Unethical leadership, decay of government agencies, lack of basic services, misplaced priorities of youths, drug abuse, internet fraud, and that which is most personal to me, economic mismanagement. This is Nigeria!
Nigeria has come out of recession but the growth that we celebrate is a jobless growth that is driven mainly by the increase in oil price. Unemployment is at an astronomical level such that two out of every five Nigerians are without jobs. Businesses, on the other hand, lack the enabling environment to thrive as they struggle with electricity challenges, high interest rate on loans, multiple taxation and other challenges that leave them with less profit. With few jobs and constrained businesses, poverty is on the rise.
In January of this year, Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world. We overtook India whose population is seven times ours and emerged as the country with the highest number of poor people in the world. And poverty is like cancer, it spreads. Once you are money poor, chances are that you will be poor in education, health and even happiness.
The security at my office, Mr. Matthew, has two sons who are not in school. Matthew earns
N20,000 and like every rational human being, he would rather spend his salary on feeding his family than pay for fees, buy school uniforms or books. Mr. Matthew’s sons are part of the 10.5 million children who are within the primary school age bracket but are not enrolled in school. And you guessed right, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. On health we are the second largest contributor to child and maternal mortality in the world. This is not just data but even in reality. We’ve turned from enthusiastic, cheerful dreamers to complaisant, nonchalant social media and beer parlor wailers.
Still, a few of us enjoy our commonwealth. Nigeria’s legislators are the highest paid in the world and the overall cost of governance ranks among the highest globally. And so I ask – how can the country with the highest number of poor people in the world have the highest paid leaders? On the other hand, good policies and programmes are in abundance but implementation is typically shoddy. We end up spending what we should invest and even the little we invest, we do not invest it effectively and efficiently. We are gradually transforming from a relevant power house to a country whose most profitable businesses are politics and churches because religion dulls the pain of economically suppressed people.
As citizens we need to roll up our sleeves and contribute our fair share to developing our country. Andela, Konga, Iroko tv are home grown brands that are meeting needs in the society and even abroad. But the real change starts in our minds. We need to take responsibility for Nigeria, we can’t relinquish the future of our nation to a small cohort we call leaders. All the same, an important step is choosing the right leaders. A visionary leader that understands that Nigeria has great prospects beyond oil. A leader that will guide us into the fourth industrial revolution. One that understands that the beginning of leadership is being a servant and one is not a leader until he focuses on the needs of the majority that he serves.
We can’t afford to make mistakes in 2019. If you think that what we are facing now is a poverty and unemployment crisis then think again. Half of the country’s population is below age 18 and if we continue to elect visionless leaders the future will be disastrous.
I know its cliché to ask you to get your PVC, and I tried to find another way to say it, but I couldn’t – get your PVC! Vote for our generation, the ones who work during the day and drive ubers at night just to make ends meet, vote for the generation in primary and secondary school who are the most gullible to codeine use but are not old enough to vote for themselves, and finally, vote for the generation that is yet unborn so that our children and grandchildren do not question their heritage.