The synthesis of my thoughts is that we have not even been lucky lately to have leaders like they have had in North Africa. Call them dictators but they showed love for their people and invested in the future that manifests today. From Bouteflika to Gaddafi, to Mubarak to Ben Ali, and the Kings of Morocco, they did not just sit and eat everything in sight like ours.
The problem for me is that I am not interested in semantics. I am instead interested in humanity. There is an urgent need to lift the people of this country and un-shame the black race. This should be Nigeria’s manifest destiny. What we have shown so far, is that the black man cannot lead himself, anywhere in the world. Thankfully, some smaller African nations, like Rwanda, Botswana, and a few others may be able to move on gradually. Even in West Africa, Ghana – UK’s outpost – and Cote D’Ivoire – France’s outpost – may yet get ahead and leave us in this misery.
My thoughts are that maybe our problem is that we stick to prescriptions too much. We want to read everything from the books, so we talk about true federalism, perfect democracy and all that jazz. Our education should however inform us that we need to think for ourselves. We needn’t copy the west verbatim. We are not the west.
I am not advocating military government; I must be clear. Even they fall into the same trap as our politicians. The trap is that we are not motivating ourselves to come together and do great things. We are however fighting over peanuts, like monkeys. Even our champions – like Dangote and the big bank MDs – are at best local champions from what I’ve seen going on, even in Africa, not to talk of elsewhere in the world. See how far China has gone in a very short while! They now do incredible things. It’s a big shame on us.
I am proposing that perhaps we should try a private sector intervention. Can all these Nigerian big men and women come together? Who do they intend to leave the problem for? Do they think they and their children can avoid the stigma that is permanently associated with Nigeria? Don’t they see that we suffer the same fate? And that it is more painful for them that are well to do when they get profiled, lose deals and see their loved ones get jailed unnecessarily or victimised in other manners? Who will supply the vision that will result in Nigeria’s awakening and leap forward? Certainly not some overfed, corrupt politician who rigged his way to power.
Those politicians don’t even see what they are supposed to see, even when Nigeria sponsors them abroad. They are usually busy chasing women, riding around in chauffeured cars and playing big man everywhere. And back at home, they are blindsided by the politics of patronage, tribalism, religionism, and other things that have always help Nigeria down. Now is the time to try something else. Of course, we should retain the democratic structures (which the same elites can pressurize governments very intelligently to whittle down) but that elite consensus that will push us forward must be achieved.
What I am advocating is an elite consensus along the following lines
1. Generating real buzz and domestic consumption in our economy by giving back to society and closing income disparity. Also, they can show examples in patriotism and patronage of local goods. Forget the damn politicians. Look at Buhari and all his deceptions for example!
2. Giving inspiration and motivation for the economy and society at large. Compromised politicians cannot do this for several reasons; the people have seen through the lies, and they are untrue to themselves
3. Establishing systemic order in society by working on the psyches of the politicians. They interact with these politicians often and get appointed to different committees. Intelligent and constant interactions will show results if these same elites don’t veer off in the wrong direction.
4. Creating a new image and ambience for Nigeria. These elites have travelled everywhere, and they know what other countries are doing. Many of them want the same for Nigeria but will tell you their biggest problem is government. What I am advocating is that they should fear governments less and step forward to urgently help in creating a new image and ambience for Nigeria – away from filth, poverty and want, to one of hope and self-reliance.
5. These elites can help us anchor the energies of our youths the more. For example, their involvement in sports can ensure we have a 1,000-person contingent with more medals in the 2024 Olympic. These elites – in the private sector – are known to be exceptionalists. What they need now is to anchor those efforts collectively. I believe our youth entrepreneurship strategy as a nation is wrongheaded, and needs rethinking. These guys can assist.
6. Infrastructure building and maintenance. Nigeria certainly needs a lot more infrastructure. If Egypt is building spaghetti overhead bridges that match what they have in the USA, we should bury our heads in shame. Nigeria has not been growing. I am using this avenue to challenge these elites further. Imagine that our tallest skyscraper was completed in 1979 and none of our elites have challenged themselves to beat that record. Our Eko Atlantic project sits fallow, overpriced and deluded as a Nigerian often is, while Egypt built two new cities in the same period and transformed the old one. All the countries in North Africa have very functional and extensive rail system, or a tram system. Seems we have been abandoned to our fate here.
7. We certainly need finance to achieve the greatness we desire, but not only finance, contrary to the positions of many of these elites I am talking about. We need finance but we need more than finance. We need new attitudes from Nigerians to their country and her infrastructure,
8. We need the kind of ‘exposure, worldview, experience, that only these private sector elites can bring to bear. We can see that the quality of people who win political offices. We are getting people with lesser and lesser quality. Now, fraudsters, forgers, street boys, outright criminals are increasingly the ones crowding the field, as decent people flee in light of the frustrations of winning elections in Nigeria.
9. These elites can sponsor image-repairing programs that involve our good youths and allow those on the fringes to see the light. These guys are used to thinking deep and with unbiased minds about things. The same attitude is what I advocate.
There you have it. This is a call to action; a call to deep thought; a call to out-of-the-box thinking; a call for us all to step up and save ourselves. Our people say when we have already been shamed, the next option left to us is to try not to die. Perhaps, staying alive, we may yet be able to overturn the shame and become a great nation with good people indeed.