Values That Can Stimulate National Growth
THE book, Nigeria’s Odyssey: Visions, Illusions and Delusions or Transformations, written by Dele Owolowo highlights some of the ills that have continued to stunt Nigeria’s growth and development. Published in 2013 by Vintage Press Limited, Lagos, it has ten chapters, and four appendices. It serves a warning that without a functioning social economy and a relevant leadership profile, it will be impossible for Nigeria to present a credible image of achievement for the world.
In this book, the author aims to envision an illuminating pathway for Nigeria’s greatness. Through this book, the author aims to provide an agenda for the prosperity of Nigerians in the coming decades. And because the book is self-published, there are many typographical errors. I believe the author’s statement: ‘‘Those who need knowledge must require knowledge least,” should be: Those who need knowledge must acquire knowledge least. And such people succeed in Nigeria because of the general aversion for knowledge by Nigerians. And in the current knowledge driven age, the internet age, we should experience a general pauperization of our people because of our aversion for knowledge. In today’s world, without knowledge, ultimately you become a slave to those who know.
Nigeria’s Odyssey was written as a result of disappointment and failure. The impetus to write the book came from one, Field Ruwe, a Zambian, with a Zambian perspective. His message, by email is captured in appendix 2. The time for writing has been provided through a twist of fate. A friend defrauded him by selling him a dud generator. Not being able to provide the power to run his business, he had to take a breather to consider other options. That was how he was able to put his thoughts on paper such as his experience with the fake generator supplier.
Surprisingly, Owolowo’s literary journey has been more than 30 years of thinking. This knowledge from experience and observation introduced the good works of our professionals in the Diaspora. Owolowo’s sojourn abroad also brought him face to face with slavery away in menial jobs abroad. Upon this modern slavery is the realization that without a policy to create mass employment which is only possible through industrialization, Nigerians would likely continue to wallow in poverty.
The perception that corruption, insecurity and religion are the reasons for our problems are debunked in this book. However, the book revealed that our destinies are in our own hands rather than in the hands of any other people or celestial body.
The late Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, aged 70 and above, once lamented why the American economy was multiple times the size of China despite the fact that China has a population five times of America. Something must be wrong for that to happen. To get the correct perception of that time, that was in the 1970s, when the USA was only 200 million and China was a quarter of mankind, more so that was at the height of the ideological war between Socialism and Capitalism.
At the same time, Nigerian leaders lament their inability to proffer solutions to our problems, while the Chinese visionary leaders lament the depth of their national ridicule. Deng realized that you cannot hate your enemy to the extent of disrespecting their achievements. There has to be something they are doing that is right. But to be able to look inwards and x-ray your nation in dismay is a laudable posture. More importantly, when you are ready to take necessary steps through emulating your enemy’s route to greatness, as it spurred China to try and close the development gap with the West. Then, you are all the more visionary. That capacity to look inward and admit that things aren’t on the right path is the hallmark of an insightful leader. Such leaders cannot exist in China alone. They can be replicated in Africa. We also can catch up with the West as China did.
According to Owolowo, Nigeria is a nation of people who balance themselves in-situ, while displaying an Atilogu dance style no-shaking, no matter the depth of the human suffering. Thus, we revel in poverty, large scale unemployment, lack of utilities of all hues, insecurity and all, yet the daily grind of survival is fully etched on our faces. Which was why Nigeria was proclaimed the happiest nation in 2011. Even then, we gleefully celebrated it in the media. That was perhaps a manifestation of our collective malaise of hopelessness and lack of grit and desire to get out of our national slumber.
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