Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nigeria's Problem Is Leadership!

Senior Pastor, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), Matthew Ashimolowo could not have said it better. Please, read excerpt from his interview by DANIEL KANU.

The biggest problem is leadership. Unfortunately the Constitution, the birthing of Nigeria, the method of managing Nigeria, have already created a problem. Nigeria is like a package being delivered by DHL, but that package was damaged on delivery because so many tribes and people who have practically no cultural, traditional, spiritual, social similarity were amalgamated. They have been trying their best since 1914, but the challenge is there and enormous. They have not been able to create a system that evolves good leaders. Nigeria is suffering from leadership. In mineral resources, we are one of the wealthiest in the world; we are the second largest deposit of natural gas, we have the seventh largest deposit of petroleum. In human resources, Nigeria is one of the wealthiest in the world; the number of graduates in Nigeria is unbelievable. Nigerians have overwhelmed university system in Ghana, Britain, and they have the passion to read. Go to the rest of Africa, most Blacks don’t want to read. But here, young people are eager; they are fired up. We need leaders who have certain qualities. Two things are needed: credible, capable (leaders). Many of the people we have seen, some may seem credible in our society but they don’t seem to have the capability. Some who seem to have capability have credibility problem. So we are facing a dilemma. The day we find leaders who combine credibility with capability then we are on our way to succeeding as a country.

What do you think should be the agenda for Jonathan?
All men will be remembered either for the problem they caused or the ones they solved. It is my opinion that he should be a man of awesome leadership who has his heads in the clouds and his feet on ground – his heads in the clouds to be able to see greater dreams; his feet on the ground to be able to fulfil those dreams. Of all the needs confronting Nigeria, if I were Jonathan, I would focus two major things, one of which is energy. By energy, I mean electricity. If you solve the power problem, foreign direct investment will come in and Nigerians will be able to function. The amount of money wasted on diesel would be cut down. Power needs to be resolved and let him bring in major players. Let him tell them: I only have 14 months and I want to bequeath this nation energy. I have travelled widely. Even within Africa, there is no power cut. In Ghana, if there will be any, they will announce it, you could be there weeks and the light will not blink. Solving the power problem will create what in leadership principle is called the corridor principle. If you want to go through a corridor, once you open the first major door, other doors will begin to open. If the power problem is solved, industries will reopen, factories will start to work, prices will go down, other problems will be resolved, and more people will be hired. People are already hearing all over the world that Nigeria is one of the best places to invest, so you will be able to attract them. The second major area is security. The nation is insecure; people are just so afraid; armed robbers have a field day, and they kill at random. You can’t drive on Nigerian motorway during the day, not even at night, without being afraid that there will be armed robbers on the way.

Let me use an acronym LEAP for the kind of leadership that Jonathan should give us in 14 months. LEAP: L for leading. Let him not be afraid that some cabal, some oligarchy, may want to derail his government. Let him lead with confidence. The E stands for either equipping or empowering. Nigerians need to be empowered. The A stands for aligning. We are a nation of diverse opinions, visions and dreams; so he should not allow one geo-political location make noise and say they are the only ones. He should not be ashamed to help Niger Delta because he comes from there; the need is awesome. He should not be afraid to help the North because although a good number of people from the North have been in power but the educational level there is very poor. He should not be afraid to get involved in Yoruba land because that Obasanjo was once the President does not mean that he really helped Yoruba land. He should not be afraid to help the (South) East. We know great entrepreneurs come from the East; industrialists, people who can dream, people who can replicate technology. Then the P is for perseverance. He should know that leadership is tough, he should persevere and keep his focus, and he will do well.

What should Nigeria do to encourage Blacks in the Diaspora to think home?
Number one, solve the energy problem; number two, solve the security problem, number three create an enabling environment. Do you know that if you want to register a company in the United Kingdom, it takes five minutes online? In the United States, if you walk into a business office, you do it in seven minutes. If you want to register a company in Nigeria, there are 14 processes; each one of them horrendous. So create an enabling environment, a secured society. It is a complete contradiction, an anachronism, that a society like London and other great cities of the world that are so bereft of spirituality are more secured than our own where all of us are in church and mosque everyday.

You could not have said it better Pastor Ashimolowo. See Nigerian's Problem Is Leadership, for the interview in its entirety.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dear Mr President,

My name is Nigeria!

I need Re-Building and not Re-Branding.

I am Nigeria!! I am divided into 36 unequal states, plus my capital territory, christened ABUJA. I have millions of acres of arable land and billions of cubic litres of water, but I cannot feed myself. So I spend $1 billion to import rice and another $2 billion to import milk. I produce rice, but don't eat it. I have 60 million cattle but no milk. I have the capacity to feed the whole of Africa but I import most food instead.

I am hungry, please help and re-brand me.

I drive the latest car in the world but have no roads, neither can I boast of
manufacturing a bicycle's tyre. I lose family and friends everyday on my roads for which funds have been allocated to build and rehabilitate but the fund has been looted. I lose my young, my old, and my most brainy and productive people to the potholes, craters and crevasses they travel on everyday.

I am in permanent mourning, please re-brand me.

My school has no teacher and my classroom has no roof. I take lecture notes through the window and live with 15 others in a single room. All my professors have gone abroad, some of the rest are awaiting visas. Those that remain, depend on money raked from the sales of hand-outs to students.

My students receive lectures for a maximum of 3 months in a year due to lecturers' strike or students' boycott of lectures because of lack of better condition of service and deplorable condition on campus. That explains why I have university graduates, who are semi- illiterates.

I want a future, please re-brand me.

Malaria, typhoid and many other preventable diseases send me to hospitals which have no doctors, no medicines and no electric power. So my wife gives birth by candle light and surgery is performed by quacks. All the nurses have gone abroad and the rest are also waiting to go. I have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world and future generations are dying before me.

I am hopeless, hapless and helpless, please re-brand me.

I wanted change so I stood all day long to cast my vote. But even before I could vote, the results had been announced. When I dared to speak out, silence was enthroned by bullets. My rulers are my oppressors, and my policemen are my terrors. I am ruled by men in mufti, but I am not a democracy.

I have no verve, no vote, no voice, please re-brand me.

I have over 50 million youths with no jobs, no present and no future. So my sons in the North have become street urchins and their brothers in the South have become militants. My nephews die of thirst in the Sahara and their cousins drown in the waters of the Mediterranean . My daughters walk the streets of Lagos , Abuja and Port Harcourt, while their sisters parade the streets of Rome and Amsterdam .

I am inconsolable, please re-brand me.

My people cannot sleep at night and cannot relax by day. They cannot use ATM
machines, nor use cheques. My children sleep through the staccato of AK 47's, see
through the mist of tear gas, while we all inhale Carbon Monoxide, poisonous
CO-2 from popular 'I better pass my neighbour' (portable generators) and 'Okada' (motorbike taxis)

The leaders have looted everything on ground and below. They walk the land with haughty strides and fly the skies with private jets (28 of which were bought in the last 12 months). They have stolen the future of generations yet unborn and have money they cannot spend in several lifetimes, but their brothers die of hunger.

I want justice, please re-brand me.

I can produce anything, but import everything. So my toothpick is made in China; my toothpaste is made in South Africa; my salt is made in Ghana; my butter is made in Ireland; my milk is made in Holland; my shoe is made in Italy; my vegetable oil is made in Malaysia; my biscuit is made in Indonesia; my chocolate is made in Turkey and my table water made in France.

My taste is far-flung and foreign. I no longer cook at home but take pride in eating at take-away outlets fashioned after the Western style of living.
Anything made in my land is inferior; I prefer those made in England , America or Europe . To crown it all, items made in my land but specifically sent abroad with made in England labels are brought back from 'Oyinbo' land at 5 times the original price it would have gone for had it been sold as home made.

Please re-brand me.

My people are cancerous from the greed of their friends who bleach palm oil with chemicals; my children died because they drank 'My Pikin' with NAFDAC
numbers; my poor die because kerosene explodes in their faces; my land is dead because all the trees have been cut down; flood kills my people yearly because the drainage is clogged; my fish are dead because the oil companies dump waste in my rivers; my communities are vanishing into the huge yawns of gully erosion, and nothing is being done. My livelihood is in jeopardy, and I am in the uttermost depths of despondence.

Please re-brand me.

I have genuine leather but choose to eat it.. So I spend a billion dollars to import fake leather. I have four (4) refineries, but prefer to import fuel, so I waste more billions to import petrol and diesel. I have no security in my country, but would rather send troops to keep the peace in another man's land. I have 160 dams, but cannot get water to drink, so I buy 'pure' water that broils my inwards. I have a million children waiting to enter universities, but my ivory dungeons can only take a tenth (10 %). I have no power (electricity) , but choose to flare gas, and vote billion of dollars every year to generate electricity but not a single watt has come from it. So, my people have learnt to see in the dark and stare at the glare of naked flares.

I have no direction, please re-brand me.

My people pray to God every morning and every night, but commit every crime known to man because re-branded identities will never alter the tunes of inbred rhythms. Just as the drums of heritage heralds the frenzied jingles, remember - the Nigerian soul can only be Nigerian - fighting free from the cold embrace of a government that has no spring, no sense, no shame. So we watch the possessed, frenzied dance, drenched in silent tears as freedom is locked up in democracy's empty cellars.

I need guidance, please re-brand me.

But then, why can I not simply be me, without being re-branded?

Or does my complexion cloud the colour of my character?

Does my location limit the lengths of my liberty? Does the spirit of my conviction shackle my soul?

Does my mien maim the mine of my mind? And is this life worth re-branding?

Is it re-branding that I need or complete re-building?

Others blame my calamities on the colonial master that has left my shore some 49 years ago. Without deceiving myself, I know I have problems, who will deliver me?

Maybe what I need is to be re-born, Christians call it being born-again.

Turning to a higher authority or changing direction. I mean to sincerely own up and turn to the man up-stairs, maybe, just maybe solution will come from there.

To re-build a wobbling structure, there is need for dismantling of an existing one (remember, if the foundation can be destroyed, what can the righteous do?)..
Shall I then consider the idea muted by some of my own who have fled abroad?
Some call for 'Separation for Co-operation' , others call for true Federalism - while others are yet asking for the return to a Parliamentary system.

Which way do I go? On October 1, 2009, I celebrated my 49th birthday.

I doo't want to enter my golden age without direction,

... so, please, help me God. Re-mould and Re-Build me.

Please Mr President, re-mould and re-build me!!!

(Disclaimer: I received this piece as a forwarded message so unfortunately the author is anonymous.)