It is such a great time to be a Nigerian! The positivity in the atmosphere is so real one could almost touch it. Our people are excited that they for once in their history were able to vote a person who truly wanted to lead them rather than one handpicked by a godfather. That is why the statement by president Buhari, “I am for everybody, I am for nobody,” rings through and true. But the celebration must now end, it is time to get back to work.
The work ahead of us is not just for those we have thrust power upon for the next four years, a lot of that work must begin with us. We need volunteer change agents to truly birth change in our country. President Buhari will not be on queues at the bank, he is not likely to be seen at a place a Nigerian is throwing waste out of his car and neither is here likely to be driven off the road by an insensitive driver. That is where we all come in.
Let us use the opportunity the new change phenomenon has offered us by policing ourselves and policing other citizens. One was driving on a weekend in Abuja when the driver ahead threw dirt on the road. It was an opportunity to caution someone against one of the most pervasive habits amongst Nigerians. I did indeed caution the driver and while he attempted to cover his shame by throwing abuses at me, I could see how much he was embarrassed. If that driver gets to experience that say three times that week, he’d at least think twice before throwing dirt on the road next time. Should you find yourself in such a situation, do not drive past such acts of civil indiscipline as though “it is not my business,” because it really is.
As citizens, we are often pre-occupied by what government has not done for us we forget we have duties and responsibilities to perform. No matter what government does to make our lives comfortable, ours will not be a desirable society to live in until citizens commit to their own civic duties and responsibilities. Change is an all encompassing phenomenon, it will be driven from Abuja but there will be no change if most citizens do not commit to changing their ways of life that contradict their own expectations from government.
A wise man once said, “the most important office in a democracy is the office of the citizen,” and that cannot be better said. We cannot truly say that the few people we vote into power every now and then are solely responsible for the direction of our country. If the rest of us, more than 99 per cent of our population, commit to making our country work, it will work. We will be the ones pushing bad leaders to get stuff done or pay the price of sloppy and incompetent leadership.
President Mohammadu Buhari has his work cut out and we do too. There is work to do and there are sacrifices to make. The job of building Nigeria is a collective one; each man and woman, each rich and poor citizen, every Nigerian must commit to being agents of change and watchdogs for the betterment of our country. The president has said he will not tolerate corruption, you can bet this would be a great time for whistleblowers to thrive. The corrupt public officers and civil servants we complain about everyday are our colleagues, neighbours, relatives and sometimes friends. It is time to commit to reporting them.
The job of making Nigeria work is ours and we cannot fold our hands thinking we have voted some people to do it. Our elected officials will drive the change but there will be no change if we don’t help them deploy it in our own little spaces. This is what we must all commit to. We need active citizens who will commit to making Nigeria work, we need change agents who will take the delivery of change across the board on their shoulders. Let us do our part as citizens and then watch our leaders take a cue from our passion and commitment to see our country work.
Nigeria will move forward but no matter what the few people elected to make a country of 170 million move forward do, Nigeria will not move forward if the rest of the 170 million do not do their part in making it move forward. The celebration must now end, the job of doing our country has begun!
Japheth J Omojuwa @Omojuwa