By Okoli Arinze Evans

"There is mighty little good in a mere spasm of reform".- Theodore Roosevelt.

To transform Nigeria has been the top agenda of Mr. President since his accession unto the leadership of the country. The transformation campaign was welcome back then by all Nigerians, as we all believe that transformation is the only way out for our country. With less than a year to complete the first tenure in office, Nigerians as well as the president are yet to witness the earliest symptom of the transformation which we joyfully hoped for. Presently, it seems Nigeria transformation is almost as hopeless as a trip to the sun, as the country at a time when we all expected a new light of change, or at least a hope for change has taken a speedy backslide to an even more dangerous and unpredictable state. Yet our greatest problems have always been the understanding of the people as to what Nigeria really is, and who or what to be transformed.

The understanding of Nigeria as a country to Nigerians hitherto has been largely biased and misinterpreted. Majority of us understand Nigeria to be a country; a West African country perhaps. And then each class of the citizens has their own understanding of what this West African country is. To the ordinary citizens representing the average and the lower income class, Nigeria to them is nothing more than a corruption and problem laden country; the political snobbery and exclusiveness, brutal politicians and their deadly politics; absolute neglect and oppression of the poor and the less privileged. The rich business class and the high income earners understand Nigeria as an entity of evil free zone, where one is free to manufacture or import fake and adulterated products provided he settles the evil godfathers. The civil ones among them will testify that in our system one's brain amounts to naught if he cannot purchase his employment, or settle his superiors for promotion, and of course be ever ready to carry out their decrees no matter how good or evil they are; the latter being most likely. The politicians will define Nigeria as the perfect playground for all their political games, where one is free to kill as many as he wishes, steal as much as he wishes, and give out to the poor as little as he wishes without anyone querying him; whilst leading the same poor masses in the National pledge, National prayers and fasting. Yet the real meaning of Nigeria in all these versions cannot be found.

The answer we seek is simple, short and straight to the point. Nigeria is you and me. Hence not in the population, the land mass, the National anthem, pledge, or the coat of arms could the true meaning of our nation be found. Yes! Our Nation, whether we kill ourselves, cheat on ourselves, marginalize ourselves, Nigeria will always be our nation until whenever. And so from the president, to the richest persons, to the poorest, to the terrorists, and to the zealous patriots, we are Nigeria. When we understand this, will then go back to our agenda and work on it with deserved sincerity.

Now when we talk of transforming Nigeria, in all aspects what it means is transforming ourselves; every single one of us, whether in the country or in diaspora. The transformation we passionately seek begins within us, every man in his own self. It is most likely to be the case that the ordinary people will while reading this message give a solidarity nod in joyful satisfaction, and then point to the politicians in uttermost condemnation and say 'I wish you people will read this and change from your evil ways', when such persons have not done anything to change from whatever bad or wrong they might be involved in. The politicians might think that its just another of those either showing off their skills to the public or seeking recognition, while the real patriots will likely bow their heads and think once again about their beloved nation and what it's become. But in any case my message is clear, "transformation from the grass root". That all men search their souls and change from their evil or bad ways, and while I reflect on the message I send out today, am working on myself too. This is not a call to apportion the blame or hold the other responsible for whatsoever, rather let that man think about his life and change willingly, and while you let him do so be onto your own self.

If this message is accepted and espoused, then we should have a reason to hope, then only would we dare to hope. We might have the best roads, and economy, we might even build a skyscraper that touches the throne of God up there but still have no human transformation, then they are all vanities; it took only 11 seconds for the twin towers to level to the ground if we still remember. But the message in itself is that of hope, hope that will charge us all up to act. Let all sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. In a half-transformed community no one would be hearing of terrorism, no school kids would have been abducted and none would be charred in multiple explosions that have been going on for years now. In that transformed world, no brother would kill his own brother in the name of religion; I rather be a humble follower than fight the battle of my God for He is not a weakling. The Fulani herdsmen and their cattle would be welcome anywhere provided they do it in the right manner and do not break any laws; No politician would motivate or support young ones to take up ammunition, nor would any of them lie, cheat, kill or promise the people that which they would not fulfill. In that transformed Nigeria there would be electricity for all Nigerians irrespective of their status or where they live, there would not be anymore of the multiple problems tearing us down: corruption, politically motivated genocide, negligence and oppression of the poor, bad roads, to mention but this few. Then it would be absurd to hear that a particular geopolitical zone will butcher the nation to stop the other from leading the country. And it would then be treated as a bad history that we had to import fuels when we have more than required reserves of crude oil and natural gas. We would be a nation full of people living in love, understanding, equality and respect. And maybe then even the national motto would be replaced with a more direct and worthy slogan; that is: unity, faith, peace and progress be replaced by something like Honesty, Equality, Justice and Love. And in that new Nigeria people will not anymore live in fear of a potential war for elections as we currently do for the oncoming general elections.

Socrates said,"..and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil."

There is a good hope for Nigeria transformation, but it has to be Nigerians transformation first. That hope is built on everyone of us; on every Nigerian and whoever lives here within. And there cannot be any transformation if we all do not transform ourselves first, if you change today for good and I change for good as well, if we all change for good then we will have Nigeria of the patriots' dream born into reality, fail to do this and that Nigeria will only be a dream; that is if it does not transform into a nightmare. Grass root transformation or no hope for the nation, its our own decision, it is a national project that cannot be completed unless the whole of 170 millions of us sincerely participated in it.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."