Being a Nigerian: 26 years before I die!

NigeriaOn my birthday, as I write this, the weather is humid and precipitous. My potential is enormous, outlook is bright and I really cannot complain. I am not scared of the future or anything but I realize that I’m probably at the median of my life.

A quick googling of ‘the life expectancy of a Nigerian’, which by the way is less for male than for female is about 52 as at 2012. That is to say, hypothetically, that I have 26 years left but it’s not my fault. This is what my country offers me. With a world ranking of life expectancy standing at 171, Nigeria has one of the lowest in the world. What a country in which to be born!

The Bible teaches us to “number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”. Now, I ponder what I would do with the remaining 26 years of my Nigerian life.This is the Irony of being Nigerian – living in hell on earth but not wanting to die. Nigeria is a poor country that discriminates against itself. A majority of the people, hundreds of millions of them, live below 50 cent a day going by the prevailing exchange rate. Our country boasts of poor leadership as a result of poor choices made by poor electorate.

It is so depressing and makes one thankful for being so blessed and fortunate. I don’t splurge but cannot say one is strapped and you can call me a ‘cheerful sharer’!  This is the whole essence of the piece and in particular what I will love to do with the ‘other half’ of my life – to give, give and give more to my country.

Firstly, I will ensure that I devote the rest of my life to the cause of good governance, change and equity in Nigeria. I am persuaded that the key to building a great Nigeria lies with its most important resource which is its young people. Young Nigerians have the capacity to turn things around and they possess the energy and passion to take their country back!

The cause of good governance in our country is priority to me and it is a duty to ensure that young people must lead this. The next election in my home state, Ondo, presents an immediate opportunity for me. I am looking forward to supporting and a candidate who presents solutions to the issues that concern me the most and is willing to offer our smart young people an opportunity to frame his policy direction.

This said, I will not accept any political appointment for myself under this new governor but will be glad to nominate a really smart young person with strong character. The strategy will involve raising Funds, deploying Technology and Human Resources to this campaign. At least maybe if we get it right with governance, I just might ‘live’ longer.

Secondly, empowering entrepreneurship and charity work will be my pursuit. One thing today has taught me is that it is impossible for one man to save the whole world. So my focus will be on the things that bother me the most and those things, which can help people help others. I believe that our recession is an opportunity to discover true entrepreneurship.

Oil has created a rent seeking, lazy, entitled and self-enriching class that created this present condition where it is difficult for Nigerians to eat. I have only invested in Oil once, to finance a retail transaction and probably that will be the last. We need to create more entrepreneurs than traders in our country. And that will take investing in knowledge, human capacity and in ideas. The first half of my life constitutes a struggle to do good and assist others with school fees, emergency healthcare bills and even those who are broke in ways they can’t explain.

This year I have made about six-seven investments in technology ideas so far, committing money, office space, equipment, contacts and time to people whom I had no prior connection with and it feels more fulfilling than anything I have ever done. It is my hope that I find others to join me on this path as I look to boost these numbers. The idea is to make more of these investments and consider it something of playing lottery for charity. Beyond the potentials for great returns, we have to put Nigeria to work. No more endless business plans as there is no time to over-analyze. Give me a good idea and a model and let’s learn together. No failures.

Thirdly, I wish to give more time to my family. They say family is the closest person to people when they are set to die. I mean my immediate family but who knows? My siblings are cool people and my parents too. We have our little differences and huge distances (location) separating us, is bridged by the love in our hearts, the values that we share and which we were brought up with. I guess this makes us unique in some way. Till the day we die no more, I wish myself, and all others born on this great day – Happy Birthday!Adewunmi Emoruwa is President of the League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)

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