A couple of weeks back, I featured the first of the 4 essential steps in nation-building – Study (Study: The First Step in Nation-building).
Before we move on, it is important to reiterate that Study is more than academic education. In nation-building, it primarily involves accepting responsibility for Nigeria because we can only solve what we are responsible for; undertaking a critical review of our motives and purpose which will result in the resetting of our values (we focus on the why question at this stage); identifying our specific & general line of action in relation to our unique gifts, skills, experience and resources; and setting out a plan of action that will deliver the change we much desire.
Much as Study is essential and must come first, it counts for nothing if it does not lead us to practice. However, it is must be said that an effective & efficient Study phase will propel us into an effective and efficient Practice phase.
So what is Practice in nation-building? It is simply the act of rehearsing a new behaviour (influenced by new values) over and over, and translating an idea into action & engaging in that action again and again to improve expertise and expand area of impact.
This means, if we seek to build a developed Nigeria, there must be a new behaviour and a new idea that we practice daily because for Nigeria to develop, we must stop doing what we are currently doing and to do, on consistent basis, the things that will deliver better results.
It may be obvious but it is worth stating that under the Practice phase, the focus is mainly on us and our daily doings. We seek to become role models not only by what we are saying (& we Nigerians say quite a lot) but what we are doing. After all, it is widely acknowledged that people are influenced largely by what they see than what they hear.
There are two stages involved in Practice – Initiative and Momentum. We start an action or behaviour by taking initiative and we persist by keeping the momentum.
Initiative: Having accepted responsibility for Nigeria, reviewed what is required & why, identified what steps we will be taking and put this into a plan of action, we can then launch out by taking the initiative.
The first type of initiative is the pioneering initiative and this is making the opening move, leading the way, in an activity. It does not necessarily mean doing something never done before but starting an action to address a specific problem or harness a new opportunity. It could be a business (like a new power solution), research (like malaria vaccine), invention (like new & cheaper building material in place of cement), social work (homes for HIV patients), advocacy group (like anti-corruption group), political movement (like a new political party), etc.
There is no limit to the initiatives Nigerians can pioneer but it is important to note that the responsibility for the adoption of the pioneering initiative by a critical mass of Nigerians rest with the initiator. That means the Nigerian who pioneers an initiative that will lead to the building of Nigeria must not abandon the initiative despite the expected opposition to the move. Most great ideas that have changed the way we lived today were largely opposed at the initial stage.
The second initiative is the participating initiative and it is Nigerians who participate in an existing activity. It could be general activities such as paying taxes, punctuality, observing traffic rules, participating in the electoral process as voter, candidate or party member, participating in the activity of a charity/foundation/advocacy group/movement as a volunteer, participating in an enterprise or business that will address a national issue, etc.
It will be expected that every Nigerian will be involved in a participating initiative and though it may be less challenging than a pioneering initiative which will attract a few number, it still involves the act of taking initiative.
Momentum: With initiatives launched, we soon discover that the difficult part is ensuring that we sustain what we’ve started and this is where momentum comes in. Initiative is focused on taking the first step while momentum is focused on sustaining that step and giving it more pace and scope.
Leadership expert, John Maxwell, puts it best, “A train travelling 55 mph on a railroad track can crash through a 5-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete wall without stopping. That same train, starting from a stationary position, won’t be able to go through an inch-thick block in front of the driving wheel”. Therefore, we can say there is no hindrance to nation-building in Nigeria if we add momentum to our initiatives.
Momentum produces people who see less of problems but more possibilities; they focus less on the past but more in the present & future; they gain confidence from results so far, which then leads to more creativity, can-do attitude, discipline, teamwork, increased passion, sense of fulfilment and courage to launch new initiatives. In effect, momentum turns ordinary Nigerians doing ordinary things to great Nigerians doing great things.
There are many examples of Nigerians who are practicing nation-building but there is an urgent cry for more due to the depth of our situation. One of such Nigerians is Bitebo Gogo and the KIR Foundation.
With a burden to address the educational needs of children abandoned on the streets and from disadvantaged homes, Bitebo left a successful legal career to launch an initiative to tackle this problem and that led to the birth of the KIR Foundation.
Through her various programmes & working with various partners, KIR Foundation impacts “literacy, leadership and personal social responsibility into young people ages 2 to 25, especially orphans, vulnerable children and children from families with limited resources.“
This year, they extended their literacy programme scope (a benefit of momentum) to include prisoners. This new initiative is quite urgent as we all seek to ensure the proper rehabilitation of fellow citizens in prisons that will enable a more secured society & better equipped citizens.
It is important to note that the amazing work KIR Foundation is doing first started from the Study of nation-building (responsibility for Nigeria, review of why we must build, identify a solution and draw up a plan of action). But it is the practice phase (initiative and momentum) that is making the difference and with more momentum, more pace and scope is guaranteed.
This organisation may provide you with a platform for participating initiative but if this is not in line with your specific burden then find or pioneer that one. I will feature more nation-builders who are putting their study of nation-building into practice in the coming weeks.
Whatever the initiative, pioneering or participating, it will be borne out of the specific burden we feel about a particular problem hindering our development as a nation. My burden will be different from yours but nation-building is accelerated when the diverse burdens are turned into various initiatives leading to one goal – the building of a developed Nigeria.
What pioneering & participating initiative would you launch today? It is time to build Nigeria
Bobby Udoh is a nation-building evangelist, passionate blogger, impact public speaker, trainer and change agent. You can order the nation-building book at http://bobbyudoh.com/buy-the-book/