The best picture that fits the present developments in Nigeria is that of gloom, but I refuse to accept the tag of been called a pessimist. Hardly does a day go by without the report on any of these in the front pages of major Newspapers: Boko Haram insurgency, corruption, unemployment, politically-motivated violence t name but a few. In the midst of these obvious unwanted reports, I sat down and pondered asking myself the question: Will Nigeria ever get mature?
Maturity literally means a state of ripeness. To be mature can also mean to possess the emotional balance to handle certain responsibilities at one’s disposal. A palm tree does not depend on the plantain tree to mature; it depends on its roots. A child understandably needs to depend on family support, educational centres, peer group before s/he gets matured. It will be ridiculous if a full-grown adult see it as a “right” to be catered for as a child since s/he, at adulthood, is expected to have outgrown all these rudimentary processes and left them behind. Whatever the case, these processes have to occur for one to become mature.
Nigeria can be said to have come of age (at 55). So, to be different from the rest of the world, we must look back at our background, our root.
Our rich history with its vivid display in our diverse cultures must be considered our major strength. Among virtually all African countries, we had one of the most civil struggle for attainment of independence as against the armed rebellion that took place in other places like Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and others too numerous to mention. We could achieve this feat because we had some of the most civil, well-educated, charismatic, intelligent personalities who fought for the Independence we now enjoy.
A foreigner does not need to stay too long in Nigeria to begin to appreciate our rich cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes and tourist attraction centres; enormous unexploited mineral resources; human resources capacities and capabilities; energetic and talented youths steaming for success, what else can a nation ask for?
I have gone this route to remind us so that we begin to understand why we to go back to our roots. We need to learn about our source; re-orientate our mind-sets and have a new mentality of love and self-reliance.
There is no gainsaying the fact that our country is even a playing field for expatriates. They come here, see what we do not see and exploit things we left unexplored and do we still wonder why they have more opportunities than we Nigerians in Nigeria?
The so-called Multinational Companies (MNCs) have more gains staying in this country than the indigenous companies. We have refused to diversify our economy. We still live in the fool’s paradise of “oil money”. What happened to our groundnut pyramids? Palm production? Cocoa plantations? Why should we be importing tooth picks, zinc and aluminium, chairs, coffee, and the likes, when we have the raw materials beneath us?
In Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State, we have talented young minds who can produce all sort of economic goods. They are fiercely talented, hugely educated and hiding under the brand of international producers they flood our markets with ‘Made in Aba’ products packaged as ‘Made in Italy’. Unless you have the intelligence of Albert Einstein you may not easily know the difference. It still baffles me why anyone or any nation with such abundance of talents hide it in the slumps of Umuahia, Mushin, Alaba at such other places when they should be producing and competing in New York and Chinese markets.
The place of the so-called state or federal government is to control the production process; create production of standard products and at fair prices; train local producers to adopt a brand instead of brandishing other brands so as to prevent the possibility of the consumers buying fake products.
If these producers are enlightened and assisted by government to make better products and brands, who says Aba cannot be the China of Africa?
Nigeria is almost officially the dumping ground of Western products in addition to the Chinese, Japanese and a host of other countries wants to invest in Nigeria. We have opened our palms again but we have not digested what have these people seen.
Foreign Investments boost the economy of a country but when Foreigners become the major lead and decisive factor of the economy, it often turns out that there is need for more answers than questions.
Nigeria’s bail out to these despotic tendencies is must. We need to re-evaluate our mind-sets and restate our core values. This orientation must starts from the cradle and must be all inclusive.
An average American child wants to die, live and work for the American Dream. We should not be surprised that this Dream tday is having strong impacts on our world in several fronts be it Technology, science, innovation, power and what have you. The American Dream is a reality because of development, training and empowerment. Have have almost searched in vain for answers to the question: “What is the Nigerian Dream?”
The status quo of poverty in Nigeria shouldn’t be our identity. The government of Nigeria should and must love Nigerians and provide the basic amenities for the suffering masses in other not to repeat avoidable mistakes of the past.
Nigerians needs to be self-reliant. By self-reliance, I mean, the ability to depend on one’s own abilities and efforts to get things done and to meet his/her needs. We need to learn and study our environment, problems and provide workable solutions.
Nigeria has her inherent problems and indigenous models should be adapted to resolve our problems, originality is glamorous as Chimamanda Adichie the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun has shown. She is a model of an intrinsic example of originality. She writes about Nigeria in an unexplored manner which has taken her to places many before her has never been to!
The place of research cannot be overemphasised. Knowledge is power, Government through its Ministry of Education should anchor on provision of Research institutes in secondary and tertiary institutions. These institutions should of standard qualities to conducive research and enable people to explore critical areas in medicine, technology, humanities and the likes with the aim of providing practical solutions to our multi-phased challenges. When I say research I do not mean the “Copy and paste” projects in the Ivory Towers in Nigerian tertiary institutions, I mean Research!
Nigeria can be a producing nation, instead of consumerism. Dr Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian scientist who left the shores of Nigeria to America for greener pastures. He has created the fastest computers which are currently used in America to forecast weather and to predict the likelihood and effect of future global warming. Dr Emeagwali is today one of the most beloved African-Americans. He was able to achieve this feat because of the availability of viable research institutes, which are in dearth in Nigeria.
As Nigerians are trooping out in masses seeking for greener pasture elsewhere, the nation is losing its best minds.
It’s a clarion call to Nigerians to re-orientate ourselves. Nigeria is our country and we have no other place to go. We must also learn to love one another; learn and relearn for a better tomorrow.
I end on this wise quote from Pastor Samuel Ibiyeomie who said: “A Politician thinks only about tomorrow but a statesman thinks about the next generation”.
May God bless Nigeria.
Ezinne Torti writes from Lagos, Nigeria. She is an MSc (Political Science) candidate at the University of Lagos, Akoka. She sent this piece via email@example.com.