Monday, August 9, 2010


I pondered on Otunba’s words for a minute and met a brick wall. “So, what do you expect me to do for a country that has not exactly done any tangible thing for her youths” I asked. I wanted to test his patience.

“Build your character in every way. Leadership is not Nigeria’s biggest problem. Character is. It is the only leadership quality we must have; character and capacity. If you have capacity, capability and character, and then if you have the opportunity, you must succeed. A lot of Nigerians have opportunities but they don’t have character or capability, so they can’t cope. Some people have character and capability but no opportunity. Once you can get somebody who has capabilities, character and opportunity, he will make a difference,” he said. My pulse was racing. Suddenly, anger, pain, passion, hope, redemption all welled up inside me; the nation into which I was born was causing my blood to boil.

He must have felt it because, then, he looked at me intently and touched my hands in the gentlest way. “Dare to be different. Do what you can with what you have where you are. Lead where you are. Change starts with you,” he added coolly.

On the way back home, I was speeding on a free lane. Usain Bolt wouldn’t even catch me on this, because I was racing on a future Nigeria fast track. Otunba totally convinced that Nigeria can be great again. I was rethinking Nigeria’s future and it will largely be built on what our generation does with the opportunities, no matter how small, presented us today.

Although our past leaders of Nigeria may have plundered the country’s wealth and resources; they may have raped many Nigerians of their right to decent living and good infrastructure. They may have left the country battered, bruised, naked and ashamed. But enough is enough. Wolves in sheep’s clothing should no more be allowed to continue feeding on Snow white’s inheritance. Nigeria’s future must be protected by the enlightened generation of youths. We must rescue Nigeria from the grip of charlatans masquerading as leaders; not just in the political space, but also in the church, in the mosque, in the market place, in your neighbourhood, on the streets, at your workplace, everywhere. Nigeria must rise up and say no to corruption, religious violence and jungle justice. We should join hands together to build a new Nigeria that everyone can be proud of.

“Salvation lies in true self-character development. When that seed of change and true character grows in you, the ripple effect is felt elsewhere outside you,” I remember my father telling me when we debated about the essence of salvation and how some have abused its meaning with contradictory lifestyles. When I briefed himr about my encounter with Otunba, he had something more to say.

“I agree with your friend Otunba. The failure of leadership is the root of Nigeria's problems. And it stems from the loss of true character. If Nigeria must get it right, then change must begin from inside. May I ask, what are the future leaders doing today?”

“Many things. We are holding mass rallies and sensitizing youths across Nigeria about issues that need to be addressed,”

“Okay, great. It's fine for you to have your youth rallies, mass movement actions and roundtables on the way forward for Nigeria. But truth be told, change begins from self - character development. Each person can make a difference, by visiting the future and contributing to the present. Don’t expect a seventy year old man to do that for you. Only the youth can,” he answered.

“This is our chance of redemption; of which this enlightened youth generation will play a major role. Nigeria is in your hands. Release it to the Potter and let him show you how to get involved in recreating a new Nigeria that you, us and our children’s children can be proud of. The world is waiting for your manifestation,” he continued

“We keep saying that Nigeria is the richest in terms of human and natural resources, Nigeria is the giant of Africa, and all the big clauses we use. But rich nations are envied. Powerful nations are feared. We say we are full of intellectuals. Intellectual nations are admired. But we have failed to be trusted. Only trusted nations made up of people of character will be trusted; if people of character must be trusted. That’s why I say we must go back to the future, today. And this is You, Youths,”

“I concur, dad,”

“By the way, did you know Obama met with some young African leaders recently?” he asked.

“No. What was his message to them,” I asked.

“Yes, YOUTH can,” he replied. Otunba’s wise words came back to me in full force. Don’t give up on Nigeria. Change starts with you.

The Revolution has begun.


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