Monday, July 06, 2009


“I’m a big believer that Africans are responsible for Africa”. – Barack Obama.

I came across the text of an interview between and the United States President, Mr. Barack Obama, while surfing the net yesterday. It is quite revealing, and if you read between the lines, you just might get a glimpse into Obama’s mind as concerns Africa.

Is it just me (probably an error in perception), or is our government wondering and asking why Obama is visiting Ghana first of all, when Nigeria is still here?

Let’s look at it together.

According to Obama, part of the reason why he is visiting Ghana first of all is that Ghana has conducted peaceful elections and seen peaceful power transitions in recent times. Remember that their last election generated quite close results, but the transition was still relatively uneventful. He also says that President Mills (the new president of Ghana) has shown himself committed to the rule of law, and to the kinds of democratic commitments that ensure stability in a country. He postulates that there is a strong correlation between governance and prosperity. In other words, countries that are well governed are prosperous! Ghana is well governed, that translates into prosperity.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the giant of Africa?

You know, it follows that Obama, and the industrialized world in general, would love to see a lot more Ghana’s in Africa. Someone might argue that Ghana has a smaller population (23,382,848 people as at 2008) than Nigeria, and that we cannot model our political system after theirs. I contend that principles hold everywhere; the political system is no exception. If you plant beans in Nigeria, and you plant beans in Europe – you still get beans; not apples. Ghana might be smaller, but they are currently following principles that are guaranteed to make them into a developed country quite soon; and at the present rate – way before Nigeria. However, that will only continue if we refuse to take our places, and do our thing.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the trigger of the African gun?

You model after the best, don’t you? You don’t want to dress like a beggar, talk like a bus conductor, or smell like a tramp. On the other hand, you might want to dress like Oprah, talk like Steve (Harris), or smell like Jolie. Obama is travelling to Ghana in a bid to “highlight the effective governance that they have in place” (his own words). Simply put, Ghana is being made a model for effective governance and peaceful transition in the African region.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the heart of Africa?

I don’t know if it is a cliché, but Obama claims not to be interested in just foreign aid, but in strengthening our (Africa’s) internal capacity for development.
You know, it’s funny at times how our government keeps whining that Nigerians in Diaspora do not invest their money back home, or that foreign investors do not even begin to consider the Nigerian market. Did you know that every telecomm mast in Nigeria runs on diesel generators? Did you know that Aso Rock is powered by generators? Do you know how many innovative businesses have folded up because of the sky-high cost of powering their operation? The cost of doing business in Nigeria is prohibitive, and for that single reason – investors will think (well over) twice before putting their money into the Nigerian market. According to a recent report, we have lost trillions in recent times due to power problems alone. Did you know that if we can solve our power problems – 50% of our economic problem is solved (according to reputable economic firms)?

Obama said, and I quote – “'re not going to get investment without good governance... If government officials are asking for 10, 15, 25 percent off the top, businesses don't want to invest there...” That is a bull’s eye, direct hit on Nigeria!

A state where you often cannot get contracts except you are willing to compromise and bribe your way is not about to go very far. We will not over-flog this, but it cannot be kept under the rug.

Did you know that in the early 60’s, the GDP of Kenya was higher than that of South Korea? What has happened between then and now? Korea has played smarter – according to Obama, as they have combined foreign investment, integration with the global economy, and commendable export strategies with a great emphasis on EDUCATION for a skilled workforce. They have insisted that foreign investment in their country be accompanied by technology transferring so that home-grown industries can be built and nurtured. What has Kenya been doing in the same period?

Is it not funny how the regulatory bodies in Nigeria are more concerned with raking money off the few foreign investors than with the actual terms of the deal? Or how the negotiators spend all the time discussing their cut and forget about discussing transfer of technology terms?

In the case where the investors finally get the permit (after months of haggling), they have no choice other than to bring Nigerians from Diaspora, or make use of a foreign workforce. Do you think they like to bring foreigners? Did you not know that it costs them less to employ the indigenous workforce? Anyway, they won’t - because on average the indigenous workforce does not meet their standards. Gosh, the government places little emphasis on education! So how do we build a skilled workforce?

Have you heard someone claim that we were under-developed by them Britons? Has Britain been responsible for us in the past 10 years, for example? In the words of Obama – “has the west been responsible for what has happened to Zimbabwe’s economy over the last 15 or 20 years?” I said earlier (NIGERIA, LET’S DO IT!), and I say it again – “the era of dependence on expatriates/foreigners to solve our problems for us is drawing to an end – and that is if it has not come to an end already”.

You know, its funny how we claim to be pacesetters in Africa. What pace are we setting? I wager we are record holders for the maximum number of ballot boxes stolen in an election! I also wager that we have the maximum difference between votes for elected officials and that of their closest competitors!

In closing, he said and I quote – “I think the people of Africa understand that. The problem is that they just haven’t always had the opportunities to organize and voice their opinions in ways that create better results”.

No matter whatever we look like now, together, we can make a great nation. Together, we can make THE heart of Africa, THE giant of Africa. Together, we can oil THE rusty trigger of the African gun. We can do it!

I am taking a stand against electoral fraud in 2011, what about you?

“...and that a younger person growing up in Johannesburg or Lagos or Nairobi or Djibouti can say to themselves: I can stay here in Africa, I can stay in my country and succeed, and through my success, my country and my people will get stronger.” – Barack Obama.


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  2. Responsibility is never compatible with (undeserved) sense of entitlement. Until those who run the country discard the idea that they are entitled to be wealthy off the sweat, blood and tears of those they supposedly serve, no one will feel truly responsible for the growth and development of our nation.