Enhancing Confidence in Nigeria for Nation Building: Towards Economic Success and Improved Quality of Life for Nigerians
By Ahmad Adedimeji Amobi
“Battles are only lost when we stop trying” —Olubankole Wellington.
I purposefully begin this essay with that short quote because over the years, the quote has been catalysing my inner-self whenever I think of stopping aiming at a particular goal. But not just that, the quote is made by a 37-year-old Nigerian young politician, a musician, under the Modern Democratic Party founded by some youth associations in 2017.
Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W (permit me, this is what I will be referring him with), declared his ambition to represent Eti-Osa Local Government Area in Lagos in the 2019 elections. When this guy declared his ambition, there was brouhaha on every Nigerian social network. One, the political party is new and is being led by a 27-year-old youth activist. Two, Banky W is a musician; and three, other ranters whose noises were just to disrupt the peace of the social media.
When Banky W was asked in an interview why he decides the sudden decision, he said “I have shared this vision with quite some few people. Some have been incredibly supportive, but some advised against it. I am under no illusions that this run will be easy. Considering who we are going up against, this is almost impossible. They said we don’t have money to run… we say our strength lies in our numbers. They said we don’t have the structure, we say we still attempt to build it. They said “what if you lose?” I say, what if I win?”
I am not to be politically examined as I do not belong to one, but I assume using a young politician as an instance should trigger the consciousness of Nigerians, youth especially. If we are planning Nigeria to be better today, the preparation is for tomorrow. And when we speak of tomorrow; we speak of the youth, the younger ones; the young-shall-grow counterparts of today.
The topic says ‘enhancing confidence in Nigeria’; the Nigeria in that context is pointing at the youths because they are the nation builders of tomorrow. Now, back to the story of Banky W.
He said they said they don’t have money but he said ‘our strength lies in our numbers’. This assertion is enough to boost the consciousness of Nigerians. Banky W understood the fact that they were small and they were in combat with the majority; he understood the fact that they didn’t have money, yet, he had the confidence that it is when we don’t put in our legs in water that we don’t know its temperature. This is not about being a politician; it is about having the courage to challenge what others assume to be unchallengeable.
Okay, what does confidence mean? Dictionary might define it as boldness, firm trust, faith and etc. but to define it philosophically, confidence means the ability to lure one’s consciousness into what others perceive as being cumbersome and in fact trying it again after losing it.
So, let’s go back to the opening quote. Banky W said that statement in a video released after the elections which he lost. The quote, semantically tells us, without stretching the point, that coming elections, he is still re-running. He didn’t say we’ve lost and this is the end.
A lot of people nowadays get depressed and eventually commit suicide because they lack confidence in themselves. And the statistics shows that youth are the casualties of depression and suicide in Nigeria. Sometimes, we, students, get depressed because of our inability to try again what we’ve lost. A student that thinks he/she should commit suicide because he/she fails a course should think of those that didn’t make it up to the crossing Cumulative Grade Point which is either 1.5 or 1.0. He/she should think of those that didn’t get admission, those that failed Post-UME, those that failed UTME, those that are still struggling to get a compulsory subject in their Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations, and even those that have lost hope of having western education. And each level should think of the descending levels behind, as it goes down. Battles are only lost when we stop trying.
Massie Williams, universally known as Arya Stark of Winterfell in the popular world movie titled Game of Thrones, in her TedTalks Manchester delivered this year, narrates how she told her mother she wants to drop out of school for being an artist at the age of 8. This little girl whose age should probably be between the ages of 20-22 now has become internationally known because of her courage, her confidence. It is not an easy envision to envisage a student dropping out of school because she wants to be an artist. It was courage. The young Massie Williams has become one of the world most influential artists and she has won numerous world reputable awards. It is if you’re not on any social network that you would not know Massie Williams and her achievements.
Confidence in being self-assuring and being able to provoke, to instigate, to put effort on a goal, even if lost. Though, why some bag failure despite their consistency and incessancy is that they force themselves into what they don’t have future in. We shouldn’t venture in what we don’t have future. It kills the courage built in us.
Hypothetically, Nigeria lacks confidence in herself. When we say Nigeria, we mean Nigerians. In the 1960s, Nigeria was mainly an agricultural economy. It was among the world’s leading producers of palm oil, groundnut, cocoa, cotton, rubber, and hides and skin. The agricultural sector contributed over 60 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (supplying 70 percent of export and 95 percent of food needs). There was also diverse and rich vegetation capable of supporting a heavy population livestock, 79 million hectares of arable land, 267.7 billion m3 of water irrigation, 14 million hectares surface water, 57.9 billion m3 of underground water, 3.14 million hectares of irrigation of land and with between 60 to 70 percent of her population involved in farming. However, with the advent of commercial oil exploration in the early 1970s, the fortunes of agriculture started to dwindle with a resultant downward decline in productivity. (Vision 2020, 2009; Oyedepo, 2011).
Nigeria was once a gloomy country with agriculture. Presently, a lot of agriculturalists have been agitating for the return of part of the nation’s economy load on agriculture. But we think retuning to agriculture would march us down to unbearable level of poverty, yet, the country continues to be among the fast deteriorating country economy wise in Africa. The agriculturalists agitating for this are not agitating for total removal but a part. But we think going back would run us down which we actually are. How about if we try it out?
It is undisputable that some leaders try to sway a bit back to agriculture. However, the total force required is not being expended to the agricultural sector. Nigeria’s budget for agriculture was far below standards or far below attentions given to other sectors. Why is this? Nigeria is scared. Nigerians are scared of not 1) being among the poorest countries in Africa 2) eating their home made produce because we produce raw, unprocessed food 3) being able to try again what we’ve lost.
On a final note, imbibing confidence into the minds of Nigerians not only boosts the country’s economy but also boosts our mental and psychological awareness. If it wasn’t the confidence that Banky W had in himself, his name and voice wouldn’t have been heard. If Massie Williams did not challenge the societal stereotype, she might probably still be in class memorizing the prescribed class notes. The talent in her might have fade totally into extinction.
Enhancing confidence in Nigerians is enhancing confidence in the nation builders as confidence not only but also means boldness, courage, persistence, curiosity, ability to challenge and consistency. When Nigerians are confident, Nigeria is confident. We are Nigerians, and the Nigerianess lives in us.