Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2008 Essay by Rotimi Awopetu. What has changed?

I'm still fishing for short responses to the question: Nigeria's current issues, strategic directions and the author's role in the solution. Here is one by a brilliant Lagosian brother...please enjoy


Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, the 2006 census recording a population of 140m. A nation of abundant natural resources, variegated weather, the economic powerhouse of West Africa-contributing nearly 50% of regional GDP, a member of OPEC and the world's eighth largest exporter of oil. As a matter of fact, revenue from Natural Gas is expected to surpass oil revenues over the next 10 years. Nigeria is also blessed with talented and hardworking human resource. The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies, and is one of the fastest growing in the world with the IMF projecting growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009. An evolving democracy and a booming mobile phone sector have also contributed largely to recent economic development. In 2003, Nigerians were reported to be the happiest people in a scientific survey carried out in 65 nations between 1999-2001.

Nevertheless, Nigeria is beleaguered with a myriad of problems: comatose industries & refineries; increasing lawlessness in the oil-producing Niger Delta region; one in five children die before the age of five; 12 million children are not in school. More than 54.7% of the population (75 million people) live below the poverty line in a country where the life expectancy is 47. Also many Nigerians complain they have yet to see any major improvements in the basic infrastructure - power, water and utilities - or in their prospects of getting a job, while prices keep on going up. According to Transparency International, Nigeria still ranks as one of the world's most corrupt countries. Years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement have hampered economic activity and output in Nigeria and continue to do so, despite the restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reform. Nigeria’s problems are in fact too numerous and complicated.

All the above listed problems can be summed up as BAD LEADERSHIP. The current reality of Nigeria is a direct reflection of the quality of leadership the nation has benefitted from. Once we can get it right with a strong, upright and visionary leadership, all else will fall into place. The other things I think we should expedite actions include:

Promoting shared values. Let’s consider those things that best unite us and celebrate them. Creating a brand for Nigeria

Strengthening the institutions of Judiciary and Law enforcement. Thus creating a system that will check bad leaders from assuming office and also kick out incumbent bad leaders.

Setting a national vision, breaking it down into timelines that are specific and measurable. This should be used to appraise leaders at national, state and local levels and also corporate leaders.

A review of our constitution and removal of immunity clause, rotational presidency and federal character.

A sound education at all levels; primary, secondary & tertiary.

The aforementioned by itself will not suffice unless we develop new thinking, “For as a Man thinketh in his heart so is he”. We need a national re-orientation.

Today’s Nigeria lacks quality education, standard health care and development with all the wealth being displayed. However, Nigeria has a bright future but we must take a stand. Let us stand as a people and resolve to get it right. Nigeria is a fine place worth standing for and we deserve nothing but the best.

- by Mr. Rotimi Awopetu


t said...

What strikes me most about this essay, as well as mine, is that visible solutions are being driven as we speak.
Key example in Rotimi's essay: REBRANDING. OK, I'm trying to be controversial. But is rebranding not part of the work that ought to be done; to lift up the tarnished image that led the world to discriminate against Nigerians in finance/credit card use/travel/etc because they had associated us with 419 and not with all our great accomplishments? What, properly, should be included in rebranding? What is our brand? BY THE WAY, check out Grim White Green, by Leke Alder on some pointers to Nigeria's brand.

Immunity Clause appears to have no purpose other than to enable continued criminal behaviour. It's a hot topic, chime in if you got something to add.

Rotational presidency and Federal Character - ha, this is really political. North/South/regional politics. I won't go there.

Appraising leaders, from the Presidency on down to corporate bodies: not much progress there. Promises are made and broken. Non-performing persons are called on again and again to be the leader. They don't even have to "explain" to the people what they have done with the leadership entrusted to them. Check out the electricity story, for instance. The blogger at Nigerian Curiousity in this piece of genius (please read it and comment) insists that "Electricity should be the main yardstick by which President Yar'Adua is judged"
I couldn't put it better than that blog post so I'll stop rambling here and let you read something better : http://www.nigeriancuriosity.com/2009/07/mission-to-light-up-nigeria.html

DonCasiragi said...

I have one simple suggestion- why not all the really, really smart people go and fix their local government? We may call it, "one local government at a time". I think such movement that emphasizes practical grassroots change will be formidable if there exists a common network that focuses like a laser on this proposition.

t said...

intriguing. would you try it? for a short time period, and tell us all. even if it's just for a few weeks, let's see how it works.
which LG would you choose?

Previously on UpNaira