31
Dec
08

Nigeria Yesterday or Tomorrow


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In the winter of 2005 I was asked by the Business Council on International Understanding ( http://www.bciu.org )
to participate at a Nigerian investment promotion mission to the USA.

The Mission was organized under the auspices of Mustafa Bello, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and was headed by the former Honorable Federal Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

ngozi-okonjo-iweala

Ministers and thought leaders from Nigeria presented reform plans and programs that were being implemented to make investing in Nigeria attractive.

I represented an American company that had decided to invest in Nigeria and my role was to explain to potential American investors how these reform programs were conducive to doing business in Nigeria.
So at the end of a session I was asked to explain what worked and how these reforms were making a difference for our company’s ability to operate in Nigeria.

The Delegation started in Washington and moved on to New York to complete a very busy program that ran for a full week.
It was freezing cold in New York but the pace of the meetings kept everybody warm.
All sessions of the program were well attended by both potential investors as well as representatives from the Nigerian Diaspora living in the USA.

The audience also got a chance to ask questions after each session of course and here
I noticed that at times some members from the Nigerian Diaspora seemed to misunderstand the purpose of the mission.

Interested investors were asking questions regarding the Future of Nigeria and how the programs that were presented to the investors would work,where members of the Nigerian Diaspora were criticizing the previous Nigerian governments and asked the members of the delegation how they felt about errors made by the previous governments.
Some questions were even outdated because the questioner had been out of touch with his country for too long and was holding on to an old image. Some of the investors in the audience obviously got confused.

It has been said many times that one should forget the mistake and remember the lesson learned.
The Nigerian delegation at the time clearly demonstrated that they had learned from the past and were in the middle of a reform process yielding short- and midterm results and had set off for a better future.

The banking sector had merged 80 banks down to 25 as part of a new Central Bank regulatory measure imposed by the new government.
The insurance sector was going through a similar process.
Telecommunication licenses were made available and the market was opening up providing consumers with choices they had not had before.

Of course a lot is still work in progress and requires ongoing investments.

So while the delegates of the mission were showing clear pictures of the way ahead some of the members of the diaspora were still pointing the investors where Nigeria had been.

Most of the news we receive from Nigeria via the public networks focuses on problems not so much on changes that are taking place for the better.

Since both pictures need to be understood I suggest that the public networks continue to do what they do very well.
Expecting the commercial media to start showing the positives would be unrealistic anyways I think.

That leaves me with a suggestion to the members of the diaspora:

Try to support your countrymen who decided to stay in or return to their country and who are trying to make a difference to achieve a better future.
You have a tremendous opportunity at hand. You understand the culture and the people of the country you decided to leave and you have learned new ways of doing things and gained experience during your stay overseas in your new countries of residence.

With today’s new technology you can share your knowledge and know-how using video conferencing with those back home for instance.

Many of these technologies are even free of charge like in the case of Skype where you can chat, speak to someone using the internet instead of a telephone and even see your family and friends via your computer screens.

Imagine a Nigerian teacher living and working in New York or London, teaching children in Ibadan or Abuja the same lessons using a free of charge Skype connection that brings the teacher via the school computer to the classroom.

Local skills are most needed and will add most to the creation of wealth in Africa.

You have a choice to either talk about yesterday or say something constructive towards tomorrow…

© Desi Lopez Fafié


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3 Responses to “Nigeria Yesterday or Tomorrow”


  1. June 30, 2010 at 1:11 am

    I have been reading your blog now for quite a long time and really like it. I don’t know if it’s your style or not , but do you think you could do a post on the oil spill in the gulf?

    I love your thoughts and opinions, and would love to see your commentary on this tragedy.

    • July 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Please see my latest publication on the topic and let me know what you think and thanks for asking the question, best regards,

      Desi

  2. April 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I apreciat your efort towards bringing a change in Nigeria and to the world,may God help you.(amen)


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