The Compatriots, By Hakeem Baba-Ahmed

“Our children may learn about the heroes of the past.Our task is to make ourselves architects of the future” Jomo Kenyatta.

What do these Nigerians have in common?
HE, Obong Victor Atta
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed
Prince Tom Iseghohi
Alhaji Murtala Aliyu
Kadriya Ahmed
Hon Mulikat Akande
Prince Niyi Akenzua
Chief Silas Mak Ikpa
Pastor Tunde Bakare
Dr Kabiru Chafe
Dr Oby Ezekwesili
Rev Bitrus Dangiwa
Hajiya Inna Chiroma
Barrister Dele Farotimi
Professor Rahila Gowan
Dr Enyantu Ifene
Amb Godswill Igali
Chief Engineer Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu
HE Sefiu Adegbenga Kaka
Hajiya Nene Lanval
Prof Pat Utomi
General Zamani Lekwot
Chief Simon Okeke
General Saleh Maina
Hon Nkoyo Toyo
Engr Bello Suleiman
Mrs Nella Andem- Ewa Rabana ,SAN
      They are The Compatriots.They are not a club or a whatsApp Group.They are very serious about Nigeria. They gave themselves the name, Compatriots, borrowed from our national anthem which recognizes all Nigerians as compatriots and asks them to ARISE in the service of the motherland. They dare to believe that it is a country worth serving and saving.They recognize that they can have different faiths and cultures, personal values, ideas about what is wrong about Nigeria today and the way out of its challenges, yet still work together to influence its trajectory into a nation that will live up to all its potential and greatness.

   If you are familiar with regional politics in which socio-cultural groups have led the charge against each other on every issue from what to do with our cows to how Nigeria can be rebuilt on different, more enduring philosophies, systems and structures, you are likely to see prominent members of Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum and Northern Elders Forum in this list.You will also see Nigerians who have been in the trenches literally all their lives, working to create a working country for all its citizens.There are a few who gave their lives to the protection of our rights and freedoms and security as Nigerians.If you attend their meetings today, you will be surprised to see only Nigerians from all parts of the country just being Nigerian.

      The Compatriots are a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.They are the visible part of tens of millions of Nigerians who lament the state of our country and the absence of gatekeepers who should limit our exposure to fear, uncertainty and comprehensive failure.They have tired of being or living with fractions when they can re-create the whole.They are standing where many others, most of them well-meaning, have given up.They are volunteers who are not afraid of questions like, what is the point? They understand the point: some Nigerians have to step up and help stop the slide, because Nigerians have retreated so dangerously that everyone is at the point of losing everything a nation can give to its citizens.They ask the question, what can we do for Nigeria, and how will the newer generations of Nigerians live if we all walk away from service to the nation,to each other and to history.Long after the Nigerian elite has finished constructing walls around their families and comfort zones, the Compatriots have lowered theirs.They see in each other the same characteristic: isolation and guilt over the seeming failure to be answerable to questions over their place in history.They reach out to each other and find that distances are largely fiction, and everyone has the same problems.Then they reach out to younger Nigerians to give hope to replace helplessness; strength to replace weakness, and positive attitudes to replace bitterness and hate.
      The Compatriots give themselves these goals, among others:
a) To serve as a symbol of unity and service to all Nigerians;
b) To serve as a platform for improving the quality of co-existence for all Nigerian communities;
c) To mobilize the best intellectual and other resources available toward assisting in the improvement in the quality of governance at all levels and in all forms in Nigeria;
d) To serve as a Think Tank on specific and general issues and challenges in Nigeria;
e) To work with, and mentor younger generations, so that they are better prepared to leade the nation with commitment, responsibility and excellence.
      There are other ambitious goals this group of elites set for themselves.The group has no illusions that it will transform the  leadership-citizen relations in our country on its own.It recognizes the poverty of the nation in its stock of elite who should lead change and critical reforms on a routine basis.It is sensitive to the distances that have grown between the generation that benefitted the most from previous elite which managed a complex nation with vision and courage; laying foundations for future generations and making mistakes for which our country as a whole is still paying.
      These Nigerians who dare to dream of a nation that can be salvaged and redirected are gradually attracting national attention.In many circles, they must appear as a curiosity.Outside political parties, you do not see voluntary organizations that are not virtual, made up of people who come from all parts of Nigeria and speak Nigeria.Even political parties exist to capture power or actualize a few ambitions.The Compatriots argue among themselves, but they eventually share common views on improving the quality of our democratic process; our widespread insecurity and its impact on the citizen, the economy,inter-community relations and the future of our country run fundamentally on the needs of the citizen.
      The Compatriots have enough value and integrity to knock on all doors in Nigeria.It has been pursuing an ambitious programme of engagements recently, with eminent Nigerians and other leaders who have responsibilities to steer our nation away from some of the frightening scenarios that are being painted for it.Last week, it met with four of the five contestants who are asking us to trust  them with the presidency of our country.Prince Adebayo of the SDP and Kola Abiola of PRP came in person.Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, running mate to Peter Obi of Labour Party was there.Former Governor Boni Haruna represented Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.The engagement turned out to be extremely inspiring and productive.

Four Nigerians gave us hope that we do have a  great future, and they had enough wisdom and exposure to point out genuine obstacles to that future.They had very clear ideas about the challenges to the elections which they shared as well as the vital need for Nigerians to appreciate the historic nature of these elections. We had a glimpse of hope in the four candidates and their representatives, and we were reminded of the the daunting challenges which the nation faces.Young people, including students must vote; communities under influence of non-state actors must be freed to choose their next leaders; the judiciary which ultimately pronounces who shall be our leaders in the vast majority of cases must improve its integrity; issue-based campaigns must drown violence and insults; the elections must strengthen, not weaken the democratic process.

     The best legacy the Compatriots will leave will be to inspire other elite to step out for the country; to help alienated, young Nigerians become effectively integrated into building a great nation; to mobilize more Nigerians to become gatekeepers for our country, one large home with many different rooms.So far, the Compatriots are on the right track.
Article first published by The Vanguard