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What is the way forward for Nigeria, post-COVID-19? – Part III

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The importance of ‘sweat equity’ and dignity of labour
The first two articles in this series emphasised the need for a shift in our mindsets by valuing the Nigerian life and the criticality of knowledge and human capital post-COVID-19. Key insights from the previous articles were the need to understand that the unseen enemy, COVID-19, is no respecter of persons, race, income or wealth. The way the global pandemic has shutdown economic systems with citizens restricted to their homes and nations shows us that we need to value ourselves and not the ephemeral things in life. We have also stressed the importance of knowledge as the new currency in the ‘new world’, post-COVID-19. Building on these insights, we want to engage our readers and emphasized the importance of the dignity of labour as another critical factor, post-COVID-19.

Land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship have been identified as the four factors of production in our mainstream school curriculum. Of all these four, labour and capital are key elements used in modeling economic growth. Of these two, we want to take up on labour and argue in a simplistic way that going forward; we need to understand its relevance in our economy.

The dawn of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 opened up the Nigerian economy to the global economy in ways we never experienced in the non-democratic years. Access to the Internet and mobile communication future opened up the nation to opportunities that were not there before. Twenty-one years later, we have gone beyond that age of the Third Industrial Revolution and have entered the fourth. Social media has given a ‘voice’ to everyone on it and we must acknowledge that this in itself has led to massive abuse of information in our society. Many have used the social media platforms to perpetuate non-dignifying practices including fraud. There seem to be a sense of entitlement especially by the youthful population that this access legitimizes their right to defraud at every opportunity. Easy money has become the goal of many young people.

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Unfortunately, we live in a society where people flaunt things, irrespective of how they got these. We are a society driven by how much you have and how best you can show to the world that you’re the ‘next best thing after sliced bread’. The insatiable passion to acquire more and more to flaunt and show-off even if these proceeds are illicit has robbed us the sense of the dignity of labour. Many have devised different ways to extort money at all cost. In these past years, we have seen incidences of money rituals as well. Our mainstream media reports of this almost weekly until recently that the coronavirus pandemic seems to have reduced or stopped these occurrences. Honestly, we cannot continue with these old ways.

This is the time we must understand that labour is sweet and that the sweat generated by laboring hard to make a decent living is more sustainable in the long run. It is of more value to take a long-term perspective to life and not be in a hurry ‘to blow’. What defines the human life is not how much we have or do not have. Whether we have or not, we must always reflect and remember that there is dignity in labour. Fraudulent practices might make you look rich and relevant in the present. This might make you attractive on social media with many imaginary friends and likes on social media. You might be the ‘sweet sensation’ of the moment with so many people worshipping and idolizing you. However, think again because this is not going to be sustainable going forward.

There is indeed dignity in labour. There is indeed dignity in living a life that honours the other person and would not seek to defraud them either you know them or not. It is better to work hard and earn a decent living and live within your means. There is no dignity in racing to acquire things that will shorten your lifespan all because you want to show-off. How the leaders we have voted into the governance structure have been flaunting ‘their wealth’ and how entertainment has continually displayed material things. There is more to life than showmanship online and on social media.

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Nigeria has a virile youthful base of almost 60% of the entire population. This is an amazing resource base for us to harness for the benefit of our nation if our mindset is aligning rightly. There is practically no household in Nigeria where you won’t find a youth and possibly a graduate. However, many would argue that they are unemployed. While we acknowledge that unemployment is real in Nigeria, we argue that it is all about every unemployed youth looking in add and redefining work. You can create a legitimate income stream for yourself by thinking differently. The value of a degree is to make you a better thinker first. What are the needs in your immediate community? Are there ways you can meet these needs and earn a descent income even if it is small at the beginning?

‘I want to be a billionaire, billionaire oh yeah’ is one of the lines in the lyrics of a trending song in our mainstream entertainment circle. Many of the names mentioned in the song have a story to their wealth. At the heart of their stories is a humble, small beginning with wealth painstakingly through the dignity of labour over years. Their wealth didn’t suddenly appear trolling online to see who to defraud. Africa’s richest man who also happens to be a Nigerian has consistently emphasized the dignity of labour in many of his interviews we have listened to. Wealth does not come by wishful thinking. Wealth is created through the dignity of labour and through ‘sweat equity’.

*Emmanuel Ojo (@Emmanuel_Ojo)
Gbenga Falana (@Falana_Gbenga)

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In this article:
COVID-19Nigerian economy
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