By Nneka Okumazie
Nigeria is stuck in underdevelopment because of lack of great ideas. People often think corruption, leadership, or other factors. NO! It is lack of great ideas.
All the problems Nigeria has outsizes all the ideas and project, presented and developed as solutions. Nigeria is not bustling with ideas or serious projects at major problems.
There are challenges Nigeria has that many have concluded as unsolvable. So no one touches or speaks seriously about them.
What Nigeria has in abundance are vague ideas, simplistic crosslinking of do this, get that. Ideas to solve Nigeria’s problems are so cheap that they are almost always discussed informally, in the most inappropriate places.
Usually, for a country to develop there has to be a structured idea-test-revision-deployment system – at several centres focused on solutions to problems. They generate proposals internally, or request for them, they select, do studies, get findings, modify their initial path, and publish – something relatable.
Assuming Nigeria had this, there would have been so many great [workable, sustainable, affordable] project implementations against power outages, corruption, poverty, unemployment, grim public health, unsafe roads, traffic congestion, poor infrastructure, hunger, insecurity, dismal intergenerational economic mobility, etc.
Rather, Nigeria has complains, insults, first-rate blame game, showoffs, etc. and many seem comfortable, when great at those.
Government has who and what to blame, the private sector has who and what to blame, universities have who and what to blame, etc.
The best thing any government would have done was to embolden a great idea system – funding centres across the country – focused on issues that have plagued Nigeria for years. But government seems uninterested.
The private sector could have also taken this up, as part of their giving back to society, to either fund potent studies on solutions, or fund centres, or carry out some themselves, but nothing as well.
So things that were bad continue to get worse. Opportunities in the past that would have met preparation – so that progress can happen, were lost.
And leadership is recycled. Many who proposed new leadership, for development, often attack some who try, because they think they don’t stand a chance, but how does change happen without a try?
One of the worst attacks against Presidential aspirant, Oby Ezekwesili, is that she stands no chance, so she shouldn’t try. This
assumption is often from those in the vague ideas class, who offer nothing new, or valuable.
She, as a fierce activist, took on a campaign for several abducted girls and was often excited as some got out. She stuck out her neck, kept the spotlight on the issue, during an administration of the same political party, as the one which she served.
She could have used the previous election as an opportunity to join the opposition, run, or join forces with that administration. But she didn’t. Her political candidacy came up at a time her activism cooled. She isn’t running on that pedestal.
She’s arguably the best candidate that would make Nigeria a society of great progress, with failure-resistant ideas, studies and project against challenges. She would be that inspiring leader to nudge the public and private sectors towards making useful, measurable development in major problem areas.
Her administration would make lots of inconvenient policies and projects for advancement. Often times, government projects are convenient ones: projects that aren’t – much of – a burden on the Nigerian-factor system.
Rail lines are necessary infrastructure, and many more are needed. But some of the recently launched ones are part of the convenient projects that government did – that also serves the ‘doing’ optics.
Telecommunication licenses at the time could also be categorized as convenient projects – important and useful – for civilization but, convenient. There are countable projects across states, local and federal governments, in any term, that were inconvenient to that government: projects with massive benefit and completeness [as solved] for the people and place.
Ezekwesili is likely to be the leader who encourages democratization of great ideas – to allow them to root out problems.
Yes, technology can improve accountability and transparency against corruption, but just saying technology as a solution to corruption, in Nigeria, is ambiguous.
There are other necessary checks, and there are several people who may know what great ideas to propose, or implement, based on their perspective, how they are inspired, or their experience.
All of these would be published, and tested at one local government, or state government, or wherever. All state governments cannot be equally unyielding at the same time.
This is probably how Nigeria can make progress: a process that starts with very little capital, but powerful enough for change and momentum.
Some can say, but she can do whatever she wants to do without being the President, OK. But why can’t she run – if there’s an election – especially when Presidency is a better place to make things happen?
Some people have said that it is waste of vote, because she can’t win, since she’s not known by people who are not educated. OK. But, what if majority of educated people voted for her? What if all the educated people would tell those they know are not educated that there is a passionate candidate for development you could vote for? What if women decided that it is time to put a woman at the helm?
Assuming educated people voted for her, and somehow she didn’t get all the required votes, her bloc of ideas supporters could be forceful enough to make whoever emerges be more accountable. They could also become a force for change, from without. But people have to – first – vote for her, to win.
Yes, there’s a management consultant, a star journalist, and a finance expert, running. They have the right to try, and they all stand a chance, regardless of what it seems or whatever anyone thinks. But Ezekwesili is the contiguous warrior, never for self. She’s far likelier to prioritize development than any of the current candidates.
She’s also likely to find solutions to issues that are not mainstream underdevelopment problems, especially on women issues. The abundance of direct and indirect prostitution is alarming, no solution or great idea in sight. A Madam President would be able to find ways to taper both.
The backwardness of Nigeria is so painful. The hopelessness is so pathetic. There is supposed to be a rush to finding solutions, instead everyone seems distracted.
There are so many Nigerians stranded – and in tough situations – abroad. It is not that for many of them there is a direct hurt if they returned home, but the hopelessness induces so much fear, they would rather stay there, stay crushed than come home. This too is a problem.
So while there are all these major sector problems, there are quiet problems affecting people that great ideas could solve.
No wonder Churches are abundant in Nigeria, because the true ones are like Hope Hospitals, or Hope Therapy Clinics, so that people can find a reason to look forward to life, against all the emptiness, uncertainty and problems – sometimes – before them. And yes, it is not the Church that causes poverty.
Income, purchasing power [of that income], and conditions of living are responsible for poverty in Nigeria. There could have been studies on how to improve the conditions of living in certain houses with tens of individuals sharing bathrooms. There could have been studies on how to grow income, etc.
Maybe Ezekwesili would become the next president of Nigeria, maybe not. But she is the best right now, to change Nigeria for good – a status the country desperately needs, because the cracks are abundant, and it is time they stopped. Because of her ideas, her passion for great ideas, her energy, her experience, her achievements, her integrity, her relentlessness and selflessness, it is very important to consider to support her candidacy and to cast the vote for her.
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