THE NIGERIAN DREAM

Anastacia Onyinyechi AZUMA

“I have a dream” were the words of Martin Luther King, and these words in later years happened to become the reality of the American society. Just as every individual has a dream, every nation has a dream as well. Dreams are supposed to make life better for a country and the various sectors within her; however, how often are those dreams being achieved? 

At one point or the other, we may have heard the phrase “the American Dream”; but is that a thing? Is it something people in the United States strive to achieve? Well, even though this dream is not taken as seriously by some as it is by others, we would affirm that it is a notion that exists, one which we find expressly addressed in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. This phrase, “the American Dream” was coined by James Truslow Adam in 1931; a notion he posited to be “the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” Adam’s notion of the American Dream was also founded by John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” sermon in 1630, where he articulately spoke of his dream of a society where equality was paramount based on hard work, morality and ethics. Today, it is evident that irrespective of the centuries that have gone by since this notion was posited by these two individuals, the American Dream still exists, and people still enjoy the benefits of what had started as a dream in the mind’s eye of these individuals.

From the foregoing paragraph, just as these individuals had envisioned a dream for their nation that had come to pass, Xi Jinping, a Chinese politician, also eloquently spread out his vision for the future of his country, which he called “the Chinese Dream” in 2012. This dream was presented with definite goals that aimed for an entirely capable society by 2020. Well, this is 2020 and it is evident that China is gradually moving towards becoming a great world power in several areas. As evinced through the countries above, one could say that having a dream towards one’s nation is very much achievable. One could also say that no matter how dysfunctional a country is, every country has a dream it someday plans to achieve. Knowing this, it is fair to ask “where does Nigeria stand in the attainment of her dream?” In fact, what is the Nigerian Dream?

The Nigerian Dream is out rightly relative to the ideologies of various individuals. First, it was what the nationalists who fought for the freedom of the country from the shackles of colonialism envisaged. According to these nationalists, the Nigerian Dream is the freedom to be ruled by Nigerians and to have a country whose sectors are free from the rule of the English Monarchy. Thankfully, this dream was achieved when we got our independence from our colonial masters in 1960. However, this dream has had a series of drastic and mind-blowing modifications as power changed hands from one type of government to another; little wonder there is this lack of a clear, unifying and consistent Nigerian Dream like the aforementioned countries. For some, the Nigerian Dream is being able to have uninterrupted power supply 24/7, drive on good roads, and have good drinking water. For others, it is being able to eat a three-square meal, have a roof over their heads or simply leave this country to never return. Surprised at how the relativeness of this Nigerian Dream spans across what other countries consider as basic and infrastructural amenities? Don’t be; for these lacks have become the reality we experience. While other nations are surging towards stability and expansion, Nigeria still finds herself sinking in the miry clay of bad political decisions and poverty.

Moving on, for the leaders of the country, the Nigerian Dream is to have a lion’s share of Nigeria’s wealth while in power, and then store what they could not eat in foreign accounts for their generations to come – the late General Sani Abacha is still a surprise. For them, being in power is a time to shine, eat as much as they can, and throw into the gutter the promises they made during election campaigns. If these leaders cannot keep the promise of providing good water to the people, how then can a dream, even the most easily achievable of them, be achieved? So to answer the question, there is no Nigerian Dream because Nigeria lacks a collective will. As earlier stated, this dream is relative, thus you attain your Nigerian Dream when you achieve your dream in a country that has been milked dry by the conmen and bigots in power. 

However, all hope is not lost in the attainment of a country that would have a vision and a dream that works; though, it will take the action of all to effectively bring it to fulfilment. The presence of noble leaders in the country would lead to the articulation of a dream that would set the standard for an empowering society where the various abilities of individuals can flourish. Also, it would require the willingness of the people to cooperate and take responsibility for raising the country of their dreams by obeying laws put in place to aid the development and attainment of a dream that is true.

 While there is no collective will that wholly gives Nigerians a national dream, the saying that our future is in our hands rings true. In essence, we can do for ourselves what the government cannot do for us, even as we remain hopeful for the entrance of a government that cares about its people. We can create our dreams and achieve them towards the betterment of our communities and the country at large. In the true words of Mahatma Gandhi, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

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