Nigerians Think Earnestly

Nigerian in Diaspora Organization – New Jersey Chapter was launched in Newark – New Jerseywith a big grand occasion attended by Nigerian from all walks of life. We were fully engaged with energized speakers and moderators during the forum and discussion, we essentially focused on how our impact can be felt as group of Nigerian in Diaspora for national development and re-branding of our

enough is enoughimage…. all in the theme of legendary quotes of JFK “Do not ask what your country can do for you but what can you do for your own country?” It is high time we came together irrespective of our cultural , sectional indifferences, to obliterate the cog in the wheel of our progress which has kept dividing us in our quest to have a lone commonality for nation reconstruction in the past.

We cannot continue blaming our politicians who are individuals that see everyday opportunity or loopholes in their governance to foster their hidden agenda for irrational exuberance in constant infirmity of power. We will be judged by what we built today not what they destroyed yesterday. And the urgency is now; if you want change you have to be part of the change. 

Most of all, our key challenges as a nation or any other African countries is how to foster good governance and the evolution of the requisite investment environments for bringing about poverty alleviation through private sector-driven economic growth, While the international community can seemingly provide much needed assistance, it is unrealistic to count on it, to free African countries from bad leaderships and poor governance, given the hard realities of global geopolitics and economics. Whatever the underlying causes of slow progress in Nigeria may be, Nigerians in Diaspora themselves have to take responsibility for their country progress. In this regard, the development of indigenous capacity and homegrown policies informed by local knowledge and perspectives provides the best hope for poverty alleviation in our poor, but resources oriented country. 

Nigerian in Diaspora must wake up to this clarion calls above all the skepticism out there and let all facets of it sink into sheer oblivion. 

Every inch we make in progress of moving forward make us a champion. And to get what we’ve never had, we must do what we’ve never done – “Sacrifice”. If 143 million Nigerians (95%) living in Nigeria can survive the hurly burly, political hot and cold doldrums, the remaining 7 million (less than 5%) living overseas of which 98% of that 5% are technocrats who have decided not to be part of their national development, what right do they have then to complain about lack of progress or national calamity that are mounting day over days in Nigeria. 

We have seen our share of hard times during civil wars and political republics under different Nigeria leaders. The civil war in the 60s are less severe than current civil war in every Nigerian households back home especially the poor ones in majority .The Nigerian story has never been about things coming easy – Tafawa Balewa to Abubakar Yaradua – it’s been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard, about rejecting panicked division for purposeful unity, about seeing a mountaintop from the deepest valley. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Quote Abraham Lincoln during American tough economic time. 

Nigerians, now is not the time for fear. Now is not the time for panic. Now is the time for resolve and steady Nigerian in Diaspora leadership. We can meet this moment now and seize it. We can come together to restore confidence in the Nigeria geopolitical and economic system. We can renew that fundamental belief – that in Nigeria, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the polity we need to be right now. 

Nigeria still has the most talented, most productive experts of any country on Earth. Our middle class has been obliterated by sheer greed’s. No more middle class but one and half class society ( Upper class – who are less than 3% of our society are dominating the course of 150 million population and the far bottom class of 97% are rarely surviving two square meals daily) . Nigerian in Diaspora is coming home to create IT Silicon Valley in Abuja or anywhere it deems fits. We are coming home to innovation, technology and modernization Anarchists, Fraudsters, Tribalists, Totalitarians and most of all political sycophants please beware. 

Nigeria leaders had 49 years of chances after independence to turn things around. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the eighth most populous country in the world with a population of over 150 million, therefore making it the most populous “BLACK” country in the world. Nigeria stands to be a regional power, is listed among the “NEXT ELEVEN” economies, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The economy of Nigeria is one of the fastest growing in the world with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009. 

The Next Eleven (or N-11) are eleven countries – Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam — identified by Goldman Sachs investment bank as having a high potential of becoming the world’s largest economies in the 21st century along with the BRICs – (Brazil, Russia, India And China). The bank chose these states, all with promising outlooks for investment and future growth, on December 12, 2005. 

Goldman Sachs used macroeconomic stability, political maturity, openness of trade and investment policies, and the quality of education as criteria. The N-11 paper is a follow-up to the bank’s 2003 paper on the four emerging ‘BRIC” economies Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) 

The name Nigeria was created from a portmanteau of the words Niger and Area, taken from the River Niger running through Nigeria. Nigerian colleges and universities that are the envy of the Africa in the past are now home to rodents and cockroaches in literary terms. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our intellectual hallmarks and our research facilities. My fellow Nigerians in Diaspora, this course won’t be easy, but there’s no reason we can’t make this century another Nigerian – African led century. Yes again, we can. 

Fellow Nigerians, I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without any cost – Pessimism, Skepticism, Name callings or other vices not virtues. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession? 

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when Nigeria overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success and expertise? 

This is one of those moments. I realize you’re all cynical and fed up with Nigeria politics. I understand that we’re disappointed and even angry with our leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what’s been asked of the Nigerian people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe – to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.

Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and a country to save. Not when there are so many Nigerians graduates without jobs and without hope. Not when there are families who can’t afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves. 

We have to find ways to improve our attitude towards what Nigeria is made of, progressive image and bright enterprising individuals … all in their own unique ways, we have seen some newly elected elite governors ( new blood) making waves in their respective States and I’m talking of 2 or 3 states out of 36 states . That is unacceptable in the face of our country immeasurable resources, our poverty level is growing every second and there is now hope for our Nigerian generation unborn that things might change unless Nigerian in Diaspora does something. We must find ways and means to become more involved and optimistically engaged. The subconscious mind is an amazing tool; we must learn how to use it. It works hard behind the scenes to make sure our perceived reality comes true. If we constantly see things in a negative or pessimistic light as it has always been, the subconscious accepts that as reality and goes about making our low expectations come true. Likewise, if we always expect things to work out or to be successful, the subconscious will work just hard controlling our actions behind the scenes, to make those positive expectations come true. A poor attitude or low expectations is just a bad habit. Change the habit. The first step is accepting the fact that you want to make a change. What come first to mind in that aspect of change , is the laudable database project that NIDOE has implemented for all Nigerian abroad both professional & non-professionals to foster tapping into our expert brain picking on all aspect of our national unity and development .But we must put a strong determination behind it. We have to realize it’s a huge task on our shoulder however, keeping a positive open mind with everybody participation …result is imminent and change is now. We must refuse to fail, refuse to allow negative thought to dwell in our conscious mind.

Nigerian in Diaspora Organization initiatives in leadership capacity building must includes: 

Public education, information dissemination, and advocacy, to educate, inform, influence, and change/develop mindsets

Development of a global network of Nigerian & “non-Nigerian Africanist” professionals/experts/intellectuals/scholars, from which resources are pooled for capacity building and private investment

Development of talented young people with exceptional leadership potential into future visionary and transformational leaders 

Foremost, we must replace negative thought or insinuation from skeptics with a positive motivation quote. Find one that is appropriate and preferably short enough to easily memorize. Next, for an individuals that are skeptical for fear of unknown, the instant you feel a negative thought enter your mind, recite the quote to yourself. You’ll be amazed how well this works. I will personally implore everyone to make extra effort to find good and hope in every situation. If you aren’t looking for it, you definitely won’t find it .Secondly, do not mix with wrong Nigerian crowd, it takes a positive group to make a positive growth, and positive impact takes its toll. 

What to do as a leader when faced with gray skies? 

Maintain Perspective. There are a lot of doomsayers and naysayers out there. Sometimes they mask themselves in the dark cloaks of cynicism and “I’m just being real” behaviors. Don’t buy into it. Choose carefully those you spend time with, listen to and take to heart. Try to remember that underneath the dark cloak is fear of disappointment — cynicism is sure paralysis for organizations and people. If this applies to you, consider carefully: perhaps for now you might give up your addiction to information? I know this sounds counter to what I usually preach — learn, grow, develop, improve — but incessant media madness (including print, television and Internet) will dampen your spirits at best and make you paranoid at worst. Focus on what’s inside your circle of influence and remember that you always have the ability to choose how to respond to what happens to you and around you. 

Be Inspiring. If you’re leading others, they’re always watching you anyway, but they’re really watching you now. Talk about scrutiny. Talk about pressure! The interesting thing about inspiring others is that often it happens because we are inspiring ourselves. What creates positive, life-affirming joy for you? Or if that’s just too much for a gray, rainy perspective, what gives you and those around you some sense of relief? Spend time on those topics, activities and projects that mean something to you and to your organization or team. 

Believe in Your Own Resilience. You will prevail. What’s the alternative? If you always have the ability to choose, you can choose something different. Think about times in the past when you made it through a tough or difficult situation? What did you do well? What did you learn? You don’t have to know how this will all play out, you just need to stay in the game, and though many have shared with me recently that they just want to “keep their heads down” or be “happy I just have a job,” resist that urge and be willing to be strong and stand out in the crowd. It’s the best time to do it — it will differentiate you within your organization or among your competitors. 

Celebrate Successes, Regardless How Small. One of my clients is going through a second lay-off in twelve months. It’s painful. It’s heart-wrenching and stressful, but this time, they’re better at it. This time, they know what to expect and how to make decisions and treat people well. Along the way, they’ve improved productivity, communication, and inched along the red/black lines of profitability. Recently, a colleague of mine shared her knowledge of Appreciative Inquiry and the gentle, yet powerful shift this process can create in an organization and among individuals. Ask on a regular basis: What’s the good news in Nigeria? What can we celebrate now? How are we succeeding in our effort for better Nigeria?

If we’re honest, we know that all times are “uncertain” times — it’s those gray skies obscuring the mountains or that different river time and again. Our ability to be flexible, resilient and full-of-faith allows us to lead with inspiration and clarity, and perhaps just as importantly, to notice the brilliant, quick flashes of color. 

As often noted, regardless of what the underlying causes of go – slow progress in Nigeria may be, We Nigerians have to take responsibility for our own progress. The key challenge in this regard in our country today is how to foster good governance and the evolution of competitive investment environments that are necessary for bringing about poverty alleviation through private sector-driven economic growth.

Given the unwillingness or inability of our past and present leaders to practice good governance, the onus falls squarely on well-off and accomplished Nigerians in Diaspora, both within and outside the continent, to take charge of fostering good governance and the evolution of visionary and transformational leaderships in our country. 

Clearly, in some resource-rich countries, efficient management of resources would obviate the need for foreign aid. Unfortunately, recent trends indicate that the “resource curse” will continue to hamper progress in our polity.

Akin Awofolaju PhD is President/CEO, AmeriHire Inc-USA (Global Leadership Development & Training Group), New York, NY 

Amerihire Leadership Development Training believes: Unless we are prepared to give up something valuable we will never be able to truly change at all, because we’ll be forever in the control of things we can’t give up. Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.

Akin Awofolaju New York