Short Sightedness Is The Cause Of Mediocrity And Confusion In Nigeria

Top Quote Nigeria has no choice but to change or die. As a new generation of political leaders are sworn into government on 5/29/11, we must rejoice as Nigerians. However, our joy must be tempered with a call for change in the vision for Nigeria and expecially the people of Akwa Ibom State. The last 50 years have been marked by mediocrity in development and societal evolution. We Africans must save Africa. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) May 31, 2011 - The saying goes, "life is a journey, not a destination." I agree with this wise saying, especially within the context of developing a vision for our people, Akwa Ibom People and our state, Akwa Abasi Ibom State. In Akwa Ibom, the state is going through this journey of development. Our people also, along with the general population of Nigeria, are going through a societal evolution.

    Change has come to Africa as a whole and to the world in general. Colonialism and the colonial mentality that replaced it, along with the mental servitude that served it is death. (Or at least, I'm declaring it dead.) People around the globe want REAL Freedom: economic and political. Just as Obama's election and swearing in, marked a watershed in self-determination in geo-politics and the redemption of the black man world-wide, so also has the movements for freedom in Egypt and else-where in the Arab world now mark the drive for internal freedom from oppression of brother against brother. Change has come to Africa and is here to stay. Nothing will be the same again.

    This is therefore the seminal reason why we in Akwa Ibom State must develop a comprehensive vision for our people and insist on LONG SIGHTEDNESS instead of SHORTSIGHTEDNESS in the plan and delivery of governmental responsibility for societal growth and development. We as a people can no longer live the way we used to live nor believe the way we used to believe nor act the way we used to act. The development of our region and our state at the hands of many governors and the federal government over the last fifty years have been a shortsighted enterprise of quick fixes without any long term agenda that is sustainable. For example, the Calabar-Itu road (a narrow two lane death trap of a road) linked the mainland to Calabar in the 1970s. People got excited. But what has become of it in the last 35 years? Shortsightedness causes mediocrity, dependence and confusion. We must change or change will live us behind.

    This development and societal evolution is also a process that by its nature is time sensitive and time intensive. We are the generation that is blessed to bear witness to a paradigm shift in the world of money and power. Resources that were monopolized by a few have made its way to our land. We must therefore insist on and proactively help to shape the thinking of our people as attempts are executed to marshal developments on the ground and begin the next phase of a shift in how we think and how we exist as a people. Akwa Ibom today is evidence of what can be done with resources and leadership WILL - the will to talk big and the will to deliver on the big talk.

    There is no civilization that becomes what it is instantly. From the Pharaohs of Egypt, our African neighbors to the north, to Babylon and Persia (Iraq, Iran) to the East, to late comers like the Europeans(who studied) in the Egyptian mystic schools and to the great kingdoms of Sub-Saharan Africa, civilization (development) takes time. We are on the cusp of the next world civilization that is not led by Europe or the European mentality and we must take advantage of the moment. Europe no longer holds the corner on intelligence. That is in the past. We who live in the Diaspora have studied in the same schools and citadels of learning and have competed favorably in pure unfiltered academic competence. But academic success is only the beginning. Unless and until we translate academic wisdom into practical values on the ground then we are not there yet. We need courage and a collective will to plan long term to compete in this globalized society that is the 21st century.

    Development also builds on other developments and social sophistication. As society evolves in its institutions, -social, religious, technology, education, trade and most importantly in its leadership, care must be taken to properly lay the foundation on which we build the future. We, especially those in the diaspora are witness to the benefits and short comings of western "democratic" capitalism and the western mind set. Not all that is Western is good. Not all that is democratic is good. This is an illusion. Like all things, there are limits according to contexts and circumstances.

    Though we want change and development, we must not sell out our culture. We are not Europeans, nor will we ever be one. We are Africans, Nigerians, and South-Southerners. We are Akwaibomites. We have a language and a set of values that stand alone and are good. A way of life that sustained our forefathers for millennia before the Europeans came in and brought confusion and the lure of "Europeanness" -if only you could be like us, dress like us, speak English like us, eat like us, worship god like us, think like us, then you would be "civilized". An illusion. Don't we now know better? Only we can redeem ourselves by ourselves.

    The Chinese have learned from Europe but have kept their "Chineseness" and today they call their own shots. The Japanese have learned from Europe but have not lost sight of their "Japaneseness." Having perfected Western technology they took over as leaders in the field especially in electronics and automobiles. Only lately did small Japan loose its place to China as the second largest economy in the world and this within 100 years. We are still learning from Europe but in many areas we have already lost our "Africanness", our "Nigerianness" and our "Akwaibomness" to a syncretism that is neither European nor African. Often we have been sold out by our very own brothers who, acting out of narrow self-interest and shortsightedness have sacrificed the present and often the future of our birthright to foreigners for crumbs from the kings table! This has been the story in Nigeria and most of Africa for the past fifty years. And so we have suffered the worst of mediocrity in development and societal evolution. The solution is: we must create our values and also hold our leaders elected or appointed accountable!

    We need African technology homegrown in Africa by Africans. Today we can no longer blame outsiders as architects of our mediocrity. The choice is ours; we must think long term and truly invest in real development that lies with manufacturing. The raw materials from our fatherland must be turned into finished goods. Let the rest of the world pay their way to Africa and buy our finished goods. This is strategic and long term thinking. Imagine what it would cost us if all the petroleum in Nigeria were in Europe.

    The Chinese rely on their culture to drive their economics and societal development. The Japanese and the Koreans do the same. We have our culture too. It is our uniqueness that makes us special. We must tap into this and reject the colonial mentality that continues to enslave our people. We must claim our way of life and affirm it and demand it in all areas. Who are we as Nigerians really, who are we as Akwaibomites really? Are we Europeans wana-be or are we Africans?

    Today, May 29th 2011, a new government is sworn in in Nigeria and in Akwa Ibom. We must hold our leaders accountable for the common trust given to them by the people. We must maintain our "Nigerianness" and "Akwaibomness" even as we evolve a new sophistication as a society. Gone are the days when Northern Nigeria benefitted from the utter disgrace of post-independence hegemony when power and economic advantage was disproportionately arrogated to the North by the cunning British. The British had their post-independence "national interests" and so they manipulated the foundation of the nascent country Nigeria for their continued economic advantage. We are witnesses to the unjust advantage the North enjoyed for nearly fifty years since Nigeria's independence. If I may ask: what did the North ever contribute to the rest of Nigeria? Now that power has shifted, how are they behaving?

    The last election, claimed and heralded to be the best election in modern Nigeria, is a sign that change has come to Nigeria and that the Nigerian people have laid claim to their enfranchisement. Those inaugurated into office must affirm the direction of this change. The people in Nigeria and the world over are tired of being tired of empty political promises as a few continue to use government resources as personal property. Now that new cadres of young politicians who have learned from the past are in power, some are actually producing leadership and demonstrating that we as Africans have the ability and capacity to do for ourselves by ourselves and put development down on the ground.

    In this regard, and standing tall on a platform all his own, I congratulate Gov. Godswill O. Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State for his vision and leadership will and for putting a long sighted strategy into play as he shepherds the emergence of a new Akwa Ibom - This man has taken bold actions and it is so beautiful to see. I also congratulate the governor of Lagos state, Gov. Fashola who has transformed the old congested Lagos into a new metropolis, a feat many thought was impossible because of vested interests. So much can be done when those in power have the will to get it done. Every action has a price, good or bad. Last but not the least; I congratulate Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria, who under the operating and challenging circumstances of leadership in Nigeria has held his own and has emerged as a leader with a different mold. President Goodluck Jonathan is shaping up to become the Father of Modern Nigeria!

    As we watch the government in power, we can no longer be bystanders or toothless naysayers. We must stake our claim and become engaged. We must find new ways to make our contribution directly and indirectly. We the people must also exercise due patience for the long sighted plans (long term goals) to become manifest. Openness and collaboration of all sectors especially education and business is imperative- this is the secret of successful societies. Citizens of Nigeria, claim your birthright. Help change how our people think so we can help shape how they live. Talk is cheap, action is king. We must change or change will leave us behind.

    Peter Umoh teaches Philosophy and Comparative Religious Studies in the New York-Connecticut Area.
    860-478-0711 ekpikot4 ( @ ) yahoo dot com

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