Thursday, 1 October 2015

55 Years of Freedom

Today, Nigeria celebrates the 55th year of her existence as a sovereign state. We’ve been through a lot as a nation, and many huddles still need to be crossed. Many challenges have threatened our nationhood, and at certain points, some parts of the country sought secession.

In the phase of numerous challenges that has plagued our development and existence, we remain a strong indivisible entity with huge potential. Obviously, we are not where we should be, but at the same time, we are far from where we used to be. The pace of our growth may be at a snail speed, there is however room for consolidation.
Considering the level we are today, one may be tempted to ask if there is anything to celebrate after 55 years of sovereignty. As for me, I can celebrate our resilience as a people. In the phase of divergent cultural and political orientation, a people of over 250 languages have stayed together for 55 years and counting.
Many countries that are more homogeneous have struggled to achieve this, Sudan being a recent example of what disunity can do to a nation like ours have not known peace for years.

At this time in our laborious journey to greatness, we need not remind ourselves of the past failures, nor focus on the things we have not achieved as a people, rather, we must resolve to believe in the future of Nigeria. Our faith in the possibility of a country of our dreams will energize us to work to achieve this.

Loosing hope in Nigeria won’t make us automatic citizens of another nation. Nigeria is ours to build. The past is prologue, the present is in our hands, and whatever we do now will determine where we shall be in years to come.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Nigeria of our dream, it begins with you and me

Every nation of the world craves greatness, each strives to be better than the other in every aspect. Good things don’t come cheap, hence, the citizens work hard to achieve this goal through collective and individual efforts and sacrifices out of love for their country.

The pace of development differs across countries, and no nation got it all, but certain countries of the world (the developing countries), Nigeria inclusive, need development more than others.

Hence, there is need for us to be armed with the selfless readiness to pay the price of patriotism required to build a country we will all be proud of.
As citizens of Nigeria, we have an obligation to be patriots, more than anything else; though the term 'patriotism' is relative, and may mean different things to different people.

Whatever one defines it to be, patriotism is unarguably one of the most important ingredients for nation building. It is the love for one’s country and the willingness to sacrifice for it.

Many pay lip service to this cause, and many more may claim to be patriotic. However, when these claims are placed side by side with the deplorable situation of the country, there arise such questions as: why are we here, despite the huge potential we have to be a great nation? And if all our claims are true, who/what brought us to this point? The Nigeria we have today is a product of our collective handiwork as a people and we are the ones who can make Nigeria great as it should be.

It is true that Nigeria has been misgoverned for decades, and our ‘leaders’ played a major role in bringing our nation to her knees, yet, this is not an excuse for us to be blind to our responsibilities as good citizens and followers.

If we summon courage to start doing things right, the ripple effects will be to our amazement.

Imagine a situation where Nigerians begin to stand for what is right at all times - We don’t jump queues, we let go of quick gains in obedience to rules and regulations, we shun nepotism, we obey traffic rules, we dispose refuse appropriately, use the pedestrian bridges where it is available, pay our taxes, we don’t abuse power, we don’t cut corners at point of public services to delay others who don’t know ‘who’, we don’t produce and sell substandard items to innocent consumers, we don’t give bribe when it is even demanded, civil servants do their work with honesty and pride among many other things we see as insignificant.

If you and I offend in one, we offend in all and we are not different from those we see as ‘bad leaders’ around. If we are willing and obedient, we will definitely eat the good of the land one day.

From observation, I discovered that many Nigerians have lost hope in the country, and many believe that once they are ‘successful’ (through whatever means), they have no business in nation building. And so, an average Nigerian tends to blame every inadequacy in the country on the leaders, and question their commitment at any given time (this I did for many years).

We are always quick to rain abuses on them and even criticize them ‘unnecessarily’. Quite a number of such criticisms are not even out of love for the country. Some are based on tribal sentiments, while others criticize people in leadership position because they could not get undue advantage from them.

We are never quick to ask ourselves as citizens: are we playing our part effectively? And we never realize that leadership exists everywhere - in families, places of worship, communities and so on, and not only in government.

We have developed the habit of throwing stones at our leaders when we are full of sins ourselves. It is true that to whom much is given, much is expected; but the patriotism to one’s country is not a virtue for the leaders alone as our attitude suggests; it is our collective duty to the nation.

Many wish to be in the position of the persons they criticize. They think they are more competent to be in such position, as if leadership is a bed of roses, forgetting that it comes with sacrifices.

If we research properly, we will discover that such people may not have the acclaimed capacity and may even be failing in the ‘little’ positions they already occupy, either as the family head or in any capacity that is not of public concern.

I have had the privilege of leading a group of people in tens and hundreds both in elective and selective capacity, and in doing this, I can say I have developed a bit and I have learnt some lessons as well, but at the same time, I flopped in many instances - revealing to me how difficult it is to lead.

I have not led a group of thousands of people directly, so, it won’t be totally correct to think that I have built the required trust and capacity to lead a state or a country at this point.

Many would not put this consideration into perspective before making some costly assumptions. Inherent in leadership are challenges, which is why leaders carry out their tasks with the help of advisers and other aides for efficiency.

But an average Nigerian who is bereft of any leadership experience tends to criticize to the point of boasting that they can do this and that, if given the opportunity. Yet, they may not even be managing their personal life affairs effectively. How would such person manage a state?

This is not to say that we do not have able followers who are far better than our leaders, neither does it imply that we should give the leaders a pat on the back and not air our dissatisfaction when things are not done right. However, our criticisms should be constructive, offering useful ideas devoid of character assassination.

In the same vein, anyone who wishes to aspire for a leadership position must first ensure that he/she has the required capacity, else we will continue to produce leaders without focus, and such leader will end up becoming a disaster waiting to happen from the onset.

Every successful leader I have met and heard of are products of effective mentorship and proper developmental programme.

It is indisputable that leadership (government) has a big role to play in nation building. The masses are not asking for too much, but that basic amenities, enabling environment, and necessary policies be put in place for us to thrive; that we find our society safe for lives and business, that opportunities are provided for all to live their dreams, that we be provided with enabling environment for us to be economically viable,
that our children get access to quality education needed for the future they deserve, that our health facilities are functional and up to standardized to effectively cater for our health needs, that the necessary infrastructures be put in place to drive our growth as a nation.

It is high time our politicians knew that Nigeria has made more than enough sacrifice by allowing you arm-twist us to make you the highest paid politicians in the whole world. Not even your counterparts from the foremost nations of the world can boast of the jumbo pay you are carving out of our common wealth for yourselves.

We at least deserve results from our huge ‘investment’ in you. Nigeria has given you enough to make you steer clear of the little left for us to live on. And to anyone who hold positions of public trust who believe that they are clean, ask yourself; are you not in any way betraying the trust? Those who aspire to hold such positions, do you have the right motives for the position for which you aspire? Anyone that wants to build a tower should first sit and count the cost if he/she has sufficient resources to finish it.

Do not be coerced into leadership, do not aspire to be a leader when you know you have a sinister interest to serve or when you do not have the passion for it. If you refuse to listen to the heart cry of the millions of Nigerians you are exposing to hardship on a daily basis, I will borrow the words of Segun Akinlolu to tell you that, one day, the table will turn.

In spite of all these however, the followers have significant roles to play as well and we must live up to our responsibility for us to be on a higher moral ground to challenge the recklessness in the system.

For instance, it is not the government who sells fuel above the pump price at filling stations, it is not the government who makes and sells fake and substandard products in our markets. Even if the government has a responsibility to ensure that things of this nature are checked, it would be better if we live by the law and not attempt to complicate the already bastardised system.

The thugs being used by selfish and ‘powerful’ politicians are children of the commoners. Although, the high level of poverty in the land may have contributed greatly to some of these menaces and anomalies, but that is not and should not be an excuse for committing crimes against the country. If there is no one available to be used, the resultant effect will be obvious.

These so called ‘leaders’ have relatives, and friends as well, and if these people do the right thing and are not afraid to tell them the truth, wicked and reckless leadership will be checked.

People in position of authority, who hold public
trust and are often ‘rightly’ blamed for Nigeria’s woes do go to places of worship, if they are being served with the truth always and not being indulged in certain ways, there will definitely be changes.

If our pulpits focus on preaching the truth irrespective of the personalities on seat, there may soon be nowhere to hide for saboteurs among leaders and the led. These are some of the huge contributions we, as good citizens can make towards achieving a great Nigeria.

In conclusion, the best time for us to build the Nigeria of our dream is behind us already, and the second best time to come together and work for Nigeria’s prosperity is now.

This is not the time to pay lip service to our father land. We’ve had 16 years of interrupted democracy, and here we are as a nation today. In spite of the abounding challenges, Nigeria still has the potential to be great. We can be more than the ‘giant of Africa’.

We have a new government that needs our support and prayers to succeed. Nigeria must not be left to become the country eternally hated by her people. Let’s not allow saboteurs to divide us with ethnicity. We must all frown at bad leadership and stop the madness of supporting bad leaders whom we benefit one way or the other from.

Most importantly, let’s pray for our leaders and the country to surmount all her present challenges and stop portraying Nigeria as bad. When we pray, let’s also believe and be hopeful. Rome was not built in a day. If we all play our part, the dry bones of Nigeria shall rise again.

The Nigeria we long to see is possible, it begins with you and me. So, help us God.
God bless Nigeria.

Ayorinde Olowosile RN

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Monday, 27 July 2015

My beloved Nursing

Meditating on what my first post on this blog would be, I couldn’t think of any other topic to start with than my beloved profession-Nursing.

Many are the articles being published on a daily basis about Nursing and Nurses. The contents of some of these articles are true, some - false, some - derogatory, some - educating, some - inspiring, some - challenging and many are full of hypocrisies (especially from members of the profession).
With the little experience I've had as a Registered Nurse in the private sector, I've had the privilege of meeting and interacting with several people within and outside the profession, and as expected, opinion differs on what "Nursing" means to individuals. Even among the 'professionals', there's no such thing as common ground with regards to what Nursing really means and stands for. So many were coerced into the profession, and others bought their ways into it while many became nurses because of the ‘lucrative’ tag it carries. Whichever way, we are in the profession for different reasons and through different means. But the profession is a goal-oriented one.

For me, I became a Student nurse by persuasion, and I decided to be a professional by conviction, that even when opportunity came to desert nursing for other things, I resisted such with determination, with the help of some guidance from senior colleagues and others.

As a student nurse, Nursing changed a lot of things about me - my lifestyle and character was altered rather too soon. Having spent a couple of years in a conventional tertiary institution as an engineering student, and graduating among the best 5 students in my class with such little effort, I expected a rollercoaster ride in my new found profession. But I was quickly challenged (by demands) that such could not be the case here. The days of missing lectures repeatedly was put behind and effective time management became a priority as much as a challenge. But alas I made it through the rigorous training was launched into the profession proper.

Here am I as a Registered Nurse in a country in which Nursing is plagued with very many challenges in terms of education, career progression/advancement, public perception, technology, inter and intra professional conflicts and indeed adherence to the tenets and ethics of professionalism among others. For many years, the policy makers in the profession seems to be comfortable with this degrading situation thereby yielding the esteemed profession to ridicule from other members of the healthcare team, the public and the government. The very little number of people that had the privilege of giving the profession a sense of direction as a result of the influence they have in policy formulation did little to this effect. Quackery is eating deep into the fabrics of the profession as there is literarily no laws to curb it. Other members of the healthcare team now enjoy the liberty of training quacks to perform nurses’ roles with impunity. Even professional nurses do same to the overall detriment of this noble profession for financial benefits. As if that is not enough, Professionals sometimes finds it hard to get jobs, as many vacancies there are, are being filled up by quacks, forcing many of our unsuspecting professionals (males especially) into the practice of quackery of sort. Many have been forced into 21st century ‘slaves’ in their own profession by some self-centred ‘MDs’, many have lost their integrity and have now resulted to malpractice as a means of living. And a significant others are even ashamed to be called nurses, and so many have assumed the roles of other members of the healthcare team at their facilities.

However, in spite of all these identified challenges, opportunities abound in the profession. Even though, a lot need to be done. The nurses of this generation must be ready to make certain sacrifices and work hard to re-write the wrongs of the past that has hampered the development of the profession. We must begin, as many are now doing to speak about things that concerns the profession, defend the cause of the Nursing profession, not only by talking about them but by ensuring that take actions and practice the profession with full adherence to its code of ethics as ell as ensuring that we practice within the limit of our training. Above all, Each and every nurses must aspire to be better than they are, by exploring every opportunity to improve our professional competence and confidence in the practice of our calling. Career advancement must be top in our priority and must not be substituted for any other thing.

And as for the authorities in the profession, it’s high time they understood the fact that most of the laws and rules guiding training and practice of Nursing in Nigeria are long overdue for review. Effort must be geared towards ensuring that people seeking for career progression get easy access. This will to an extent help curb the high level of brain drain in the profession. It is absurd that an RN from an accredited school of nursing will have to spend at least 4years to obtain BSc. when same can be obtained in less than a year in some universities in other part of the world that ranks lower than some Nigerian universities. If the entry into the profession is as competitive as it is today (second most sought-after course of study in Nigerian universities), career progression shouldn’t be. Nursing authorities should endeavour to think ahead and make policies to align Nigerian Nursing with global standard. The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) – the body saddled with the responsibility of regulating the training and practice of Nursing in Nigeria must do the needful. By now, the nursing register ought to have been digitalised in such a way that each nurses can be verified even by employers to ensure that only professionals are allowed to practice the profession as spelt out by the NMCN establishment act. Efforts must be made to ensure that some of the outdated and irrelevant sections of this act is presented to the National assembly for amendment. The NMCN should as well set up a functional monitoring unit to be saddled with responsibility of ensuring that Nurses all over the country do what is expected of them as well as to ensure quacks are taken out of business. The services being rendered at the national and regional offices of NMCN should be improved upon, and the ICT unit of the council should be upgraded and equipped to meet the needs of Nurses wherever they are in the country through a viable website and not the current portal operated by the council.

All our training institutions must be compelled to put the needed facilities in place and be ready to rise up to the challenge of producing full-fledged professionals that are ready to go places. The present master-servant relationship that exist between Instructors and students in most Nursing training institutions is not the best way to achieve this. The instructors should be up-to-date in their knowledge base and assume the roles of mentors to the students who are indeed the future of Nursing.

God help me to play my part.

Ayorinde Olowosile RN.

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