We are not going to make progress. We are not going to develop. We will not be secure. We will remain poor. These are not curses. They are the most highly probable consequences of our social paradigms. Almost mathematically certain. No amount of prayers will stop this. ~Ayo Sogunro
Before I write the 2nd instalment of American Wonder please permit me to do this important piece cum pitch. I know I shouldn’t be writing about politics in our Diaspora Diary, but let’s conveniently categorise this as a sociopolitical topic. The above quote from Dr Ayo Sogunro was part of his reaction to the debate over Tinubu’s certificate scandal, and you can read his entire tweet here.
This story was specifically captioned to catch your attention, but I hope it will also persuade you to reflect and act. There are countless reasons why Nigeria will not make progress, but here is a poignant one, so read on.
I recently met a wise guy in Vegas who aligned with the Sogunro’s position and illustrated it by analysing his experience in Nigeria before migrating to God’s own country.
The 62-year-old man holds a degree in Business Administration and worked as a banker for 22 years in Nigeria after about a decade of job hunting. He finally decided to check out like Andrew at 49 when he visited America in 2010. During that vacation, his interaction with old mates revealed that these guys were making steady progress while the reverse was his case back home.
How you may ask.
Here is the thing.
Rising through promotions and salary increments in the bank, he attained a managerial position by 2004 and thought he had arrived. Who wouldn’t think so? A bank manager is an enviable achievement anywhere in the world. Well to the less ambitious folks, not necessarily our guy.
While in the US, he discovered that his mates were able to set targets and meet them because they had stability in their chosen vocations. Consequently, they achieved more in terms of wealth, academics, and self-development. Particularly the last for this simple reason; Self-development doesn’t depend on money but if you attain a certain level of financial stability, you are more likely to start thinking about developing yourself and others.
It was then that a stark realisation hit him like a ton of bricks. As he progressed in rank and salary, he was actually getting poorer in real terms because the combination of inflation and incessant devaluation of the naira continuously eroded his purchasing power.
His situation was akin to the classic Fela hit ODOO ( Overtake Don Overtake Overtake) where the Afrobeat legend sang about a man who was saving to buy a fan. Go and look up the lyrics.
Our guy told me that when he landed in God’s own country, he started as a gas station cashier in Atlanta while his wife did some courses and joined the healthcare sector. Having saved up some funds after 2 years, they moved to Vegas where he partnered with a friend to start valeting. Today, he owns a valeting agency and a vehicle salvage business. He said that in less than 10 years, he achieved more in America than he did in over 2 decades as a banker back home.
When he finished his story he concluded thus; “Nigeria go survive is a soundtrack we started singing since childhood. Check am bro. The 70s was better than the 80s and the 80s was better than the 90s, it just keeps getting worse. Nigeria will not develop as it is PRESENTLY STRUCTURED. Anyone who tells you otherwise is deceiving you. It is better to go where you will make progress because you have only one life to live.”
There and then I was reminded of another wise man, my good friend Tony Alika Igwebuike who told me in 2016 that the real value of the naira would be around N1000 to a dollar. That’s a story for another day but of course, he has been vindicated.
Now it’s not as if there aren’t successful people in Nigeria, after all, Dangote, Otedola, Elumelu et al made it so why can’t you? The devil’s in the details if you ask me. But I can bet those three would have more than tripled their wealth if they put in the same effort and leveraged similar patronage in saner climes. The food for thought, however, is why the tech gurus who develop innovative solutions for real-life problems are now richer than merchants and bankers in the Western world.
For my friends who will mockingly ask why I suddenly realised this after supporting Buhari. Well, some of us hoped that Buhari would at least start reducing the cost of governance, curb the insecurity, and improve our infrastructure. Those areas are supposedly his forte, or so they claimed. His record did not include economic prosperity. Unfortunately, he failed woefully in all areas. And yes including infrastructural development viz a viz the borrowing/implementation indices.
Again I’m sorry to disappoint my other friends with an unpopular fact: If you give Peter Obi 16years he will not perform magic. The best he can achieve is some prudence in Aso Villa. I believe that the Peter I know will not sign off billions for Aso Rock kitchen and that’s actually a good start considering the rot in our system. But that’s about where it ends. He can’t possibly sanitise the entire executive controlled by a monumentally corrupt civil service. Then of course he wouldn’t dare the legislators because more than anyone he knows that would definitely end in his impeachment.
You all know I’ve been an optimistic promoter of Nigeria. But who would have known that after 8 years of living abroad on earnings in naira, yours truly will need a job to sustain himself? Is €=N1056 a joke to you? My dear friend, I’m now satisfied to contribute my quota to the development of our country from the diaspora. I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic rather I remain hopeful. If any administration delivers any form of progress in the future, I will rejoice greatly. But I’m convinced that just like the Buhari regime, this government battling illegitimacy on all fronts will not perform. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Nigeria works for the powerful and greedy few because of corruption. And corruption here encompasses every sense of the word. Sadly, it is for the same reason that it isn’t working for many hardworking and responsible citizens. Worse still it is a society that is increasingly discouraging genuine hustle because many entrepreneurs I know who are engaged in legitimate businesses are struggling.
So what is my solution? It would be silly to regal you with this tale without offering any suggestion. In the past, I’ve offered one on Good Governance and another titled The Revolution We Need Now among many others you can read here. A nation with multiple problems cannot be salvaged through a linear solution. I’ve also talked about devolution. It makes little sense that 36 governors depend on one man in Abuja for monthly allocation. This is why 30 states are not economically viable. If we borrowed the federal system, why can’t we fully implement true and fiscal federalism like the USA? They are the oldest federation for a reason.
We can go on and on, but today I won’t be advising Nigerians or our leaders. Rather I will make one recommendation to you. Yes, you!
I’ll say this; Emigrate if you can. Go to where you will make progress. I know I used to query this position with a simple question “Who will develop our country if we all elope?” Well as a rational human, I’m obliged to change my position in the face of new and convincing evidence as adduced earlier. Moreover, there will always be millions of others who will not leave even if they are paid to do so. That much I agreed with Femi Adesina in this text.
So, the overarching point is this. I’m not advising everyone to leave. I’m specifically making that suggestion to you. Make hay while the sun shines!
If you enjoyed this, please share it and hit the follow button to join our community of digital creatives at cmonionline.com let’s grow together.
If you wish to emigrate or collaborate, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org let’s work together.
Thanks for reading.