Penultimate week, we treated the first part of this treatise. This is the conclusion.
On the other hand, the proposed conversation must also integrate the voices and efforts of the next generation that has already began its own agitation for a better Nigeria. If I am asked, I have some thoughts on a significant number of individuals that could form the critical core of elites around which a generational capital can evolve into a national critical force:
Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Prof. Pat Utomi, Isawa Elaigwu, Eze Festus Odimegwu, Hon. Nkoyo Toyo, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, Tony Elumelu, Aliko Dangote, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Prof. Toyin Falola, Mrs Amina Mohammed, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chief Wole Olanipekun, Olusegun Adeniyi, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Odia Ofeimun, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mrs Joke Silva, Dr. Wale Babalakin, A.B. Mahmoud, Abimbola Adelakun, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Prof. Godwin Sogolo, Patrick Okigbo, Chude Jideonwo, Dr Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso, Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, Prof. Charles Soludo, Atedo Peterside, Oby Ezekwesili, Dr Omobola Johnson, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Sola David-Borha, Tunji Olagunju, Julius Ihonvbere, Sam Omatseye, Ray Ekpu, Yakubu Muhammed, Sonala Olumhense, Olatunji Dare, Tola Adeniyi, Ayo Olukotun, to name just a few.
This is a unique group but not exhaustive. First, it is a blend of the old and the new—Chimamanda Adiche and Bolaji Akinyemi. Second, it cuts across the inhibitions of ethnicity. I wonder, for instance, who will charge Odia Ofeimun with ethnic chauvinism. Third, it transcends professional differences—Matthew Kukah and Charles Soludo. Fourth, it represents a crop of patriots whose works keep challenging the definition and representation of Nigeria. Who can query the scholarship and patriotism of Toyin Falola in this regard? And then there are younger chaps who are brilliant, enterprising and with a deep understanding of the deep dynamics—in economy, society, politics and other areas of Nigeria’s national life—that keep weighing the country down. There is also a cream of politicians who are beyond chauvinisms who would easily contribute beyond political shenanigans. With this core of Nigerians, I foresee the commencement of a dynamic inter-generational conversation, specifically some series of roundtables, around the future of Nigeria. I see this, first and foremost as an intellectual coalition around serious socioeconomic, sociocultural and political dysfunctions in Nigeria, animated by the collective instinct that Nigeria cannot be allowed to collapse from the sheer weight of national listlessness and floundering. These roundtables will generate significant issues, ideas and insights that the Nigerian government cannot disregard basically because they are coming from those elites whose thoughts matter to Nigeria’s progress, and because these elites are all Nigeria has to make any conscious attempt at speeding up its development.
Let me end this reflection on what my generation needs to do to reconnect with Nigeria with a quote which Shakespeare puts in the mouth of Cassius in Julius Caesar:
Men at sometimes were masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Nigeria’s trajectory to its present predicament is not due to any fatalistic dynamics. There is no fault in our stars. What is wrong with Nigeria is multidimensional. On the one hand, Nigeria lacks leaders with the force of character, like Lee Kwan Yew, who can confront the Nigerian condition with the indefatigable force of vision and action that rise and see beyond Nigeria’s present problems. And on the other hand, Nigeria has not been able to rouse its own elites into patriotic engagement with the nation’s ideological formations and dynamics. My generation is right within the very interstices that condemn Nigeria but could also elevate her.
I know I am living in interesting times, as the Chinese proverb says. I sincerely only hope that we all will be willing to inaugurate a redeeming moment within which Nigeria can benefit from the immensity of our achievements and endowments. That is the challenge before the third generation of Nigerians who has a date with history—and with posterity.
Published March 2017 on The Sun