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Nigeria- Quo Vadis

By Edmond Etu
SEVERAL years ago, the Japanese government sent some bright students to Harvard not to acquire new knowledge but to associate with future political and business leaders of the United States. They could not be lured to stay on because all facilities in America were available to them in Japan.

In addition, they were sure to be placed in commensurate positions and provided with appropriate tools that will not only enhance them but also the nation in a competitive world. On the other hand, the Nigerian egg-head would, if not seduced to stay on, scheme to do so because he understands the trauma that awaits him. His boss would most likely be a mediocre, rather a lilliput whose incompetence level is very low, thus incapable of comprehending the output of this cerebral titan.

He is frustrated out of the system and he schemes to return to America where his talent is not only appreciated but also given all the opportunities to excel until the law of diminishing return catches up with him. It is most insulting to the numerous Nigerian egg-heads who flee to the metropolitan centres of North America, Europe and Asia when officials complain of brain drain whereas they overtly or covertly encourage this phenomenon.

The import of this is that those at the helm of affairs are not sure footed, hence they prefer those they can subject under their yoke. They prefer subordinates who are not free thinkers but yes-men. Lagos State since 1999 to date has shown that when you have a confident leader, you gather around you cerebral men and women, and encourage them to freely express themselves.

When there is a meeting of the minds, actualisation of their dreams begins. I also applaud leaders of the First Republic and also first military inter regnum for discerning and inviting well-calibrated people to serve. Their performance should be the envy of today’s bankrupt administrators.

The late Pa Alfred Reweaa once said: “Yesterday we yearned for a better tomorrow, today, we mourn the loss of a better yesterday”.

Yes, that better yesterday was one in which ECN worked and we had continuous electricity; you could walk the streets at wee hours and dream dreams at the romantic gardens; factories billowed smoke of activities; farming had place of honour; there was religious tolerance; tribes and tongues differed but in brotherhood they stood; political debates were boisterous and entertaining; real federalism ensured healthy competition for growth; people walked tall with the quality of education; life was simple and not brutish; bosses had eagle eyes for performers and rewarded them accordingly.

Some may argue that life is more complex today, but that to me is balderdash for complex situations bring out the best in men for complex solutions. This is why we need our best men and women today more than ever before. This brings to fore the ever-reverberating words of President John F. Kennedy when in early ’60s said: “We choose to go to the moon and do other things in this decade, not because they are EASY but because they are HARD”.

Because of the power of the spoken words of a futuristic leader, quality men and women were put together using what I term as “slide rule technology” to unravel exponentially omnibus technologies that pervade a wide spectrum of advancements that are being churned out today.

Men were sent to the moon as promised, yet in this jet age with a meteoric rise in technological advancement we were promised 6000MW of electricity at the end of last decade but they reneged. We are resigned to incompetence and mediocrity. In the ’60s we were a country with potentials. Today we are still a country with potentials.

When will this potential end and our deserved desires realised? I saw the headline of a newspaper recently which stated that a General Overseer had requested Nigerians to pray that there should be no coup. My own entreaty to God is that He should touch the hearts of our leaders and elites to provide us with all the parameters that would take us to 20 – 20 nation status. If we get the parameters right we will not have to think of possible coups.

For several months the discourse has been on Nigeria as a failing or failed state. Ambassador Lyman’s irrelevance of Nigeria in the world is an added potpourri (though with awful scent), preferably, a pandora’s box. Firstly, we cannot deny our membership of the global world.

As a member of this Global Village, we must accept the model or norms designated as foot prints toward universal hegemony. We cannot therefore delude ourselves by picking those which suit our “Nigerianess”. However, if out of share pomposity we wish to excise ourselves from the Global Village we must take a peep into Mao Tse – tung’s China.

Though cocooned from the influence of the rest of the World, China was able to feed her vast population; contained the population within her geographical borders; had manufacturing industries, and more importantly was able to manufacture armament for self defense; provided basic necessities as water, roads, electricity, et al. Today she is a member of the nuclear club, and also a member of the 20 – 20 Club. When China was ready, she opened her gates to the world and the growth has been phenomenal in every facet of human endeavors.
The nexus for developing and developed states is based on certain universally accepted indices. Many have said that Nigeria is a developing country but I believe that the country is thithering towards a failing or failed state. This can be adjudged by some of these stated parameters.

-   Nationals leave their country in droves. Parents willingly goad their daughters to be trafficked in prostitution to foreign lands.
-   There is a precipitous decline in poverty rate.
-   Quantum deterioration of infrastructure
-   The unabated electoral imbroglio
High corruption index
-Internet fraud
-Non-utilization of natural and human resources
-Failed capacity to provide security

Where do these failures place us? Our so called leaders believe that the populace dare not have the gumption to think and proffer solutions to our myriads of problems. When Nigerians have expressed their thoughts, they are hounded and referred to as unpatriotic. Should Nigerians continuously be resigned to those who just blow hot air as to where we should be in 20 – 20 as a nation, and yet do nothing except grow their personal economies? They have pauperized the nation and do not care if the country sinks.

I had intended not to involve myself in Ambassador Lyman’s critical analysis of the situation in Nigeria but have decided to indulge myself in a few short comments. Nigerians have already given their verdict, having also read the counterpoise

-   Those who love you should tell you the unadulterated truth.
-   We all wish to go to Heaven, but cannot get there byjust praying. We can only achieve that goal by passing through a narrow path as enunciated by God. In like manner, we cannot claim a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations by mere braggadocio but by treading the path of globally accepted international indices.

-   Nigerians cannot decide her faith when they are not allowed to think, for when they express their thoughts they are treated with levity and branded saboteurs. These same thoughts, when enunciated by foreigners are placed at the highest point of the totem pole.

If a foreigner is made the Managing Director of any of the refineries, he is given much freedom, all the tools and funding to succeed, whereas they will frustrate an equally competent Nigerian who would provide better result with less funding.

These foreigners have always shown their patriotism to their home countries not to Nigeria. The confirmed cases are NITEL, Ajaokuta, Delta Steel Company and of course our national football teams. We have many very qualified Nigerians here and in Diaspora who are ready to face the gauntlet in order to propel this country to an Eldorado not just for the few but for all.

Your hoped-for cowed followers are no fools. They watch, as you continue to expose your myopia, self adulation, nepotism, tribalism. Nigerians have been slow to anger but this cannot last forever.

Mr. Etu, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos.


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