A Sinking Ship

Nigeria reminds me so much about James Cameron’s 1998 movie “Titanic” with the mixture of fortunes and of course the hobnobs choice passengers had. She can indeed be likened to a ship which set sail some fifty five (55) nautical miles from her present location to a destination that is the dream of all passengers. Mind you it is not sugar candy mountain, neither is it Canaan. On board this vessel are people of different backgrounds- assassins, pilgrims, lovers, dreamers, spies; a really good cocktail of good, bad and ugly people and the sea littered with icebergs and pirates determined to plunder.

“MV NIGERIA” has on board, passengers that have paddled canoes on streams and creeks, men that have rode bicycles and pushed wheelbarrows and therefore believe that they can captain this ship; unsurprisingly, the reoccurring decimal in this equation is mutiny. This tradition has underscored the need for purposeful leadership, transparency and unity which can be equated with bunkers, fresh water and of course food. Unfortunately, there is a short supply of these as evidenced by recent occurrences in the economy and the security of the nation -Res Ipsa Loquitur.
The depreciation of the value of the Naira, extreme poverty, skill gap and other challenges too numerous to mention are the holes through which this vessel is taking in water. Although the captain and others are screaming “May day! May day!!”, it is a bizarre and disappointing fact that there are lots of passengers (some crew members inclusive) who can do something and should be doing something to salvage the vessel but are not because as far as they are concerned, they have access to custom made life boats with which they will get to safety should “MV NIGERIA” sink. Life boats/ jackets in their dual citizenship and hard currencies, which they equate to terraces in heaven; hence they are trying to expedite the sinking. News Flash! Things don’t always go as planned. You can plan a picnic but you can’t predict the weather. We are all in this together, no one is really going anywhere plus, we all have something to lose – “Law of General Average”.

Steering wheel on the old map
To steer this ship aright, we need all able bodied men to the oars. This vessel is not a modern one, she isn’t digital although we wish she was. Good news is that she can be upgraded and she doesn’t lack able bodied men. The challenge however is that not all of them think or understand that they have vital roles to play in keeping MV NIGERIA afloat. We cannot afford watchers on the sidelines while our fortunes slip away. There are 170 million Passengers on board and counting, certainly overloaded and no doubt with lots of unnecessary luggage. The solution doesn’t lie in the coast guard “the West”, there is little they can do. The most they will do as they have always done is serve us foods we are not allowed to eat and show us the light we cannot see. The key to changing the tide is in the cargo hold- “unity”. There are a couple of things we must do in unison.
First we must be disciplined. We literally need to suppress our frivolous desires. It is described as the use of reason to determine the best course of action regardless of one’s desires. Discipline must be our defining character. Our actions and decisions must be confined to our rules, rules that reflect our history, culture and vision. It is important that we get this right because indiscipline is the root cause of the insanity and chaos we are experiencing. Discipline must be the wind that blows our sail.
Next we need a cultural change. Today, the global perception of Nigeria is that corruption is in her DNA. They may be right to think so considering the scintillating headlines they see; I would rather have them narrow it down to the root cause. The average Nigerian is afraid of “their tomorrow”. Why? It is not guaranteed! We need a cultural shift. Let the fear be for “our tomorrow”. Putting the country first through the policies we make in her best interest and not the interest of the Northern Deck that claim to be “born to rule” or the Western Deck that threatens to reconsider their membership of the Nigerian state over the abduction of their stalwart or the Southern Deck that has not allowed herself to be developed and blames every other deck but herself. Not policies to hunt the enemy of my friend or those that favour the enemy of my enemy. This is imperative because if Nigeria fails, no individual success will be worthwhile. What we need is love, dedication and commitment to the well-being of all Nigerians. When this becomes our culture, the mist before us will clear up and our destination will become more visible and attainable.

Old burlap. Background in vintage style
Finally, we must embrace homegrown solutions. I bet only a few have not heard the saying that “what you are looking for in Sokoto is in your shokoto”. Nigeria is endowed with so much material and human resources that are not being harnessed. The pointers suggest that there is a complex or lack of belief or confidence in what her citizens have to offer. When you look at the numbers, there are millions of Nigerians living in abject poverty. 70.8 per cent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day and 92.4 per cent on less than two dollars a day (Human Development Report, 2006). They do not need the luxury that drains the nation’s foreign reserves and puts pressure on the Naira. They need the basic things which are food, clothes, shelter and energy which are all abundant on board MV NIGERIA and of course some respect. We must embrace and promote home grown solutions to the monstrous challenges that we have. Put simply, we must industrialize; at least that is how “they” got to where they are as portrayed by Dr. Vannevar Bush when he said “The scene changes but the aspirations of men of good will persist”. The wealth to be generated and distributed is enormous and like the Jews, we must first circulate it in our system several times over before allowing it to seep out.
Candidly, the sinking can and should be averted but only if we re-calibrate and reconsider our mode of operation. This is the only vessel for which we have authentic tickets. The life boats and jackets that most passengers are hoping on cannot stand the current of the waters of our present word and there is no vacancy in any other vessel; if you doubt me, ask Donald Trump.

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