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Yes, We Can

It was two years ago, a moment in my life characterized by solemn rage, haste and fairy little tales of the possibility and mandate of a leader to change the living conditions of their people, even when the people are so doomed in character and productivity. In those days, I used to blame leaders for all awful things that could ever befall their subjects- and when they do beautiful things, I turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the happenings of the world. To surmise it all, I was an uninformed little idiot at the time, just like many of my readers today. It was during that journey in darkness that I watched a short video of the Former President of the United States of American, Barack Obama, on the WhatsApp status of my Brother and Friend, Simon Baltai Tabji. What Obama said changed my own perception of the path to progress. After unveiling his plans for the American people if elected the President of the United States, Obama said in a passionate and optimistic voice “Yes, we can!”

The message in those words is plain- to borrow from the words of Maryam Bukar Hassan (Alhan Islam) “ Government cannot do it alone”. I don’t know how the American people saw reason in those words to the extent of repeating to the hearing of Obama “Yes, we can!”. But this is Nigeria, a country filled with “pointing fingers”; a country where everyone claims to be a saint and dreams to see a better country. Unfortunately, to realize a dream, one needs to wakeup first. When you resolve to wake up, I’ve a gift for you- I’ll tell you where to start from.

“Things fall apart”, wrote Chinua Achebe “ a center cannot hold”. Now this is a very terrible message- but it doesn’t come without a lesson. It’s no secret that “things fall apart”, but the good thing is, “what a center cannot hold alone, together with the other parts, it can!”. The word “things” is a metaphor for the “country and its affairs“, the “center “ for our “government”, and the other parts for “us”, the subjects. This brings us back to the primary message “Yes, we can!”.

“I want you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change but in yours” Obama went further to explain on the day booked for his departure from the White House. He didn’t mean to exonerate leaders from their responsibility. What he did was reinstate his belief on “collective responsibility”. I believe that It’s the responsibility of the government to secure our lands against criminal elements, but it’s at the same time the duty of parents to make sure their children do not become criminals. While I do not object to having a government dedicated to employing qualified teachers in our public schools, I also believe that it’s the duty of parents to make sure their wards are emotionally stable to comprehend what is taught in schools by creating a peaceful environment devoid of domestic violence. I know it’s the responsibility of the government to build schools, rails and roads, but that doesn’t go without saying that, it’s equally the responsibility of its citizens to pay tax. I don’t argue against having sanctions against corrupt government officials, but that doesn’t stop me from opining that all citizens who support the act of corruption should occupy the same status. You are free to hold your governments accountable, but all I’m asking is that you hold yourself first. Success is hard and doesn’t happen overnight- we all must patiently work for it. Nigeria, it’s time to hold ourselves responsible for us.

Steve Chandler, in his book “100 ways to motivate yourself” opined that, by “creating” what we want to see around us, we free ourselves from “reacting” to what is presented around us. Unfortunately, we all react rather than create.

If Nigeria must realize its true potentials, we must create those potentials. I know you want to ask how? Haven’t I told you that already? Just create! I’m sorry to have not told you earlier that in order to create, you most certainly need to think. Henry Ford, an American Industrialist opined that, thinking is the hardest thing to do, that’s why only few people are capable. Challenge yourselves to be amongst those capable few. When all of us do that, you’ll certainly see the true genius of these magic words “ Yes, we can!”.

Muhammad Muftahuddeen Isa

Muhammad Muftahuddeen Isa is a final year student of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Maiduguri, Borno State. He is an activist based in Bauchi State whose keen interest in education, law and politics has made him to fall in love with the pen.