Solomon Bamidele junior is a Nigerian businessman based in Vietnam.
Recently, he spoke with Daily Sun on situations in Nigeria especially about the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe. He speaks further.
Tell us about the COVID-19 pandemic and your advice for Nigerians
COVID-19 is real. Nigeria shouldn’t play politics with it at all. It started in China, December 2019 and we in Vietnam had the first case in February and in March. Subsequently, the government took decisive steps to check its spread. Because we are sharing border with China, government put measures in place to stop the pandemic from entering Vietnam. The measures it took was very successful because it started by creating awareness and people obeyed the rules and guidelines government put in to place to check the scourge.
Rules like wearing of face masks and social distancing not only created awareness, but also helped nip the pandemic in the bud.
Now when we are talking about Nigeria, lawlessness is the major issue. People don’t believe in the government. Also the awareness government gave to COVID-19 has not been enough. People have lost trust in our government and that is why up till now people still believe that COVID-19 is not real. But as an experience man, with what the Vietnamese Government has done, I want to advise Nigerians in general that everybody should know that COVID-19 is real and everyone must take precautions. What the presidential Task Force and the governors announced, is real, people should follow this guidelines by taking responsibility. All hands must be on deck to attain success.
One thing I have to say again is that in live for you to reach the heart of the people, one must know what they really want. But many people re using the pandemic to defraud unsuspecting members of the public. This is not only peculiar to Nigerian, it also happens in other parts of the globe. My advice to everyone is to be on the alert and cooperate with every measure being employed by the government to curb the disease. With the pandemic on the prowl, nobody should attempt to seek selfish benefit or take advantage of the vulnerable.
When you look at other countries, they have social security and welfare scheme that takes care of the poor. In Nigeria, this appeared to be lacking, where did we get it wrong?
COVID-19 has exposed a lot of areas that our government are lacking. The issue of social security, data collecting and necessary updating systematically has really been a challenge for a while in Nigeria.
If you look at our electoral process, banking sector, we are just catching up. Many areas that we are lacking has been exposed by COVID-19 to the extent that even uneducated Nigerians can go on social media and criticise the government because the system is not really working.
So now, as the government seeks solutions to the pandemic, they should also find solutions to these problems. After the pandemic, government should look inward so as to address these shortcomings.
It is disturbing that many less affluence countries are bettered organised with database. In Vietnam, you can not look for anybody on the street because from the system, you can easily track such individual. This is the same system in Canada, Japan, Germany and other developed economy and it doesn’t even cost government anything. If you can get your citizen to register for ATM, National ID Card and voters card, why cant you update the system for your citizen so that all records would be put in place. Many people have different birth certificate. Many people can do fraud with international passport.
Lack of database fuel crime and insecurity. Look at what is happening in the Northeast. See how Boko Haram is ravaging the country. See the rate of kidnapping across the country. Government has to stand up now and do the needful. If they don’t act now, it could become too late. It could cause a lot of problem for us in the future. Imagine people in Alimosho, Ibadan and rural areas of Badagry, how would they benefit from government welfare package without accurate database? Please the government has to really address this problem.
Going by rate of corruption in the land, are you surprise?
No one is surprise. Corruption has become a household name in Nigeria.
The question is: who are the people initiating this corruption?
The most lucrative job in Nigeria now is to be a politician.
You see a medical doctor, lecturer and others jostling to enter politics at the expense of their career just because they want to go and make corrupt money.
Now looking at what is happening on the floor of the National assembly, it is a shame but what are we going to do? The way forward is to help this administration and to help the president because one agenda on his mind is to stop corruption. He said something that if Nigeria did not kill corruption, corruption would kill Nigeria. The president is not the problem like I use to tell my people. All our past leaders are not the problem. People that they took, as advisers, ministers and so on are the problem. This is because no leader will want his time as a leader to be worst. Even the late General Sani Abacha would not want it like that. But now we see people coming into politics and behaving as if money that is supposed to be the commonwealth of the people is for them alone and so this are areas that we suppose to look into. We should all support the government to make sure that it succeeds.
People like us are not gaining anything from the government rather we are bringing back home our resources to grow the economy. We are supporting a lot of people back home. We are taking the raw materials out and returning it as refined products.
Not quite long, there was a book launch, which attracted many African leaders including former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Can you please tell us more about that.
It was a book that came out at the right time because of what is happening generally in Africa. You see former president Olusegun Obasanjo and some African leaders notable, the former prime minister of Ethiopia went round Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and others to look for opportunity and know why all this countries that use to be on per with Nigeria and other African countries are now ahead of them in the area of development. What they saw in their sojourn was what they penned down in that book to educate our leaders, that this was the step the Asian Tigers took to develop their countries. Let me quote from the words of former leader of Singapore, when he was then the prime minister, he said when he became the leader of his nation, he had two options: Opportunity for him to enrich himself and his family and opportunity to enrich his people. He goes with the second opportunity, which is to enrich his people, and this was how he pulled both his family and the nation out of poverty. This should be a lesson for Nigerian political class and Africa in general. Most of them loot the commonwealth of our country not thinking of how the country could grow.
. All this facts are included in the book. Many African businessmen like Aliko Dangote, Morghalu former presidential aspirant, the former prime minister of Kenya and others also contributed their ideas. It is a book that I recommend for everybody to read so that Africa and our children would not suffer and Africa will get out of the poverty circle that has entangled the continent for decades.
Nigerians should also emulate former president Obasanjo who despite his age came to Asia to participate in the project towards a better Nigeria and Africa in general.