By Dul Johnson
Let me begin with an appeal, that every Nigerian Diaspora who comes across this write-up, should please endeavour to share it with as many others as they can. This is because I have much confidence in Nigerians in the Diaspora. I know that Nigeria is ever in your mind, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. I know that you are fully aware of the situation back home and wish that it would have been different. For a good number of you, it is not by choice that you are where you are, while for some of you, you have, for good reasons, gone to contribute to the development of other human communities and to promote Nigeria’s image abroad. Whichever may be the reason, I am sure that your love for country could never diminish. There is a saying that ‘North, South, East or West Home is the Best’. I believe that even if (or as) you feel at home in your country of residence, you are not happy with the state of our nation and the happenings in it. This is the time to work towards the real change that is to come in 2023.
I dare to say that you have a heavy responsibility on your shoulders. You see, where you are confers certain privileges on you; the advantage of seeing and understanding how democratic societies and institutions work, how utilities, facilities and infrastructure work under the care and supervision of human beings with no better endowment than Nigerians. Therefore, when you speak to your kins and friends at home, they will believe and respect your views. You are far removed from the problems in Nigeria and can, therefore, be more objective in analyzing the situation than those in the middle of it and with advanced technology you don’t miss out on anything happening in Nigeria. They will work along with you, for the needed change we anticipate, the change that they desire far more than you do, and who, therefore, should make the change happen. You, too, know that when this change comes, you will benefit in more than one way; they will stop depending on you, which reduces the burden you carry on their behalf, while you will have the peace of mind to do what you are doing out there, and the confidence to come home any time and leave whenever you want, without any fear of threat to your life or their lives. You will also be able to say, with pride, that you are a Nigerian. But this is not the real burden I am talking about.
There is much work to be done on the ground in Nigeria. But some of this work can be done from any part of the world any time. Apart from your immediate family who benefit from you directly, there are numerous others of the extended family, friends, school mates, associates and colleagues on who you have some degree of influence, and who you can easily reach. Many of them may not have registered or taken a decision about voting. To decide to vote is one thing, and who to vote for, is another. There has been a palpable show of apathy by many towards elections in Nigeria. It is true that they had voted many times in the past and had not seen any positive results or change. But we are at the brink of disaster and must ensure that the change takes place this time. To see positive results depends on who we put behind the (Oak) table in Aso Rock Vila. Your job therefore, is to let those in your circle of influence understand that in the past, we had voted for parties or faceless names, producing individuals who had no clue about governance or real politics; people who did not understand the country’s real problems let alone know how to tackle them.
This is the time to make them appreciate the fact that the time for that kind of politics is over and gone forever. And it is gone, never to come back! Now is the time to analyse and interrogate, as a person, every candidate, party aside, so that at the end of the day, we are able to put the right person in the saddle. No one in the whole world would deny the fact that leadership selection is one of the major problems the country has suffered. I used the word selection because we really need to select and agree upon the right person before voting confirms them. So, you need to get to the people on the ground, come to a firm agreement on the consensus candidate ahead of the voting period. Your second major task, therefore, is to raise awareness and mobilise for change at home and abroad. Let nothing be taken for granted.
Politics require financial resources⎯loads of it. It also requires material resources, most of which money can procure. Mobility, for example, advertisements, food, water, medicines, communication, etc.; all of these require finances, which, in Nigeria of today, are the scarcest. You can mobilise some to aid the change process, and the time for that is now! No amount is too small, and no amount is too big. You may work as individuals, but forming groups may be more advantageous. Use any and every legitimate means to raise funds; from individuals, corporate bodies and friends of Nigeria. There are many out there who love this country and would do anything within their power to see that we get out of this present season of anomie.
I do not set out to campaign for any party or candidate; I set out to campaign for the survival and revival of Nigeria. I have continuously argued that we watch and listen to the actions and language of the parties and their flagbearers. Surely, we do not expect an angel to drop from heaven and be president of our country or governor of our state. Therefore, those of you out there who have an understanding of politics and economics, and how democracies work to ensure security of lives and property and provide basic social needs, should be able to analyse the candidates and their parties to know who comes close to the ideas and strategies that can turn things around for our dear country. I am aware that many of the candidates have been talking with you and asking for your support. Some of them may be your friends or even relatives, but I urge you to think country first. For, no one can rule a nonexistent country, and a country in chaos the way our dear country is now, is as bad as nonexistent. I also know, as the popular saying goes in Nigeria, that “if the speaker is a fool, the (hearer) listener is not also a fool”. What you get, or not get, from what they say, is what will turn you off, or endear you to them.
Another reason you really want to be part of this change agenda is this: with a government in place, security issues would be addressed. With security issues addressed, opportunities for investment would open up and we would look upon many of you to take up the openings. But you need to work for those opportunities which will come only with the coming of the change. There is also the actual participation in governance. Many of you have the knowledge and the experience in the business of state administration, the running of state agencies and public institutions. A good government which knows your value would need you in your scores. Therefore, I urge you, dear compatriots in the Diaspora, to remember that “home is home”, and you or your children will come back to it one day. Again, as we say it here, “agaracha must come home”. However, you must ensure that you do not come back to a ruined home. The time to salvage Nigeria is now, and you are in a position⎯a good position at that⎯to play an important role and write your name in the book of Nigeria’s change history.
*Prof Johnson is of the Department of English and Literary Studies, Bingham University, Karu