Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hi All,

A guest blogger is filling my spot today. Enjoy and drop your comments..

It is a well-known fact that there are seven days in a week. At least that’s what the scientists have so skillfully convinced us of after carefully planned experiments and observations. This particular week is supposed to be special to Nigerians just because of one of its days – Tuesday May 29. On the 29th of May every year, Nigerians mark the glorious return of the country to democratic rule after spending a better part of more than a quarter of a century under military dictatorship. Talking to a number of individuals though, one has the feeling that the major excitement that Tuesday was around the corner is not because of our so-called fledgling and much-cherished democracy that has stubbornly refused to come of age but simply because it was a public holiday – Shikena!! Now the question begging for an answer is ‘Why’??

Charles Dickens, that brilliant English author, gave the world a classic novel which he named ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and the memories I have of that book when I read it as a boy was that of enraged French ‘masses’ sending people to an untimely death at the teeth of the horrendous guillotine and different plots and counter-plots spiced up with betrayals and loyalty issues. However, in this case we shall speak of ‘A Tale of One Country’ with the actors, stage and background set in our beloved Nigeria.

Different fora ranging from social to electronic to print media are already brimming with the disappointment people are feeling as the present administration ‘celebrates’ one year in office and deservedly so. Expectations were high! The election jingo by the ruling party was electrifying and appealing! Numerous promises were made! But alas, this chapter in our book ‘A Tale of One Country’ started with so much fanfare but the subsequent pages are full of horror and unfulfilled promises. However, I shall not list the numerous problems we have as a country or try to proffer sanctimonious solutions to the ‘very obvious’ issues. I shall speak of just one thing – THE NIGERIAN PEOPLE.

Everybody talks about ‘The American Dream’. The kid on the streets of India, Colombia, Sudan and of course Nigeria believes that there is something worth risking his or her life for in the quest to cross the borders into America.  ‘There has to be something special there’, they say. ‘The movies project a certain image of the country and everyone that goes there always seems to come back better than they left’. But in reality this is plainly because of what the US has to offer as a nation. They have a product and they have branded it excellently. You cannot miss it. You must buy it whether you like it or not. The Americans are very hardworking people and the freedom they enjoy today has come at a very steep price. But they are willing to pay the price and enhance their selling point. This is where Nigeria comes in.

As a people, we do not need 7-point agendas (‘I-Go-Dye’ actually believes we need just one and he has a valid point), we definitely do not need Vision 2010s or 2020s. We need a product and a unique selling point! What do we have to offer the global world as a people? That is the question to which we must find an answer to if we will gain any form of relevance and we need to answer this question both on an individual and national level. This goes beyond exporting crude oil or other agricultural products. It also goes beyond globe-trotting with the intention of creating an image of Nigeria to ‘would-be’ investors. This is about our character as a people and it has to start from within. We need to re-define our values and know what we stand for. It sounds laughable but the average person outside this country knows little or nothing about us asides from the fact that we are situated in Africa. A colleague of mine from a South American country actually asked me if there were lions in Lagos! You could imagine my mind’s response.
As we start the second year of this administration we need to start asking the right questions. It is not just about constant electricity, good roads and others. We need a bigger agenda as a people. That is the only way I think we can make any meaningful impact as a nation. Happy Democracy Day in arrears and cheers as we open a new chapter in our book - ‘A Tale of One Country’.

Taiwo Omotoso

1 comment:

  1. Unique selling points and bright ideas begin with a desire for excellence. A refusal to settle for mediocrity. In Nigeria, mediocrity is exalted and as long as this is the case, we'll never have any USP or brand (except for the usual negative stereotypes). Maybe if we can move beyond just trying to survive,maybe bright ideas will start springing up.