I have been privileged to listen to some of the most intelligent Nigerians, and non-Nigerians, talk about Nigeria and their dreams for the nation. The speakers are not limited to politicians, doctors, lawyers, farmers and traders; everyone has intelligent options for Nigeria and the usual questions are why Nigeria is not like:
- USA in politics?
- France lately in fighting Boko Haram?
- Norway, Malaysia in oil and gas local content development?
- Britain in provision of social welfare?
- Russia in taking over Crimea?
- Qatar and Saudi Arabia in saving plenty oil money to storm low oil prices period such as the current circumstance?
- Ghana in improving the educational system?
- Japan with electronics?
- India in medical tourism and being the largest democracy in the world?
- China in driving economic growth to become world power with her large population, low cost of labour?
- Singapore that gained independence the same period we did and are now a great success in many facets?
Now listen to a group of knowledgeable and intelligent friends proffering possible answers to the above mentioned questions. Like most Nigerians, they believe they have Nigeria figured out.
Bright: There is no hope, Nigeria is finished!
Bright: These politicians are no good, they are very corrupt, and they have destroyed our country.
Wisdom: No! It is the British. They forcefully put the North and South together and used the Northern successful political system to rule over the entire country for their selfish economic benefits.
Smart: Guy, it is the Islamic agenda of the North to control Nigeria that has held us back.
Bright: Bros, that is not it; it is the Igbo man that just wants to control all the trades in Nigeria.
Clever: Noooo! The Yorubas are the problem. They are too smart; they control all sectors of our country.
Smart: It is the Hausas that manipulate the entire civil service.
Wisdom: You got it all wrong! It is the Oil! Yes! When there was no Oil, Nigeria was doing very well.
Clever: Mehn!!!! We should just leave this Nigeria, they are using our Oil money to develop Abuja and we have nothing to show for it.
Smart: President Goodluck is a waste of time; he can’t even construct roads for us.
Smart: We want the Hausa people back o! Joe na failure.
Wisdom: Smarto! Which one you dey na? Dem fence your eye? Some correct things don show o!
Bright: That na your own o! As long as say road never reach my village, the guy na minus!
Please note that this is not a conversation peculiar to the bar, they occur daily on social media and in other serious environments. It is an interesting cocktail of reasons and we will always without failing make the “right comparisons”. I totally understand the emotions that run in this era prompting us to scientifically analyze most challenges.
Before I go further, I must remind you that I am an advocate of a United Nigeria, one in which our differences strengthen us. This is because as an entrepreneur, I love big markets and a United Nigeria is a fantastic market opportunity for me.
In the African continent and the world over, it is hard to find true democratically successful countries with a population of over 100 million. I know you will readily cite the USA and China, but I must remind you that China is a unique democracy. Hence, I believe in this case, India will suffice. Sincerely, will it be fair to compare Nigeria with our close sister India? I am sure we will need a whole semester of real study to understand. Be prepared for class.
Without divulging too many details in this introductory part of a series of follow up articles, I would like to reassure all true Nigerians that our solution will not come from any of these comparisons neither are the success factors the same. On a global scale, Nigeria is a great country and I stand the risk to say we have some great people who, unfortunately, are a challenge most times. This is because tragically our technocrats also try hard to use these real far-fetched comparisons and do not allow us to fashion a unique Nigeria solution.
We need a unique Nigerian solution. By this, I do not mean what is taught in Harvard or the opinions of a Berkeley Journalism graduate in South Africa reporting killings in Northern Nigeria to the World. We must sit down and face the facts, understand our peculiarity, interests and differences to help us design a beautiful future tapestry.
For now, most Nigerians are casual about it because for some strange reasons they believe they have options. Even if we did, for how long will those options be open? We must therefore unite to make a genuinely United Nigeria that works despite her diversity. Nigeria is unique; we must very quickly understand this and do well to never forget.
For all those who say: “it is the center that is bad”, please hold for a while. I have a recent experience which I would love to share. My villagers got compensation from the Federal Government over the destruction of my village and surprisingly, some self-appointed leaders of the community allegedly tried to take for themselves a large part of the money. Chaos broke out but the situation was put under control by a few good people with the help of the Federal Government’s own police. Now let me ask, is that the centre?
Nigeria is a great country, and we are all obliged to spread hope even when the situation seems hopeless because the alternative is not good for us; besides, greatness is expressed in our music, art, sports, business and the general culture.
This is Nigeria, not America. Let us make it work. We must not destroy this Great Nation for anybody’s personal ambition. It starts with you and I.