Nigeria has come a long way, and while what’s most popular is the bad, there’s a lot of good in the bag. There are many factors we can blame for this – terrible leadership, citizen apathy, military politics, corrupted brand, terrible global stereotype, etc – or we can just admit that we’re a nation in need of urgent help. We have almost come to accept what should be archived in museums of history as everyday reality, and our present-day reality is simply below acceptable.
Enter the 2011 change opportunity. Really? Well, the events that climaxed between November 2009 and May 2010 can probably only be described as an opportunity to reset the national clock. And if you describe the fact that all that drama happened just a year ahead of general elections as a miracle, you’ll get a lot of nods in confirmation. You may describe what seemed to be an activation of youth interest in the wake of the series of events as interesting, and for a demographic that covers more than two-thirds of the country, it was about time.
And for most of the young people that literally ended up on the streets – for the popular March 16 and April 13 protests in Abuja and Lagos respectively – the journey towards the action started from blackberry messages, social media chat and 140-character expressions. This has been a technology-influenced process from the beginning, and it could only grow in breadth. As the journey continues towards the January 2011 elections, technology is playing a central role. On-time information distribution (which explains why the twitter generation doesn’t need to read today’s news in tomorrow’s newspapers), mobilization and possible election monitoring are only some of what technology is contributing to the ongoing change in Nigeria.
My guess is that as the elections get closer, and especially on the election days in January (15th for the National Assembly, 22nd for Presidency and 29th for the States), the world will follow hash tags such as #NigeriaDecides and #RSVP. RSVP, introduced and made popular by the youthful EnoughisEnough Nigeria coalition, is an acronym for REGISTER to vote in the elections, SELECT credible candidates, VOTE on the election days and PROTECT your vote. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and the EnoughisEnoughNigeria.com website will be extremely busy as Nigerians tell what we hope will be the story of change while the world follows with – already demonstrated – keen attention.
“We are the change we’ve been waiting for” is probably overused by politicians seeking for votes but those words could not be more true as Nigeria heads for the polls in 127 days. Beyond all the hype and call for participation in what represents a possible turning point is the hope for a country that provides the basics for us to build on, and Nigerians are not asking for an arm and a leg – power supply, security, quality education, healthcare, and the other necessities of life that governments should not even be reminded of in the 21st century!
Is it a tall dream to expect young Nigerians to come out massively to RSVP towards the 2011 elections? I don’t think so. I actually think it’s a Nigerian dream, one shared by millions spread across the vast region from the Sahara to the Delta, and by many who are absent from home for as many reasons as their huge numbers. The “2011 expectation” is a dream we have the opportunity to transform into reality, especially as young Nigerians on whose shoulders lay the responsibility of the next 50 years. The best way to fulfil a dream is to wake up and get busy, and I think the time is now. Young Nigerians, there is work to do, a Nigerian dream to fulfil.