In Pursuit of a Prosperous Future for Africa

The myriad of natural resources has been more of a curse to most African countries rather than the blessing it should normally bring. I am particularly afraid for the generations that are coming especially when we remember that Africa’s population could rise to about 2 Billion by 2050. Only six of the African economies are growing at more than 7% per annum. Unemployment is rife and will be worse as it is predicted that more than 75% of the 2 Billion in 2050 will be less than 30 years.

I am not trying to be a prophet of doom but this is my attempt at waking us up from a collective slumber. We tend to have an idea of the problems but most haven’t really thought of what would happen in a number of years. We all have a responsibility to preserve this continent starting from individual countries. An army of unemployed and irritated youth is a peril to any country and that is where we are heading unless we take heed of the warning signs.

We can all start doing something. Right from our little spheres of influence, we must be role models in whatever we do. I don’t believe that Nigerians have rogue DNAs in their genes. It is a matter of personal choice and no man is born corrupt – the environments, values, etc seep into our consciousness to turn us into the adults we become today.
Why not make decisions to raise your kids with good values and not just your biological children but any child that is close to you. That is something we have lost in this country. We can also do things right in our businesses and employments. There is a dearth of good men and women who will not participate in fraud. Those are the kind of people who will preserve this country and the African continent as a whole.

“People Deserve The Government They Get” – Henry Ford. I totally agree with that quote and that is one of the biggest problems we have on the continent. Greg Mills, a South African writer opined in his book – ‘Why Africa is Poor’ that the reason for our poverty is tied to leadership. Our leaders choose poverty for the continent whilst they continue enriching themselves, their close friends and families. Isn’t that what is happening in most African countries? The irony of the whole charade is that we keep allowing these people back in government at every election. If we really can look into what the future holds, we will be more concerned for our children and their children.

A wise man once said that we did not inherit the present from our parents but we have borrowed the future from our own children. That means that whatever problems we have today is a direct consequence of our parents’ inability to leave to us a great country. We are also in the process of doing same to our children. How sweet would it be if the Green passport becomes a thing of pride in the future? For those who have foreign passports – even the appeal of an English sounding name won’t eliminate that very Nigerian surname.

So for you my friends who have decided to face your business, enrich your own family (What is wealth?), send your kids to good schools, build a big house where they will be safe, etc and not bother about the whole country or its descent to abyss – I have news for you. When countries fall into anarchy – all and sundry are affected. In fact history tells us that those perceived to have a level of comfort are attacked. The French revolution of the 18th century lends credence to this theory. One of the most popular tagline of the fuel subsidy protests still remain vivid in my imagination – “One day, the poor will have nothing to eat but the rich”.
Let me stop beating about the bush. Let me state my demands to every concerned citizen.

1. Be a good role model. Men and women of integrity who have the interests of our dear country at heart.
2. Join a political party. YES. And if you feel all of them are corrupt, start talking to friends to start one. Aren’t we tired of leaving nitwits and dimwits to rule us. We cannot let the worst of us continue to rule the best of us and expect any miracle. If we don’t change this mentality – Nigeria and most African countries will remain in this same squalor and even worse in a few years.
3. When we get into leadership positions – we must not be like others who change in the midst of plenty. The reason people don’t trust politicians are their ability to metamorphose into monsters after election.
4. In your present capacity as a mother, father, uncle, aunt, etc – educate people about the need for a better Nigeria. A Nigeria where prosperity reigns. People have to change their perceptions about legacies.
5. For those who will never contest elective positions – you can be a constructive critic. Criticisms aren’t necessarily a bad thing if is factual and comes with solutions. We need to put pressure on government and put them to task. Nigerians are getting better in this regards with some very good initiatives aimed at monitoring government excesses. We need more of these. Now, we have more understanding of budgets and there are people monitoring expenditures. It is a good start and a trend that must continue.

Above all, Africans must stop blaming others for their problems. We need to start looking inwards and provide solutions for our many challenges. Many of the countries on the African continents are already celebrating 50 years of independence but still choose to remain in the shadow of colonialism which is still haunting them in the spirit of neo-colonialism. We should remember that countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and other Asian economies went through similar or even worse experiences with colonialists and today they have put the past behind and embraced the future.

I agree that the objective of neo-colonialism is to ensure that Africa’s resources must continue developing some western economies but we have a choice to change that. Some countries in other continents have totally changed their destinies- Africa has no excuse to remain in the past. It is time to wake up and it starts with me and you. I am addressing Nigeria and Africa collectively as I have realized that a truly prosperous continent serves better purpose than a pocket of model countries.