by Kola Dairo Jnr
I am Nigeria, the heart of Africa – at least by virtue of my geography; a nation uniquely designed and endowed by God on account of my deposit of vast natural resources, possessing the potential for exponential growth and prosperity. I am a wealthy nation of many accolades. I am the most populous black nation on earth and the world’s largest producer of cassava; OPEC’s 2nd largest oil exporter; the 3rd largest economy in Africa; the 4th fastest growing economy in the world; the 5th largest supplier of crude to America and Western Europe; the 6th largest crude oil producer globally; the 7th most populous nation in the world; the potential 8th wonder of the world; the 9th largest producer of natural gas; and a country with the 10th largest online audience in the world.
I am Nigeria – the putative giant of Africa. Thrice, I had a vision to be an economically advanced nation – initially by 2000, then 2010 and now 2020. I built my vision on woolly thinking instead of committed action; so much that these visions have become trite and I have begun to lose faith in myself. The challenges that confront me are many. I am a rentier state, a ticking time bomb, with 54.7% of my population below the poverty line and 64.7 million youths (of which 41.6% are unemployed) not expected to live beyond 48 years. Consequently, my youths may not live to attain my present age and I am relatively young in the committee of nations!
I am Nigeria, I belong to over 250 tribes and I speak 521 languages; I have a high regard for culture and tradition; I respect my elders. I am enterprising and I possess a strong sense of self-worth. I am rugged and resilient, ready to push the boundaries of any limitation. I am an eminent scholar; a business magnate; a peace-keeping soldier; a nobel laureate; a musical genius. I am hospitable; my people possess a vibrant communal spirit and they derive strength from my diversity.
I am Nigeria, I am rich, but my people are poor. My motto reads Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress, virtues which my citizens pay lip service to. My intention at independence was for my people to live in peace, and be united towards the common goal of progress through faith in God and our capabilities. Instead, my people are united along political, tribal and religious lines often towards selfish ends. I generate my electricity, I secure my residence and I provide my own water. I am a militant, an internet scammer, a materialist, a graduate willing to work but without a job. I am who I am because my leaders are not who they are required to be.
I am a voice in my generation of 64.7 million youths craving for a paradigm shift. I am not just a ‘leader of tomorrow’; I am today’s future, I am today’s leader. I choose to harness my strengths rather than dwell on my weaknesses. I am a problem solver; Nigeria’s problems are my opportunity. She may seem hopeless, but she is not beyond redemption; her condition is acute but not without a solution. I am an active advocate of Nigeria’s potential for greatness not a passive stakeholder. Change begins with me. God bless Nigeria!
Kola Dairo Jnr is a project finance specialist and writes from Tunis. He blogs at www.koladairojnr.com