Feature: Nigerians need Discipline to get through this Current Crisis

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By Ayo Akinfe

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Nigerians need the discipline of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Samurai Warriors or the Templer Knights to get through our current crisis.

[1] World War Two is one of my great passions as I could study it non-stop 24/7. It led to so many innovations and altered the way we live to such an extent that it deserves to be studied 365 days a year

[2] One of the biggest revelations of the war were the Tuskegee Airmen. Four squadrons of all-black African Americans were created to fail by the racist US military high command but alas, they ended the war as the world’s best-ever pilots

[3] Prior to World War Two, many in the US military believed that blacks would not perform well in combat and were incapable of flying. A 1925 study conducted by the Army War College concluded that blacks were inherently ill-suited for combat physically and psychologically. These Tuskegee Airmen put such racists to shame

[4] They were the best fighter escort ever seen in history. The Tuskegee experiment was expected to fail but not only was the programme a milestone in training blacks as military pilots, but they also went on to succeed with flying colors. Tuskegee pilots garnered some of the most envied military records in history and more importantly, advanced the civil rights movement by setting the precedent that would force the American military to begin to integrate fully in 1948

[5] Also, the Tuskegee programme forged a group of men who would earn advanced degrees and make notable achievements in the fields of law, social policy, politics, medicine, education and finance. Surprisingly, aviation was not on this list as private aviation industries were closed at the time to blacks

[6] That the 926 service members who graduated from Tuskegee succeeded at a time when racist attitudes were officially sanctioned in the military is a testament to the men’s extraordinary determination to succeed as pilots, which by its nature is one of the most academically and psychologically challenging areas of military service

[7] What the racist recruiters failed to realise was that because they set the entry bar so high for the Tuskegee Airmen, they created an elite by default. Only the best of the best made the cut, compared with the mainstream airforce anyone could join

[8] Also, because most of the Tuskegee Airmen had some form of post-secondary school education, intellectually, they were top notch. They found it easy to outmanoeuvre the more experienced Luftwaffe German pilots

[9] What Nigerians need to learn from the Tuskegee Airmen is that when you are set up to fail, the best way to respond is to excel beyond the wildest dreams of your detractors. Put them to shame by refusing to fail as they were hoping you would

[10] With elections looming, a chronic scarcity of cash and the Nigerian elite once more preparing for office with no programmes, policies of programmes of action, it is time for the masses to say we will make this work despite all the odds. Our politicians are only going into office to enrich themselves but can we the masses not just choose to do a Tuskegee Airmen on them?

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