Nigeria Transitions

Are Better Things To Come?

Article by Uzo Ijewere, FinkAfrica Learning & Development

Today we break another national record and transition from one government in one political party, to another government in another (new) political party following weeks of what has been described by many as Nigeria's 'decent into the dark ages' with the failings in power, fuel and telecommunications. The country feels expectant. Will things change? Will democracy reign? Will this new government deliver on its promises, unlike the previous occupants? Has the common Nigerian citizen gained the leadership it deserves? I surely hope so because it's about time. I think we have paid our dues!

Speaking as a Nigerian woman who has spent equal halves of her life in Nigeria and in England, the enigma that is Nigeria grows more confusing and frustrating with each year. During a recent business course I attended, our beloved country's political situation unsurprisingly came up when discussions turned to foreign direct investment and PPP projects. The discussion touched on how then developing country China was able to map it's trajectory from a developing nation to a superpower, and how it tapped into its human capital to build wealth for the nation. The question was then asked about Nigeria – what is the best trajectory to create a sustainable and thriving environment? Most people living in Nigeria today would be confused as to how to answer. Can you think of many other places on this earth where you come across citizens driving the very latest luxury cars, yet carry around jerry cans of fuel due to scarcity? Have the most luxurious of mansions but have to run a diesel generator 23 hours out of 24 because there is no electricity? A country where litter piles up outside of said mansions and roads are unpassable? A country where a landline is a luxury (non-existant really) because no infrastructure exists to support it? You can understand why this is a difficult question to answer.

Nigeria could be a wonderful place to live. It holds some of the most intelligent, innovative, resilient people on the planet. The people are amazingly enterprising, coming up with creative ways in which to make an extra buck to pay rent, send their kids to school so they can (hopefully) have a better future and all while maintaining their dignity. You have to admire people who smile in the face of such adversity.Hopefulness is something else to admire. The country has been beaten down by its leadership in the past, yet it continues to hope that come tomorrow (in fact, today!), things will be better.

It's time for those in positions of power, opportunity, privilege, to pay it forward. In recent times, we have seen our less privileged citizens willing to risk deserts and people traffickers to get to Europe in search of a 'better life'. Well, how about we collectively think about making Nigeria the place of paradise it could be? I know I sound really simplistic, but a lot of the great countries have been built on simple ideas - "equality for all men" (that was a good one when they finally got it right); God, Queen, Country (remove the reference to monarchy, and that could apply anywhere); you get my point.

We need for our people to be empowered to actually help themselves and others. In Europe, a taxi driver, if he chooses, can go to night school, acquire specialist skills and go on to another career / business. This all assumes the existence of robust and affordable education, security to allow movement in the late hours after work, a reliable transport system, electricity so one can do research for study, etc. The point is, we need the government to do its bit, so the citizens can get on with doing our bit.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Nigeria, I pray that we have received that 'someone'. Good luck and Godspeed beloved.

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