Analyses]–The question should be more of ‘when’ rather than ‘will’. It is more of ‘how’ rather than ‘can’. Joyfully, history blesses us with transformational stories of countries in the world. Ask the Greeks ‘is national transformation ever possible?’, they would tell you an affirmative ‘Yes!’. Say same to the Singaporeans, their responses won’t be any different. Go further, ask the Germans or the Americans, the replies from them would never differ. The great superpowers of the world were once powerless. But they envisioned and pursue change. And they saw it. If they did, why not Nigeria, the most populous black nation on planet earth.
In the gilded age, between two great wars – Civil War and First World War – America came of age. In the space of a period less than 50 years, the nation grew and rose, transforming from a Rural Republic to an Urban Nation. A once epileptic nation became transformed into a healthy one; it turned around from the backseat of redundancy to the roundtable of relevancy. Indeed, the nation have been transformed; today, USA, according to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is the most technologically powerful nation in the world.
Consider Germany, too, who, even in the face of war, soared. In 1933, the Nazis ascended power. It was when the German Economy was in total ruin and collapse due to war-reparation and zero prospect for foreign investment or credit. Through independent monetary policies and full-employment public works program, the Third Reich turned a financially bankrupt Germany, devoid of overseas colonies, to an economically buoyant one. Today, Germany have the fifth strongest economy in the world, and the strongest in Europe.
Countries have transformed, it can be done again. Nigeria can be transformed. However, transformation, referred to as ,‘a marked change in appearance or character, especially one for the better,’ doesn’t occur by mere wanting or dreaming; it occurs by real vision, mission and ambition. The evil genius, Adolf Hitler, painted the picture well when he said, “if you want to shine like the sun, then you must burn like it.”
From the foregoing, to rub shoulders with the great economies of the world, we must line up on the same lane they stand. The Rwandans have the habit of saying, “only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet.” So, to experience transformation, which is a gradual development, we must not pull the bull by the tail, we pull by the horn – so was the way others achieved it.
To this effect, the most potent weapon in the national transformation is: Visionary Leadership. Since everyone cannot rule and be ruled at the same time, those with whom the steering of power is with must have transformational vision at heart. And just like a Ghanaian writer, Adei, once wrote that “transformative leadership is cause; everything else is effect,” he couldn’t have been more correct. A visionary leader would have a vision into the future. He develops an effective organization and attracts others to strive for the attainment of this vision. It is through him the organization of this vision is not just sustained, its beliefs and values stand the test of time. If Nigeria must be transformed, she must leave its present state of leadership hiccup to one of leadership pick up – one whose vision is to serve, save and steer the nation from doldrum to stardom. The likes of Alexandria The Great of ancient Greece, Lee Kuan Yew of the island-city state, Singapore, South African cum African legend, Nelson Mandela, and of course, George Washington of the United States, have all shown that good leadership can birth unmatched national transformation.
Moving on, leadership and followership goes hand in glove. If one is deficient, the other is as useless as dust. A visionary leader’s vision is dead at birth if the vision is not shared by the followers and all cabinet members. A tree doesn’t make a forest; neither does a person make a group. If Nigeria must attain change, the ruled must envision a changed Nigeria, they must strive towards upholding the values and belief in attaining this change. The fifth verse of the Nigerian National Pledge ‘and uphold our honour and glory,’ hits the nail on the head perfectly. It should be noted that if we don’t, saying transformation is possible is like hoping that a bleaching albino wins the award of the whitest man on earth. It is vain and void.
Aside from this, when leadership and followership vision are at agreement, certain antagonistic features would, after a while, shrink their vision and blur the future. According to Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reported by Transparency International, of 175 countries, Nigeria is the 136th least corrupt nation. Corruption Rank in Nigeria averaged 117.37 from 1996 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 152 in 2005 and a record low of 52 in 1997. A country clamouring for transformation must not ply this trend of being a corruption guru. Nigerians must overleaf the page of time from heartbreaking cases of organized crimes, political indolence, celebrated injustice and the likes; they must flip the page to soothing stories of groundbreaking political, economic and socioeconomic developments.
Furthermore, the corecipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, Ghana’s Kofi Annan reminded us beautifully saying, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” No one can transform anything without first transforming himself with insight, knowledge and information through education. Not being informed is being deformed just like saying that if you are not current, you can’t be correct. If Nigeria must be transformed, our educational system must be reinvigorated; our learning power must belly our earning power. Investment on education is erection of transformation. In the journey of America and Singapore from grass to grace, their robust educational sector triggered massive creative innovations, inventions and growth. And of course, the youths are the reasonable and most potent handle to be used in awakening this development and growth. If Nigeria must flash smiles of landmark achievements, education must be polished and furnished and refurbished for youthful development, and all-round transformation.
On a final note, change doesn’t occur overnight. It requires properly planned positive policies mixed with prevalence persistence and patience. It took the Americans about fifty years; we shouldn’t expect ours to happen in just a wink or a blink of the eyes. It took Singapore one generation; ours cannot happen immediately but gradually. Our transformational march lies in our collectivity as it lies in the words of Henry Ford that “whether we think we can or we think we cannot, in either way, we can never be wrong” So, why not let us start as though we are without limitations. With set goals and purposeful vision, monitored by equally ideal leadership and followership, not just will Nigeria become a hotbed of transformational heaven, but also an El Dorado of transformational haven.
Akinpelu Yusuf is a Campus Journalist who schools as a Statistician in the University of Ibadan.