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‘Nigeria’s Biggest Problem Is Underdeveloped Human Infrastructure’


Prince Nnagozie Ochi, Co-Founder of Bridges To Goodness (BTG) is a passionate Nigerian with over 20 years private sector experience running a wide range of business at the highest level. He has finally come home to work on development projects, one of which is BTG, a project designed to improve the performance capacity of the Nigerian society. He spoke to AJIBOLA AMZAT on the activities of his organisation. About the organisation

Bridges to Goodness is a social enterprise founded by a team of social architects and entrepreneurs specialised in the design and delivery of innovative models for accelerating the performance capacity of society. We are a transformative force with new ideas relentless in the pursuit of a better world.

Our mission is to build and operate a platform comprising governments be it federal, state or local including corporate bodies, international donor agencies, Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) and persons of character with sole focus on the urgency and extreme importance of development of the human infrastructure capacity of Nigeria using a Marshall Plan approach in scope and content. Our vision clearly is to see to the emergence of a future generation of Nigerians with capacity to engage, compete and thrive in the 21st century global environment.

The organisation is a social enterprise model, as I said; it is not an NGO. We recognise the failings and shortcomings of NGO’s to tackle the challenges of human infrastructure development in a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable way. We also recognise the incapacity of government agencies to achieve the same due to the burden of broken social contracts, inefficiency, complacency and bureaucracy. These are all the hallmarks of governments. Government at all levels has failed to deliver in all the areas of our needs. Therefore, we see the need for a new platform – a middle ground, a public, private partnership to tackle the massive social-economic problems confronting us, specifically the human infrastructure underdevelopment of our country in an efficient, result-oriented, innovative, professional and accountable manner. As a social enterprise, we are social benefit driven, not economic profit driven as in the private sector. We would bring in the private sector effectiveness to tackle public sector needs.

Challenges facing Nigeria

The challenge we have is the challenge of human infrastructure. And each time we talk about infrastructure, everybody thinks it is about physical infrastructure. That tells you that we never pay attention to that structure that is human. We focus only on the physical infrastructure. So, what do you have? Decay.

The oil boom money that was not embezzled by leaders was spent on building highways. Where are the highways today? Dilapidated. They spent the money building bridges, setting-up power plants. Yes, physical infrastructures are good. But you really cannot go about massively investing in physical infrastructure development without also massively investing in human infrastructure. That is what makes the physical infrastructure to have a lasting value. But we have neglected the human element in Nigeria. And the country is bleeding to death on account of that. This is one of our biggest problems.

The true test of a nation is not the census, not the size of the country or crops it produces, but the kind of man it produces. What is the kind of people that Nigeria is turning out? That is the true test of Nigeria. So, we must tell ourselves that it is all about people. The most important resource of any nation is its people. Forget the crude oil. The level of development of any nation is directly proportional to the level of its people. Develop the people, and the people will develop the communities and then the nation. That is the key. Nigeria has neglected human element. So, what we have today is broken pencil syndrome. This means we have an older generation with better capacity than the current younger generation. What that means is that we have a problem with replacement of generation. They are totally dysfunctional, educated illiterates. Pupils go through school, but what do you get? When they graduate from the secondary school, they can’t even write a letter, they can’t even read a book. They are functional illiterates. We have a rudderless and clueless emerging younger generation, decaying social contracts and all kinds of problems.

What we need to do

We need a Marshall plan. General Marshall was American Secretary of state during the Second World War under Harry Truman. After the total destruction of Europe, he came up with a plan for massive investment in rebuilding the overall infrastructure in Europe. That plan was approved and over 10 billion dollars was spent to rebuild Europe by the United States as at 1945. So, Nigeria, given the problem we have, need a Marshall plan for accelerated human infrastructure development. Don’t forget that our biggest problem is not power. It is not, bad roads, insecurity or okada riders. Our biggest problem is underdeveloped human infrastructure. So, we must be able to come up with a way to accelerate human infrastructure.

Strategies to deliver on those goals

The scope and content of the human infrastructure development initiative includes accelerated literacy. This is the project for early child earning years to ensure every child in Nigeria becomes literate before primary three. There is also a programme for students in late primary and secondary schools with functional illiteracy challenges. There is also Book Drive Community Library and Computer Centre. This is an offshoot of our accelerated literacy project. This will enable us to set up and populate libraries in every community in Nigeria. Going further, we intend to set up Internet enabled computer centres in all rural and urban communities. We intend to institute and deploy a character and life-skills development framework in schools and communities and thereby create a climate that reinforces the development of our core humanness. We will also deploy a community organising model that provides a platform for community leaders to progressively organise their communities, enrich community lives and bring about peace, progress and prosperity. We also plan to implement youth activity programmes in communities that joyfully engage young people and ultimately harness their generative powers and channel them into a future of success. We will build a coalition of persons of character in communities and ultimately have a national coalition for human infrastructure development.

On B2G projects – UNICEF Synergy

We are aware that the scope of activities of UNICEF is focused on children; in this we see great opportunity for synergy. A major pillar of our activity is that we must go upstream to ensure that the future generation of leaders has better access now to all it takes to become competent and successful in life. Our watch is – “The work with the development of our children and youth is one of the most urgent necessity”.

Our project goes further to include adults and the overall community. We recognise that to successfully accelerate the performance capacity of people, you need to create a purposeful, pervasive, repetitive, consistent, concrete and creative environment to reinforce every aspect of human development. Therefore, we are working with some state governments, corporate organisations, international donor agencies etc to attract attention and massive investment in the comprehensive, integrated and sustainable human infrastructure development of Nigerian citizens.

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