Thursday, October 01, 2009

I wrote this 16 months ago. What has changed?

What I think is currently wrong with Nigeria and my thoughts on possible effective solution(s) to address the problem. May 2008.

Nigeria is a large country with a unique character. Some of us wish it to be a very great country as well – to wield real power on the world stage or perhaps to be at peace within or to have moral authority without. One challenge is to define to some extent what “good” we want, following which it is natural for us to apply the nation’s resources as well as our will and power to make that dream a reality.

In this essay I’ll focus on objectives that are almost indisputably good, bearing in mind that we often get mired in disputing what is “good.”

Lagos is a mess. Although I have fond memories of the City and even love its character, its danfo buses and all, it is overcrowded and has no apparent plan. The obvious solution is to help the people with mass transit (trains) and to also decongest naturally by having other successful economic centers throughout the country.

Nobody is leading the millions of Nigeria’s young people.
What is the path to success? What should their plan for life be? Hooliganism has become a popular career path: from Yahooligans to area hooligans. Mourn with me the waste of enormous intelligence and energy. Now attack with solutions on the scale of the problem: develop an economy or industry – your own company - that employs many people. Champion tourism. Upgrade a university. Insert your own brilliant idea here. You can be rich and successful while making Nigeria’s socio-economic development your career.

So far I have emphasized that we need more and wider paths to a better life for Nigerians. Next I’ll make additional comments on what I think is for the country’s good.

1. Some people are highly critical of government and they should continue to voice constructive criticism and protest. Their voices are important.

2. Some people are highly religious. They should focus on the personal aspect of religion, which helps govern your own life and be a good part of community.

3. Instead of ganging up people of other beliefs, we should gang up on our problems. We must not ignore the suffering of others, though class and tongue may differ.

4. We should honour our heritage, revel in our arts and culture, and develop our own stories for self-knowledge and for future generations.

5. Please join me and kill the bribery culture. In our country, let money flow through other channels, such as in reward for doing useful work that solves real problems.

As always, voice your own comments at
Happy October 1st.


DonCasiragi said...

Nothing, except may be Lagos is witnessing some green shoots in terms of being organized and perceived as a live-in city

t said...

I agree. Lagos infrastructure is improving rapidly but still quite rubbish, to be frank.
By this I mean, somebody is really trying.
More updates later.

t said...

The purpose of this comment is to point out some visible successes and initiatives in the specific areas I mentioned in the 2008 essay. By doing this, I want to point out that we can chip away at our problems and make progress in solving them. This ought to inspire you to get out your own chisel and start chipping, if you haven't already.

Lagos - Everybody's talking about the progress in infrastructure since the current governor. Of course, there is rooooooooooom to develop better, and we must push for that.

Youth direction - Although the youth are being cheated still by their parents' generation and their greed, some movements have emerged to arm them with skills, with clear thinking, with hope, etc. I speak mainly of the pseudo-religious groups. The publishing industry that has developed to consume foreign motivational books and to produce homemade motivational tracts. The NGO work that has produced job training, the tight hustle that has produced The Future Nigeria awards, the visionary drive that produced "Area Makeover", the music industry with OUR OWN tunes and videos and concerts. On the to-do list is starting to care about education for all. In the news, Akwa Ibom state funds free education at primary and secondary levels for all, young and old. Isn't that the minimum that should be done in every state? In a country that is oil-rich, how come we can not care enough to have decent universities, or send even half of our children to primary school?

In the other areas I listed, progress has been if-fy. You can't point to major developments in press freedom and freedom to voice protest (and we must get in the habit of writing, marching, I said marching - we're not in a military state anymore, we need to start being fierce about our aspirations for a more wholesome future). Nor can you point to major developments in religious intelligence (step forward, step back - there is conscientious Muslim leadership in Sokoto, yet Boko Haram happened, thankfully religion seems to have taken a milder and more civil dimension in the South - with concerts replacing pronouncements against this or that immoral group.)
No major developments in "our own stories" but there could be. The publishing industry here is really in infancy and could use business consultants to make them into good businesses. Then again, there is a publishing industry to speak of :) And then there are those movies, music, radio, etc.

Bribery culture - We have warriors in that fight. Join them. Let us gang up on our problems. Think of that as we enter the New Year.

t said...

I just found this page that details the many many public initiatives for anti-corruption. This is one resilient tradition, but insha'Allah we'll kick the corruption habit one day.

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