I have been to a few great spots around the world. I have seen a dozen world state capitals. But nothing prepared me for Beijing, the capital city of China. I have been back for a week and a day. Still I keep seeing it emblazoned with the word ‘beautiful’ in my mind’s eye. And oh yes, I have been to London, Washington, New York, Dubai, Paris…and Beijing is still the most beautiful place yet. But in case you decide to quote ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder at me’, let me quickly throw in what we can all agree on. Beijing, China is a study and a lesson in planned, focused leadership. That is one country that did not spring out of nowhere. It is a lesson in success birthed and nourished by leaders through the years who knew where they were going, where they wanted the country to be and then went on to meticulously fashion a vehicle that will take them to that destination. Everything Nigeria lacks.
Foresight, single-minded determined zeal to build a successful nation; thick-skinned resolve to do the long haul to a beautiful future by leaders who put their nation first. That is, the China that I saw and loved. The market was noisy but China knew what she was there to buy and she stayed focused on the commodity. Decades of planning, centuries of sacrifice and today it is all paying off. The whole world, plus including (according to Ray Echebiri) those who screamed ‘human right abuse’ is in China doing one thing or the other. Nobody can ignore China. All the multi-billion businesses have manufacturing plants in China. The days of sneering at China is gone, over and done with. China has paid her dues and today, the world can’t negotiate anything without factoring in China. The road was long and arduous but it was a worthwhile journey. China is here, here to stay, bright and happy in the world sun.
Right across my hotel room was the imposing China Bank of Construction and when we visited the Urban Planning Museum in Beijing, I told myself, no wonder they need a Construction Bank. The museum is an institution where you get to see how Beijing came to be. You get taken through centuries of careful planning, stone-by-stone, brick-by-brick meticulousness of Spartan leaders. The museum is a show-off, yes, but a worthy and wonderful colourful trip. The walls bear the history of the first road, the transportation system is on a constantly moving movie of the first cart to the present day electric buses. Yeah, their buses run on rechargeable batteries that last all day. Right under our feet was the architectural design of the city, encased in glass. Yes, we walked on glass in that museum. Every corridor, every floor, just like the rest of the city was a tribute to the dedication of men who saw today yesterday, long before it arrived. Lucky folks, I said under my breath a dozen times. But success doesn’t happen by accident.
Heroes are men who made a decision to do what needs to be done in spite of the pain and went on to shed blood to make a difference.
So what was I doing in China? Leading a delegation of the Nigerian Guild of Editors to China. Our host was the China Radio International CRI) Hausa Service. Yeah, Hausa Service, you heard right. Our guides spoke fluent Hausa and bear Hausa names: Lubabatu, Bello, Murtala and Sanusi who went with us everywhere. Mind you, these are Chinese people bearing Hausa names. Murtala was the most colourful, having stayed in Abuja for four years. He speaks a smattering of Yoruba too. One of the delegates, Hussaina Banshika of FRCN speaks Hausa and her review of those guys’ fluency is a matter for another day. CRI started transmitting in Hausa 50 years ago, indeed broadcasts in 65 languages of the world and Hausa is taught in two universities in China. How many of our nice television stations reads news in the language of their immediate environment, least of all one spoken on the other side of the world?
We arrived Beijing on July 23 after 15 hours in the air and five hours in Addis Abbaba and hit the ground running. Oh, how we ran. It was the most exhausting and exhilarating trip of my life thus far but it was worth every drop of sweat. Now, the NGE has a partnership with CRI. The Peoples Daily of China wants us for a conference later in the year. I feel great as the humble servant of this elite group of the media because this present EXCO promised to open new frontiers and broaden the horizon of members. We are just scratching it but it is a good start. The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian and the Mission, paid our bills. Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu brokered this relationship. We are grateful and I am determined to hold on to the coattails of Ambassador Zhou Pingjian and milk this union until we are full and belching, elegantly. The lessons for the media I have told a bit of it and will report in full to the National Assembly of Editors at ANEC 2017 in a few weeks. There is so much to be done, so much we can do.
So, is it the same God who created the Chinese that created Nigeria, I asked myself at the train station and then on the bullet train to Tianjin. It is a question that I ask myself every time I stepped my feet in America too. Where did the leaders of those nations come from? Did God close the factory line that produced the leaders of certain countries before he started molding African leaders? Where did Nigerian leaders come from? I’m sure most, if not all, of our leaders has visited China. What do our leaders see when they go abroad? What did they see when they went to China? Where do they see Nigeria 100 years from now? What do they want to do today to ensure one thing, just one thing, they saw in China is replicated? China has done well. The roads are clean and wide. The natural vegetation (sometimes 500 metres wide) between one road and the other, in the middle of this city of high-rises are unbelievable. Wasn’t everything unbelievable, really?
Yet, Nigeria has the capacity to catch up with China. Nigeria has the potentials to be great. Nigeria has everything it needs to be great.
Except one. Focused leadership. Leaders that want to do good. Leaders that want to be remembered for their legacies in office, not scandals, storms and how they survived them. Because that is the difference between China and Nigeria. China has for centuries been ruled and led by men who knew where they were going and kept their eyes on the ball. Like a local saying advises, when you are in the market, focus on the commodities and ignore the noise. Not in Nigeria. Not so far. Both the leaders and the led talk at the same time. Indeed, they are in a fierce competition to outshout each other. The cacophony is deafening.
At the end of the day, nobody gets heard. No commodity is bought or sold because all that had taken place all day is all talk no action.
Like that story of the impotent man who bragged that he could thread 200 needles in the dark while his new wife remained a virgin.
► To be continued next week