THAT Nigeria is the giant of Africa is not a hoax or a myth that needs unraveling. From sports to politics, economic vibrancy to population increase – in all ramifications, it stands tall in the comity of nations. With about 170 million people, Nigeria commands the weather amongst the homily of nations in Africa. Nigeria typifies Africa.
A by-word in the mouths of the westerners, she soars high in the richness of man and natural resources. Branding Nigeria as a Third World nation by the western world is being ungrateful to the most powerful black nation on earth. By Third World country is basically referring to a less developed country more than others, and probably a country which has a history of colonization. Third world nations are not so designated to imply the countries where abject poverty is their stock-in-trade. If so, China and India are no Third world nations.
Poverty is a global phenomenon¬¬ – even in the perceived rich countries. The stereotypes used in adjudging these worlds includes: non-alignment during the cold war, poverty and underdevelopment, indebtedness, populous, and independence of foreign aid—– which has lost its taste and functionality in these nations branding others as Third world. America, Britain, Newzealand, Australia, and Canada, having seen themselves as far from these ills, assume the hegemonies’ status of a developed world.
Could there be an element of truth in the above claim and name given to this part of the world? What are the social, political, economic and academic indices that support this? Is Nigeria poor, indebted, underdeveloped, what are the causes of these, and the way forward? This is the crux of this essay. How can Nigeria attain the First World status? To a weak mind, this topic may seem ambiguous, but it can be disambiguated by placing matters into perspective. A president of a nation will see how to move Nigeria from a Third World country to a First World country in a different light. Lee kwan Yew did, and revolutionarily transformed Singapore.
A governor of a state, or an entrepreneur, will reason on a business pedal; a medical practitioner, a farmer, —– and other professions, may view it with different ideological lenses. As a socio-prenure, I undertake the whole. Most countries of the west are where they are today due to some critical drastic measures they have put in place to better the lives of their citizens. Military wise, technologically, educationally, economically, and politically, they seem to have relatively got it right. For Nigeria to etch it name on the world map, some things are not to be trivialized, such as education. A nation that toys with the education of its citizens is toying with its future.
The imperativeness of education –whether formal or non-formal, in the life of a people cannot suffer a deniable plausibility. When people who should be the drivers of social, political, and economic change are not mentally sound, socially adjusted and physically fit to function, the , development of any sort will belie such society. For me, to take Nigeria from the Third World to a First World nation, will require some overhauling in some key sectors such as the education of the girl-child, and the empowerment of youth. A close examination of those nations of the world that are termed first clas will raise some potent and pungent questions such as: who are the ones the system running? Who are the architects? The governance and political architecture of those nations are become totems built by the new generations – the youths. Obama is 47 years old, but he piloted the affairs of the most powerful nation on earth for eight years.
The new French president, Emmanuel Marcron, is 29. The social, economic and political template he has brought to the fore is uber. The Nigerian government has never moved away from the status quo – the convention of the plantain reigning supreme, and the suckers being kept in abeyance. Nigeria may boast of her high towering achievements in other areas of endeavour — politics, economy, human capital development, and infrastructure, but come to think of it, has she really achieved greatness as other countries it is pegged with as a third world has done? China, India, and some other Asian countries are doing well in all sectors of their economy and political life, because of the value attached to the human person —- who drives the economic system.
Their government sees their citizens as a people, but here, we are seen as a number. Why do we have so much and then eat so little? Nigeria has human and natural resources in abundance, but the human aspect of her wealth has remained untapped to the fullest maximum, or those that have seemed to be tapped are mismanaged. The west looks at Nigeria as a Third World nation because Nigeria has not got right, what they seem to have got right – quality education for all, youth empowerment, orientation and re-orientation; equality in educational disbursement and distribution – no one relegated to the back bench in terms of education. As much as the men have access to education, so does the women in those climes. And they are the ones we are looking up to. We have imitated almost everything from the west. From politics – type of government, system of government and legislation; economy, there is hardly any aspect of our lives that does not have a touch of westernization.
To do the needful…? No. Others may argue that we can move Nigeria forward, or that Nigeria can become a First World nation when we kill corruption, or get corrupt officials arrested and prosecuted, that will not solve our problem. We will not become a First World nation by so doing. Another school of thought may advice the government to invest in infrastructure and make things work — that will still not bring us nearer to the Developed World. Some others may take a paradigm shift and say that the political architecture of the country should be reorganized. Restructuring the governance architecture, will not catapult us to a First World nation caliber. If regionalism is brought back into existence, and the various regions fails this litmus test of youth development, orientation and re-orientation through proper information and communication, the girl-child education, and agriculture, those regions will remain as they were, when they were in Nigeria as a whole. Of course, there are those who may posit that Nigeria can only be a First World country when the oil bench mark is resolved, or when the military apparatus is fixed.
You don’t build houses from the top. You have to lay the foundation. Now, when the foundation is faulty or fraught with uncertain dialectics, what do you do? Therefore the aforementioned is very paramount for the development of any serious society or a nation. Report has it that the youth constitute about 75% of the Nigerian population. The National Baseline Youth Survey (2012) pegged the youth population at 64 million. (That is, those between the ages of 15-35) where female were 51.6% and male 48.4%. Nigeria has 9 million out of school children as was confirmed by the immediate past president – Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. With this kind of threatening population indices, the only solution to averting economic disaster and hunger is to provide adequate education, and diversify the economy. When the highest able workforce of a nation is informed and not misinformed or disinformed, everyone learns and understands what is right, and how to do what is right, and also learns to survive an unfavourable times as it might come up.
Who are the creators of trouble in the society? Which group of people makes a state ungovernable? Who create troubles for the government of the day to contend with? Who incite others to take up arms against a constituted authority? Who serve as a ready-made tool in the hands of politicians, used in causing mayhem during elections? The youths. Uneducated young minds, who don’t know the consequences of their actions in a long term, but because of quick gratification, go as long as killing each other and political opponents. Today, the west parades an array of women achievers. From history to science; from sport to government, and business, the world can tell of female history makers of the brightest colours living and dead. Today, Britain has Theresa May as a Prime Minister. America is looking forward to having a female president. Have we ever considered that in Nigeria? The power of the adolescent –whether mental or moral, cannot be overstretched.
The girl-child should be allowed the right for education, nutrition, legal representation, and medical care, protection from discrimination; violence and discrimination against women should be jettisoned. Until the cultural, societal, and patriarchal factors that limit the girl-child from attaining a feat in education is done away with, we cannot develop, as desired. We have always shied away from educating the girl-child, forgetting that educating a woman is educating a nation. Nigerian youths are the voice for true change. There is no support that is geared toward the education of the girl-child, development and empowerment of the youth; their orientation and re-orientation, that will be a waste. The astronomical result will be a humongous harvest by the nation. Competition and performance cannot be achieved when the youths are ignorant and illiterates.
The most lucrative contributing sector to the sky pulling and roving Indian economy, and not only limited to India, is the agricultural sector, which between 2009-2010, has about 52% of the nation’s workforce. Agriculture has always been a veritable sector for the economic growth of a nation. America in her early days depended and still depends on agriculture. In the early days before the oil boom, our fore heroes —- Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, developed their regions with funds which accrued from agricultural produce. We have the land, we have the man power; why don’t the government make agriculture attractive, so that young people can go into agriculture and produce food to feed the nation, and then have excess for exportation? If the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals initiative is to be realized in Nigeria, investing in agriculture is not optional. As a socio-prenure, I will empower the farmers with current viable fertilizer, create an enabling environment for them to farm; make loans available and accessible for them; deploy agriculture and extension workers on quarterly basis in a year to them— to inspect their farms and ascertain their challenges in order to proffer solution, and during harvest time, build a Food Bank where products bought from the farmers could be stored and sold to the masses who cannot afford to buy from the farmers at a highly subsidized rate—- that way, everyone will have food to eat. Hunger, is one of the major causes of fighting, hate, violence, crime and terrorism in a society.
Whether as a president, governor, entrepreneur, or a leader of a sort, the welfare of a people is not negotiable! Other countries of the world that are pitched developed are so made by man. Nigeria is blessed with intellectuals. But, where are they? – abroad. Most of them prefer to work overseas where the condition is ripe —- thereby developing other people’s world. The chronicle of Nigerians in the Diaspora cannot contain this paper. The leadership of this nation should endeavour to work towards bringing them back by making the environment and system conducive for them. The need to harness their experiences— the torrent of influence which could be brought on our economic development through them, is unimaginable. They are already playing a leading role in building the First World, hence, setting up a Ministry of Diaspora and Integration, is sacrosanct. The government can also draw the diasporan closer by removing the administrative bottle neck which has clogged the wheel of progress of our nation for long – especially in the civil service. Through the input and impact of the Diaspora, the leadership can go into alliance with foreign partners of repute for a cross fertilization of ideas, thought and opinions geared toward a symbiotic relationship in order to achieve a meaningful present and future for the people— especially the youths who are veritable catalysts of positive change of any variety. The participation of Nigeria at the G7 Summit of which the Vice President, Yemi Osibajo was present, is a good step in the right direction for attracting foreign investment to our country. That way, we can start talking about repositioning the country to attain a First World Status.
Amaechi Emmanuel is a student of English, university of Lagos. A United Nations Award Winner; he writes essays, short stories, poems, and most importantly, he is interested in political, social, civil leadership, youths and girl-child discourses.
You can reach him on:
Good people, great minds!