As Nigeria celebrates its 55th independence anniversary, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the challenges that have hindered the nation’s progress and envision a more prosperous future. This article delves into the pressing need for Nigerians to address real issues, learn from past mistakes, and collectively shape a better future. From recognizing the power of unity to leveraging new tools of engagement, it is time for every Nigerian to actively participate in building a prosperous nation.
The finished past, the fleeting present, and a fleeing future
It is a fact that our history, like that of many other prosperous nations, is filled with stories of sweat and blood, greed and guile, mediocrity, and myopia. In fact, the present is still tense and the future has moved from where it used to be. Provoked by a proliferation of short-term thinking in a long-term world, the future has shifted from its past positioning and is now progressing from its former prophesied paradise to a new place of man-made perdition if we do not fully embrace the real challenges of change and give birth to the wonders within us. It’s time to think.
Imagine the vision of the forefathers, consider their dreams: the noble cause. How have we come from joining forces to fight for our dreams of an independent and prosperous nation to breaking bonds, and taking up ‘arms’ against ourselves to resolve our differences? How long do we have to put up with mindless political schemes and scams when our women, our children, and even our men are dying daily? Or are we simply fulfilling destiny by simply allowing a crop of internal and external forces to create chaos and a culture of despondency?
The issues are genuine, yes, but our inherent capacity to deal with them and emerge a successful, sustainable, and prosperous nation is also real. Some of the troubles we are still grappling with are tides created by the affairs of men, dangerous hydra-headed tides that lead to needless personal struggle, and preventable national stagnation. On such a sea are we now afloat and if the tide is not stemmed at its launch or even in mid-stream, the ship as we know it may be heading towards the rocks. Interestingly, we have many options and thankfully, these include creating countercurrents that can help steer the course of our sail to a different coast. As a people, we cannot neglect the future; our specie is not theirs that turn back because of bad weather. Nigerians, since we have learned to dance in the rain, then it’s not a time to hide but a time to ride the tide. We cannot continue to stand aloof, allowing things to further fall apart before we act in the best interest of ourselves and our children. We are now mature.
Undoubtedly, the multitude and magnitude of the challenges faced by our great nation can be truly overwhelming but one of the master keys to unlocking our collective future as a people is the key to unity because unity always remains indivisible. In fact, the future of a prosperous nation for Nigeria lives in Nigerians who see Nigeria through the eyes of ‘unity in diversity’. Another key is our national paradigm: instead of focusing our attention on poverty eradication, can we set our sights on prosperity development? They are similar but definitely not the same venture. We need new challenges and a redirection of our national energy, folks.
I marvel at the insanity of opinions from pessimists across the board, but you and I now know that we cannot afford to respond only to bad news: oft times politically-sponsored, religion-influenced, and media-amplified dangers. It literally shuts off our ability to take in good news and take on new challenges. For instance, the overall success of this new government is one of those new challenges that are in the best interest of everyone. We must respond right because change is not always a tale of good news. Coupled with diminishing manifestoes, we need to collectively discover and develop other positive and proactive options that can really transform this great nation because it’s time to prosper. We, the people, have to be our own catalysts for national development and we must not be naïve as to think there won’t be potholes, bends, and bumps along the way. Some of those will be the usual black swans: political, economic, and religious. Others are still unknown sorts in our blue ocean. During these times, the concept of building a prosperous nation will seem unnecessary, unwise, and even unfeasible but a quick look at the world’s and our national history shows that progress and transformation continue through the bad times and the good. So, the dreams of individual, corporate, and national prosperity in the consciousness of our present generation and in the genes of the coming ones will live on, gradually but certainly being manifested.
This new challenge: National Prosperity Development
Currently, Nigeria dishearteningly sits at the bottom of the Legatum Prosperity Index at number 125 out of 142 nations profiled. The 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index is based on 89 different variables analyzed and source data includes Gallup World Poll, World Development Indicators, International Telecommunication Union, Fragile States Index, Worldwide Governance Indicators, Freedom House, World Health Organization, World Values Survey, Amnesty International and Centre for Systemic Peace. The 89 variables are grouped into 8 sub-indexes, which are averaged using equal weights. The 8 sub-indexes are Economy, Entrepreneurship & Opportunity, Governance, Education, Health, Safety & Security, Personal Freedom, and Social Capital.
The Prosperity Index is comprehensive and can be adapted to suit our national idiosyncrasies. For example, in the index, Personal Freedom includes freedom of speech and religion, and national tolerance for immigrants, and ethnic and racial minorities. The Social Capital sub-index includes the percentage of citizens who volunteer, give to charity, help strangers, and who feel they can rely on family and friends. Maybe you’re still asking: what is prosperity? Isn’t it a shame that most citizens of a resource-rich nation like ours aren’t even aware of what it means to be prosperous?
Prosperity, generally speaking, means a state of wealth and well-being. Globally and even locally, there are dissenting opinions about whether Nigeria is prosperous or not. Res ipsa loquitur [The fact(s) speaks for itself].
Yes, we can be truly prosperous but the future only comes as created and that’s why we need ‘every’ one, every Nigerian collaborating to create our future. From Broad Street to Aso Rock and everywhere in between. We have superior strategies, and cultural innovation that makes us not only globally competitive but also locally relevant. We need to employ proven tools and trends of science, technology, and socio-economics -and so much more- that are currently transforming our world, to address some of our nation’s toughest development challenges. We need to optimize our abundance, human and natural. We need to stimulate the kind of thinking that makes for radical transformation both across the spectrum of enterprise and at critical nodes of our polity. However, first, we need to ask our elected leaders: what’s in your prosperity development plan? (if any)and regardless of how they craft it, our national success, sustainability, and significance at 55 and beyond, cruxes on subscription and support from Nigerians and Friends of Nigeria across the globe, who are interested in a simple idea: a more prosperous nation.
Is a more prosperous nation a figment of unbridled imagination or a fragment of unrestrained enthusiasm for Nigeria? Of course not. In fact, the question is no longer, what is wrong with us but how can we harness our capacities and diversities to create a future of extraordinary greatness we all know we are capable of? Surely, with the right questions asked, we will come to see that we all – collectively- hold the possibilities and that’s why we need the US, and I don’t mean the United States. We need Nigerians to build a prosperous nation. Or are we tending to communal dementia by doing the same things over and over again and wishing our national challenges will soon fade away and a bright day will suddenly appear on the horizon? We really have work to do and it’s not recreation but re-creation.
Re-Creating Our Future, Why Should You Care
More Nigerians are recognizing the importance of addressing real issues instead of just leaving our future to chance, only demanding dividends of democracy that offer neither hope nor guarantees. At 55, please let’s get it right this time, let’s leave the pains of the past, learn from it, and while dealing with today’s tensions, let’s set our sights on the future because that’s the only hope we’ve got. And the future, though fleeing, is not very far.
However, since the future is moving, the rules of engagement need to indeed change. What got us here won’t get us there. For those of us who have tasted neither the chunk of the national cake nor its crumbs, why should we care? I’ve got good news for you as we celebrate the 55th independence anniversary. In today’s world, real power is changing hands and the rules are fast changing. More than ever before, we can stop agonizing and start organizing to get a seat at the table, make a new table, or even bake our own national ‘non-oily’ cake –a fantastic and federal fortune independent of oil. Of course, the baking-new-cake approach may not be very novel but there are a few key differences this time around. With the new tools of engagement suitably utilized, our capabilities can match our ambitions. The truth is that the exchange that guarantees a real change is not only about marching down the streets; it’s about matching the streets with the new tools of engagement. If we get it right, within a generation we can radically transform and significantly improve the living standards of every Nigerian. Let me warn you though: simultaneously inspiring and empowering a whole nation is not for the fainthearted. We need to be brave enough to change our thinking, change our speech, change our attitude…maybe even change everything!
For those of us whose living standards are already comparable with the basics of the developed world, why should we care? Why should we really waste our time collaborating to create a more prosperous nation in the face of escalating issues of unemployment and insecurity? Humanitarian reasons aside, the long and short answer is: Yes, we should care because a time is coming and now is, when the poor would have nothing else to eat but the rich.
As we are all already aware, the days of isolation are behind us. In today’s world, what happens ‘down there’ impacts ‘up here’. The point is: solving one problem here, solves one problem everywhere. Therefore, we have to join good forces for good. Moreover, the greatest tested tool we have for breaking our strongest shackles and tackling our grandest challenges is the human mind; a shared resource for blacks and whites, the rich and the currently poor. So, when new people, others like you and us join the #nationalprosperity conversation and contributions, your ideas – ideas we’ve never earlier had access to – will result in new paths, new paradigms, new projects, new programs, and new products that will benefit us all.
It’s time for a more prosperous Nigeria!