The need for a Nigerian Consciousness




To teach without training is to fail in your task, can anybody learn to play football by reading books? No. What happens when a man goes to a football training camp? Do they all go to the library? I’ll guarantee you not.


Watch a man as he trains his hunting dog. It’s amazing. We train our dogs and don’t train our kids. Then tie the dog up at night and let the kids run wild. We are to train them. Listen, lead them.


What do you want your children to be? Do you know what all of the emphasis is today? It is on sports, grades, and physical health, and popularity, and ability, but not character and the lack of character is a by-product of a society where the conscience has been dealt several body blows.


Let me give you some words: contentment, courage, courtesy, discernment, fairness, friendliness, generosity, gentleness, helpfulness, honesty, humility, kindness, obedience, orderliness, patience, persistence, self-control, tactfulness, thriftiness, wisdom. Who is teaching these things?  It needs to be dad and mom.


But mom and dad cannot teach any of these if they don’t have a conscience that guides them, a moral sense of right and wrong, a guide for their own personal behaviour.


I reflected on these and more, as I picked up the award for good conscience, at the investiture by Amb. Asher Kayode and his team of the “I have Conscience Foundation”, I  reflected on their motto, which is purifying people’s conscience. I asked myself questions about today’s Nigeria and our consciences and indeed the consciousness of being a Nigerian.


The Nigerian consciousness refers to the collective awareness, mindset, and values that shape the identity and perception of the Nigerian people as a nation. It encompasses the shared experiences, history, culture, and socio-political context that influence the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of Nigerians.


The Nigerian consciousness is marked by several key aspects:


Diversity: Nigeria is a country with over 250 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language, traditions, and customs. This diversity contributes to the richness of the Nigerian consciousness, as it reflects a mosaic of cultures and perspectives. However, it also presents challenges in terms of fostering national unity and integration. Thus, presenting a landscape of all kinds of thought process that more often more ethnocentric than nationalistic and patriotic


Resilience: Nigerians have demonstrated resilience in the face of numerous challenges, including political instability, economic hardships, and social issues. The Nigerian consciousness is characterized by a spirit of endurance, adaptability, and hope, as people strive to overcome obstacles and improve their lives. But how many times have we in an attempt to sing that song, “we shall overcome one day…” done unthinkable things, and thereby acting against our good conscience?


When my friend, and professor, Patricia Lar, an awardee with over 30 years of teaching experience speaks, she does so with her entire being knowing the implications of wrong decisions on our collective. When the Sarah Dagahs, Waz and Hon. Lengwe of this world acts with the belief that the labour of our heroes and heroines even of today, we must make it count.


Cultural Heritage: Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage, with various artistic expressions, music, literature, and traditional practices. This cultural diversity influences the Nigerian consciousness, instilling a sense of pride and identity among its people. Cultural values such as hospitality, respect for elders, and communalism play a significant role in shaping social interactions and relationships. Yet, the reality on ground seems to suggest that we are losing this heritage.


Socio-Political Awareness: Nigerians are politically engaged and have a heightened awareness of socio-political issues. The Nigerian consciousness is marked by a desire for good governance, accountability, and social justice. Despite challenges such as corruption and inequality, there is a growing demand for transparency, participatory democracy, and the protection of human rights. How much of that we get is highly debatable because in the absence of these, the likes of Ambassadors Justina, Bridget and Ambassador Bayo will have several contests to deal with while they seek to make Nigeria a better place in their various spaces.


Entrepreneurial Spirit: Nigerians are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and resourcefulness. The Nigerian consciousness embraces a culture of innovation, self-reliance, and the pursuit of economic opportunities. This drive for economic advancement and self-sufficiency has fuelled entrepreneurial ventures across various sectors, contributing to economic growth and development. But when parents fail, and politicians don’t drive the process through leadership that sets standards, providing a sound business environment, our kids will remain yahoo-yahoo elements without conscience.


Finally, while I thank fellow awardees and remain grateful for being found worthy, I use this opportunity to make a clarion call that we all have a nation to build, our society has become polarised by all sides, faith and religion, particularly Christianity and Islam, holds significant influence in the Nigerian consciousness. Religious beliefs and practices shape moral values, social interactions, and provide a sense of spiritual guidance for many Nigerians. Faith plays a crucial role in shaping personal and societal values, influencing decisions, and providing a sense of hope and purpose. But we are fast losing it.


The Nigerian consciousness is a dynamic and evolving entity, influenced by historical events, social changes, and global trends. It reflects both the aspirations and challenges of the Nigerian people as they strive for progress, unity, and a better future. By recognizing and embracing the diverse elements of the Nigerian consciousness, it becomes possible to harness the collective strengths and values to address the nation's challenges and build a more prosperous and inclusive society.


As we have started this fresh journey, the new governors, those on their second term, the presidency, as Nigerian citizens every day presents an opportunity to ask how our actions or inactions leads us one step to the realization of the Nigerian dream, of farther and further apart from the Nigerian project, in all we do and say—May Nigeria win!