Nigeria 2069: The Nigerian Dream
In the early hours of October 1, 1960, the Nigerian flag was hoisted up for the first time in history. By that symbolic action, a new nation was born. The dawn of a new era for its people, Africa and the entire black race. There was a thunderous shout, ovations of great joy and rousing ecstasy, across the land. Its huge landmass rich with agricultural and mineral resources, and a large industrious population. All the signs of potential greatness.
Slowly, the elected Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa mounted the podium.
“Today is Independence Day, The first of October 1960 is a date to which for two years every Nigerian has been eagerly looking forward. At last, our great day has arrived and Nigeria is now indeed an independent sovereign nation.
This is a wonderful day, and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience, compelled to watch one country after another overtaking us on the road when we had so nearly reached our goal. But now we have acquired our rightful status, and I feel sure that history will show that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace: it has been thorough, and Nigeria now stands well- built upon firm foundations.
Today’s ceremony marks the culmination of a process which began fifteen years ago and has now reached a happy and successful conclusion. It is with justifiable pride that we claim the achievement of our Independence to be unparalleled in the annals of history.
This is an occasion when our hearts are filled with conflicting emotions: we are, indeed, proud to have achieved our independence, and proud that our efforts should have contributed to this happy event. But do not mistake our pride for arrogance. It is tempered by feelings of sincere gratitude to all who have shared in the task of developing Nigeria politically, socially and economically.”
- Excerpts from Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Independence Day Speech (1960)
57 years and 134 days later: 19th May, 2018.
I had allowed myself be dragged to a kid’s birthday party in Victoria Island, Lagos. Whilst reclining at the refreshment table, I struck up a conversation with 3 lovely ladies. Let us call them; Adana, Lola and Ese. After the odd small talk, I ‘accidentally’ brought up the upcoming Nigeria General election in 2019, which will determine our next president and ultimately the nation’s future.
I think I just stepped on a land mine. In short, none of them believed there was any future for Nigeria, or in Nigeria. So I inquired if either of them had secured their Personal Voter’s Card (PVC). The resounding response was no.
Them: “Nero, why bother if the election is already rigged?”
Me: “Did you vote in the last election?”
Them: “Things were better before now. This country frustrates you. There are no jobs and it kills businesses”.
Them: “Me, I am moving to Canada oo, I can’t do this anymore”.
Soon everyone at the party joined in, with a similar line of thinking. I quickly lost that battle. What intrigued me the most was each of them had the opportunity to study great degrees abroad, and were hence exposed. Instead of returning to change things, they had allowed the hardship and difficulties in Nigeria beat out every ounce of optimism. The ‘elite’ did not see the need to vote.
I remember in 2010 on the eve of the British election, I was at school in the UK. Everyone was going ‘back and forth’ on the potential results, and its significance. That night, while we Nigerians retired to our beds at 11pm, our English colleagues were huddled together in the common room; until 3am, diligently following the results of the election
I admit, sometimes it is difficult for a young person in Nigeria. Especially after what seems like a lifetime in education. You work hard and graduate and then there are no opportunities. At every turn the system seems to fail you. My worst experience, was when a friend who returned to complete her national service year, died in a ghastly road accident. A day before said national service graduation.
This lack of hope has caused so many of us to swear of Nigeria, and leave for the West, in search of better prospects. Two of my friends have made it their life’s mission to convince me to come along. They never get my argument, that there are more opportunities in Nigeria, and if we leave who will change things, for a better future for ourselves, and for our children and their children.
I know it is hard and things seem difficult, but there is another alternative to walking away.
We FACE the challenges HEAD ON, devise and implement SOLUTIONS.
What do we need to do individually, for Nigeria to change?
Action, Mindset and Technology.
Firstly, it is important that no matter the situation we show-up, participate, and take action. From engaging with the democratic process through voting and campaigning to nation building, business and career building. If there are no jobs, we create the opportunities through Entrepreneurship. We also need to create an ongoing dialogue on how we can all work together to solve all our issues, with clear actions, which can be presented to the National Assembly or Federal ministry involved. This can be done over social media engaging with our leaders towards getting the results we desire.
Secondly, we need a Progressive, Patriotic, and Problem solving mindset.
Progressive in the sense that you must get your head out of the daily struggles and come up with a dream: this is where I want to go with my career and how I want to contribute to Nigeria, and let this dream refuel you.
Patriotic in the sense that Nigeria is the only country we have and like our heroes before us who fought for independence, we cannot run from the responsibilities thrust upon us. We are living in history right now.
Problem solving mindset in the sense that we must be ready to ‘eat’ problems for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Technology will define the future, so we must master it to solve real problems. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Big DATA, 4th Industrial Revolution. These are tool that can enable us cut costs, create new opportunities, and access a global market.
TECHNOLOGY -Idea Giveaway
For example, our healthcare system is on life support, doctors are migrating, and pharmacists are the new doctors. The cost of healthcare is very high and you are not guaranteed of quality.
A potential solution is an ‘Uber for doctors’. A digital platform that connects doctors/hospitals to patients all over the country. Patients can easily find a doctor/hospital close to them at any moment, and see their rating.
Action, Mindset and Technology.
What does Nigeria really need as a Nation to change?
A recent report by BCG ‘UNLOCKING NIGERIA’S POTENTIAL’ highlights Governance, Civil Society, Infrastructure, Education and Health. I recommend reading the entire report. The proposed solutions from the report were:
· Change the approach to developing regulations and policies, favoring deregulation and harnessing market forces whenever possible
· Deploy digital technologies in government to increase transparency and accountability, thereby reducing opportunities for corruption.
· The value of Nigeria’s infrastructure is about 35% of GDP, compared with an average of about 70% for large economies.
· Nigeria needs to invest $3 trillion in infrastructure over the next 30 years
To attract private investment, Nigeria should:
· Establish a central body that is empowered to oversee and direct the life cycle of infrastructure investments
· Identify 10 high-priority projects
· Conduct an international road show to line up private funding for those projects
· Ensure flawless execution of the projects, from construction — operation
· Leverage momentum by successful projects to launch a sustained infrastructure-building drive
· Establish a national curriculum and track results
· Strengthen the teaching corps and deploy technology
· Build stronger connections between education and the job market by focusing in particular on technical and vocational training.
· Make improvements across the health ecosystem, including enhancing basics such as sanitation (has bigger impact than just providing health care)
· Expand primary health system (both primary health clinics and health posts in rural areas) and health insurance coverage
. Focus on the infrastructure, investment environment, skills, and regulations required to leapfrog in health
In addition to these, I will add Entrepreneurship . SMEs with six or more staff create the most jobs in any economy, so we need policies such as YOUWIN that support entrepreneurship.
Secondly, the current situation were bank interest rates are 20–30% is unsustainable for SMES.
Doing traditional things Better
Oil & Gas, and Agriculture
We need to draw more value from the industries that currently create value i.e. Oil and Gas and Agriculture.
The Oil and Gas industry needs more projects that are ongoing, across the entire value chain. These can range from more upstream exploration and production, to refining. These can create jobs leveraging our local content.
By developing refineries or modular refineries, we reduce gasoline cost, the cost of food (transportation cost) and $2m petroleum subsidy daily due to importation of refined products. The gas industry can also solve the power shortage issue and end flaring.
Nigeria spends over $3bn annually importing food that can be grown and processed locally. We need to identify and solve all bottlenecks along the ‘farm to factory to table’ value chain for strategic staple crops to meet our food needs.
50 years to the Nigerian Dream
Finally, we need a 50-year strategic plan of where we want to be as a country from 2019 to 2069. This plan should include annual KPIs for implementation, and should be printed like a passport and given to every Nigerian. Think China, Japan, and South Korea.
The Nigeria Dream
Imagine if we manufacture Cars, Ships, Planes and Electronics. Building world-class software and a thriving Entertainment and digital media industry that not only creates content to excite but also to educate. Imagine a Hyperloop train service that connects Nigeria, West Africa and Africa. Imagine solar panels in the arid regions of northern Nigeria, generating enough abundant clean energy to power the entire country .
There are two types of people: those who dream and those who decide to wake up to realize their dreams.
The Nigeria Dream is Wakanda 2069
PVC registration closes 3pm, 17 August 2018.
The Nigeria General Election is on the 16 February 2019