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Keeping Faith with Nigeria at 50 in the Great Leap Forward
By: Franklin Otorofani, Esq.  Published October 18th, 2010

  • Every independence anniversary provides every nation an opportunity for stock taking—to identify what worked and what failed, what needs to be done and chart the way forward. It’s not an opportunity for gratuitous lamentations and self-deprecations. It’s not an opportunity either for finger pointing and political grandstanding because there is enough blame to go round. However, for those who see only failures there are plenty of failures to talk about. For those who see only successes there are plenty of successes to talk about. And for those who see both failures and successes there are plenty of failures and successes to talk about as well. Nigeria has got everyone covered!—optimists, pessimists, cynics, realists and pragmatists. Take your pick, she got them all covered in her expansive demographic, geographic, and political landscapes.—Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

  • Nigeria’s problems therefore go beyond governments. It’s a nation brimming with opportunists and unprincipled characters whose positions shift with the sands of crass opportunism. That being the case, therefore, it seems to me that such questions as to whether the nation’s jubilee celebrations were justified or not are completely misplaced and borne out of malevolent intents rather than altruistic motivations. That anyone would, in his right mind, choose the very occasion of the nation’s golden jubilee celebrations to dwell exclusively on the nation’s failures while ignoring and/or actively downplaying her successes in several areas of her national endeavors speaks volumes about the essential character and motivations of the individuals concerned.—Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

  • Democracy is superior to military dictatorship on all fronts and Nigeria’s attainment of this democratic milestone is reason enough to celebrate, if for nothing else, for there are no greater attainments for a people than freedom and liberty—Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

With the nation’s terrorist-marred, golden jubilee festivities sadly behind us, it is perhaps time to take stock of our standing and assess the progress made so far or lack thereof by the nation since her independence in 1960.

Many Nigerians had in fact done that in their own ways as they saw fit even before the festivities got underway. Ordinarily, a nation’s attainment of that milestone would naturally call for celebrations. Ghana celebrated hers three years ago with aplomb as the first independent nation in Africa, and the world joined her in celebrating, including Nigeria and Nigerians some of whom have now turned around to deny their country similar celebrations.

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And Ghana is a less naturally endowed nation than Nigeria ($16.65bn economy) as against Nigeria’s $168.99bn), and per capita income of $630 as against Nigeria’s $1,140 as per World Bank data, with her own share of missed opportunities and general national malaise as with most African nations after independence. In fact, both Ghana and Nigeria tasted military rule just one month apart in the same year when the Balewa’s democratically elected government was topped in Nigeria on January 15th, I966, closely followed by the sack of Nkrumah’s democratically elected government on February 24th, 1966.

Since then both nations have shared the misfortunes of military rule and eventual transition to enduring democratic rule more than a decade ago. Yet no one questioned Ghana’s right to celebrate her golden jubilee even as she remains poor. However, while patriotic and proud Ghanaians would sing the same melodious tunes during their jubilee celebrations Nigerians found themselves singing discordant tunes at their jubilee celebrations.

While many of them, in the face of open hostility toward the celebrations being exhibited in certain misguided quarters, would patriotically and proudly advance persuasive arguments to justify the celebrations, others, disenchanted with the prevailing conditions in the nation and wallowing in self-pity and self-defeatism, would prefer to question the rationale for the celebrations.

It’s thus a case of one nation saddled with two opposite viewpoints on the issue of her 50th birthday celebrations. It would appear as though there is nothing on which Nigerians would agree on including even their nation’s golden jubilee celebrations. Oh, what a nation! Oh, what a people!

Given the divergent opinions canvassed by interested parties for and against the nation’s golden jubilee celebrations, therefore, it has become necessary to put matters in some perspectives particularly in regard to the contention in certain quarters as to whether the celebrations were warranted at all in the first place.

In a fundamental sense it is to be noted that these divergent opinions are reflections of the current political stalemate in the nation in which a distinct national pride has fallen victim to partisan politics, defiled by the stench of presidential politics.

In my characteristic fashion, I propose to deliberate on these matters at some length and the reader is forewarned that fragile egos will be bruised and sensitive feelings will be hurt. I intend to throw it all out there as it is and as blunt and direct as I can be with no pretensions, because I’m not in the business of political correctness nor am I interested in playing Mr. Nice. Therefore, anyone who is allergic to the truth is advised to quit reading this article now!

However, what the reader will find here will be different from the regular materials in the media by individuals who seek to ingratiate themselves to the so-called “masses” and would therefore feed them with what they (want) to hear rather than what they (need) to hear. That’s an important difference that could make a world of difference to the many who have been fed on wrong literary diets all their lives, well until now. That’s what sets my writings apart from all others, because somebody has got to tell it like it is, straight out from the heart with malice to none and goodwill to all.  

‘Failed State’ Hallucinogen

Before going any further, however, let me make myself abundantly clear: There is nothing wrong with people pointing out the nation’s failures with a view to remedying them provided they’re themselves part of the solutions rather than part of the problems. Highlighting our areas of deficiencies is a patriotic duty on the part of any citizens.

However, people should know their time and their occasions for calling the nation’s attention to such issues that everyone is pretty much aware of and therefore need no reminders in the first place. These problems are being talked about everyday and dominate the pages of newspapers and the nation’s airwaves, for crying out loud. There’s time for everything. A good message could be delivered at a wrong time with severe consequences or giving rise to people questioning the real motives of the messenger. Timing is of the essence.

Consequently, there is everything wrong with people turning those problems into a repertoire for an opera and a religion of sorts, with endless lamentations and self-immolation without doing their own part to solving them as citizens, because Nigeria’s problems are not all government problems alone, but citizens’ problems, of which ethnicity, corruption and election rigging are but three of the several holding down the nation.

Those who are quick to reduce all of the nation’s problems to governance are being simply simplistic and avoiding the hard choices necessary to move the nation forward. Nations are not developed by governments alone but by citizens. Governments do not provide for the citizens rather it’s the citizens that provide for the governments. In ideal climes it’s the citizens that provide funding for the government rather than the other way around.

Experience has, however, shown that many of those who cry the most are some of the worst culprits and are complicit in sinking the nation into a deeper hole. We saw, for instance, the case of one Ndudi Elumelu, of the House of Representatives of the power probe infamy, who literarily went on a spending jamboree at the nation’s expense; crying blue murder and alleging monumental corruption in the Nigerian Independent Power Projects (NIPPs), which he could not establish only for him to be implicated in a massive N5bn corruption scandal in the Rural Telephony Agency (REA) projects for which he was detained and currently facing157-count fraud charge. Elemelu’s kangaroo probe not only delayed the completion of the NIPP projects, but was a total and complete waste of the nation’s scarce resources; with charges of bribery dogging its path all through the national show of shame while it lasted. Other examples of this blatant hypocrisy abound in the nation.

Oh, wasn’t Kwara state Governor, Bukola Saraki, the one shouting zoning! zoning! zoning! from the rooftops to get the PDP to zone its presidential slot to the north in order to actualize his presidential ambition on the cheap while he was busy rubbishing zoning in his home state of Kwara and imposing his own sister from the same zone as its gubernatorial aspirant under the same PDP platform? How much more can hypocrisy get? You, the reader, please tell me, because I don’t understand how somebody could speak from both sides of his mouth at the same time on the same issue and get away with it in a nation of 150 million supposedly intelligent people!

So next time you see folks howling, stop, take a deep breath, and watch events unfold. I guarantee it: you’ll be surprised as these folks change the colors of their skins like the proverbial chameleon. Abubakar Atiku is a living example. He’s no longer a democrat but an ethnic bigot. And he could do that without batting an eye, which goes to show his likes as crass opportunists. And you wonder what kind of a president an ethnic bigot would become if given the opportunity. One cannot but conclude that he will become an ethnic president—in this case President of the North. What a shame! What a disaster!

Nigeria’s problems therefore go beyond governments. It’s a nation brimming with opportunists and unprincipled characters whose positions shift with the sands of crass opportunism. That being the case, therefore, it seems to me that such questions as to whether the nation’s jubilee celebrations were justified or not are completely misplaced and borne out of malevolent intents rather than altruistic motivations. That anyone would, in his right mind, choose the very occasion of the nation’s golden jubilee celebrations to dwell exclusively on the nation’s failures while ignoring and/or actively downplaying her successes in several areas of her national endeavors speaks volumes about the essential character and motivations of the individuals concerned.

That this position is being essentially canvassed, virally promoted and propagated by individuals who have already dismissed their own country as a “failed state” tends to lend credence to their ma-la-fides and hence deserve the charges that they’re up to no good in their mischievous dispositions, for as it is written, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

It’s alright to criticize the government of the day, but when you ridicule your own nation before others, you are ridiculing no one but yourself and your fellow citizens. It’s like a child who goes about in public bad mouthing his parents naively thinking that his audience would be sympathetic to him and beat down on his parents. But unknown to him he has become the subject of mockery himself in the end. 

But come to think of it, how is it that those who gleefully dismiss their own country as failed state are the very ones who have refused to leave the country for good and go settle someplace else where they could live out their utopia? And to think that these are individuals, many of whom were educated in Nigeria almost for free by the nation and who have never paid a penny in taxes to the state all their lives, leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

How they expect Nigeria to be America or Germany without paying taxes like citizens of developed nations is one of the greatest delusions of our times. How they expect Niger Delta oil to bear the full brunt of the nation’s development must count as one of the greatest delusions of our times. It’s not going to happen anytime soon because we’re living in the kingdom of fools unless and until we change our dependent mindset and do our own part. It’s amazing that those who demand first rate social services from the state have not found the need to discharge their basic civic responsibilities to the state.

Modern states demand as much from their citizens as the citizens do from them, if not more. In some states military service is compulsory and citizens are conscripted to lay down their lives in defense of their countries. In others at least a quarter of their paychecks go to the states as taxes to help run the government, provide essential utilities and protect lives and properties. Nigeria cannot be any different. The burdens of funding the government must not fall on crude oil alone but must come from the citizens by way of taxation to balance the state/citizen equation. And that’s why the late US President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, told his countrymen and women not to expect what the country can do for them but what they can do for their country. That exhortation must re-echo in Nigeria as well. 

Citizens who shirk their civic responsibilities to the state have absolutely no rights to demand first rate social services from the state because nothing, I mean, absolutely nothing goes for nothing in the state/citizen relationship. Someone sure needs basic civic education somewhere in order to get his/her perspectives aright. And if you, the reader falls into that class of Nigerians who gives nothing to the state but expects el-dorado in return, it is time to have a word with yourself in the quiet of your home. I told you earlier that I’m giving it straight out from the heart. I’m not looking for votes. 

When we take a dispassionate stock of the performance of Nigerian public office holders in the past and present dispensations, we will find that those who complained the most; those who shouted the most; those who whined the most are the least performers in office when given the opportunity.

Conversely, those who complained the least; those who shouted the least; those who whined the least are the most performers in office when given the opportunity. Examples abound. But we don’t need to look any further that the present Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the present INEC Chairman, Professor Atahiru Jega; both of whom were loud mouths against the status quo ante but when given opportunity to serve have resorted to sheer blackmail, intimidation and buck-passing for their lack of performance in office.

The nation has literarily been held hostage by the fire spitting former ASSU president, Prof. Jega, whose fumbling is now casting doubts about his ability to conduct the 2011 elections.  Blackmailing the National Assembly has become his stock in trade in his apparent bid to condition the nation for his eventual failure in the conduct of the 2011 general elections. A while ago he was one of the most vociferous critics in the nation along with Oshiomhole as NLC president. Today we’re confronted with their abject failures buck passing and finger pointing. It’s like we saw it coming. Those of us who had unsuccessfully canvassed the retention of former INEC Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu for the job on the premise that the Devil you know is better than the angel you know nothing about, seem to have been vindicated by Jega’s current kokoma dance with the nation’s fate in 2011. But that’s a matter for another piece altogether, coming soon. The saying that empty barrels make the loudest noise holds true for these characters.

Now, contrast that with the present Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Tunde Fashola, who was hardly known in the past and who speak but little; attracting no undue attention to himself; but has become the governors’ Governor in Nigeria with his spectacular performance in office so far. The same can be said about other performers like Governor Princewill Akpabio of Akwa-Ibom state, for example, whom one hardly noticed in the press.

Now, I’ve got to tell you this: Those individuals who are quietly building the new Nigeria are not running around making noise unnecessarily to attract undue attention to themselves. They’re not wasting their valuable times glued to the past and lamenting past failures all the time. They’re not pointing fingers at anyone. They’re simply focused on delivering the goods because they’re smart enough to know that pointing fingers do not get the job done and they will in the end be judged by their own deeds not the failures of their opponents or past governments.  And that’s why they walk the walk, not talk the talk, and let their good deeds talk the talk on their behalves.

The easiest thing in the world is to sit down in Nigeria and dismiss the country as a failed state. What does it take to spout these words? Nothing. Those who left the country to other lands and have seen it all tend to moderate their views about the country, Nigeria, even with all her well known baggage of deficiencies—insecurity of lives and properties, anemic power supplies, corruption, broken infrastructures, joblessness, ethnic rivalries, election rigging, student and labor unrests and what have you. Their views are necessarily moderated by the grim realities in the lands of their sojourn.

Nigeria, a failed state? Who says? Where is the authority for that outlandish and gratuitous designation? Do the proponents and antagonists even know what they’re talking about in the first place? What is the definition of a failed state? Can they give me one?  Chances are they don’t even know it and therefore cannot define it. All they do is just blabbing unconsciously and hope to be taken seriously.

For starters, there are no generally acceptable definitions of a failed state largely due to the difficulties inherent in classifying states as failed due to the existence of certain conditions which might be fleeting and therefore temporary in nature. However, one could glean the nature of failed states by examining what certain authorities regard as conditions that could trigger that classification.

The Crisis States Research Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Science, for example, defines a “failed state” as a condition of “state collapse,” that is a state “that can no longer perform its basic security and development functions” and “has no effective control over its territory and borders.” In short it is one that “can no longer reproduce the conditions for its own existence.” These elements are common to the definitions of a failed state.

Does that mean that states like the United States with border control problems with Mexico for instance, are failed states? Does it mean that the fact that Mexicans are breaching the US/Mexico border with all means necessary including but not limited to shooting US border patrol guards and pouring in qualifies the US to be designated as a failed state? Not one chance in hell. Why? It’s because the US has the means and ability to completely control its borders if and when it decides to do it. Only a fool would consider the US a failed just because it has for now not completely secured its borders with neighboring country and therefore not in total control of its borders.

The reader would notice that the above definition is self-explanatory. The phrases “can no longer perform its basic security and development functions” and “can no longer reproduce the conditions for its own existence,” necessarily imply permanent incapacity not temporary or momentary incapacity. It’s a condition of total paralysis not mere weakness or lack of executive capacity that qualifies a state to be classified as a failed state.   

Thus a failed state is one that has no functioning government that has lost total and complete control over parts or all of its territories; where law and order have completely broken down permanently and irretrievably, not momentarily or periodically, but permanently and irretrievably, because there is hardly any nation on earth where law and order has not broken down temporarily or momentarily at one time or another in its history. The closest analogy to it is failed marriage, which is one that has broken down irretrievably, not just temporarily or momentarily. It is needless to state that Nigeria is none of that.

Examples of failed states that readily come to mind are Afghanistan and Somalia. It is therefore utterly nonsensical and a measure of ignorance for anyone to describe a current and active member of the UN Security Council that is presently engaged in peacekeeping operations in troubled spots all over the world and with her territorial integrity intact, as a failed state.

Now, let’s go over the major maladies that are debilitating the polity which some mischievous individuals are using to describe Nigeria as a failed state in their hallucinatory moments:

Corruption: Corruption in Nigeria is no evidence of a failed state otherwise every nation on earth would qualify for that title. A casual glance at the 2009 report of Transparency International shows that more than half of the countries surveyed are terribly corrupt and all countries have issues with corruption at some level. I don’t care which—developed or under developed. For example the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report for 2009 shows Nigeria occupying the 130th position along with five other nations—Honduras, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Uganda, out of 180. Compare that to the position of Russia, Kenya, and Ukraine’s 146th position, Iran 168th, Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, 162nd along with Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau and Kyrgyzstan. Even developed countries have their share of corruption issues with the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan occupying the 19th, 17th, 14th, 24th and 17th positions respectively. China, the leader of the pack of developing nations occupied the 79th position while Brazil stood at 75th and India 84th position. All these go to demonstrate that corruption is a global problem cutting across both developed and developing nations and by no means peculiar to Nigeria.

Anyone who is still in doubt needs to read the words of the Mr. Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia—a developed nation on the issue of corruption in his country reproduced hereunder:

"’In our country, corruption isn't seen as something shameful, it's part of everyday life,’ he said, before adding that the government is working on a set of moves to step up the fight,” as reported by during Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s trade mission to Russia.

In fact as indicated above Russia ranks 146th out of 180 in its 2009 global corruption index by Transparency International. Does that make her a failed state? Hardly! Russia is a member of the G8 for crying out loud for those who know the meaning of G8. And what about China the world’s most aggressive economic development engine of our times? Hardly different from Russia when it comes to corruption! China’s Communist Party and government officials stink with corruption just as it is in Nigeria. In a report by the Carnegie Endowment prepared by its senior associate and director of China program, Mr. Minxin Pei, we get the following revelation about the high degree of corruption in China as revealed by Chinese government itself:

“The results of annual audits performed by China’s National Audit Agency (NAA) offer another measurement of corruption in China. The NAA’s audits from 1996 to 2005 uncovered 1.29 trillion yuan ($170 billion) in misappropriated and misspent public funds (illegal practices include overstating the number of staff, setting up slush funds, misappropriating special funds, and collecting illegal fees). By this measure, misused government funds represented about 8 percent of the on-budget spending for this period.”

And just like in Nigeria the report states that only an insignificant number of corrupt Chinese officials have been brought to book by the Chinese government.

I have not cited these cases to justify or sanitize corruption in any way, shape or form. God knows I hate it with every fiber of my being and have written extensively about it in the past, but to show that the evil is in no way peculiar to Nigeria. Therefore, its presence in Nigeria and the apparent inability of the Nigerian authorities to curtail it is no evidence of a failed state any more than it is in China and Russia, for example.

Crime: And what is more: High crime rate is no evidence of a failed state otherwise South Africa and the United States, for example, would have been declared failed states a long time ago. The other day I was was going through the New York City Police Department’s report of murders in the city of New York covering up to September this year. And boy, you don’t want to know how many New Yorkers have been cut down in cold blood throughout the five boroughs in the city! Three hundred and eighty six (386) lives have been terminated in New York City as of September this year, not as a result of accidents or sickness, but by cold blooded murderers! By December that figure is bound to reach the 500 mark as had been the case in previous years. Yet the Major of New York is boasting about reduced crime rates! He sure knows what it was like a few years back and what’s becoming now again in his city. But the Major could beat his chest because it’s even worse elsewhere in places like Chicago, Illinois, and in New Ark, New Jersey. Does that make New York or the United States, for that matter, a failed state? Not in this life! Not even in another life either!

Infrastructure, Education, Employment & Power Supplies: By the same token, broken and ill-maintained social infrastructure is no evidence of a failed state either; neither is falling standard of education nor of unemployment or, for that matter, insufficient power supplies. These are no yardsticks for determining whether a state has failed or not otherwise half the nations of the world would have been declared failed states by now. Insufficiencies of social amenities or lack thereof are not determinants of failed states anywhere in the globe and those mouthing such inanities must understand their subject before shooting their tongues like drunken men.

Militant/Terrorist Activities: All I need to state here is that if militant/terrorist activities in a nation would qualify her for the status of a failed state then of course, nations like Spain, UK, India, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and even the United States would have been declared failed states since all have battled with militant/terrorist activities right in their homeland. Bottom line:     

While Nigerians are justified in expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo in the country, such expression of dissatisfaction must not be stretched to ridiculous limits. It is a stretch to describe Nigeria as a failed state and I don’t care who is doing it for whatever reasons. I’m, therefore, unable to reconcile myself with the position of anyone who would question the right of any nation to celebrate her birthday, the epochal milestone of her 50th birthday, for that matter, otherwise known as golden jubilee at a time when some nations are wasting trillions of dollars fighting unproductive wars on borrowed money. It would have been eminently understandable to question the rationale for such festival indulgence at such costs if the funds earmarked for it were borrowed from some other nations or international creditors. That obviously is not the case. It’s our money and we get to choose how we spend it howsoever we deem necessary in our peculiar circumstances.

Therefore, the notion that no celebration should take place at all in Nigeria until every hungry stomach is filled and until every pothole in our roadways is filled or until every child is educated, or until every disease is cured right there in Nigeria’s health institutions rather than going abroad, or for that matter, until Nigeria becomes another China or the United States, is plain ridiculous. If that were the case no nation on earth would celebrate anything. It is silly to suggest even for a moment that Nigeria should hold off her golden jubilee celebrations because people are hungry, there is graduate unemployment, broken infrastructures, high level insecurity; blah, blah! blah!

Celebrations are not based on economic or material status in life, but on cultural values and traditions cherished by a given people or nation. And they have never been determined by the material conditions of any nations or their social infrastructures but as cultural and traditional observances.  

It’s an undeniable fact of life that when individuals attain certain milestones in life whether they’re related to age, material, spiritual, or educational attainments, they invariably tend to roll out the drums to celebrate such attainments. And as it is for individuals so it is for corporate bodies, institutions and nations alike. It’s a basic human craving common to all races, nations and ethnic groups. Festivities are not only cultural, but historical markers. Therefore, anyone, group or nation that has no reason whatsoever to celebrate anything in life has no reason to live in the first place. It makes no difference whether the celebrant is a success story who has achieved all his goals in life or not or one who is still struggling to make it in life because in the end success is not an objective, but a subject measure. It’s therefore utterly nonsensical to imagine that Nigeria as a nation would put on funeral garments to mourn her missed opportunities rather than celebrating her attainments however insignificant anyone might think of them.

And those who are more attracted to funeral dirges needed not participate in the celebrations and had all the freedom in the world to hold a counter procession or activities to mourn the failures of the nation at 50 and tag it however they wished to give a public face to their objections to the jubilee celebrations. After all, MEND or its impostors did just that to send their message. Nothing stopped those who wanted Nigeria to mourn at age 50 from staging peaceful protests or some other activity against the festivities to mark the event.

Paradoxically, such protests or activity, if carried out would have been one of the testimonies to the virility and viability of the nation’s rooting democracy as opposed to military jackboots that would brook no opposition or dissent and therefore a veritable reason for celebrating Nigeria at 50.

Democracy is superior to military dictatorship on all fronts and Nigeria’s attainment of this democratic milestone is reason enough to celebrate, if for nothing else, for there are no greater attainments for a people than freedom and liberty, which democracy has brought to the Nigerian people in spite of its imperfections. Life is not all about bread and butter but something more subliminal and spiritual. People do not generally value their freedoms and liberties until they lose them only to later stake their own lives fighting to regain them. Those who lived through the horrible Buhari, IBB and Abacha years knew what it was like to lose their freedoms and liberties because there is more to life than bread and butter, roads, schools and hospitals, ex-cetera, important and indispensible as they are.

I, therefore take the clear, direct and unequivocal position that a solid, unbroken 11-year run on democracy deserves to be celebrated by the nation in her 50th birthday anniversary. And don’t tell me about rigged elections and what’s not because it absolutely makes no difference. There is more to democracy than just elections important as they are.      

Every independence anniversary provides every nation an opportunity for stock taking—to identify what worked and what failed, what needs to be done and chart the way forward. It’s not an opportunity for gratuitous lamentations and self-deprecations. It’s not an opportunity either for finger pointing and political grandstanding because there is enough blame to go round.

However, for those who see only failures there are plenty of failures to talk about. For those who see only successes there are plenty of successes to talk about. And for those who see both failures and successes there are plenty of failures and successes to talk about as well. Nigeria has got everyone covered!—optimists, pessimists, cynics, realists and pragmatists. Take your pick, she got them all covered in her expansive demographic, geographic, and political landscapes.

I don’t know what psychological gratifications the cynics and pessimists derive from their melancholic tunes because I don’t live in their worlds. It might very well be intoxicating somewhat.  However, I would prefer to be associated with the optimists, realists and pragmatists. I want to be associated with forward looking rather than backward looking individuals. I want to live in the present and look up to the future rather than in the past even if the past was glorious. And that’s a deliberate choice that literarily breathes life into my literary endeavors even in the present undertaking.  


Stock Taking

That said I’m all about stock taking in as balanced a manner as possible. However, I must hasten to caution that this stock taking journey will be far from a smooth ride and, in fact, destined to encounter serious bumps everywhere along the way. And the reasons are not altogether far-fetched. Progress and development are not mathematical or statistical certitudes. As such, there will never be complete agreement as to what constitutes progress or lack thereof even amongst economists of different ideological persuasions. Much of what is hauled daily at the public is subjective effusions by those with vested interests. Financial analysts paint rosy pictures of companies they have invested in to boost their share prices and laugh their way to the banks, and talk down companies they have no interests in. Politicians out of power deliberately talk down their nations’ economies and gleefully indulge in doomsday predictions—claiming their nations never had it so bad under governments headed by their opponents.

Thus in environments infested with partisan politics, there are deliberate distortions and exaggerated lamentations of reality by those who seek to wrest political power from the ruling elites on the one hand and deliberate understatement of same by those who seek to retain political power on the other; all calculated to gain political advantage over the opponent. That’s why much of what’s in the public domain is self-serving trash fit only for the gullible. 

If politicians were in charge of measuring the size and health of the economy, any economy, they would be capable of producing only two outcomes—doomsday scenarios on the one hand, and rosy pictures on the other hand, reflecting their political interests and calculations for the next elections! While politicians in opposition would be howling from the rooftops that the economy had virtually collapsed in the hands of their opponents, those in power would counter that they’re in fact growing the economy and point to available statistics to buttress their claim. And that’s why economic growth and development, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Though measurable with accepted metrics politicians put their own self-serving spins on such economic measurements. 


Nigeria’s Economic Performance—the Statistical Data

Yet there are few generally acceptable yardsticks with which to gauge the material value, health and progress of a nation. Economists like to talk about Gross Domestic Product (GDP), (which is the gross monetary value of all goods and services produced by a nation usually in a year, domestically); Gross National Product (GNP), (which is the gross monetary value of all goods and services produced by a nation both domestically and abroad, also within a year); Per Capita Income (PCI), which is simply the gross national income or revenue divided by her population), Human Development Report (HDR) (which is about people themselves rather than states), or whatever other “P” is out there in their measurement tool kit. More and more metrics are popping up everywhere to gauge different aspects of the economy. 

Using these models how does Nigeria fare at the moment of her 50th birthday celebrations? This timeframe is important because as stated above we must be concerned about the present and the future not about the past for the simple reason that the past is past and cannot be undone.

Data from the World Bank indicate that the Nigerian economy as a whole is valued at $168,994,000,000bn with a per capita income of $1,140.  I don’t know whether this valuation takes into account the value of economic activities taking place at Dugbe market in Ibadan, Ariaria Market in Aba, Ochanja Market in Onitsha, Tejuoso Market in Lagos, Main Market in Jos or New Benin Market in Benin City, or for that matter, the itinerant hawker in the streets of Lagos and elsewhere in the country or even the cab driver. These activities are properly valuated in developed nations and captured in their estimates. Is the pepper or tomato seller in Jos represented in these evaluations? Is the taxi driver accounted for in these estimates? If not, I’m tempted to believe that the Nigerian economy would be much bigger than represented if the unofficial economy was adequately accounted for in the estimates.   

Both the IMF and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the nation’s GDP at 7.421% and 7.69% respectively. It’s quite remarkable that of the 43 African countries south of the Sahara surveyed by the IMF Nigeria attained one of the highest growths in GDP, together with the Republic of Congo, 9.684%; Ghana 7.473, Liberia 7.898%, Mozambique 7.001%, with Angola and Botswana coming a distant second with GDP growth rate of 6.483% and 6.593% respectively, while South Africa the largest economy in sub- Sahara Africa grossed 3.231% growth in GDP projected for the year 2010-2011.  

Plus or minus it is fair to conclude that Nigeria has currently attained economic growth rate of well above 7.3% with easily attainable target of 10% in the coming years as disclosed by the Honorable Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga. In fact the CBN governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, has projected 7.8% growth rate for the remaining part of 2010.

Broken down into two broad categories of oil and non-oil sectors statistics revealed that the oil sector recorded 3.96% while non-oil sector recorded 8.41% according to the NBS, making non-oil sector the bigger driver of the nation’s economic expansion. Further breakdown of the non-oil sector shows that wholesale and retail sector grew at whopping 11.40% which was attributed to consumer promotions embarked upon to lure consumers to the shopping malls. Agriculture recorded a slight drop to 5.84% from the previous year’s growth of 5.94% in the corresponding period in 2009. But it is still growth not decline. The same is equally true of the financial sector, which recorded 4.3% growth as against 4.40% recorded in corresponding period of 2009.  Again that is growth not recession.  And here comes the big one-telecommunication! This sector alone pulled off a whopping growth rate of 33.74% in the second quarter of 2010 compared to 33.62% in the corresponding period of 2009. Manufacturing recorded 10.48% as against 10.46% in corresponding period of 2009. There are other sectors that contributed to the overall growth rate of 7.4% according to the IMF and 7.69% according to the NBS, but I will stop here. The point has been made with facts and figures drawn not just from the Nigerian authorities alone but from the IMF.

Regionally, the IMF Staff Estimates state that while “Asia Is Leading the Global Recovery” and Latin America is “Sustaining its Growth Momentum”, Middle East and North Africa is “Recovering Strongly”, “CIS Region Is Experiencing Modest Recovery”, and Europe is facing a “Gradual and Uneven Recovery” and the recovery in the United States is “Moderating in the Face of Debt and Continued Uncertainty”, “Growth Is Accelerating” in Sub Saharan Africa”, and in fact, in all of the African continent as whole of which Nigeria is one of the prime drivers by virtue of the size of its economy and further growth prospects.

There is no question therefore that the Nigerian economy is on the upswing with her GDP rising to 7.4% in the current year of which non-oil revenue is said to account for a significant chunk of the upswing. Now, if that is what naysayers call economic recession, I would say bring in on and let’s have more of such “recessions!” If the nation can sustain such “recession” as the IMF has predicted well into the immediate future, then her goal of making it to the 20th largest economy by the year 20/20 becomes ever more feasible.

However, I’m first to recognize that it is not enough to record impressive economic growth. For such growth to be meaningful, it must be translated positively in the lives of ordinary citizens. That is where a purposeful, proactive, and visionary leadership comes in because economies could grow without the citizens feeling the impact of such growth in their lives.

It is the duty of government to find ways and means of reflecting economic growth in the living conditions of its people because in the end economic growth means nothing if not reflected positively in the lives of the citizens.

Yet the reality is that the material conditions of a people cannot change for the better in the absence of economic growth. Therefore, ordinary common sense dictates that government’s efforts must first and foremost be directed at economic growth because the attainment of it is a pre-requisite for the citizens’ economic empowerment and social wellbeing. Wealth must be produced before it is distributed and that’s a no brainer. For that reason therefore anyone who scoffs at economic growth is either naïve or outright mischievous or both. To the extent therefore that Nigeria is currently launched on the path of sustainable economic growth one can only urge the government to maintain the momentum and accelerate the growth.

I can sit here whining and crying all day and all night about the failures of the past or confront the present and the future with all the resources at my disposal. These are some of the things that give me cause for hope because I’m not listening to politicians and cynics who want to paint everything black in order to promote their own political ambitions, but to experts and their evidence. Those who don’t believe statistics emanating from Nigerian authorities can at least believe those coming from credible international organizations like the IMF and the World Bank, which are the definitive and authoritative sources of global economic information and analyses. And anyone who would neither believe the Nigerian authorities nor international authorities surely has a problem. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to help such individual because I’m not a psycho-therapist. But I have some suggestions:

Such individuals could look up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which has set certain development benchmarks for developing countries to meet for solace. Or perhaps look up to Jigni Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of 700,000 population Budhist kingdom of Buthan, who would rather we dumped all these hackneyed gauges and simply adopt happiness as the only true measurement of not just economic but national progress. What a refreshing proposition! That would probably make some cynics happy.

The Prime Minister has added another yardstick to measure a nation’s growth and development, which he called Gross National Happiness (GNH) as the only authentic yardstick for measuring a nation’s growth and development. Using the happiness model, his nation reportedly fared well under his rule. Applying this yardstick only 3% of his tiny kingdom’s population polled in 2005 said they were unhappy while 52% said they were happy and the rest said they were very happy, according to my information source. Not bad at all! 

But the happiness measure had been applied somewhat in Nigeria before which ranked Nigerians are some of the happiest people on earth, their economic conditions notwithstanding suggesting or indicating that such totally subjective model might not be flawless after all and might very well mask the miseries that rule the lives of many that they chose not to reveal publicly or officially to the outside world through such measures.

In a global survey of 65 nations conducted by UK’s New Scientist magazine, between1199-2001 Nigeria topped the list of the Happiness Index. Yes the survey found that Nigerians are the happiest people on the face of the earth! According to the survey, “New Zealand ranked 15 for overall satisfaction, the US 16th, Australia 20th and Britain 24th - although Australia beats the other three for day-to-day happiness."  

This is an indication that happiness is not necessarily a function of material wellbeing. What does this tell you, the reader? It shows Nigerians are happier than Americans, Britons, Australians in fact citizens of any other developed nation. The survey found that materialism is "a happiness suppressant" which helps to explain why “happiness levels have remained virtually the same in industrialised countries since World War II, although incomes have risen considerably,” according to the New Scientist magazine.

So before the next would be “Andrew” grabs his briefcase and calls it quits with Nigeria and jet out abroad, he should understand clearly that he’s going to join the ranks of unhappy people in whatever country he might emigrate to in Europe or the Americas.

I see it everyday in the United States, for crying out loud! I see anger and frustrations welling up it in the streets of New Ark, New Jersey; Brooklyn, New York; in the ghettoes in Chicago, Washington, DC and California. I see it on roadways, subways, on buses, on trains, and in homes and offices. I see it in blood of innocent citizens flowing in the streets. I see it in bullets flying in the air hitting innocent bystanders in the streets or hitting innocent folks relaxing in their living rooms through their windows. I see the forlorn and distant looks in the faces of those who have suddenly been rendered homeless in their own country because they defaulted in their mortgage payments. I feel the anger and frustrations written all over the long faces of laid off auto workers in the state of Michigan, home to once throbbing and bubbling, but now utterly desolate Detroit, home to America’s auto industry. Heck, I see it at Tea Party rallies!

It’s unhappy people that pull out guns and cut down their entire family members or former co-workers just for getting fired from their jobs. It is unhappy peoples that lay siege in schools and begin to shoot anything in sight including fellow students and faculty members. It’s unhappy people that would put a bullet in the head of another driver over mere right of way arguments. It’s unhappy people that put bullets in their own heads and terminate their lives. Want to see unhappy peoples in action? Welcome to the planet Americana, where anger and frustrations rule the waves! 

It’s alright to crow about public assistance to the jobless and the disposed. But tell that to a man who just lost his job or a family that just lost its home. Oh yes, go ahead and tell them that they’re still better off than their counterparts in Nigeria and see if you’ll come out alive from that encounter.   

What the results of that survey suggest, however, is that happiness is a cultural thing and oftentimes unhappiness is the result of unfulfilled expectations. Some of those high expectations may or may not be realistic or even feasible in the first place. There are several folks running around holding on to unrealistic expectations and unattainable goals at least, not in the short run.

Imagine a middle-aged, middle-class African-American woman with a good paying job venting her frustrations at President Obama during his town-hall meeting in Pennsylvania, USA; that the man she voted for in 2011 has disappointed her and she is tired of defending him, all because he, Obama, had promised to lift up the American middle class during his campaign in 2008 and he had failed to do so. Just imagine that for a second and one begins to wonder what some people really want. She still has her job while others are losing theirs, she still has her home while others are losing theirs, she still has her kids in college benefitting from Obama’s educational policies, while others can’t afford to go to college, yet she is frustrated about the president’s performance! What does she want? The whole world!   

Again, imagine, for instance, the American voters expecting that President Obama would turn the US battered economy around in less than two years and when he failed to achieve that expectation they are now madly unhappy about him, threatening to throw his party out of power in the next midterm election! Or imagine, for that matter, some people in Nigeria expecting that uninterrupted power should begin to flow to their homes and offices upon President Jonathan taking office as substantive president of the nation. 

But then again politicians promise too much to get elected. Unfortunately, the electorate has not wizened up to the unrealistic promises of politicians.

However, as with all things done in anger, handing control of Congress to Republicans out of frustration is guaranteed to exacerbate their present economic conditions and thus drive up their unhappiness index by several notches when literarily the Republicans grind the US government to a halt with their rabid anti-Obama agenda.

Where are you getting your economic information from? Is it from career politicians, beer parlor drunks or from economists, professional bodies and credible organizations like the World Bank, IMF, ADB, Central Bank, NBS, or other UN agencies, just to mention but a few? The source of your economic information and analyses matters because it could make all the difference between hope on the one hand and gloom and doom on the other hand. A lot of innocent folks are plain victims of misinformation, disinformation, distortions and outright lies peddled by individuals with vested interests, because they have not taken the time to find out things for themselves and rely on others to spoon fed them with utter garbage. 

Politicians know that the ordinary Joe and Jane have no time to find out the truth and probably don’t even care about the truth either and would prefer to be fed lies and half truths by political demagogues because it suits their political inclinations and proclivities. An individual who hates a sitting president might prefer to be fed with outright lies and half truths about the economy if those lies and half truths help to portray the president in negative light before the public. The reverse is equally true with supporters of a sitting president who don’t want to hear or see no evil about the sitting president.

But it is important to put matters in clearer perspectives while undertaking a dispassionate analysis of important issues like the economic performance of a nation totally devoid of political inflections and colorations.

Looking Back? Not all Wasted Years!

Whenever the subject of the nation’s stunted growth is broached in any forum it is fashionable to make comparisons between Nigeria and her contemporaries, who started out with her at independence that have since left her far behind like a poor marathoner. Nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, and India; all based in Asia, have all gratuitously provided the benchmarks for judging and evaluating Nigeria’s performance in the development race. It makes no difference that none of these nation is based in the African continent bristling with countries that similarly started out with Nigeria at independence but which have all suffered similar fate that befell Nigeria. No African nation that started out with Nigeria compares favorably to any of the so-called Asian Tigers. Just like Nigeria, they have all been left behind like poor marathoners gasping for breath even before starting out. 

But Nigeria is not just another African country. She is the one African nation that held out the greatest hope at independence by virtue of her population, landmass and natural resources. At independence the nation’s economy was agro-based and she gave a good and solid account of herself with groundnuts and cotton pyramids in the North, Cocoa in the West, rubber and palm oil in the South and East all of which made her a formidable nation that was reckoned with international forums.

And as if that was not enough, the discovery of black gold (crude oil) immediately conferred the title of an economic and political champion on her making her the undisputed leader of Africa. With that she was able to dictate the tune in Africa and she still does even today. There is no diminution in the role. And that’s where the appellation “Giant of Africa” came from.

With this variety and quantum of resources at her disposal unmatched by any other nation on the continent it becomes irresistible and therefore inevitable to judge Nigeria’s development performance not in relation to other African countries but in relation to nations outside of Africa that are similarly endowed. And that’s where its comparison to Asian Tigers makes sense even if she is not an Asian nation. Therefore, it is okay to compare Nigeria with India, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia or Malaysia, for example, all of which are already breaching the boundaries of developed nations while Nigeria is still in darkness relying on lanterns and candles as sources of light energy. It is guts-wrenching situation. But we all know what caused that. It’s prolonged military rule.

Are we going to reverse that now? What happened in the past belongs to the past rather than bemoaning our underdevelopment all the times. But even so, the Nigeria we have today is radically different from the Nigeria we had at independence. While the nation may not have attained her developmental objectives set at independence by her founding fathers, a failure that has been rightly placed at the doorsteps of military rule, she has, nevertheless managed to spring quite a few successes that are nothing short of remarkable. 

It is noteworthy that Nigeria started out in 1960 with just one University College, Ibadan, in the old Western Region. Fifty years later she has added more than one hundred more universities and even more polytechnics and colleges of educations, amongst others to her portfolio of institutions of higher learning. This geometric increase in the number of universities and placements has naturally occasioned some lowering of standards in certain disciplines, which, as the economist would put it, is the opportunity cost of progress in that sector. Don’t ask me, which sector, because I’m not in a position to tell you. What is important is that falling standards can be upgraded at any time. What if the universities were not available in the first place? Would anyone have been talking about fallen standards? 

Naysayers can say all they want about “falling standards” of education. It makes no difference whatsoever to the huge achievements recorded in this sector. Falling standards, while unacceptable are better than no standards at all, and you’ve got to have the universities in the first place before talking about falling or rising standards.

In any case these complaints are not peculiar to Nigeria. Falling standards or not, a university education is superior to other levels of education and university graduates are in a much better position to contribute to national development than others in that they have acquired the sophisticated tools that enable them to better interpret and influence their social environments.

It must be quickly added in this regard that education, whether tertiary or secondary, is a continuous thing and never confined to the four walls of a college. Real and true education occurs outside the four walls of the universities. At best, universities only provide the groundwork or foundation for lifelong learning. However, that foundation is critically important in order to provide the right and proper mental orientation and perspective to knowledge acquisition later in life outside the universities and colleges.

Naysayers can say all they want about Nigerian universities producing so-called unemployable graduates, but would you rather you had no education at all, to having one that guarantee you no immediate employment upon graduation? I’ll leave the answer to the naysayer but it is pretty obvious. Isn’t it?

This much I would say though:  education is not a job factory, but knowledge factory. And those who acquire it can produce jobs for themselves in the long run. In time past theater arts graduates in Nigeria were considered unemployable and in fact looked down upon. But hey, who is still saying that today in Nigeria? And who is still saying that about music students in Nigeria today? And who the heck is still saying that about arts and religious students in Nigeria today? Who is still saying that about political science students? I could go on and on. The jobs will come to those who know how to get them and put their training and knowledge to work. The job crunch is biting just as hard in developed countries like the US for example as it is in developing countries, including Nigeria. Who has not heard of the huge unemployment problem in the United States going to up to 10% at the present time? You could Nigeria’s is 19% officially. It could be more in reality, but considering the population of the US, 10% unemployment rate sounds like 25% in Nigeria because the US population is more than twice that of Nigeria. Besides, those on welfare are not included in the US count. If they are, we will be hitting a much higher unemployment rate than the 10%. Is that the fault of education? Perhaps all universities in the world are churning out unemployable graduates!  I don’t get it. 

Nigeria has the largest road network in Africa south of the Sahara and that’s no mean feat. No other nation comes close. It wasn’t always like that at independence though. And as it is with education this development has also occasioned poor quality jobs and poor maintenance culture on the part of the government at all levels. Naysayers might dismiss this vast network of roads as death traps, which is all well and good, but I’m yet to see any motorist or traveler, who would prefer not to travel on those ill-maintained roads and stay at home. Which goes to show that, potholed yes, but they’re better than nothing as was the case at independence. It is better to go on ill-maintained roads than not having to go at all because there are no roads to travel on.

The nation can do better in road maintenance and she will do better with enough political pressure, but it is a whole lot better to maintain roads that have already been built than not having roads to maintain in the first place. Get my drift? The bureaucrats sitting in air-conditioned offices at the ministries of works who refuse and/or neglect to put the nation’s roadways in good conditions need not take consolation in what has been said here for their shameless dereliction of duty to the nation, because they are a disgrace to the nation. National road infrastructure must never be toyed with in the manner that Nigerian government officials have been handling them. President Jonathan has his work cut out for him. He must change the nation’s maintenance culture wholesomely as it is done in other less endowed nations in the world. We cannot continue to spend huge sums to built super highways and leave them go down the abyss just like that without holding anyone accountable. This culture of waste must stop and stop now.

I invite the reader to just take a look at the nation’s skies to see how totally transformed it has become. With just one airline at independence, the Nigerian Airways and just one airport, I have since lost count of the number of airlines and airports in Nigeria today. Today there is no region or zone in Nigeria with less than two international gateways and numerous local airports. Rather than the exclusive preserve of the super rich and government big wigs that air travel was at independence, it has become in Nigerian parlance “pure water!” And that is progress by any measure.

We can say the same thing about the revolution that has suddenly engulfed the telecommunication subsector, as well as the print and electronic media in Nigeria. Before I left Nigeria for the US about a decade and half ago, telephones were the exclusive preserve of the rich and a federal minister bluntly told the world that telephones were not for the poor. Today, the poor in Nigeria have more telephones than the rich, thanks to the GSM revolution!  Nigeria now rules Africa and the Far East in telecommunication services with a Nigerian-owned telecommunication company, Globacom becoming a truly global conglomerate first time in Nigeria’s corporate history.  

We can say that again with respect to news media. No longer are Nigerians tethered to just NTA or Radio Nigeria. Like tertiary education, private radio and television stations have revolutionized the news and information industry in Nigeria. There is more revolution yet in the nation’s banking sector. Ever thought that Nigerian banks would one day rule Africa with branches in developed countries? Let’s be honest here for a change.

Like I stated in an earlier article, the creation of states, a brand new federal capital and hundreds of local government councils, have brought developments to the grassroots and government closer to the people. Rather than having my regional capital in Ibadan more than five hundred kilometers from my village and my local government “division” tens of kilometers from my village, I now have my state capital and divisional headquarters literarily in my backyard. Whether the bureaucrats manning these governmental apparatuses are performing or not is of course a different matter altogether. At the moment they may well be performing below expectations, but that could easily be fixed through the democratic process. 

By the way, is Nigeria still a going or a gone concern? I ask this because doomsday prophets have been predicting the demise of the nation pretty much since her independence. Every military coup or general election gets the doomsday prophets out of their trance to strut their stuff at the public square. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised that they have not relocated from the nation, which demise they so gleefully foretell. 

That they are all still sitting there in Nigeria with no plans whatsoever to relocate elsewhere makes their own predictions hollow and therefore dismissible with a wave of the hand. Their doomsday so-called prophesies could be regarded as mere publicity stunts. That Nigeria has survived every turbulence including a three-year brutal civil war had put the lie to the predictions.

And what’s more: that she has lived long enough to celebrate her golden jubilee and waxing stronger is the doomsday prophet’s ultimate nightmare. It is remarkable that the nation has outlived her doomsday prophets in the past and will do so in the present as she takes aim at her centenary celebrations, hopefully, bomb-free centennial celebrations. This is wishing a great nation and an emerging giant under the sun a happy centennial ahead of time when the clan of naysayers might have gone the way of their predecessors.

But you don’t have to take my words for it because my unbridled and infectious optimism might get the better of me. Take the words of former South African Central Bank Governor and also former labor minister in President Nelson Mandela’s first Cabinet in 1994, and adviser to US investment bank, Goldman Sachs, Mr. Tito Mboweni, reported by ThisDay 101110, who projected that “Nigeria is going to be Africa’s growth story for the next 15 to 20 years.”

That is a forward looking disposition. It is counterproductive for naysayers to be looking backwards rather than forward to constantly bemoan our past failures. There is a reason God placed our eyes in the front rather than in the back to enable us look in front of us not backwards. It takes no efforts to look forward because the eyes are already pointed in that direction but one has to make 180% turn just to be able to look backward. That’s a heck of effort.

It shows man is deliberately programmed to look forward. Other than professional historians, those who make it their business to constantly dwell in the past in gratuitous lamentations are doing themselves and their nation a great disservice. The past is past but the future is within our grasps to mold and shape into whatever forms we desire. People who constantly live in the past in lamentations have already lost the future.

With her rising GDP, Mboweni’s prediction may very well come to pass within the timeframe and that would be in tandem with the nation’s aspiration of making it to the 20th largest economic club in the world. Presently, Nigeria is one of the growth engines in Africa together with South Africa and Egypt, located in the West, South and North of the continent respectively. With dedicated leadership as it seems the case presently, there is no reason Nigeria’s economic expansion should suffer any lag or recession in the near future. With China’s insatiable appetite for crude oil and the nation’s deliberate efforts at developing non-oil exports in order to create a more robust, more resilient, all round economy, there is no reason for pessimism. We must therefore look ahead with renewed optimism that Nigeria’s better days are ahead of her, not behind her. Nigeria will soon become the China of Africa in no distant time. And she will become pull off the African version of the “Great Leap Forward”. All the forecasts point in that direction. Is this a reason for lamentation or hope?

I think it is a great reason for hope and democracy will get us there. Democracy holds the key to unlock the nation’s economic treasures. Therefore, the nation’s economic growth must move in deliberate lockstep with her democratic growth and any attempt to upset the nation’s democratic applecart will spell doom for her economy. While her 11-year run on democracy every effort must be made by the ruling class to sustain the tempo to the glory of the nation as a whole not just a few individuals presently at the helm of affairs. And that means being true democrats rather than democratic pretenders looking for their own welfare and personal aggrandizement. And this should not be reduced to mere platitudes and sterile preachments that move no one. It must be backed with appropriate sanctions by the state enforced to the hilt.  

Democracy is a sport and it must therefore be played by the rules. There are absolutely no two ways about this. Whoever runs foul of the rules must be shown the way out as obtains in all sports. If the nation is able to take care of her democracy she can be rest assured that her economy will take care of itself. She must gun for true democracy and all the rest will be added unto her in full season. She needs no convincing. She only has to look up to South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, India, Singapore, and Malaysia to find the proofs.     

Finally, I would like to commend to the reader to the admonition of the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bob Dewar, who said that Nigeria should “rise above the mixed fortunes that had trailed its path in the last 50 years by looking forward, not just to 2020 or 2030 but 2060 when the majority of the present youths would have attained adulthood.” (Tribune 09242010)

Well said, Mr. High Commissioner, and that’s reason why I refuse to be bogged down by past failures, but look forward with hope and high expectations for the nation and her blessed people. That is the same mindset of those toiling night and day remaking the new Nigeria of our dreams. It’s the mindset of those folks who just won medals for Nigeria.

It’s time to quit whining. It’s time to quit complaining. It’s time to go to work and help make the “Great Leap Forward” stunning reality.

Be a part of Team Nigeria!


Franklin Otorofani, Esq. Contact:

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