Development has a life of its own. It’s simply a matter of waking up its soul or essence. The fact of this holds true in all endeavours of life. Whether it is in politics, economics, mathematics, etc. the proposition holds firm. This explains the emergence of clusters of [development, competences etc. areas] in the world. Immediately a people decodes the essence or soul of development the rest comes easy. And the multitudes simply join and take benefits. By this logic, development becomes all inclusive and sustainable. This is Adam Smith’s inner logic.
So whenever you see a people, a nation etc. in perennial pains, writhing to get developed, it is clear that they have lost it. They have not absorbed the universal truth, that there is a soul, an inner logic to things. However immediately development is understood in its inner logic or soul, one thing surely happens. If it is a nation, it becomes like Singapore or China. The fact of this is automatic. But the miracle is in understanding this. However Nigeria it may be said has not been particularly good or lucky at it, at understanding.
However, the jury is now out. A new and concrete dawn has arisen in Nigeria, in a part of Nigeria. But first, a caveat. We at The Turf Game, 2TG, were some of the first people to spot the first flowerings of this growth, this miracle. Expectedly there were doubters or scorners. We had stated it plainly that Udom Emmanuel, the Governor of Akwa Ibom was a brave new kind of leader. What we were saying in summary is that Emmanuel is a man who was able to decode development unto its innermost souls. And he has awakened it for Akwa Ibom State and its peoples.
However, let us give those who may still doubt a window into the Emmanuel’s gifts for developmental leadership. ‘’Ndigbo in Lagos’’ is one of the WhatsApp groups I subscribe to. And just about last week, a piece was trending and trending hot. It came titled: Positive things restructuring Nigeria will bring! – Foreign Diplomat Reveals. It reads in part: The Atlantic [that is the South-South] Province will take the Uyo blueprint and run with it. Please let us repeat: will take the Uyo blueprint and run with it.
And this was the assessment of a diplomat whose only interest is not to humour any bodies. His interest is to report to his own people which are the best destinations in Nigeria. That is a la business, which is Nigeria’s best emerging sub-markets to invest in. And Uyo/Akwa Ibom scores the bull’s eye over and above every other state. If one read the full link, Uyo was the only development profile described as a blueprint, that is, something seminal, classic, fungible and exportable as it were.
So what exactly is Emmanuel doing? To fully understand this, we perhaps have to borrow a line from South Africa. Abdullah Ibrahim, a South African thinker and jazz master had an insight. And we shall purloin from him: So many models of East and West abound, but one thing alone is sure, the home brewed model is best.
Too often Nigerian development practitioners have failed because of poor understanding of models and their usefulness thereof. Emmanuel’s genius is not to impose the Singaporean or Malaysian etc. Models on Nigeria, on Akwa Ibom State.
Emmanuel’s unique selling point is to begin from the reality, from Akwa Ibom and borrow from the models, from the world. This is in contradistinction to the imposition of a successful offshore order on an unwilling local host. And contrary to those who want to impose Singapore and China etc. upon Nigeria, these nations actually did the opposite. That is they did what Emmanuel is doing. You take your readings from home, not abroad, no matter how fanciful or successful. It looks easy, but that is the most difficult thing to do. Doing this has evaded Nigeria for 50 odd years. This is the critical difference an Emmanuel offers.
And this concept of home brewed genius, of opening up a people to their greatest vistas, is hinted profusely by the billboards that dot Uyo, Akwa Ibom’s capital. It reads: Our destiny, our greatness is in our hands, [not in the hands of models].
And the prolific dividends of the Emmanuel blueprint was put on the show at the 30th anniversary of the creation of the state. The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo literally ran out of breath commissioning one industry after another. And the industrialists themselves were effusive with praise. For them Emmanuel has made Akwa Ibom the best destination for prosperity in Nigeria today. But it was the Vice President who summed things up most elegantly. In his words, Emmanuel is a very clever Governor. Yes, we did be proud to affirm he is. He has mechanized development. And development has taken a life of its own in Akwa Ibom. Taking a life of its own that is the secret in Malaysia, Singapore, China, etc.