Nigeria’s Four Possible Futures

In 2007, I had the honour of joining the Archbishop Desmond Tutu African Leadership Fellowship. The excellent Fellowship program is managed by the African Leadership Institute, and now boasts of Fellows who play key roles in various sectors of the African economy – including Nigeria. For me, one of the (many) best sessions, during the program, was Scenario Planning. We looked into the crystal ball based on past events, current trends, future possibilities and our planned input. The result of the various group Scenario Planning sessions stayed with me, but allow me to talk about Africa some other time.

When I returned to Nigeria after the twin sessions, and learnt about the scenario planning exercise completed by the African Leadership Institute in partnership with LEAP Africa, I was excited! I loved what I saw in the scenarios: Parambulator, Shine Your Eye, Jaga Jaga Republic and We Don Win. Graphic and almost prophetic (as they now appear), the scenarios paint a clear picture of Nigeria’s four possible futures. The great thing about the future is that it can be largely influenced by your present-day actions, even if there are dark spots from the past. For Nigeria, I had hoped that our natural choice was the We Don Win scenario, and I have been doing my little bit – as have millions of other Nigerians – to make that happen.

You can read more about the Nigeria 2025 Scenario Planning project (overview, objectives, expected outputs, methodology and institutional structure) on the ALI website, but let me mention that the members of the Advisory Board, at the time, were Engr. Mansur Ahmed (Chair), Ms. Morin Desalu (Deputy Chair), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Mr. Frank Nweke Jr., Dr. Adhiambo Odaga, Mr. Eamon Cassidy, Fr Mathew Kukah, Ms. Ifueko Omogui, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, Prof. Pat Utomi, and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili. I searched for the project website so I could reference the videos but it’s now offline. However, I found the videos on Youtube, and you can watch all the 6 short videos (4 scenarios, introduction and conclusion) below.

When you’re through, you’ll know for sure where we are currently headed. Don’t forget, an object will continue in a state of rest, or constant uniform motion, unless otherwise acted upon by a force. I think the ongoing set of peaceful, unbelievably unifying, surprisingly action-based and increasingly focused #OccupyNigeria protests provide an opportunity to use the Nigerian reset button. The future I desire for the 2 children Temi and I will raise is much more like We Don Win, where citizens can trust government even when life happens, but let me avoid spoilers. Watch, and tell me if you’re not motivated to join the peaceful protests that were triggered by the ill-advised (and now terribly managed) removal of fuel subsidy on January 1, 2012.

The issues are bigger than subsidy (or deregulation as Abuja now suddenly prefers), it is an opportune moment in Nigeria’s history when all stakeholders can work towards the Nigeria of our dreams. In a democracy, the people matter, and the people are now saying that it’s time to cut government waste, fight corruption and improve the quality of governance, before toying with the only delicate chord that represents the nearly non-existent citizen-government social contract. This is the message I have heard ringing through the various social media reports from the #OccupyNigeria protests across Nigeria, and it’s time for Abuja to lead by example by hitting the reset button first. The best future can only come with huge respect for people power!

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