Friday, 5 February 2016

MustRead - 2016: The Year of Opportunities for Real Change by Bobby Udoh

2016
As it happened in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when oil prices crashed, our country Nigeria is again at a near state of collapse. Oil boom revenue has been wasted and yet debts significantly reduced in the past have piled up again. 

Unfortunately, we have no sufficient savings for this expected season nor is there any key project to show for the season of abundance.

I do however believe this season offers us the best opportunity to break this cycle and finally launch out toward true and lasting development. There is a key role for government to play through the policies they initiate and their thorough implementation. They must also work hard to enlighten citizens on their role, and mobilize them to action.

Whilst we will seek to communicate this flaw to government, it must be that said we can enlighten ourselves and mobilize ourselves to action. That is the focus of this article and it is timely because the economic downturn does provide us with very little option.

What opportunities for change can we harness?

Change from consumption to production: It is time we the citizens begin to cultivate the mindset of creating things rather than getting ready-made goods. With the economic hardship, many of us can grow or produce some of our foodstuff (like garri, fufu, vegetables, poultry, etc.) and also partner with others to have access to foodstuff. We can undertake repairs of some equipments and household items (like clothing) instead of buying new ones.

Some of us may have to research into the local production of some imported items. If not with our direct involvement in the process, we may become investors to generate income and ensure access to the product.

Change from foreign goods to locally produced goods: We must also become a people who take pride in our locally produced goods. There is an urgent need to reduce the number of Nigerians who use almost everything foreign and if local goods are used, it is likely our local delicacies.

Of course the very rich will continue to indulge in imported luxury goods but the working class and middle class can and must begin to develop more confidence in locally produced goods.

It has to be said that the quality of locally produced goods has to be improved and the prices made more affordable. It would be a nice transition to see citizens travel abroad with suitcases filled with locally produced goods and return with lightly filled suitcases.

Change from culture of waste to that of prudence: If we needed encouragement, the economic downturn has provided such. It is now pertinent for us as a people to change from our extravagant culture. For example, celebratory events should be reduced and when celebrated, we must cut back on waste by keeping it simple.

Interestingly and due to our culture of rivalry, when some people start living out a prudent lifestyle, it will become easily emulated by many others.

Change from apathy to action: The oil boom era brought with it an era of lawlessness and in the process, most citizens became helpless and apathetic. Now that season is over, there is no more room for comfort. It is time we begin to speak up against oppression, injustice, corruption, incompetence, etc, by individuals and government officials.

We must also be seen to take actions in line with our talk. Doing this, we will not only hold government at Federal, State and Local levels to account, we will become a people who insist on doing the right thing to contribute towards law and order, and deliver solutions that will address problems.

Summary

As highlighted severally, this change is really a change in our mindset and values. These changes will help to significantly reduce corruptible acts; add good value to the naira; diversify our economy from oil dependency; produce big Nigerian-owned businesses on the stock market, providing jobs and good dividends to shareholders; and produce a country where citizens are generating various solutions to our diverse challenges and are doing so with a vision that is not personal but national.

It must be reemphasized that this season could and must provide us with our best opportunity to finally lay a solid foundation for the building of a developed Nigeria.

Would you grab the opportunity on offer for the sake of Nigeria’s development?

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