The United State’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr.William Stuart Syminton, has stressed the need for Nigerians to show more patriotism to their country instead of egoism and indifference to national development as the nation prepares for the next general elections.
Mr. Symington gave the admonition while presenting this year’s convocation lecture of the University of Ilorin on Monday at the University’s Auditorium.
The U.S Diplomat, whose lecture was entitled: “Citizen, leadership and the Link between economic diversity and democratic good governance”,described Nigeria as a nation destined for true greatness in view of its amazing diversity ,innumerable resources and huge market that is not only second to none in Africa but “the 7th largest integrated market in the world”.
He explained that he was usually amazed with the magnitude of courage and industry an average Nigerian is imbued with but expressed the belief that Nigeria will only attain full greatness if ordinary citizens and leaders of the largest black nation in the world can submerge the appalling spirit of self-interest for that of corporate emancipation, saying that the inimical concept of “I” should be replaced with that of “us”.
Ambassador Symington regretted that inspite of the love of Nigerians for their diversities and complexity,it is only when they are abroad that they see themselves as one and always think about the country and appreciate it’s greatness.
He canvassed the need to ensure that the citizenzery is well- educated and afforded good health care, saying that it is the industry of individual citizen that sustain a nation.He opined that in a good and sustainable democracy,state depends on strong citizens and not the other way round.
Mr. Syminton encouraged Nigerians to take their destiny in their hands by showing committed interest in who govern them and the kind of leadership they offer as he noted that the prosperity of the country would only blossom when political leaders see politics and leadership as avenue for service delivery and not a mere means of creating economic opportunities for themselves.
While he advised citizens to think of how they will attain positive impact on the lives of their compatriots and think little about what they would derive from others, challenged Nigerians to show more interest in meaningful politcal participation through what he called “leading from the rear” instead of unnecessary and injurious criticism of others. He added that just like a shepherd, leading from behind is everybody’s responsibility.
Mr.Symington charged Nigerians not to wait for periodic elections or electioneering before showing keen interest in the activities of those who govern them and on how they are being governed.
The United States Ambassador said that every citizen should constitute himself into an active player in the field of politics and that the manner in which they play the game would determine the level of development their societies will enjoy.
The American Diplomat also commended the spirit and essence of the mandatory national youth programme,NYSC, describing the scheme as a wonderful intervention in national integration and development which is affording young,educated and impressionistic Nigerians to know more about their hugely diversed country, geographically impressive landscape and interact with others meaningfully.
He urged the graduands not to be carried away by their successes but get themselves fully prepared to serve the nation not just for a year as provided for by the NYSC scheme but for a life-time as the training they went through during their studentships has prepared them for.He also urged the youth to utilize the advantage of their agility and knowledge to serve the nation in their own little ways and wherever walk of life they may find themselves contending that a life of service for others is better than a life lived for oneself.He advised the youth that they can do that by trying to effect positive changes in the thinking and dispositions of those around them, saying that the “transformation of a nation begins with effecting changes in individuals” around us.
On the issue of corruption,the Envoy noted that the greatest act of corruption is not stealing but devising and adopting wrong means of achieving even a legitimate cause and advised that whatever good individual citizen does should be done very well so that the greatest percentage of the citizensary would benefit from such.
Ambassador Symington urged Nigerians not to be dissuaded about the slow journey of the country,saying that greatness is a destination of every country but the path and speed of accomplishing it cannot be the same for different nations because of their uniqueness, adding that the most important thing is for Nigerians to genuinely pursue the greatness of the country using the peculiarly positive indomitable,deeply courageous and profoundly resilient spirit that have become globally acknowledged characteristic of Nigerians as he said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a good step in the right direction”.
Mr. Symington confessed that he had a great dream that Nigeria would not only be properly transformed but would become a great nation considering the capacities and abilities of her citizens who are working day and night to combat the challenges of development at home and doing very well abroad and therefore urged his audience to endeavour to join the journey to the greatness.
Welcoming guests to the thought-provocking lecture,the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, described the Convocation Lecturer as a versatile global citizen, a seasoned Diplomat with chains of impactful ambassadorial exposure around the historic trans-sahara route of Africa and an accomplished statesman.
The Vice-Chancellor noted that the topic was not only topical but apt considering the nexus between the quality of leadership and economic prosperity and the need for a change in paradigm shift in our political orientation.
He added that there is no better time for the topic than now when Nigeria is at cross-road coinciding with the general elections slated for next year.
He opined that Nigerians,more than ever before,needed to be duly guided in order to arrive at decisions that will shape our future and for which the lecture was intended to address.
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