Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Welcome to 2016. One of the reasons people come into the New Year with high expectations, set goals and make fresh commitments about what they want to achieve and who they want to be, is because inherent in man is the quest for a new beginning, and this time of the year affords us the opportunity to start afresh.
The concept of a new beginning is divine. Everything in nature continually renews itself. This is at the core of our New Year resolutions. Critical to this quest for renewal, however, is the conviction, a conviction for improvement in our family lives, in our careers and businesses and in our character; a conviction which comes with an unwavering belief in our mission and our capacity to see it through.
The reason men of great achievements are rare is that men of great conviction are rare. The truth is, we are more predisposed to self-doubt, to second-guessing ourselves and our course of action. What separates the mundane from the extraordinary, great leadership from mediocrity is conviction.
Britain before Margaret Thatcher was a nation adrift. Henry Kissinger, America’s famed secretary of state, in a remark to President Gerald Ford said, “Britain is a tragedy. It has sunk to borrowing, begging and stealing.” Incessant strikes, power shutdowns, a stock market crash and high inflation, amongst other challenges, were forcing the British government, in 1978, to consider declaring a state of emergency. Thatcher stepped in resolute about what needed to be done; she reined in the unions, cut income tax, broke up monopolies, reduced the price of utilities, etc. She took firm decisions and held her ground in the face unpopularity and fierce opposition. In many ways, Thatcher saved Britain because of her convictions. She gave Britain a new beginning.
Suffice to say that people of conviction exude determination, confidence and create an atmosphere of great possibilities for their followers. Nevertheless, conviction, in this sense will require not just a resolute attitude, but also what I call progressive compromise or all-inclusiveness. The need then for negotiation cannot be overemphasized, particularly in today’s world and the prevalence of democratic principles.
Compromise is not about letting go of your convictions, but about persuading adversaries to become allies. We see a good example of this in the intense horse-trading that facilitated Abraham Lincoln’s passage of the 13th amendment. Lincoln’s conviction to free the slaves was unassailable, but he had to trade favours, factor in certain personal interests, give up some ground, make compromises. In making compromises, however, leaders must determine what is sacred and what lines cannot be crossed. Conviction must always balance compromise.
As 2016 rolls in, I foresee a new beginning for Nigeria, one that will unfold in spite of the backdrop of grim economic realities. What we can do as people choose to remain resolute and unwavering in our commitment to building a better and stronger country. Oil prices may be falling, the naira may be weakening, but there is a silver lining. Perhaps this will afford us an opportunity to re-evaluate our spending priorities and put more effort into diversifying the economy. This is not the time to dither, but to imagine a better outcome for Nigeria and doggedly reach for its actualization, to take firm and even unpopular decisions if necessary in pursuit of the common good. History often vindicates leaders and people who remain resolute in their convictions and pursuit for a better society. We remain optimistic that things will yet take a drastic turn for the better. Nations in more dire situations have come out better and stronger. Nigeria will pull through. We urge our leaders and the people to keep faith in our collective determination to restructure Nigeria for good. Happy New Year. Welcome to a new beginning.
NIGERIA HAS A GREAT FUTURE