The World Cannot/Will Not Wait for Nigeria!

by A Adejumo

“The world does not need Nigeria to move forward. The world will move forward while we remain in our Stone Age’.

I keep on reflecting on the above comment on one of my posts by my friend and brother Godwin Oghenede.  Then I also reflect very gravely on a series of posts by another friend and brother, the veteran UK-based journalist, Ayo Akinfe, and real despair sets in. It is an uncanny Truth. And it scares the hell outta me. It becomes scarier when one realises the World has already left us behind.

There are 195 countries in the world today. We are static and immobilised while others are moving on; the rest of the World don’t care.

Other countries are moving and this is what the World cares about. We can drink our Oil, and wallow in our corruption, mismanagement, short-sightedness and all other afflictions that have been debilitating to our progress, the World doesn’t give a shit, except to watch us and laugh at our puny  antics and stupidity.

We keep on recycling idiotic and mediocre leaders; that’s our problem, and the rest of the World will take advantage of us and exploit us. It is the survival of the fittest. It’s natural, and I don’t blame the exploiters, colonisers, call them what you will, etc. Their people and country come first. If we don’t care about our own country and our people, that’s our problem, not America’s, not UK’s, not Chinese’s. They take care of their own people and interests at other people’s expenses. It is normal. Do we blame them if we can’t and don’t ours? With our vast resources?

If we can’t compete in a modern world, that’s our problem. We will soon disintegrate and become a dinosaur – extinct. Many civilizations have become extinct, yet the World goes on. Nigeria won’t be the first. Nature abhors a vacuum. The world, like Time, waits for no one.

How can a nation move when all aspects of her life are corrupted: The economy is corrupted, governance is corrupted, judiciary is corrupted, education is corrupted, health is corrupted, infrastructural development is corrupted, social values are corrupted, our culture and language corrupted and above all our religion is corrupted? The reason is very simple and within our control as individuals and as a nation – LACK OF CHARACTER, MORALS and DISCIPLINE

The day we imbibe these values in what we Say and Act will be the day we get it right as a Nation. Right now, we are in darkness and may remain so for eternity if we stay on this miserable and destructive path. Other nations of the World do not care for what becomes of Nigeria. They will swoop like vultures when Nigeria is finally on her knees. We have just refused to move forward. The reason any other country might care about Nigeria is because they have not been able to exploit Nigeria.  The aim of the callous, cruel and wicked (and unfortunately, they are Nigerians) is to suck the nation dry and it appears they are unrelenting.

The unfortunate truth is that Nigeria’s present predicament(s) cannot be solved by the present crop of leadership and as such we cannot move anywhere.

We will need to plan for the next 50 years by which we go to the drawing board, inculcate values into our educational and orientation curriculum which will give and develop citizenship with a good mindset of honesty, patriotism, loyalty, and participatory governance and democracy. Without this, we are in a country of ‘chop and chop’ cum political recycle phenomenon.

Nigeria, a creation of the British coloniser, a contraption that pride herself as a country, filled with menagerie of people whose resources are exploited by greedy, selfish, mediocre and morally-bankrupt leaders: A camp of mixed multitudes without a common goal and who are apprehensive of one another. A nation built on falsehood.

Paul Kagame, President of modern Rwanda, said on Radio Rwanda: “If our country ranks first in Africa, and the whole world is watching us today, it is not because we have the Vatican, the Kabba, the White House, the Elysee or the Taj Mahal here at home. No more because you have a certain Paul Kagame as Head of State, but rather because you have sons and daughters of Rwanda in this country. Men and especially young people and Rwandan women who have forgiven each other, and who have taken the destiny of their country in their hands, by the meaning of work, innovations and patriotism as key to their progress and development. What we are doing here in Rwanda is not a miracle, nor is it impossible elsewhere, it is simply the commitment of an entire nation, especially Rwandan youth and women, but also political will……….Although we are now far from our past, let us make good use of the present to hit the future. Because the most difficult thing is no longer where we come from, but rather where we want and dream to go. In Rwanda, we desire and dream to go far thanks to these people and to this now conscious youth “

Look at some examples:

Ghana has long been moving on for over three decades, now, striving to attract foreign investments, with stable electricity, something that has eluded Nigeria, mainly because of mediocrity and corruption for the past six decades, and is getting worse. Moreover, Ghana is not the favourite destination of African Americans to settle down in Africa bring with them much needed wealth of experience, expertise, investment and of course, well-being in all sectors of Ghana’s governance.

“Our worst example is the Lagos Light Railway Project which we have been building since 2009. Nowhere in the world does it take 10 years to build a 35 km urban light railway project. It is not as if they are blasting through rock, going over mountains or building a tunnel. This project could easily have been completed within three years if we were serious about addressing mass transit in Lagos While we have been on this Lagos project, Ethiopia has completed the 759 km Djibouti to Addis Ababa heavy duty railway line that cannot only carry heavy freight but runs at speeds of 120km per hour. They began work on it in 2011 and the line was commissioned in 2016 under Ethiopia’s ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan. This line cost a total of $3bn and was completed on schedule. Before you know it, the project will have generated enough revenue to repay off the loans it borrowed from the Exim Bank of China, the China Development Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China”

Our most shameful project in this regard is the Mambilla Power Plant conceived by President Shehu Shagari in 1982. Some 37 years later and after spending $16bn, we are yet to complete it. As you can see, we are our own worst enemies. These days, China is completing skyscrapers within two months and completing unbelievable bridges within two to three years. How do we change our mindset my people?”

(Source: Ayo Akinfe)

Nigeria is terrible when it comes to delaying projects or wasting time in infrastructural developments and we need to radically change our mindset if we are serious about infrastructural provision. With the way technology changes rapidly today, unnecessary delays dramatically increase costs.

According to Ayo Akinfe again, yet, Nigeria did not always used to be like this as we completed the National Stadium, Surulere on schedule in time for us hosting the All African Games in 1973 and completed the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu on schedule in 1977 ahead of us hosting FESTAC. Because these projects were completed on time, they did not incur extra costs. It appears that my people do not appreciate the fact that delays can sometimes increase costs by up to 30%, so we need to introduce a Zero Tolerance Infrastructure Delay campaign to prevent the cost of projects spiraling out of control or even being abandoned altogether

 The simple reason to these problems is CORRUPTION! It is Corruption in the way of inflated contracts; government officials who are supposed to monitor implementation of contracts receive bribes and turn a blind eye while the contractor either uses inferior materials or flee and abandon the projects; or the contracts were awarded in the first place just to take money out of the treasury. This is what happens when you spend too long on a project. It becomes obsolete by the time you commission it.

I think it is a shame that after spending so many years trying to do a rail project to link major cities in Nigeria, our government, despite commending them, should come out with a diesel-run rail system in this century. Absolutely short-sighted and scandalous! Yet we see them joyfully commissioning a project which is already obsolete. Electric-run trains, whether light or heavy, has been around for decades, if not centuries; but how do you want Nigeria to have electric trains when we don’t have electricity to run our homes, offices, hospitals, industries, schools and shops? Mission impossible. Fix the electricity first and everything else in this country will start falling into place like a jigsaw puzzle.

“About a month ago, the Jakarta Metro began functioning. Now like Lagos, Jakarta is a city of 12 m people and is Indonesia’s commercial hub. On 1 June 2013, the first three civil contracts for the 9.2km underground section were signed and on March 26 2019, the service opened to the public.

In under six years they commissioned the project, so as far as I am concerned. There is no excuse for the then Lagos State Governor for not completing the Lagos Light Railway project during his eight-year stint as governor.

When completed, the Jakarta MRT is expected to stretch across over 108 km, including 21.7 km for the Red Line and 87 km for the Yellow Line. They have just commissioned the first phase that includes six Underground stations and seven Overground stations. This is what Lagos desperately needs!” (Again, sourced from Ayo Akinfe)

The application of work ethics, discipline and sense of duty to nation- building in places like Indonesia, and other far east countries cannot stand alongside our nation’s acute sense of selfishness, indiscipline, mismanagement and lack of work ethic especially among our political and, dare I say, our corporate elite. That is why we are where we are on the aforementioned project! Attitude and a new broom to sweep away the old order is what we need to bring in fresh thinking and inspired and active leadership. Everybody is in a hurry to cut corners and bleed the system; and this is not only a trait of government but also corporate and private businesses. It is eerie!

All the vices mentioned now lead us to cutting corners, and eventually Corruption. Inflation of contract values, bureaucracy, bribery and corruption, supply and use of inferior materials, indolence, our attitude to work, etc all contribute to the lethargy and inefficiency. That’s why what takes those countries to build a road or rail in 6 months will take Nigeria 20 years to build. It’s frustrating. And what makes it worse for us is that these heinous and unpatriotic acts are deliberate actions or inactions of a few selfish, greedy and corrupt Nigerians who think by stealing, they are securing the future of their children and grandchildren only, and not for anybody else.

Discipline, dedication, commitment, patriotism, conscience, etc are huge factors in public administration.

What we do not know is that those contractors in those countries make their profits quickly and move on to the next job to make more. Our short-sighted greed is actually counter-productive.

In many countries in Africa, it is the same hopeful and good-tidings. Ethiopians came together, after centuries of monarchy and decades of brutal dictatorship, to ALL condemn Corruption and resolved to build their country. They now have the best airline in Africa and building a massive dam across the Nile that will provide electricity to every nook and corner of the country. Furthermore, the whole country has been turned into one massive building site that not modernise the country, but attracts investments and create employment for people in the country.

Botswana and Namibia are favourite investment destination countries for many European countries. Morocco and Egypt, despite their own peculiar problems, are going forward, not to talk of Tanzania. These countries are using their mostly meagre resources wisely; they don’t even have oil as much as Nigeria. Please go to our neighbours, Chad and Mali, up north, and you can see the verve as they strive to take their people out of poverty and desperation.

Can you imagine a country whose federal legislators, paid huge salaries and allowances refused to pass a bill that will allow electric cars in the country because, according to them, Nigeria, as a oil producing country, must not be seen to support electric cars! Inanity! In a world where electric cars are fast taking over from oil guzzlers and oil is being used for somethings else>

The World simply is not going to wait for Nigeria. The World would not, cannot, wait for Nigeria to grow. In fact, it cannot afford to wait for any country. We’re on our own. Nature abhors a vacuum. Nigeria is fast becoming a vacuum which cannot be tolerated and has no place in a World moving forward fast every day. Dinosaurs are cumbersome animals; hence they could not move with Earth’s fast evolution, and they became extinct. Nigeria is cumbersome in development and progress and adaptation; so, we can imagine.

We have to do something, and very fast!

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