ViMP

Nigeria – Opportunity in crisis?

The stage was set. The projector was up. The ‘interclass’ observers were ready. The audience was waiting. The latter consisted of 50 minus each group’s members. They were very powerful. They were the judges, so to speak. Armed with 100 dollars apiece, they were eager to invest their money as deemed fit in the three different plans, from the three other groups, for a better Nigeria. Since Tuesday, when we received the case notes, we had discussed, argued, agreed, sweated, and stayed up late for it. We had even fought for our own blood with the muscular sand flies and mosquitoes. Now we were more than ready, perhaps not to present it, but to drop the case and move on, to let go.

Image     Image Ellen Ukpi

In the beginning…; choosing her most eloquent members, each group came out to discuss Nigeria briefly and to propose in details a way forward. There were all sorts of recommendations. The decentralization of power from the Federal to each state government; a focus shift to other sources of revenue other than oil; transparency in all sectors of the economy and at all levels of government; educational programs for youths; more investment in the private sector (especially SMEs). One group even projected up to 2050. You know how Oshodi {Lagos, Nigeria} was and now is. Imagine Oshodi looking like some fancy place in Dubai and the same replicated in all the major cities in the country. The audience was dazzled by their futuristic projection. Daring to dream and to hope, for hope is to believe in the substance of things not seen, they invested accordingly.

The presentations ended. One interclass observer, who else but Franca Ovadje, came forward to make her observations; she was impressed!!! A good way to start, I think. Notice and laud the positives. Then constructively criticise the negatives. Lastly, give your listener(s) appealing reasons, I didn’t say sentimental, why your advice is in his/her/their best interest. What were her points? Here they are, as stated by me. First: when your group is making a presentation, stay focused. This does not depend on whether you are or are not the one presenting. Second: the recommendations from each group were beautiful, lovely. But that’s where it ends. All the recommendations depend on the goodwill of the leaders and their good will hasn’t gotten us much far thus far. A better option is the time tested and proved right narrow way. In this case, it is surnamed taxation. She drew our attention to this text in the case notes.

“… Nigeria had become a rentier state. Since the bulk of the government revenue no longer depended on economic activity in the country, it no longer had incentives to help create growth in the non-oil sector. Instead it focused on distributing money as a way to consolidate its power and cement its access to the revenue coming out of the ground. ..Since the money did not come from their pockets, the Nigerian population had little idea about how much the government was spending and fewer incentives to monitor it closely. They also had few incentives to pay taxes to a corrupt government flush with money. … ‘The umbilical cord that ties government and the private sector in most economies…got broken.’…‘On one side, there is that broad smooth road with promises of no taxation, and efforts to get money from other places leading nowhere but to perdition, poverty, disease and economic enslavement. And there is the other road – people who go therein pay tax. They also have to apply self-help and self-sacrifice to get where they want. But this road…leads to success.”

To wrap up the presentations, Yazid Abdullahi, unanimously acclaimed most outstanding male, gave a political speech, the ‘fellow Nigerians…’ sort. But he made sense. We must not stop here in the classroom. The programme will be over in a couple of days {then} and now, it has ended. Now is the time for action. Time to convert words and their high sounding synonyms into deeds; time to desist from being in the class of the new NATO; time to be true Nigerians. And just before we left the school, a cocktail in Ellen’s honour. We cut the delectable birthday cake made for her by the LBS catering staff and drank to her health. As expected, there was much ‘movement’. Ellen, for one, was very moved, touched, ‘close to tears’ {an innocent exaggeration}. The rest of us were moved too. We strolled to and fro, enjoying the cake, the drinks and the chitchat. All work and no play; all play and no work make Jack a dull boy. Back to the resort, back to work after dinner on two new short cases; the cases were about Toyin Adeniyi and Tade Oyinlola. As expected, my group was the first to finish discussing. Blessed be sleep; those who regard her rightly will rarely be wrong.

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Oh don't leave without leaving some words from you to me

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