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Nigeria's democracy, its intellectuals and themarch
to the new millennium

By IGNATIUS DIKAS

Special to USAfricaonline.com

For good, bad or evil, Nigeria is marching democratically into the new millennium. It's doing this in style, and the world is cautious but optimistically watching. Nigerians should come together, count our blessings and embrace this unique lifetime opportunity with all and nothing but all open-mindedness. What makes a great nation is always: first, the people, second the leadership. Nigeria was born with great leaders in the beginning who irrespective of their educational background, worked hard to instill the pursuit of excellence in education. This is still seen among our folks around the world.

The end-product of our elders' vision is a pile of intellectual arsenal all over the world, that Nigeria as a nation, may not know she has. This group of versatile intellectuals in every nook and angle of the globe is an envy of any great nation and should be hailed, summoned, or town-cried to this important new beginning into the millennium.

Let's not forget that these model intellectuals are made extremely comfortable and settled by their host admirers; therefore need to be showed tremendously unique reasons to bring their individually acquired firepower of knowledge back to their land, their native land. This group has an important piece of the puzzle to grapple the serious social changes associated with true democracy, which Nigeria is about to engage in. one way this nation can tap into the wealth of her intellectuals around the world should be by establishing what I would name THE NATIONAL BANK OF IDEAS AND IMPLEMENTATIONS, where all Nigerians can deposit their original or borrowed ideas. A special versatile group of intellectuals picked to handle this bank can then, brainstorm the ideas into pilot programs and share the results with the rest of the country. The bulk of grassroots democratic practices started with the creation of our nation in the hands of our elders.

As bizarre as it may sound to modern democrats, we respected and obeyed our elders, town criers, court marshals and tax collectors; good, bad or evil, we kept an open mind. It took strict villages to raise our kids and communities banded together for common goals. The qualities of our good old days are the constant reminiscence of modern nations as United States has properly credited our "It takes a village to raise a child" but carefully omitted the main adjective that describes the true meaning of what it took to raise our generation in question. But for good, bad or evil, we should keep an open mind. Now, the new millennium democracy is at hand. It packs a baggage of new social influences to engage our old and existing ones; good, bad or evil. These social dilemmas could range from drunk drivers in our disastrous and shameful roads and inner streets, to the sense of vigilantism that raises the eyebrows of the human right watchdog around the world, or a mere pornography on the information superhighway of the modern world. It is very important that these issues are not only confronted, but are done in a national referendum.

Our traditional social values, which are the hallmark of our birthrights, should be strictly maintained, but adjusted to aid the changes of the 21st century. These are just few social issues, which are definitely going to clash with our traditional values; some of them are good, bad or evil, but we should keep an open mind. As a nation, we are likely to receive the long-awaited democracy by choice, but cannot and may not be able to refuse the content of its mystery baggage by choice. In retrospect, I see a nation that forgot to leash her beloved dark-skinned goat in the daytime, but now can hear a distant cry of the lost companion in the darkness. I see a nation that was left far behind because she couldn't find the jigsaw picture of democracy, but is now being cheered by friends and enemies alike, because she may have found the first clue to solving the magic puzzle. Finally, I see a nation ready to claim her long-awaited dignity through the due process of democracy.
Dikas, a Houstonian, will write about public affairs and technology for USAfrica The Newspaper and NigeriaCentral.com