Just a couple of weeks ago, ACN and CPC came with separate statements blaming the other political party for the collapse of the alliance. The objective of the alliance was to form a partnership that will defeat the ruling and dominant party, PDP at the forthcoming general elections.
ACN and CPC are two registered political parties who both recently conducted their party convention where they decided on their presidential candidates for the April presidential elections. They also have party structures in every state in Nigeria and will be fielding candidates for state & federal level elections. I am stating this to illustration that these are independent political parties.
Both parties saw the benefits of working together to better their chances of defeating PDP at the general elections. But when that failed, there was no need to attack each other. They simply should have continued their individual efforts to mobilise the electorate to vote for them.
So, did their public attempts to put the blame on the other party deliver on their objectives? No, it certainly hasn’t but has rather done some damage to their image amongst Nigerians who considered them a viable alternative.
I want to focus on the blame culture that has become a key part of our national lives by looking at the damage it has done to us as a nation and what is the solution.
I recall a Nigerian social event I attended in the UK and in our usual Nigerian way, we were in a discussion (more like arguing) about the state of our nation and talking so passionately (more like shouting). An English lady married to one of the Nigerian guest said to us, she has become so tired of witnessing every gathering of Nigerians focused on predominantly criticising their country and blaming everybody else but themselves. She added that she now sees Nigerians a people who are always angry and with a serious blame culture.
Since that day, I have done a careful observation in my life and that of people around me. I must admit, we focus most of our mental & physical energy, blaming everyone but ourselves for the woes in our lives and in our nation Nigeria.
We blame our parents for not sending us to the right school, we blame our wives or husbands for the state of our marriage, we blame our neighbours for the state of our community, we blame bosses at work for not being nice, we blame teachers for not teaching well at schools, we blame our colonial masters, we blame the creation of Nigeria, every ethnic group blames other groups but not themselves and in other sphere of our lives, we blame others. No place has seen blame culture at its best like the blaming of government.
We blame our government for everything – light, water, security, education, sports, economy, social life, national pride amongst committee of nations and many more areas. What is more interesting is that even government officials in private discussions with family and friends, will actively participate in the blame culture. It is also common to see past & leaders (political, religious, educational, professional and administrative) become active participants. Of course, government in our nation has failed for a long time but does our blaming culture deliver on our objective for a developed & secured nation? You would agree it has not and will never do.
Rather than deliver on our objectives, it has contributed in no small way in distracting us from the goal and the requirements for nation-building. Here is how:
Focuses on problems and not solutions: The blame culture has produced a nation of problem focused citizens instead of solution focused citizens. The more we continue to blame everyone else for every difficulty that arises, the more we keep our focus on the problem. We therefore commit little or no time to thinking through the solutions.
It is important to acknowledge the problems in our individual lives and in our nation, as a first step. But more energy should be focused on how to overcome or resolve the problem. With this sort of attitude, we will become people with innovative ideas and some of those ideas will lead us to solutions and deliverance from that problem.
We seriously lack innovative approaches to solving our personal and national problems, which is a good illustration of the damage of the blame culture. To build our lives and nation, we will need to find some solutions that are yet to be applied but peculiar to our situation. Being solution focused will enable this.
It makes us believe we are not part of the problem or the solution: As a follow on to the damage above, our blame culture absolves us of any role in solving our problems. Because we are problem instead solution focused, we believe we didn’t create the problem and therefore, do not have a part to play in the solution. This is so terrible especially when we consider that we have become so passive in matters that affect us, our children and generations to come directly. Quite sad indeed.
We then continue to act the same way every new day, month or year. Some of our religious ones proclaim all manner of religious declarations, give huge sums of money to their religious organisations, participated in several hours of praying and fasting. But we have yet to see ourselves as the problem and the carrier of the solution. No wonder very little changes.
It makes us intolerant and distrusting: Because nothing has changed despite our numerous verbal (sometimes written) condemnations of others and spiritual exercises, we have become an intolerant and untrusting people. We do not trust the best intentions of family, friends and leaders and also, our tolerant level is so low. This has provided a good platform for rumour mongering that has fuelled most of the violence in our families, communities and nation.
For a nation with a large number of diverse ethnic groups, tolerant and trust is so essential in our efforts to build and sustain our nation.
It makes us an angry and impatient people: Our blame culture has not only made us intolerant and distrusting but has produced a nation of angry & impatient people. It is so common to see Nigerians (irrespective of class or status) throw away decorum to engage serious arguments and fights. This is because we are all angry and impatient with the next Nigerian, whom we see as representation of Blame.
This anger and impatient has led to numerous cases of failed attempts to resolve disputes in families, communities and nation. Not to mention when we are angry and impatient, we make public statements that only serves to inflame the situation.
It makes us believe our situation is worse than it really is: The produce of the blame culture – intolerant, distrust, anger and impatient, has made believe our situation is worse than it really is. There are many African countries in more desperate economic, social and political situation than we Nigerians. But when we continue to blame we focus on the problems and they become insurmountable mountains. No wonder many Nigerians believe our nation will not change.
What is the solution then? What can we do to become transformed from our blame culture?
The answer is in one word called responsibility. Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics would know about responsibility. In one of his famous quotes, he states “Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will - his personal responsibility“.
To remove the blame culture & its damages from our personal and national life, we must accept responsibility for what happens inside of us and around us (in our environment). The process has to occur on the inside of us first because our thought process must be changed (placing responsibility for our destiny in our hands), before it can occur through us.
Responsibility sees us as the problem and the solution because we can only change what we are responsible for. We wouldn’t be bothered about what we don’t feel responsible for.
Because we believe we are the problem and carriers of the solution, responsibility ensures consistent focus on the goal or objective and seeks solutions to enable the attainment of the goal. So, we accept responsibility, define the goal and set out steps to implement to get us to our goal.
Responsibility means a state of being responsible, accountable, or answerable. Concerning our nation, responsibility is identifying the true state of our nation (that it has not been built), accepting that we are responsible for its current state, accepting what is required to bring change and accepting our responsibility to use our resources to generate that positive change to the best of our ability.
In the end, we are not only responsible for our own actions but also for the actions of those who work for us and that include our civic and political leaders.
Responsibility states that we have to be what we want in our nation. As Mahatma Ghandi put it, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Peaceful people if we want peace; honesty, with integrity & transparency if we want a corrupt free society; law abiding if we want a nation with law and order; tax payers if we want basic amenities provided.
It is in this sense we have to view every sector of our society. For example, education of our citizens is not only the responsibility of the government but also the community, parents and every individual. This means, we accept responsibility to ensure that we become educated and we ensure the education of others, for the sake of building & sustaining a developed nation. An educated nation will benefit all citizens (both the privileged and under-privileged).
While there is a strong call for Nigerians to hold their government accountable, it must be said that this cannot be properly achieved if we don’t first hold ourselves accountable or responsible for the nation. Responsibility is primarily making ourselves accountable to other Nigerians (including our leaders) and holding other Nigerians accountable to us.
According to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The true slogan of democracy is not ‘Let the government do it, but rather let’s do it ourselves’”
Bill Halamandaris adds that responsibility is connected to liberty. “Responsibility is the essence of a free man’s life. We are free to the degree we accept responsibility; we lose freedom and liberty to the degree we abdicate our responsibility or let other act for us”. This simply means that if we do not take responsibility for our nation and create the society we desire, we lose that to someone else and their desire will most likely not tally with ours. This has been our history so far.
Responsibility is a unique value which brings contentment, character, integrity, discipline to the self and service to others. It also creates a sense of community because a responsible person knows he has something worthwhile to offer and so does the next person. Therefore, a responsible person will practice with actions, teach others and in the process inspire people. This is why a truly responsible person is a creator of positive change and a nation-builder.
Responsibility is the fuel that propels thoughts into action. It is not enough to have great thoughts about Nigeria as that on its own cannot transmit into actions. When we become responsible, we will take nation-focused actions irrespective of the cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the renowned German Theologian and key opponent of Hilter stated “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”
With responsibility, we will identify opportunities, find the commitment to move into action and the discipline to sustain our efforts
Our problems may seem complex but they require simple solutions that will originate in the minds of a people who responsible.
We have to wake up to the reality that our nation Nigeria does not owe us anything. Rather, we owe the nation our lives, our commitment and service because we came to meet her and she will remain long after we’ve gone. Therefore, we should choose either to leave it better or worse than we met it.
Bobby Udoh is a nation-building evangelist and the founder of Nation Arise, an organisation dedicated to the mobilization of every Nigerian through the gospel of nation-building. Read more articles on his weekly blog – http://nationarise.wordpress.com/