Recently, many Nigerians believe that there is no hope for Nigeria because of the extant corruption, insecurity, and economic hardship that engulfs the country. If an average Nigerian is asked on the street about the state of the nation, they seldom use favorable terms to describe this state.
Most people would describe the nation through their experience of hunger, suffering, death threat, anxiety, depression, lack of employment, and poor education. Some Nigerians have assumed that the country would have collapsed by now. However, on the other side, the Nigerian community abroad is among the most respected immigrant community worldwide. This has attracted so much respect for Nigerians who leave Nigeria to further their studies in America, Europe, or Canada. In the United States, the Nigerian community is rated among the most educated, with most of her immigrants having at least a first degree. Nigerians who attended a public university in Nigeria are likely to secure admission to top-rated universities of the world, including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Duke, and the University of Edinburgh. Also, students trained in a Nigerian public university could work and compete in any organization without obtaining an additional degree outside of Nigeria. Finally, medical doctors who graduate from different Nigerian medical schools are spread across world-class international hospitals. These doctors need no additional degree to practice in the U.K., U.S., or China. Other African countries in the diaspora also look up to Nigerian communities for their resilience and survival strategies.
Because of this view, many Nigerians are proud to identify with Nigeria abroad more than they would living in Nigeria. There is pride, respect, and pedigree in saying you are a Nigerian abroad. So, a Nigerians’ view of Nigeria locally differs from how some international communities and Nigerians in the diaspora view it.
To all our presidential aspirants come 2023, have you reflected in your manifesto what it means to be a Nigerian at home and what it means to be a Nigerian in the diaspora? How do you bring back the pride and glory of Nigeria to Nigeria by restoring hope and a sense of futurity in the mind of every Nigerian at home? What would you do to bridge this gap?
Recently, we saw how many presidential aspirants traveled abroad to address the Nigerian community in the U.K., U.S., and Canada. However, most people in the diaspora do not even have a voter’s card. Our political leaders are the only people who stand between the perception of Nigeria abroad and the experience and perception of Nigerians in Nigeria. Nigerians of all regions are not bad, lazy, or disposable. Nigerians are hard workers, educated, book-smart, brave, and curious people. If Nigerians have good leaders that could lead them aright, they will compete with any developed nation worldwide. We have the population and the natural resources it would take to be a leading nation in the world.
Politicians have previously divided the masses, using tribalism, ethnicity, and regionalism to their benefit. Unfortunately, Nigeria is still on the margins of these divides. As a presidential aspirant, this is a big challenge to you, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi, Abubakar Atiku, and Rabiu Kwankwaso. If the masses give you their love and trust in February 2023, would you continue to use politics of corruption, godfatherism, ethnicity, and religion to divide Nigerians?
I advise any aspirant who wins the 2023 election to use their victory to their advantage to build a stronger Nigeria, a patriotic Nigeria, and an attractive Nigeria. The world is expecting a lot from us. The world has so much respect for Nigeria and Nigerians and has so much to learn from us. Would you be a patriotic leader when elected president? Would you break the genes of religious divide and ethnicity to reward competence, productivity, to build a better Nigeria?
To the Nigerian voters and masses, if there is any time to use our voting rights wisely and effectively, the time is now. The world is watching and waiting to see the leaders we will elect in 2023. These leaders can lead us to a better and more robust economy, unite Nigeria, and create the right environment for a prosperous Nigeria, a corrupt-free Nigeria, and an adventurous Nigeria.
This election will reflect how oriented and united we are as a people.
As we go polling units, tribe, religion, money, and regionalism should be the last thing we should vote for. Instead, our votes should be based on our aspirants’ integrity, competence, patriotism, and progressiveness. Nigerian youth and the populace should not be intimidated by political hegemony and rhetoric on election rigging. As always evident, the Nigerian masses should stand together to oppose intimation before, during, and after elections.
Nigeria belongs to all of us, the poor, the rich, the disabled, men, women, children, Muslim, Christian, non-religionists, and indigenous African worshippers. We must learn to speak with one voice. Never forget that we must live together as one. The Nigerian people should not give up on their heritage and motherland; instead, we must hold our leaders to higher standards and be accountable to the people who elected them. We should network and unite to build a nation Nigerians, and the world would be proud of.
To INEC, you stand between the Nigerian populace and the presidential and governorship office seekers. INEC must be independent and impartial in the electioneering process. You must be independent of the Nigerian government, from the presidential aspirants, all other aspirants, and religious and ethnic organizations. The Nigerian people have not given up on you. The Nigerian people have many expectations from this present INEC than the INEC of the past. I implore you to make a difference in the Nigerian 2023 elections. Let this election respond to the quest and cry for a New Nigeria. A Nigeria you and future generations will be proud of. If this is done, hope, trust, and patriotism will return to the average Nigerian at home and in the diaspora.
God bless Nigeria, God bless INEC, and God bless all Nigerians at home and abroad.
By Sir Kefas Lamak, Kefas: University of Iowa. USA