One missing link in our development efforts is the absence of cultural revolution. Nothing suggests to me that our leaders know about the importance of this factor…
Since our country became independent in 1960, we have been in pursuit of classical development. About 58 years after, the argument is still intense whether we have made progress or not. I dare say that we have not made progress and this assertion can be supported by our ranking on all indices of societal development. Life expectancy is still low. Until recently it has hovered around 47 years. Recently some said it is 55, even at that it is a poor attainment given the preponderance of human capital and natural resources available to us. The literacy rate is low and this is despite efforts to increase the number of available educational institutions. If we were a serious nation we ought to be ashamed that up to 10 million children are out of school in our country.
The per capita income is nothing to write home about even when compared with countries of similar endowment. The basic problem with our development strategy lies in the fact that our planners and leaders have not sat down to consider basic things. They have rather desired to model our society after what they see the Europeans and Americans do.
The consequence is that we have structures and institutions that are devoid of our peculiarities and experiences. Even though agencies exist, they have little or no relevance to the basic needs of the ordinary citizens. For instance, we spend billions to establish an anti-corruption institution, put up the buildings across the 36 states and Abuja, recruit staff and pay them outrageous salaries and allowances, to pursue public officials who dip their hands into public till, a task, vision, competence and merit could handle adequately.
National vision tells the people what the global vision is and because citizens know, most would find it difficult to work contrary to it. The few that fall out of line can be whipped back into the right path by the rule of law, sanction and punishment. Competence and merit are other options. Merit in society means citizens grow in their service to society on account of sound, holistic contributions. Part of the assessments for promotion, recognition, reward and honour include integrity and general moral rectitude.
Those who grow by this order hardly want to do anything that could tarnish their hard earned image. This way they keep to discipline and by so doing save the nation the trauma of misdirection, misapplication and outright stealing of public funds. This is how people build sane societies. The point I am making is that there are so many missing links in our developmental approach and efforts. I will leave that and go into the main issue for today.
One of the main missing links in our development efforts is the absence of cultural revolution. Nothing suggests to me that our leaders know about the importance of this factor in bringing about sustainable development. They hardly talk about it. Recently some vice presidential candidates of various political parties, squared up against themselves in a public debate. The questions and the answers centered around the same old issues of social infrastructure, fiscal and monetary regulations and policies, and nothing on key issues like human capital development and productive citizens/economy, which are key to any true development of a country into a nation state. If they did discuss the human capital aspect, one thing that was sure to pop up would be the state of the citizen.
It is not policies per se that drive classical development; it is the citizens that move the policies to get results. Leaders who understand this place emphasis on the development of the citizens, their orientation and indoctrination. This is not only important but also cardinal. A well oriented citizen would make meaningful contribution to the country acting as a whole and even when as an individual, standing on his own, he has capacity to generate enough economic gains for his well being and in most circumstances for those around him. America reworked her cultural inheritance, the breezy America we see today and which we like, was not what they had when most of them left Europe to found the American nation.
The earlier orientation was aristocratic in nature, but the founding fathers had to change that to enable America excel and become a world leader. China had to do so and in their case it was very costly, as millions of lives were destroyed in the process. That development underscores the importance of cultural revolution in the making of a nation, even though I do not subscribe to the loss of life and there is no need when the lessons of history are available to us. But this does not down play the fact that our country needs a cultural revolution.
Today both the leaders and the led like public holidays. We crave for it as if our lives depend on it; outrageously we have recorded instances when the federal government pandering to the whims and caprices of few unpatriotic individuals extended holiday periods beyond what ought to be. Needless to say that productive nations don’t do this, they are aware of what shutting the economy down for 30 minutes could mean for the economic health of the citizens and the nation. Our citizens in public service feel free to resume work three hours after the resumption time and citizens in private employment would after two hours of activities tell anyone that cares to listen how tired they have become. Take the same citizen to the developed world, they are hooked to three jobs and would not take the liberty to answer even a telephone call. A Nigerian nurse in United States of America told relations that a patient dare not make a complaint against you that could be the beginning of big trouble. In our country, medical personnel are the lords.
There is need to take a critical look at our culture and to revise it, to bring it in line with what could make our country a productive and progressive country. Today, millions of citizens are unemployed, not because the opportunities are not there, but more because our leaders chose to do what they ought to leave out. Our institutions don’t train, they just educate, whereas training is what we need to acquire capacity, which in turn will give education meaning. As we begin a new year, it is time citizens know that their lives are not in government but outside it. Ineffective leadership and poor economy have nothing to do with a citizen who wants to gain self actualization. Understanding is important and he must first understand he has an inherent right to good life for himself and his children. The next would be that he needs a skill and or power to give service or meet a need.
Citizens that have this mentality will excel irrespective of what the government is doing and whatever be the circumstances around them. We need to recreate Nigeria.
Happy New Year to my readers