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Leadership, Nation-building

Practice: The Second Step in Nation-building

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). In that article I stated that for us to take our nation to the pinnacle of her potential, our study of what nation-building is, why it is needed and how to implement it is mandatory and must come first. Reason being, Study is the very first step in the development of any endeavour (person, idea or nation).

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.

KIR Foundation is calling for donations of old books that will be used to equip the libraries in the various prisons. Email them at ibgogo@hotmail.com or kirfoundation@gmail.com or call +234 (0) 803 531 0492 or +234 (0) 818 281 6606 to participate in this initiative.

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



One thought on “Practice: The Second Step in Nation-building

  1. For starters I have to commend your desire Bobby to address and consolidate the idea of our nation re-building process to put it squarely! Quiet frankly your suggestions and inference are well documented to kick-start the momentum. The relationship between knowledge and politics is such that the former can be used to either stunt or stimulate ones political awareness. Developing a politically charged social consciousness is the necessary step before an individual or community becomes politically active. It is therefore imperative that all knowledge producing institutions and social structures support a diversified representation of racial, cultural, and ethnic communities. When higher forms of education teach a curriculum that encourages individuals to understand their own life experiences, those individuals are better equipped to address the socio-economic concerns of their communities. Becoming an active member of ones society is the result of a transformative political process that is experienced by an individual.

    Political Consciousness: We define political consciousness as a way of seeing, caring about and acting in the world. It is guided by a commitment to human rights and justice and an understanding of power and inequity in social, political and economic systems, relations and values. We look at the roots of the term political or politics to distinguish the term from negative interpretations often associated with it. Derived from the Greek word ‘polis’ which meant city-state; politics had to do with the life of the community. For us, the challenge of politics and political consciousness, therefore, involves caring about community and seeking the common good. It is about hating injustice and the systems and structures that perpetuate it, but not hating people. It is the art of respecting and working with one another, seeing the ‘other’ as a fellow human being — shaped by social forces both perverse and praiseworthy, joined in a common quest and struggle for dignity.

    Grounded in critical thinking and values of solidarity and human rights, political consciousness is a lifelong exploration of who we are, how we have been shaped, and how our values, world view, and actions can contribute to a better world for all. It is a journey filled with conflict and growth that can be both liberating and painful. Latin American colleagues working on gender describe it as in interactive and iterative process that involves four overlapping levels of consciousness. These range from passive (accepting roles of subordination as natural) to questioning (asking why) to analytical (naming and analyzing oppressive situations) and finally to active-critical consciousness (developing a critical analysis of inequitable systems and structures and taking action with others to transform them) .

    For social justice advocacy, “Political consciousness is both a tool and an objective…. As a tool, political consciousness motivates critical analysis of power dynamics on many levels. As an objective, developing political consciousness provides the basis for the kind of sustained and informed citizen participation necessary to hold powerful interests accountable. Becoming politically aware can help unravel the self-doubt fostered by subordination and discrimination and enable people to recognize their individual power and link with others to address common problems. ” It is what the Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, often called critical consciousness and similar to what others call social consciousness but with a greater emphasis on understanding power relations.

    Political consciousness not only involves questioning current power dynamics and demagoguery but also building new forms of more inclusive and transformative power that improve human life and forge bridges of cooperation across cultural, racial, ethnic and religious differences. Categories from gender analysis have helped us think beyond the traditional negative and coercive views of power over other people to explore more collaborative ways of understanding and exercising power. Three alternatives offer possibilities for creating more equitable relationships. Power with involves finding common ground and building collective strength with others. Power to refers to the unique potential of people to shape their life and transform the world into a better place. Power within has to do with an individual’s sense of worth, hope and self-knowledge and ability to respect and engage with others in the common search for human dignity and fulfillment.

    An important part of work on consciousness, especially with seriously marginalized groups, involves helping people develop a sense of their own rights — understanding that for centuries people have fought to get issues of respect, dignity, and economic justice put into community rules and, more recently, into international and national laws. As a result of these agreements, society and governments are supposed to treat people with certain standards of fairness. To make these rights real, however, it’s also important for people to understand that they must continue to challenge power that subordinates and undermines those rights.

    Empowering Strategies: How to promote political consciousness? There are a variety of empowering learning and action strategies, sometimes called popular education, that help people ask critical questions, discover new truths, and affirm collaborative values while solving real life problems. ” Paulo Freire spoke about popular education as a participatory process of action-reflection-action. While popular education has spawned a myriad of participatory learning methods, the basic process always involves problem identification, analysis, and the pursuit of solutions through dialogue, self-awareness and organizing….Over the last 25 years, activists have built on Freire’s approaches and developed methods that assist people in analyzing their own problems through participatory research [and what is called participatory learning and action]….For example, communities concerned about poverty begin by mapping the individual and collective resources in their surroundings. They then construct matrices that help analyze the data and use it in decisions about expanding community economic projects or creating new ones.” Other methods involve sharing personal stories — analyzing life histories and community experiences — to build bonds between people and develop critical thinking and action skills.

    Posted by Henry Nene Willimas | April 4, 2012, 10:14 pm

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