By Sunny Ikhioya
There is a video currently circulating of young people attacking banks somewhere in Enugu State. Upon digging deeper, it was discovered that the video was one of many recorded during the EndSARS protest, but is now being recycled as current.
Watch the video to put any good-hearted Nigerian on red alert. The question is: are our leaders watching this? A country that cannot educate and feed its youth is a time bomb. What do we do about it? It is the shame of our country, of a society whose people have been deeply degraded to the point of losing their essence.
It is two days before our 61st anniversary of independence; how did we do it? The simple truth is that we are doing very badly; it’s up to us to collectively think about solutions. So far, we’ve taken the easy way out, and it’s plunging us even deeper into the abyss. People who can afford it are busy sending their children abroad for further education and greener pastures.
We add to the human capital wealth of other nations, while ours remains depleted. What will happen to this country if we all decide to stay and face the challenges together?
What happens if the president, ministers, members of the National Assembly, state governors, lawmakers and others decide to have their children compulsory in Nigeria? What will happen if we all collectively decide to use only public electricity, regardless of our positions in society?
What will happen if we all decide that we should only use gasoline refined from crude oil here in Nigeria and ban imported petroleum products? What will happen if we refrain from consuming avoidable imported conspicuous consumables that add no value to our collective well-being?
What if our beverage production depends on the cocoa and tea plants harvested in Nigeria? What will happen if our textile products have to depend on local raw materials? Does anyone think about this?
What will happen if our engineers and researchers in all disciplines are challenged to deliver results? Some would say that all of this is in the realm of the impossible. At first we may encounter strong resistance, especially from people who already benefit from the old ways of doing things.
It might be tough and tough, but no more than we will face if we don’t rethink our strategies. In the long run, if we stay focused, the whole country will benefit. Pain will come before profit and our future; in fact, that of future generations will be guaranteed.
We will not be the first to try this method because we have seen the examples of India and China, two countries now very technologically advanced, competing favorably with the countries of the first world. The question, however, will be how to overcome the obstacles of the saboteurs?
A wise man once said that “examples are the best teachers”; people follow the example of their leaders, because you cannot preach prudence in spending and at the same time be engaged in conspicuous consumption.
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You can’t preach unity and make it sound like you’re handing out very parochial management nuggets. You need to get it right with your examples, and followers need to see clearly that they are right. Our educational institutions are not functioning properly because the children of our leaders no longer attend public schools.
I was with one of our best teachers a few days ago and was surprised to learn that her child is attending a private university; it was very difficult to understand. If we all agree to send the children of all public servants to public schools, something will be done to change the deplorable state of public schools very quickly.
The same is happening in the electricity sector. Even in the presidency, money is budgeted for the maintenance of diesel and generators. If we have set up functioning public electricity production, this will not be necessary.
A government secretariat had to cease dealing with the public for an entire week due to a power outage. Imagine, a whole week: no work done. If the same experience is felt at the presidential and ministerial levels, officials will find a way to make it work.
People do wonders when they have to. Let’s challenge our engineers, technicians and tradespeople. It has been proven that the intellectual capacity of man is not related to race, ethnicity and religion but, given the perfect environment and challenge, anything can be done by man.
What we need the government to do now is create an enabling environment that will allow these things to happen. Moreover, it is also well known that Nigerians in the diaspora are as successful as their counterparts in developed countries.
COVID-19 vaccines: Astrazeneca, Morderna, Pfizer- have the contribution of no less than two Nigerians. When we talk about an enabling environment, we mean the ingraining of merit into the system and the funding of research.
Our universities must be made to function like their counterparts abroad and should be the foundation for development research. It’s going to take a good chunk of our budget, but the end result will be good for everyone. We are in the age of technology and only a good education system will guarantee our effective participation.
University unions must be courted in the whole scheme of things; government and unions must work together to get results. When researchers make inroads, there are opportunities for job creation; therefore the government must start to open training centers, more vocational training; not everyone can be in college; people can pursue other endeavors while achieving the same goals in life.
We must reopen closed workshops and training centers for civil, electrical and mechanical works. We must open laboratory centers for laboratory technicians and the training of craftsmen; people who will later become useful to society.
We must open agricultural training centers that will allow us to maximize the value chain in the agricultural sector and not least. We must reinculcate the spirit of true federalism and healthy competition between the peoples and the independent states of the country.
I always believed these things were possible, but leadership has to be right. It is not too late for the government to begin the process of building a viable future for our young people and future generations. They say “our strength lies in diversity”, but it must be done in a free and fair manner, with the requisite political will.
Ikhioya wrote via www.southsouthecho.com