The story of Nigeria and the developed world, and why we’re 100 years behind them

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Let me quickly talk about Dubai. 60 years ago, Dubai wasn’t on the map of the world as we have it today, nor was it anywhere close to the top of the global scheme of things. Dubai meant next to nothing to tourists, there was no business to attract investors, and the people were just there being busy subsisting on fishing (being a coastal area) and other activities befitting of rural dwellers and a grossly underdeveloped populace. And then she struck oil in 1966 – exactly 10 years after Nigeria’s 1956 discovery of large reservoir of the liquid black gold in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State – and got started on oil exploration. Now, this is what the Ruler of Dubai did differently. He inquired from experts how long Dubai’s oil boom was going to last, and they furnished him with the projections. And guess what he did? He decided to principally use the huge cash raining into state coffers to transform Dubai, put her on the map, and provide her with a plethora of alternatives, especially the tourism option. Of course, you know the present story of Dubai better than I do. Do the math, from 1969, when Dubai’s oil exportation started, to date is how long? It was already done in less than 50 years; they’re only dotting their ‘Is’ and crossing their ‘Ts’ now.

Israel is worth talking about, too. Remember that aside the records we have in the Bible chronicling the lives and times of ancient Israelites, there was no geographical enclave in the new world order called Israel, not until it was created by the United Nations in 1948. And so, in 1948 an empty parcel of land was curved out from some of the countries of the Middle East and allocated to the Jews. Of course, with recourse to Israel’s ancient landmarks. Then they started from the very scratch on the project of building the Israel we know today, a global force to reckon with. However, the Israel we know today isn’t the ‘direct’ handiwork of the El Shaddai. No, it took one stroke of genius from the Prime Minister to change everything for good forever for Israel. What was it that he did? Just one educational policy: everybody must get an education. And he saw to it that a parent who didn’t have his/her child in school must be in prison. To merely say that education is compulsory in Israel is to say it lightly; it is indeed way too compulsory.

The United States of America, unarguably the very first country of the planet, is not left out. It is so easy to be carried away by her military might and profound influence on the global economic and political scheme of things and forget that the New World that Christopher Columbus discovered was a very crude place that only brimmed with potentials. The West Indies that occupied that land were just there; there was particularly no looks in their faces that would have attracted a foreigner. Even at that the arrival of the earliest set of immigrants to this Land of Opportunities, the place remained largely the same until a new spirit was created for them, the American Spirit, which also came with the American Dream. Till date, every American has the American Spirit as a constituent of their DNA; you just know an American when you see one. And they are all preoccupied with the task of realizing the American Dream. Let’s name them: the American Spirit or philosophy is Pragmatism, and the American Dream is Equality.

Let me not forget Germany. If Adolf Hitler never existed in German history, then Germany would have far outpaced America in the race of development and the pursuit of excellence. Hitler, as it were, raised them up to the very peak and crashed them down to the bottom. I beg to leave out an in-depth analysis. However, the point in question is that the philosophy of the likes of Hegel, Nietzsche, Feuerbach, Kant, especially Hegel’s concept of Absolute Spirit, and its activities in human history, created a formidable national consciousness in the people, a consciousness of excellence and the pursuit of bestness.

Then Nigeria. We’re already pretty familiar with the status quo. And why I started-off with the story developed folks and how they did it is to help us juxtapose, to do a side-by-side placement of Nigeria and the rest of the developed world. This placement, if well and sincerely done, will automatically reveal that we’re at least a century, 100 years, or even more, behind real-time development. Don’t get it twisted. I’m a patriotic Nigerian; I love Nigeria more than you know. And it is this very love for Nigeria that got my eyes on other people’s businesses, which got me contemplating the reason for our underdevelopment and digging into the source of their development.

And you must believe me when I say I’m well travelled – Nigerian travels, I mean. I was born and bred in the Ogoja-axis of Cross River State, and while there got to visit close to all its 18 local government areas. Now let me gist you. I left CRS in 2008 for university in Enugu State where I come from, and whenever I mention to my friends that I was coming over from CRS, they would quickly begin to think I lived in Calabar, not knowing that I visited Calabar just once all my stay there and lived more than 5hrs drive away from Calabar. You can trust that Calabar is one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria, but be rest assured that Calabar is just a small portion of CRS and is in no way representative of the entire state’s development experience. I also know that Port Harcourt, the Garden City, is in no way representative of the Rivers State development experience. I know that Lagos Mainland is a far cry from Lagos Island, for which Lagos can’t be said to be authentically developed. Abuja is the same. My Enugu State is the same. And suffer me not to talk about the Middle East, North and Far North.

And so, you can already see that basing Nigeria’s development story on what happens on Lagos Island, Abuja Municipal, Enugu Urban, Port Harcourt City, Kano, and what have you is to falsely engage the Nigerian story. The one distinguishing feature that runs through the Dubai, Israel, America and Germany stories is vision. And where there is no vision, the people perish. That’s where we are.

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