Nigeria, a great country-then, what is greatness?
When someone or something-maybe a country is great, according to Oxford (Dictionary of) English on my Android phone, it must be almost all of these terms: eminent, distinct, and comparatively, above average in most of the indices measuring how well it manages itself-human and other resources it's endowed with or even without!
In this context, if Nigeria is a great country it most be pre-eminent in some ways. Has Nigeria surpassed her peers in management of human and materials? Where in all aspects of life have we really distinguished ourselves? Is it in education, technological advances, sports, entertainments, agricultural production, military exploits, etc.? Are we distinct, as a nation, in a positive way?
If demographics and land mass and the potential within are the determinants of greatness, then, Nigeria could be said to be, as some erroneously believe. But greatness of a country is not about her size, neither is it about her population; a big country could be great or a disappointment; likewise, we've seen small countries attained greatness through the determination, political will and patriotic zeal of her leaders. In the same vein, we've seen countries with really sparse resources both material and human but turned the human capital to quality assets that were able to convert their 'misfortunes' into 'fortunes' sought after by the others.
England for example is not a marvel when it comes to size or population. It's probable that, to make up for this it became Great Britain by forming a union with Scotland and Wales. She did not stop there! She co-opted Northern Ireland and became United Kingdom. See what some nations do to be BIG!
Size should mean greatness when used optimally. That's what we here are taking for granted. United States of America is big and a real great country; see how China is using her size to give America a good run for her money.
Now to the supposedly minions. Singapore, a country to be marvel at. An island-city state with a population of less than 6 million,she has a GDP of about 300 billion dollars; Per capita GDP of 90,000 dollars. She doesn't have even a drop of crude oil; she is the 10th largest importer of oil; she has the biggest palm oil based diesel plant in the world. Singapore is an energy hub in Asia even with her small size and population! Many other small countries are doing great too-Qatar, UAE, Denmark, etc.
And Nigeria, with a population of about 180 million people has a GDP of less than 600 billion dollars (less than the defense budget of united States with a population just over 300 million people) and GDP per capita of less than 6,000 dollars. From the above one can see which country is producing more per person, even with Nigeria being the 6th largest producer of crude oil and Singapore a net importer.
Having done this comparison and contrast, the real factor that determines greatness is attitude-not just of the leadership, but most especially that of the ordinary people-for in democracy unlike monarchy, leadership isn't a permanent thing; it comes and goes. It is a kind of cycle: leaders are produced from the led by election; after serving their terms they are back as ordinary people and New leaders elected again to replace them. So, attitude of the citizenry would be of paramount if a country really wants to be great.
Let us put the attitude of Nigeria under the searchlight. Are Nigerians patriotic? A patriotic citizenry would do anything for the country because of the unconditional love he has for her!
Nigerians professed patriotism is more pronounced during sporting activities, especially football matches, when their country is playing against another. There's a kind of patriotism I observed with the Americans in the last election that amazes me. All former presidents from Republican Party, the party that Trump belongs to, refused to endorse his candidacy. Why? They believe that Trump lack the intelligence, temperament and political sagacity to be able to make America retain her per-eminent and leadership position in the comity of nations! To me that's patriotism! Another example. God bless America is a platitude you hear everyday from an average American...and they mean it. These are traits you find in citizens of a great or an aspiring great country!
Now, back to my country Nigeria. I doubt if there is any other country in the world where almost everyone wants to emigrate! Yes, our leaders failed us in provision of basics of life; amenities that make life meaningful; but a large percentage of the would be emigrants don't even have a concrete reason for wanting to leave. Some even wouldn't mind going to a war-torn country or countries experiencing famine or the like.
Also, greatness comes with being proud of who you are and what you have. But a country importing other people's hair and probably, over 80 percent of the women fixing this to look good! Where anything foreign or imported are coveted.
These are not traits that make a country great! Also, when a large part of the population would blindly support anyone from their own ethnic groups or tribes and of same religion no matter what wrong is committed.
To be great is for you to have a concrete and solid sense of security, especially food security. When a country has a very large population and large arable land. This is double blessing in being food sufficient and, being a net exporter of agriculture produce and products. However, if instead of being a net exporter, a country with a very large population allows herself to be the opposite-importing everything she consumes, that's a serious problem! And it's no trait you find with great countries.
But there's a curious occurrences about the destiny of Nigeria that's really bothering me wish I think should bother any introspective and any spiritual-minded person. And also good students and scholars of history. This my concern may be debatable, but if this kind of destiny happens in the life of a person, there's every reason to be concerned and even to be bothered!
In our checkered history, we've experienced so many vicissitudes, just like all other countries; but unlike many great countries, when we were close to what I want to call our own watershed, all of a sudden, some kind of hiccups appeared. We've had great and revolutionary leaders; but we've had more of bad, clueless and non visionary leadership. Yes, it takes the vision of a few good leaders to take a country to the next level.
Nigeria, to me, has been very hapless all along. Our terrible leaders tend to have field day. They spend their complete terms in office and may even have extra; but those that look promising and showed that they have the grasp of what our problems really were and going about proffering solutions, that's when we would experience some sort of glitches. In a whatsapp group in which I belong, a member's contribution was my source of 'inspiration'. The contribution tried to say something like: Buhari in 1983 spent just 20 months and IBB stopped him in his tracks; and now again, in this new dispensation, just 20 months, another kind of interruption! In essence, he believes PMB needs deliverance.
But I do not see it that way; just like I do not expect any introspective and history- minded Nigerian to see it in that context. Is it not Nigeria that really needs deliverance here? By God's grace, this would not be like 1983 because PMB would only be gone for few months and he shall come back with a new and refreshed verve. I would rather be concerned about the threat to Nigeria being great: why this hiccup when we have a leader that's genuinely fighting our worst monster headlong? I fear for our ever becoming real great!