Columns

March 22, 2024

It is not rocket science!!! By Donu Kogbara

It is not rocket science!!! By Donu Kogbara

I’d like to draw your attention to two comments that caught my attention this week: a sardonic observation that was made by Robert Mugabe, the famously witty late President of Zimbabwe, and an excerpt from a 2023 speech by Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the famously insightful Nigerian President of the African Development Bank.

According to Mugabe: “To applaud a politician because he has built a school, hospital or road using public money is the same as congratulating an ATM for giving you your money.”

According to Adesina, speaking about what it will take for the world to respect Africa: “…Respect is never a given. It cannot be purchased. It must be earned. And it is earned based not on rhetoric or request, but on…concrete action, consistent action over time.

“Saudi Arabia has oil as does Nigeria. Kuwait has oil as does Nigeria. Qatar has abundant gas as does Nigeria…Yet Nigeria is the country with the largest share of its population living below extreme poverty line in Africa. That is not a gold medal that we should be proud about. Clearly, there is something fundamentally wrong in our management or rather mismanagement of our natural resources.

“It is also clear that if we continue to mismanage these natural resources, we will remain stuck. I have urged African governments to stop securing loans backed by their natural resources. And that’s because those natural resource-backed loans are not transparent. They’re expensive. They make debt resolution very, very difficult. If that trend continues, it will be a disaster for Africa.

“If we manage our natural resources well [in the interest of our people], Africa has no reason to be poor. We have $6.2 trillion of natural resources…We simply need to pull up our socks, stamp out corruption…The resources of a country do not belong in the pockets of powerful and rich individuals…There must be accountability…

“I wonder sometimes when people…say…’I put a bore hole in my state’ and it’s on national television. The very fact that you’re actually installing bore holes is an indication of government failure because in the 21st century, every single house must have pipe-borne water. So there’s really nothing to be delighted about…”

Nobody reasonable can claim that running a country – especially one as ethnically diverse and populous as this one – is an easy task.

But it isn’t rocket science either! Getting things right on a basic level and creating a firm foundation on which solid development and nationwide security can be built isn’t THAT difficult. Intelligence and integrity will do the trick.

Change must start with us, not them

According to the excellent 

SBM newsletter, media reports compiled by the National Security Tracker and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project state that there were an estimated 4243 kidnappings reported in 2023 and that by March 2024, almost a thousand people have been kidnapped in Northern Nigeria alone.

SBM describes what is going on as “a spree of industrial-scale kidnapping”. I couldn’t have put it better myself.  

Meanwhile, the UK’s Financial Times (FT) – a newspaper that is taken very seriously globally – recently ran a deeply disparaging article in which the Nigerian elite is described as “neglectful”.

The usual long list of ills with which we are all wearily familiar – oil theft, millions of out-of-school youngsters, terrible healthcare provision, low life expectancy (53), numerous ungoverned spaces, raging inflation, corruption and so on – is trotted out.

Ex-president Buhari is blamed for “eight years of economic self-harm”. Current president Tinubu’s market policies are said to have “backfired” and led to “the worst economic crisis in a generation”.

And it’s not as if the rot started with Buhari. Nigeria has been failing to live up to its “Giant Of Africa” status for decades.

Nigerians are always bitterly complaining about the absence of effective leadership. But I blame we the majority, not the small band of oppressors, for the pains we have endured for years.

Turkeys rarely vote for Christmas, so I’m not expecting our ludicrously pampered politicians and senior civil servants to stand up anytime soon and say: “OK, we’re going to voluntarily stop obscenely enriching ourselves at your expense and under-performing”.

For as long as we allow them to get away with chronic misbehaviour and ineptitude, they will continue to victimise us, shortchange our children and play Russian Roulette with our collective future.  

Until the majority of Nigerians summon up the energy and courage to put their feet down, insist on democratic bottom lines and say “no more nonsense!”, we will be stuck with never-ending stress.

Life in Nigeria is too hard. I am so tired of endlessly grappling with the spiralling cost of fuel, the constant electricity cuts, etc. And I’m super-lucky compared to the average man or woman on the street because I at least have something. I CANNOT begin to imagine how exhausting, frightening even, life is for those who have nothing.

Until we quit our impotent whining, think like citizens rather than subjects and decisively reject any dubious Oga or Madame At The Top who inflicts bad governance on us, they will continue to strut around as if they are doing us a favour and the genuine respect that Africa crave from more successful continents will remain elusive.

In other words, the change has to start with us, not them.

DONU’S WORLD

At the end of last year, I decided to go multimedia and not restrict myself to writing articles, contributing to books and appearing on TV and radio shows.

So I started a podcast with two British friends and it’s doing quite well. Now, I am taking another leap of faith and sharing my voice in a new way through Donu’s World, my very own YouTube channel!

Please become part of Donu’s World by subscribing now. https://youtube.com/@donukogbara?si=bBm_IPdFZ_wUyKYq

Subscribe and join me on this exciting adventure that will cover my personal struggles (obesity, divorce, kidnapping, etc) and my views about a whole heap of current and historical issues.

RESPONSES TO  [email protected]  or to 0805 404 6887. (TEXT ONLY). PLEASE NOTE THAT UNLESS YOU REQUEST ANONYMITY, YOUR EMAIL OR TEXT MAY BE PUBLISHED WITH YOUR NAME AND CONTACT DETAILS ATTACHED.

Please listen to my podcast AfricaHere&NOW.

YouTube.com/@AfricaHereAndNOWPodcast http://Www.africahereandnow.com

It can also be accessed via Spotify and Apple podcasts