Its 7:07 am and I have been reading for about one hour. The content of my intellectual journey is not far from the purpose — the purpose being my thoughts on how to move Nigeria from its present state to that New platform that visits my dream, thoughts and moments.
A few days ago, another person asked me to run: “my advice to you is to run! Leave that hopeless country while you can. Run like a hare”, he said. My respons was swift, calculated and deliberate. It wasn’t aimed at joining issues with a senior colleague, but coined to assure my fellow sojourners in the Nigerian space (today’s youth) that only the faint-hearted givs up when its darkest — for the break of dawn comes just after the thickest darkness of the night. My response? Hear:
Thanks sir, but I won’t run (and I smile everytime I hear that — very often nowadays). But I will be glad to tell the story to all that care to listen when things get better. We wll even publish books with such titles like,”The Nigerian Miracle”; “Great Things Out of Nigeria”; “The NIGERIA Story” (seen “The Google Story”?); etc, etc. My only fear is that those who give up now will only “hear” the story, but those who stick their necks out to get the job done — though will have to make sacrifices, but — will be able to “tell” the story. I find out that the more I get involved with fixing (in every little way) the future of this beloved nation, the better I develop critical skills that may soon become helpful when we need to apply the same solutions to other developing nations.
In a few years (and that may be 20 or more, or even less), other people will come asking about how we did it… simply because there’s a new generation that is tired of the questions, “What did you do with all your skills, such that your nation is still the way it is?”, “Daddy, is it true that we were born in Nigeria, can we go back home soon?”, etc, etc. Finally, the reason I can’t run is that the little history I have read shows that the nations that I could have run to have all experienced transition — some were ven termed hopeless. A few years ago, “Taiwan” label on any product meant “inferior”, “China” meant “cheap — and maybe fake”… I suspect that just the same way that China makes even US corporations reconsider their African investments today, “Okrika” will soon mean “top quality”, and wise corporations will outsource to the that nation so close to the cetre of Africa, called Nigeria.
NB: By the way, some Chinese guys just moved in on my street, and a few of my friends spoke of Chinese and other nationals looking for houses in their area. If these guys keep rushing into Nigeria everyday, shouldn’t we reconsider this “run away” idea? A lizard in Nigeria can not become an alligator in a “run-away” land… from this place, we will tell the world the story of moving from “impossible” to “exemplary”.
Interesting. Just read that again myself and I am much-the-more convinced that the New Nigeria is only a matter of time, people and capacity. The timing is now, but the time of realisation will be determined by the people — whose ability would be decided by their capacity. To solve my bit of the puzzle, the next five years have been dedicated to academic/research capacity building; as aptly described in the document I titled, “My Life: ‘Gbenga Sesan” (borrowing from you-know-who). That documents takes over from my 2000 5-year plan to describe what my next 20 years could look like. That explains why I am so convinced that the task of rebuilding Nigeria may hover around that time-span. Put pen to paper, draw up your own plans and you can be sure that a weaving of our diverse efforts will lead to the destination called New Nigeria!
Back to my earlier reference to the early morning intellectual journey. The content happens to be the writings of a man I’ve come to know as a tall citizen of the world, and proud son of Africa (beyond his 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature). Prof. Wole Soyinka neds no introduction, and hardly can any additional praise of the man change the volumes that have been written about him. In one of the happenings that many may call luck, he was there on the 16th of January 2002 as Special Guest, and to hand me the plaque for the I. T. Youth Ambassador award. Incidentally, I stumbled on his January 11, 2002 funeral oration for his friend (and our departed statesman, Chief Bola Ige,) titled Ajibola Ige – An Ecumenical Spirit. In the oration, he concluded: “… they killed a builder, a pathfinder through the labyrinths of man-made divisiveness. But they cannot kill hope, nor can they extinguish the conviction and a faith in the future that burns within our hearts.” I could only sigh after reading the entire oration (having read some other speeches delivered by this phenomenon, including Lessons From Uncle Sam’s Debacle, Redesigning a Nation and The Deceptive Silence of Stole Voices.
At the investiture (that held at the MUSON Centre only 5 days after Prof. Soyinka attended his friend’s burial ceremony), I read a poem I had written around the national tragedy of Uncle Bola‘s assassination. It follows:
Brightness is gone
Darkness has swept inâ€¦
Pain is tickling the people
And tears stroll down their faces.
A son is gone
The sun is downâ€¦
But many more are being assassinated
Yet without bullets or weapons.
Bubbling with enough zeal for two
Young men and women grow with dreams
Of building the nation
And making it an enviable country.
Butâ€¦ as soon as the dream sets
The unknown strikes
Minds are assassinatedâ€¦
Dreams are aborted.
They lay with hopes dashed
And their dreams changedâ€¦
The vicious cycle continues
And intellectual assassination persists.
When will the sun rise again
Over this nation, our nation?
When will corporate existence
Replace selfish interests?
When will our greatest resources
Cease to manifest beyond our shores?
And the labours of our heroes pastâ€¦
Shall they be in vain?
Arise, O compatriots
Nigeria’s call obeyâ€¦
While the God of creation
Guides our leaders and helps our youths!
Gather your writing materials, equip yourself, its time for the next chapter of The NIGERIA Story — the chapter that is aptly titled, “Personal Development”. This chapter speaks of deliberate capacity building, and calculated positioning for the days ahead.