There has never been a time within Nigeria’s 62 years of independence that the country lacks potential for greatness. Interestingly, there is general agreement that the country has not achieved its full potentials despite a geometric rise in population over these six decades. With over 200 million Nigerians as at 2019, the population of Nigeria is expected to double to about 400 million by 2050. The need to be proactive in meeting our developmental needs as a country is, therefore, mandatory.
I believe the proactive digitization, deregulation, decentralization of the education sector in a continuously globalizing world, strengthening of our core institutions, electoral reforms, training of youths on leadership and innovation would put the nation on track to becoming a fully developed country. These would of course have to come through a well-researched, articulated and planned 30-year blueprint to be adopted by successive governments.
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The aforementioned steps and action plans are harmonious and non-conflicting, in a way that one would lead to the enforcement of the achievement of the others, and should constitute the overall plan for the development of the country.
The country’s institutions need to be strengthened to eliminate corruption and ineptitude. Severally, the impact of the core institutions in Nigeria is only as profound as the persons that head such institutions. Institutional reforms would entail the total and decisive over-haul of the structures of government arms and their respective agencies. This is in relation to administrative decisions like recruitment and staffing, to independence and autonomy for relevant government arms and agencies. The result of this would be competent and deserving individuals working and leading core institutions for the achievement of results.
Education is evolving worldwide. And Nigeria needs to key into this evolution. To have the best educational institutions by the year 2050, the education sector needs to be deregulated immediately, and budgetary allocations to the sector increased tremendously. I do not refer to the funding needs demanded constantly by university lecturers in the country, for instance. There needs to be a holistic, comprehensive and far reaching action in this sector.
Funding is only but an aspect. The decisive and revolutionary policies are more important. The best schools in the world are now digital and decentralized. Learning curricula are now modern and dynamic. Technology is now a requirement in all educational fields of study. Decision-making needs to be fast and data-driven. Most of our schools are analogue, while the curricula are out-dated.
Emerging leaders (youths) constitute 54 per cent of the total population in Nigeria. By the year 2050, they would be saddled with piloting the affairs of the country, in whatever state they find it. What they do now, or, what we do with them now will ultimately decide the fate of the country by year 2050.
A lot has been documented and said about the Nigerian youths and how industrious, innovative and enterprising they are. It only stops there if there are no policies that mandate leadership trainings centring on venture creation, social and emotional intelligence, networking, peace and conflict resolution. This transcends the current policies under the Federal ministry of youth and sports, or the NYSC programme for instance (which is concerned more about national unity and cohesion). The revamped policy should ensure youth inclusiveness in leadership positions in the executive level, albeit to deserving persons.
We also have to find a way to create and maintain national peace and cohesion. The most populous black nation in the world should have no business being mentioned among the most unstable and terrorised countries in the world. Our security challenge on its own is a direct threat to the development of the country. No development plan can fail to factor the security challenges in the country. In this vein, a decisive apolitical, military and non-military approach is required to ruthlessly deal with people who continue to undermine the security and peaceful coexistence of the country. The short term plan should be a military declaration of war on terrorism. The medium-term plan would be to provide solutions to the established causes of the several peculiar security challenges. The long-term plan would consolidate the previous efforts and develop an early warning system for conflicts and crises before they crystallize.
The generation of a comprehensive development blueprint and the strategies for achieving them requires a lot of sacrifice, as much as it requires absolute willpower and sincerity of purpose. Leaders with foresight and decisiveness worry less about the temporary impact of their ‘harsh’ decisions and look at the bigger picture, which is the intended result of their strategy. We have to accept that Nigeria not only needs to reactively solve its problems (which seem overwhelmingly many), but also proactively prepare for emerging problems that will surely arise as a result of the ever growing global village that is the world we live in. 400 million Nigerians cannot be a problem to the world, and if we cannot seek for our solutions within the God-given potentials, God forbid, the world could find solutions for us. We will not like these solutions.
Aliyu Sulaiman wrote from Katsina via Saliyu50@gmail.com