Nigeria: A Country of 1000 Queens & Princes With No King!
By: Mawuna Remarque KOUTONIN
Nigerians spend more time and resources trying to impress their fellow nigerians than doing something truly extraordinary that impress the whole world.
“Survival” or “dominance” seems to be the 2 main individual drivers, which makes the environment particularly unfriendly to collaboration and innovation. In Lagos for example, internal consumption is the main driver of the state economy, as Hospitality (restaurant, hotels, …), Trade, and Finance represent 85% of the GDP of the State. The service industry is the motor of the State economy.
In fact, domestic consumption is so huge that the economy and the people look very “introvert”. Consequently, many aspects of the business environment are only adapted to local standards, which in many cases are not competitive compared what could be seen abroad. There are over 10,000 industrial and commercial companies in the Lagos State, including the largest Stock exchange in West Africa with more than 200 financial institutions. Unfortunately industry is only 4% of the economy.
People creativity and hunger for success is visible at every encounter and corner of the city, however the lack of appropriate support system and spaces to harness and channel that energy had induced despair and fatalism, which seem to have overtaken a big part of people.
A visible disconnect seems to exist between “the bottom 80%” and “the top 10%” of the people. The top 10 – 20% have the education and the skills to help the bottom 80% which main issues and problems require local innovation, not imported products.
Sadly, the solution to any problem in Lagos seems to be “to buy”, not invent, create!
Challenges are everywhere, and opportunities endless, but in a country state with the highest number of Queens and Princes (more than Saudi Arabia) there are not enough people ready to put in the hard work to fix things.
Most the common issues and challenges affecting the people in Lagos are not attractive to developed country firms able to create technology appropriate to them. This means that without strong local innovation, the pace to move the bottom 80% out of poverty and despair will be slow, and even that slow pace could be broken by unpredictable social unrest.
The goal is to operate a paradigm shift, change how people think about themselves and others, bring people to lose their unpatriotic attitude, but to be more collaborative, more innovative, and more sensitive to our common future as a great nation in the world.
The biggest asset of Nigeria is its people. Reason why all efforts should go into building “the infrastructure of the mind”, harnessing the energy of the youth, igniting in them the confidence that the future is here, and channeling the unending ingenuity of Nigerians to fix things, to address the challenges their nation face faces with their renowned hunger for success, competitiveness and boldness.
For all this to happen, the leaders should stop trying to build the country for the people to live in, and instead empower the people to build the kind of country they would like to live and die in.