Monday, August 14, 2006

A Value Depleted Nigeria

As Nigeria approaches the 2007 elections, it is worrisome that several of the presidential candidates are failing to address pertinent issues crucial to the integrity and progress of the nation.

Trae Days has a post listing some of the presidential hopefuls. Several names on this list have questionable agenda, and many haven't even revealed anything beyond the usual blah-blah-blah I-want-to-be-president-talk that has become the characteristics of Nigerian politicians.

The NaijaBlog raises an important issue about the Nigerian society- beyond the common who-stole-what and who-killed-who talk that has invaded the Nigerian consciousness, Jeremy muses about replication of values in the Nigerian society: "...The more difficult trick therefore is how to lure back Nigerians who actually might improve the society with a different set of values - interested in ideas, culture, research and challenging social norms with more contemporary attitudes..."

Not that those in Nigeria are not to be reckoned with, the infusion of newer and fresher ideas from the outside- the Nigerian Diaspora- may just well be the very tonic the nation needs. While this realization is manifesting from many angles including the Presidency (President woos Nigerians in Diaspora) and especially during the Sullivan summit and Diaspora Day celebration in July, save for one or two aspirants, the pool of the presidential hopeful is usually silent and clueless on how to deal with huge resources locked up overseas.

Of all the candidates, Dr Mohammed Buba Marwa, a former Military officer, former Defense Adviser to the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, a two-time state governor and one of Late General Abacha's boy appears the most established on ground; yet his statements are seriously lacking in content and ideas. To promise free education in a 21st-century-Nigeria is a display of a serious lack of imagination and idea. Other statements on his website attest to this lack.

It is interesting that Jeremy could see certain things some Nigerians are failing to see in the race to Aso Rock (Nigerian seat of power)- the ability to problem-solve and also bring about a paradigm shift in the sociopolitical consciousness of Nigerians.

If the comments on the Pat Utomi post were used as an opinion sample, maybe just about ten percent sees him fit to win the next presidential election in Nigeria. This may be understandable since there are many 'unknowns' regarding his candidacy.

Yet here's is a man - though not the most charismatic and eloquent person in the world - comes alive with passion about how Nigerian issues can be solved.

Unlike many of his peers, Pat Utomi is in solutions-mood, filed with ideas and evidence-based solutions and proven interventions (in India and the south east Asian countries) that may address the problems in Nigeria. He comes across as a breeze to fresh air; a sharp contrast to the murky and humid staleness that plaques the Nigerian political terrain.

I can not help but be excited about someone who seems to understand the Nigerian issue and willing to fing ways to fixing its anomaly. Call this an idealistic thinking or naivity if you may, the bottom-line is until Nigerians start paying closer attention to issues and the candidates - regardless of their ethnicity, or lack of political savviness, charisma or eloquence - our country will remain stuck in the quagmire of mediocrity for a long time.

Related article:
Why I am Concentrating on the Diaspora, by Utomi [Guardian August 7, 2006 Interview in pdf]

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