15th September, 2017
By Olubunmi Olowu-Adekoya
It is very worrisome that after over five decades of nationhood, our nation isn’t really fulfilling the aspirations of its founding fathers.It is disheartening to see that currently, our beloved Country Nigeria seems perpetually bedeviled with a myriad of problems that suggest a nation on the brink of collapse or extinction. There are a lot of insecurity issues, economic woes, political instability, belligerent youth restiveness, indiscipline and many others, surely our beloved nation has seen turbulent times that leaves you wondering how we got into this quagmire?
There is a precarious air of volatility currently pervading the country. It suffices to state that not everyone, not even adults can boast of possessing the needed acumen that can sustain them into securing an enviable pedestal either now or in the immediate future because life is just so unpredictable in our dear country where you will agree that anything can happen anytime. It is the youth especially that suffer so much from this uncertain state as their future hang in the balance. Their thirst and lust for money brought about by the present harsh economic quagmire has blindfolded some of them, thereby making them ready to do anything just to make money.
It will definitely not be out of place to opine that the state of giddiness being experienced now in spite of all the lamentations about our situation is brought about by the levity with which each successive government has tackled and is still tackling corruption which I see as a bane to our present predicament. Nigerians have been described as special species as many wonder how they continue to cope with innumerable daunting challenges. They are daily surrounded with embroiled corruption going on around them coupled with shameful acts of impunity and retribution inflicted on their psyche by the elite. Ours is a country where trillions of hard and local currencies are looted and stashed in homes and unexpected places while those found culpable are only tried in the media. Hence the big question, how do we tackle a dreadful national malady as corruption?
Corruption has become a grave blight of our nation, to the extent that the few who have access to the country’s collective wealth continue to get richer while majority wallows in abject poverty. Gone are the days when we had the “Upper, Middle and Lower Classes”. We have become a laughing stock; serious investors shun our nation for the fear of corruption. Unfortunately, in the midst of all these, our culture of wastage lingers on as scarce national resources are filtered away in unproductive ventures when they could have been committed to better use.
There is a need therefore for government to do more than it is doing presently. Sincerely, stiffer penalties and stringent measures like international travel ban, circulate their names to embassies for possible blacklisting, enforcement of repatriations for those who might have managed to get away, newspaper disclaimer listing, amendment of existing relevant laws that will ameliorate the ease of enforcement and so on, should be meted out on whoever is found culpable no matter whose ox is gored. We should actually borrow experiences from other countries like China, Egypt and so on, on how they were able to solve their corruption issues.
Indiscipline is another major bane of our nation and it cuts across all sectors. When Nigerians go abroad, they adhere strictly to the laws, rules and regulations of their host countries. They are fascinated about how things work, how it is possible to trade and do business seamlessly and how it is possible to use your details to apprehend you whenever you run afoul of the law. However, whenever this same people return home, they frustrate every laudable effort to do things right. How sad!
The business environment isn’t really getting better either. As it is usually with us, we want everyone to go into one business enterprise or the other, enticing them with one loan or the other. While this is not really a bad idea, it has to be emphasized that most of those who access such loans have little or no expertise in the business area they want to venture into. Of course, the consequence of a failed business is usually more devastating on the economy and on the morale of the individual involved.
In as much as it is good to encourage local business enterprise, we need to start thinking about developing potentially viable areas such as ICT, sports, arts, tourism etc. Lots of opportunities abound, especially for the youths, in these core areas as they represent new globally recognized money spinning ventures. Therefore, all tiers of governments and other stakeholders must have a rethink and make efforts at developing these promising areas if only for their job creation potentials.
In as much as things are not going really well in the country, it needs to be stressed, however, that there is nothing about our current situation that is insurmountable. Several countries around the world have had similar or same experiences. The only difference is that while others identify their challenges and frontally work on them, for example Japan and Switzerland with limited territories but amongst the strongest economies of the world, we seem to cover up ours and keep on living with the pretext that they never exist. Unfortunately, countries that attain valid nationhood are those that demonstrate sufficient resolve to solve their problems.
Over timehuman beings have proven their resiliency by demonstrating that great things are possible and man is capable of incredible successes in spite of monumental odds. Nigerians must not be an exception but remain hopeful.I wonder if it will make anydifference to this generation if government at this time can re-introduce back into our schools at all levels our past History, Civic & Government, Health and Social Studies, books, literature, films and all forms of records to show our past and present history. Hopefully this will help us most especially the youths to have a rethink and chart a way forward for themselves that will secure and safeguard their future.
While directing our energy towards a search for a new Nigeria, we must necessarily change our attitude to life and work pattern, respect the laws and regulations of our country, shorn bribery and corruption, be more proactive, productive and invest more in our Nation. Most importantly, we must as a matter of urgency stop recycling the political elite in order to save our beloved country.
We cannot afford to remain too docile as a people. We must speak out and allow our voices to be heard.We must not despair but keep doing the right things to save our country from this tempestuous period by doing all we can to escape the condemnation and damnation of history and posterity. We cannot be the people and the generation that gave up even as others fought to save their own countries. Nigeria is our beloved country; we mustwork to salvage it together. God bless Nigeria.
Olowu-Adekoya is Director, Press & Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning & Budget, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.