote probity and orderliness in the society. Why did their initiatives fizzle out? Many Nigerians long for a leader who will lead us out of the mess that is Nigeria. But our leaders are motivated by greed? Why do those with the right intentions change once in power? How and where do we find the leader to lead us out of this mess? What can we do to bring about change?How do we influence the next generation of Nigerian leaders to shun greed and corruption? Are we the change we are searching for? Are we the leaders we are searching for? As I see it, change will come about if the collective thinking and expectation of Nigerians change. If the community rejects greed and corruption, it is inevitable that a leader will arise from their midst that shares those collective desires and principles and aspires to fulfill the community’s goals. Barack Obama once said that "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

I would like to explore this angle further. How do we and our fellow Nigerians; the general populaces who are not in the corridors of power implement the changes that we all here desire?I say we start by advocating self-reliance in the local community. We need to encourage and indeed join our brothers and sisters back home to help them get what they want; we must work with them in taking small steps towards identifying those needs that can be met by collective action. If a medical school requires certain equipment why not have a fund raising event to raise the funds required to make the purchase? 
Why not the parents association in a particular school organise an event to raise money for a particular project in their children’s school? 

Why not have a meeting of local residents that submit a petition to the local council to insist on the clearance of the garbage on a particular Street? 

Why not initiate a football or other sports club for children to play competitive sports outside schoolto take their minds away from crime? Such events will help raise public consciousness; highlight the fact that we depend on one another; create awareness of the need to act collectively to make progress in the community; furthermore, such enterprise should promote public accountability. If you have contributed to the purchase of equipment then you will look upon the equipment as your own, you are more likely to speak up if the equipment is misused by others. Perhaps such consciousness will transcend to our attitude to the corrupt practices of our elected politicians and other officers in charge of public assets. Out of that political consciousness should emerge a leader that shares the same hopes and aspirations as the community. So what can each of us do to help this process of change? We could encourage our contacts in Nigeria and explore with them the community projects they could initiate. We could work in partnership with our contacts in Nigeria by committing to raise awareness and support for their community development projects wherever we reside. The projects do not have to be grand and ambitious. They could be small attainable projects that have a short time frame to completion. The completion of a successful project, however small provides an impetus for further success.

I would like to play a role in improving the lives of my fellow Nigerians and my question to you is whether you too are willing to do the same. There is another saying I came across to the effect that:

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.”

My challenge to you and to myself is to do something about the Nigerian situation; do something to initiate change in Edo State. We must go away from here and discuss with friends and contacts here and in Nigeria, identify potential areas of development, identify a community project that promotes such development and discuss a strategy for implementing the project. If we can initiate small steps that bring about development then we are initiating change. Out of such small steps will come monumental change we long for?By empowering our brothers and sisters in Edo State to take control of their lives and make their desires happen, generations behind us will see that they have options that go beyond embezzlement and greed.

Imagine the joy we will experience if this time next year, we are able to
celebratethe successes we have achieved in initiating improvements in the community. Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. We must not let what we cannot do interfere with what we can do.I will leave you with the words of Leo Rosten:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy -but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all”.
With those words, I hope that you will find the inspiration and motivation you need.
Mrs E.UwaifoELIZABETH UWAIFO is an English solicitor and a partner in the International Finance Group at the London office of
Sidley Austin LLP.

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