Wed 12 Jan 2011 | Manual: How To Build Nigeria Of Our Dream – Part 1 | Rufus Kayode Oteniya January 12, 2011 More from this author Warning: I beseech you not to read this piece if you are contented with the way Nigeria is; you are only advised to read if you desire a better nation.

At independence, the dreams of our past leaders were to build a great and united nation devoid of ethnic and religious strives; an egalitarian and prosperous society that would be respected in the comity of nations; a land where everyone would be his brother’s keeper regardless of the inherent differences and a people who would respect the laws of the land. Fifty years on, we are farther from these dreams than we were at independence.

As a concerned citizen who is not only tired of where we are, knowing pretty well where we could have been, but who is also tired of hearing the older generation tell the younger ones of an epoch of prosperity, peace, decency, transparency and accountability in our national life that many of them never knew, I’ll be dedicating this series to building Nigeria of our dream. In this first part, I’d

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be addressing CHANGE which is one of the most important elements in realising the Nigeria of our collective dream.

It is universally known that no one can be doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. The only way to get a different result is by changing the approach. If you don’t like the way Nigeria is, ‘Just Change It. ’ The power to do so lies within you and the change starts with you. Nigeria is unquestionably in a critical state where all that we desire now is nothing but a change. Up till now, it’s unfortunate that the more we need change, the more it eludes us and the more we hope for it, the more we remain the same.

The kind of change that we need will not come from the north nor from the south neither will it come from the east nor from the west, it will only come from within. If you think that the change will come from the political class who are benefitting from the current rot, it’s certainly an illusion! Nobody benefits from a system and wants it to change. We have been looking up to Aso Rock for too long for this change to come without exploiting the real instrument of change that lies within. The real and lasting change will not come from up down, it will be forced from down up.

The presidency that that claims several billions of Naira in security vote within a year without having to account for it will not push for a change and neither will the executive arm of government that enjoys almost an absolute power as it has carpeted the parliament. Do you think the governors who have uncontrollable access to the state funds will cause the change? No way! Is it the parliamentarians who illegally award themselves emoluments that are many times beyond what Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) legally recommends for them thereby making them the highest paid legislators in the world?

No, it’s impossible! Is it the local government chair who manages the LGA’s funds as if it’s his personal fund and still go ahead to singlehandedly award contracts to his companies and those of his cronies or a councillor who illegally earns more than a university professor? No way! People get the kind of leaders they produce and Nigeria is not an exemption. A leader is just a reflection of the society. A president do not start corruption as a president, neither does a VP start manipulation as a vice president. Nobody starts stealing as a governor or a chairman of a local government.

A CEO of a company does not develop the habit of inflating figures as a chief executive and neither do others in the position of leadership. They all started long before they got to the exalted positions and offices. They started corruption, manipulation and stealing as ordinary citizens. A corrupt executive must have been living a corrupt life probably as a junior or senior officer or even as a cheating student. If you are living a corrupt life today in your little world, who knows what tomorrow holds for you? A corrupt seed breeds a corrupt fruit.

A corrupt student today will certainly become a corrupt leader tomorrow unless he changes. A corrupt officer will become a corrupt governor and a corrupt lecturer will become a corrupt president. Every highly placed citizen once occupied a lower position; every top official was once an ordinary member of the society. An Inspector general of Police convicted of corruption must have started as a bribe taking officer. Governors convicted of stealing state funds didn’t start stealing as governors, they must have started stealing as ordinary citizens.

A genuine change starts with you. If the people change, the office holders too will also change. “People always get the leaders they deserve, the only way to enhance the quality of our leaders is by changing our own attitudes, values, personalities and mindset. It is highly unlikely that a nation of thieves, murderers, liars, rapists and thugs would be able to raise successive leaders who are saints by all accounts; far from it! The stark reality is that the leaders of the people are more likely to be like the people they lead/govern.

This is simply because these leaders are chosen from among the people who exhibit these negative character dispositions. ” – Rev. George Ashiru  How can we change the system? Change yourself first! “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. ” – Barack Obama When you change yourself, you have initiated the process of changing the society. For everyone who changes from the corrupt way, the society becomes saner.

Stop waiting for your turn to embezzle; stop giving and collecting bribes; stop inflating prices and the values of contracts; stop cheating; stop being selfish; think of a service that can benefit the society and engage yourself in it; do your work diligently; do not cheat the government; get paid for only work done; pay your tax(es); teach your children and dependents moral values; teach them that the societal evil they have grown up to know is alien to our culture; teach them to practice what they are taught at the worship centres and teach them to do what is right at every right time.

When you start doing these, then, start preaching them. Doing so, a new culture has begun and the evil culture has begun to die. The impact of small positive changes in different individuals in the society cannot be overemphasised. When these positive acts are multiplied by several millions of people in the country, a whole transformational process has begun. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. ” – Bishop Desmond Tutu Until you start doing what is right, you have no right fighting for your right.

And not until you are right that you can have your right. When you do the right thing in the society, you will not be at peace with people doing evil. Do the right thing to make Nigeria right! It is your right to know what the government is doing; it’s your right to know how your money is being spent; it’s your right to demand accountability from the public office holder; it’s your right to demand that the civil servants do their work diligently and it’s your right to demand that your common wealth is well spent and accounted for.

It’s never your right to wait for your turn to have the national spoil. As long as you have this mentality, you are not only selling your birthright for a pot of porridge but you are also auctioning the future of your children and your children’s children. Folks, we must change this mindset such that we would be able to bodly ask for transparency and accountability from authority that be and let the office holders know that they are not bigger than the electorate for whom they hold the office in trust.

Let the junior workers do their work diligently so that they can demand their rights from the superior officers. God Bless Nigeria To be continued Rufus Kayode Oteniya – [email protected] comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Blog: http://transparencyng. com/index. php? option=com_content&view=category&id=19 | Is President Jonathan (GEJ) different from others? Part 1 PostDateIcon Thursday, 30 December 2010 17:44 | PostAuthorIcon Author: Rufus Kayode Oteniya | Print E-mail votenowBuzz up! 7Share Some say he is Godsent to be the man for the moment, others say he is not; some call him the lucky man with the Midas touch while others say his good luck brings ill-luck to others and the nation; some call him the messiah that Nigeria needs and others say Nigeria would have been better without him. President Goodluck Ebele Azikwe Jonathan certainly means different things to different people. oodluck2His ardent supporters show a kind of love that is unprecedented for an occupier of Aso Rock Villa stemmed mainly from his meteoric rise to power that breaks the jinx of god-fatherism and the endorsement of the Northern oligarchy while those who loathe him see him as a manipulative opportunist who has created tension in the nation because of his resolve not respect his party zoning arrangement. The supporters of the president are seemingly euphoric about the change Nigeria needs as they are also always quick to make a case that the president is the man to cause the change.

Their major argument is the divine power behind his name (Goodluck) and his elevation to the exalted position of the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Force even without campaigning for any substantial elective position. ‘God must have got a hand in making him the president,’ they argue. They will also stop at nothing in accusing the other candidates as being either inexperienced or old-breed; untrustworthy, corrupt, tribal and lacking in vision to take Nigeria to the Promised Land.

Their assertions about many of the politicians are hardly contestable but the real doubt is their portrayal of the president as being different from everyone in the block. As a neutral non partisan Nigeria, I will use this series to make an independent analysis such that will enable a true and fair opinion on the question and see if GEJ is truly different from the lots in the block or not. Does God have a hand in GEAJ’s ascension?

As a Christian I quite agree with the supporters of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan that he was chosen not by man but by God for particular purposes which God knows and for which He has empowered him to achieve. According to the scriptures (listed below), no single human being can rise to any position without being ordained by God. God appoints all authority. This would include all the worse ones in our history and present as well because Proverbs 16:4 says The LORD works out everything to its proper end even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Daniel 2:21 – He (God) changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Romans 13:1 – Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Colossians 1:16 – For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

John 19:11 (speaking to Pilate) Jesus answered, « You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above . Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.  » Daniel 4:17 `The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men. ‘ Daniel 5:21

He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. Going by the above scripture, it is certain that God was instrumental in bringing GEJ to the Aso Rock Villa for a purpose best known to him. In the same way, God also ordained every other president before him.

It is right to say God ordained Yar’Adua to be president, He also ordained Obasanjo, Abdulsallam, Abacha, Shonekan, Babangida, Buhari, Shagari…….. Whether they achieved the purposes for which they were ordained (or not) depended on them and that would be a subject of another discussion. So, President Jonathan, just like those before him and those who would come after him was ordained by God. Was GEAJ ascension unique? The president, no doubt rose to power in a very peculiar way such that was not only unprecedented in Nigeria but probably in any other democracy.

The events that led to his emergence showed that he never contested for any substantial position before rising to the highest position in the country. This is a position many powerful people had unsuccessfully longed to be even at the expense of their lives. He just had it on a platter of gold. Back in 1998, he was brought out of obscurity by Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha to be his running mate in the Bayelsa gubernatorial race. In 2005, during their second term, his principal, the governor was convicted of corruption and he became the governor without being elected or even campaigning to be so.

Also in a dramatic way and against all odds, in 2007, he was selected by the then ailing presidential aspirant, the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to be his running mate for the presidential run and so, he became the vice president on 29 May, 2007. Following the death of the president, he was sworn in as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 6 May 2010 after being the acting president for nearly 3 months since 9 February 2010 when the National Assembly invoked the doctrine of necessity. If I would have to answer the above question in the affirmative, yes!

His ascension was unique but so were those of every other president before him. The late president Yar’Adua spent most of his time as a two-term governor fighting kidney ailment and as such nobody (including himself and the members of his family) gavehim the least of chance to be Nigerian president. He confessed that all he wanted was to return to the classroom as a teacher if he could complete his gubernatorial terms but against his initial opposition he became the president. Before Yar’Adua was Olusegun Obasanjo, the man who had served as the commander-In-Chief of the armed forces longer than any other Nigerian.

In our 50 years of independence, he alone was the number one citizen for 11 years 7 month and 16 days. On 13th February, 1976, as the second in military hierarchy and command to the assassinated Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was forced at gunpoint to succeed late Gen. Murtala Mohammed. His second coming as the president was even more dramatic and unique. It could only be likened to the biblical story of Joseph (who miraculously left the dungeon to become the prime minister of Egypt, a country where he was sold to slavery) or to the modern day story of ‘prison to palace’ of the great Nelson Mandela.

Just when his only wish was to get out of the prison alive, he outlived late President Sani Abacha who fathomed his incarceration and came out to be Nigeria’s longest democratic president. In the history of the country, no president has ever been luckier than Obasanjo. Abdusallam never ever thought in his widest dream of becoming a president, he was a product of circumstances just like Abacha and Buhari. Gowon also became the head of state after Brigadier Ogundipe declined to be. To be continued