By Ayo Akinfe
(1) Over the last week, we have had a lot of commentary about the government’s proposed 2020 budget. Personally, I see it as offering less than 10% of what is required. There is no way you can make $28bn work for 200m people. When the sums being invested in human development are so minuscule, it is clear that poverty will remain with us for the foreseeable future if we are expecting the government to be our messiah
(2) One thing that has always fascinated me about Nigerian political commentary is that despite us being a US-style private economy kind of people, we always look to the government to solve our economic problems. In Europe and Japan, it is accepted that the state has a major role to play in economic affairs but Nigerians are more American in nature, yet they keep blaming government for the lack of economic growth
(3) No Nigerian leader has had the guts to look the people in the face and call them hypocrites. Our chop-make-I-chop mentality is at odds with our expectations that good governance will lift us out of poverty. I long for the day when someone will stand up and say – If you want poverty banished, get off your lazy backsides and do it yourself
(4) This mentality is not limited to economic affairs alone. Just to give you an example, we have all been disgusted with the recent sex-for-marks scandals in education but hey, none of our old girls associations has deemed it fit to take up the gauntlet. These old girls associations always hold founders days and gala dinner nights but it has never occurred to them to produce an anti-exploitation document. True to type, they are waiting for the government to come up with a miracle solution while they wine, dine and revel at their gala dinners
(5) If one looks at China today, it is easy to see that the country will take humanity to the next level over the forthcoming 50 years. China has more patents than the European Union and on a daily basis, we are seeing unprecedented innovation. Ask yourselves, how many patents do we have in Nigeria?
(6) Let me just throw down two small challenges to you my people. In our culture, we carry babies on our back and heavy loads on our heads. Why have we not patented devices that facilitate these two processes and begun mass producing them?
(7) Had China had such culture, by now, special contraptions to aid carrying infants on the back and goods on the head would be widely available in stores worldwide. They would make them look fashionable and trendy and millions would have been sold
(8) Part of our problem is that we have been made to believe our culture is primitive, savage and occult. Just as we dismiss our traditional religions as dark, Satanic and Liciferic, so too do we view our culture as barbaric. With such a mentality, we are never going to tap into the economic potential our culture offers
(9) Is there any reason why Nigerian enterprueners have not got together to form a think tank that has a unit staffed with people who just brainstorm every day. Most multinational companies spend something like $1m on research and development a day. That is why they are always able to adapt to changing technological developments without going bust. They can see the signs and make the necessary changes
(10) My challenge to Nigerians today is get up and grow your economy irrespective of whether the government is good or bad. If a football coach is bad, the players are still expected to go out and try and win matches. Enough of this hiding behind the lame excuse of bad governance!