Early in the week, we ran an exposé on two recent inclusions in the nascent US Government’s administration who are of Nigerian descent. We highlighted the achievements that merited the inclusions of Ms. Enoh T. Ebong and Mr. Adewale ‘Wally’ Adeyemo into the new government.
It is important to note that there exists a long list of Nigerians serving in such capacities in different governments world over. Overtaking the trending positions of Ebong and Adeyemo is the fact of our world-acclaimed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the DG, WTO. Despite the challenges posed to this by the past US administration, it has finally come to be and much so after the remaining contestant stepped down for her.
The above three instances go to show that Nigeria is not lacking in human capital resources. No, we have an abundance. Just as we have abundant deposit of mineral resources so is our manpower brimming over.
Is it possible to assemble the best of Grade A footballers into a team and they are defeated with a very wide margin by an assemblage of both Grade B and C players? We are talking of the best of the best, the Ronaldos, the Messis, the Lewandoskis, etc. That defeat would summarily mean that they are not the best of the best. It means they are chance players feeding fat on other players’ hard work.
We raised issues of wit in the last editions and many questions are still begging to be asked. Where are we getting it wrong? Why are our best hands joining other nations and enriching them? Just like we export our crude oil and buy them back refined at a higher price, why are our talents naturalizing and residing permanently in other climes thereby contributing to the tremendous growth of these economies?
Where can we place this gap? Is it infrastructural? Do we need a mindset reset? Are we still deluded by the colonial masters? Do we still have the colonial mentality of the colonized, the conquered? Why do we still have this ‘white-first’ mentality?
Is anything wrong with our environment? Are we been deceived by religion instead of been guided by it? Is the gap identifiable in the balkanization of 1914 which sowed seeds of ethno-tribal discords among Nigerians? Is our problem in party politics with the rebranding mindset that allows Mr. A cross over from one party to another and back to the same as many times as it suits his/her purpose while denigrating the one he/she just left? Is our problem in administrative discontinuity and inconsistent policies of government? Are our guys running away because of the insecurity and brigandry prevalent in the land? In sum, who did this to us?
These questions can go on and on without any answers in view. That is the basic truth here. And this is the major reason why our brains are leaving in droves. Willing nations like Canada are on the prowl poaching whosoever is willing. When our youth intuit into the future, they see hopelessness, they see emptiness, they see lack of vision. Succeeding governments do not see any good in preceding administrations and keep the blame game on till the first tenure is gone. Good four years wasted.
What can be done to arrest this ugly scenario that is affecting the fabrics of our economic and existential growth as a country? Is all hope lost? Where and who is the messiah? What model works for Nigeria?
This writer believes in restructuring! Yes, I do. But what are we restructuring? Are we restructuring allocation modes from the FG down to the state and local governments? That would not answer the question. The allocations already disbursed since independence to these small-unit governments, what have they achieved with them? Nigerians do not like holding state and local governments accountable, rather the FG. This is not a case in favour of the FG. No, they have their own issues, bigger ones at that as they are supposed to ask the state and local governments for a detailed usage of the funds before disbursing the next. Yes, Nigerians need this kind of prodding. Let us hold our state and local governments to account first before the FG.
Is the restructuring for a rotational presidency? In my opinion, this would not totally solve the problem because the players would still come from among us, the compromised breed. They have been in politics and already smeared with the ‘chop I chop’ mentality.
Looking at restructuring from parochial perspectives would result in eternal cyclic redundancy, the same vicious circle, no linearity. There are different agitations for different kinds of restructuring but I term them pocket restructuring because they would not solve our problems.
The restructuring that I adopt and propagate is the restructuring of mindset. This starts from within, with the individual. Inasmuch as this looks like a tall order given the porosity of the system, if we begin to understand that if I do not extend a bribing hand to the receiver, he will not circumvent the right process. If I learn to maintain traffic laws, officers would not apprehend me and consequentially demand for ‘settlement.’ If I understand that substandard products have a way of coming back to me, I would not either produce or import such. If I understand that exam malpractice will make me a half-baked graduate who cannot defend my certificate but depend on ‘contact’ to get high-paying jobs, then I will study harder in school. The bottom-line here is to reset the mentality that it is only the government that is corrupt. That aspect of the issue is so correct and highly over-flogged. But we are looking at the neglected aspects of life that can restructure this country.
To be continued
Azuka Edokobi is a Writer and Entrepreneur