CORPORATIONS and big organisations run on visions. They each have a deliberately crafted and well thought out vision that guides their operations and conducts. The vision tells the story of where the organisations are and where they are targeting. The vision is internalised by every member of staff and becomes their guiding principle. It informs their actions and inactions and in effect becomes their culture. Hence, most properly run organisations, irrespective of where their branches are located, are monoculture; staff members flung in different parts of the globe have identical behaviour because there is a uniformity of purpose and focus. The secret of the greatness of leading corporations is their unambiguous and unmistakable vision. They go the extra mile to inculcate this in every member of staff and the leaders live the dream. Since everyone is working towards the same goal, synergy is built and success becomes a matter of course.
Great nations are also driven by well thought out visions. Greatness does not happen by happenstance; it responds to deliberate efforts. Every country that is great today had, at one point or the other, leaders that sat down to answer some germane questions: What kind of country do we want to build? How are we going to build the nation of our dream? How do we want to be seen by the rest of the world? What kind of culture do we want to promote? How do we want to conduct our business? What will be our reward system? Etc.
Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, inherited a weak, wobbling and very corrupt country from the British colonialists. He and his comrades realised that if the future of the new country would hold any promise for the people, the leadership had to answer some very difficult questions and follow through with sincerity of purpose on the answers to the questions. They decided that they had to build a new country that would be very different from the one handed over to them. They decided to canvass an attitudinal change, focusing on three major areas of the Singaporean life, which are work ethics, social and religious harmony and political freedom. These were well articulated and communicated to the people. The government did not just play lip service to the vision; it took the lead in exhibiting commitment to ensuring its success.
In Singapore, as a result of the determination of the government to promote the right work ethics, people are rewarded based on their ability and not their ethnic or religious affiliation; nobody needs any godfather to move up. Neither quota system nor federal character has any place in the country; everybody gets their due. What this has done is to throw up the best people from the country and attract the best hands to the country; there is a healthy competition among all categories of people because they know that what they get eventually is a function of what they contribute. Most people put in their best knowing that the system would not allow their efforts to go down the drain.
Because the reward system was (and still is) just, the people were able to build the Singaporean economy into a very strong one. Singapore, with no known natural resource, is regarded as one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a per capita income of $52, 600, as of 2017. Also sequel to the determination of the country’s leadership to promote social and religious harmony as well as encourage political freedom, there is mutual respect among the people, irrespective of their religious, social or political persuasion.
I have searched the archives but I have yet to find a document containing the Nigerian vision or dream. In Nigeria, there is no national vision. There is nothing known as ‘the Nigerian Dream.’ What this presupposes is that there is no specific goal that all Nigerians are working towards, no concerted effort to take the country to a pre-determined future, no definite activity to inculcate in the people certain beliefs that will engender the right kind of attitudes which will fast track our development as a country. I am aware that each government that we have had in the recent past came with specific things that it wanted to achieve; Obasanjo harped on economic reform, Yar’ Adua’s focus was observing the rule of law, Jonathan was particular about transformation, the current government is telling us change begins with us, but none of those is qualified to be regarded as a national vision or goal; they can best be defined as mere tags by which each of the leaders wanted to be identified. What will Nigerians be identified by that will have a positive effect on the country?
What we had that was close to a national vision was the mantra introduced by former Information Minister, Mrs Dora Akunyili, ‘Good People, Great Nation,’ but it lacked the proper articulation to transform it into a national aspiration. What were we supposed to do to become a good people and our country a great nation? The former minister forgot to tell us.
Truth be told the challenges the country is currently battling with are linked with the absence of ‘the Nigerian Dream.’ Since nature abhors a vacuum, where there is no dream, there will be hallucination. The agitation for a reverse to regionalism is a reaction to the absence of ‘the Nigerian Dream.’ People are hiding under regionalism because of the belief that each of the regions has well-articulated goals. The antidote to the regional agitation is a definite and definitive Nigerian Dream.
Now that President Muhammadu Buhari has been reelected, he should make getting a national dream for the country a priority. He needs to do what Le Kuan Yew did for Singapore so that Nigeria can also experience greatness. If he does that he will be remembered as the father of the modern Nigeria.
The Nigerian Dream must be anchored on answers to the following questions, among others; What do we want to be known for? What do we want as the hallmark of our nationhood? What values do we want to ingrain in our citizenry? It is when answers are provided to these questions and no effort is spared to make every Nigerian key into the answers that our journey to greatness will begin.