Nigerians: Patners for change

Charles Soludo

Charles Soludo

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts” – Ecclesiastes 4:9
“Without great partnership, life is virtually bankrupt” – Richard Simmons III

Barrack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” We must believe that we are agents of change, there is no time that a man has so much abused his existence than when he leaves the world the same way he met it! John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) inspired a whole nation with one of his awe-inspiring quotes, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. The most abused word in Nigeria presently is the word ‘Change’, the gospel of change has now become a mischievous way of indicting the government in the face of obvious dereliction of individual duties and responsibilities. The chanting and tantrums of ‘change’ has now become the present ‘anthem’ of irresponsible citizens. Nigeria has become a country where everybody is desirous of change but nobody wants to be responsible for that change. It has become glaringly obvious that the new phase of our development is not in the hand of the government; it is our collective responsibility.

It was a sigh of relief last week in Kaduna state, when the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Charles Soludo emphatically reached out to the Buhari-led government to look beyond the APC caucus and seemingly myopic economic team under the leadership of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in order to proffer solution to the dwindling economy. The eminent professor was actually the guest speaker at a lecture chaired by the Vice-President with the theme: “Building the economy of states: challenges of developing inclusively sustainable growth.” Speaking on the topic ‘Fragile state with a failing economy, making progressive change work for Nigeria’, Soludo said the APC needs to move from a coalition of political parties that won election to a coalition for governance. I have vigorously reached out to the President to look beyond the APC structure for change gladiators. He should not just surround himself with advisers that are product of political, ethnic or religious manipulations; he should surround himself with leaders that can solve problems and are so full of initiatives and passion for a new Nigeria. He must maximize the wealth of network by bringing into his government people with high intellectual values and avoid intellectual liabilities. The President must learn to separate policies from politics!

I have been using the past eleven weeks to educate Nigerians on the need to get involved in the global goals. Finally, I will be rounding up on the last of the 17 sustainable development goals, which is: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS. The 17 goals have been designed with 169 targets and 230 indicators to provide a road map that will help the world achieve sustainable development. In every country, these ambitious and transformative goals will ultimately and actively involve a broad coalition involving the government, the citizens, civil society organizations, the private sector, philanthropists and multilaterals. We must all come together to define our destination and also scrutinize the goals and methodologies needed to get there. A destination undefined cannot be reached.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Don’t fall for the lie that one man cannot make a difference. All powerful movements began with the actions of individuals striving for change. There are Nigerians that have been investing into the growth of our economy. People like Aliko Dangote and his vision of turning Nigeria to an industrial hub, Innocent Chukwuma and his idea of Innoson Motors, Chief Eric Odinaka Umeofia (CEO, Erisco Foods Ltd) and his ‘magical’ tomato paste and finally, a man that I respected so much, who is also my mentor: Tony Elumelu and his novel idea of mentoring and equipping start-up entrepreneurs all over Africa.

I am privilege to be a mentor in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme (TEEP), one of my mentees is a vibrant youth from Rwanda and the programme has actually increased my sense of awareness to the benefit of private partnerships in re-engineering the economy of a nation. The new face of Africa is in the hands of entrepreneurs and the enhancement of Africa’s economies will ultimately come through entrepreneurship. One of Nigeria’s greatest minds and addict of entrepreneurial revolution, Tony Elumelu, is championing the campaign of entrepreneurial ‘spirit’ across the length and breadth of Africa. In a nation where people’s appetite for wealth has become insatiable, one man decided to make a detour and devote a huge chunk of his wealth into evolving young entrepreneurs. Tony Elumelu is an economist, a visionary and serial entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, The United Bank for Africa (UBA), Transcorp and Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to becoming the catalyst for entrepreneurship across Africa through the promotion and celebration of entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent, with the initiatives like the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP). TEEP, the flagship programme of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, is a $100 million initiative to support emerging entrepreneurs across Africa over 10 years, aiming to generate a projected $10 billion in revenues for the continent and one million jobs for its citizen. The novel initiative by the Nigerian billionaire to invest $100 million out of his $700 million net worth to fund, assist, train and mentor 10,000 budding African entrepreneurs in order to boost the continent’s private sector is novel, innovative, laudable, timely and revolutionary. Mr Elumelu once said that entrepreneurs are the hope for the future and that the ultimate goal of TEEP is to drive African’s economic and social transformation from within and to radically intensify job creation in Africa. In addition to directly supporting African entrepreneurs with “Empowernment Capital”, the Tony Elumelu Foundation uses data gathered to conduct research and advocate for policy improvements to the enabling environment.

I am reaching to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the federal ministers, Attorney General of the federation, Inspector General of Police, special advisers, members of the National Assembly and state House of Assemblies, state governors, state commissioners and all stakeholders to be globally compliant with these audacious goals. We must design special programmes and policies that will integrate UN’s approach of achieving sustainable development before 2030. We may be local geographically but we must be global in expression.

Garth Brooks once said, “You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy”. The federal government should look out for more partnerships. We cannot develop out of isolation. The President, the Vice- President, the Federal ministers, the Governors and people in authority must come down from their lofty heights to look out for resourceful individuals, organizations and NGOs to partner with. I want to encourage the president to infuse young and vibrant minds into his list of ‘masterminds’. Old ways won’t open new doors. Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”, we need renewed thinkers and young innovative minds that will come together to build an economic blueprint for a new Nigeria. In order to be able to come out of this economic quagmire, the federal government needs to partner with vibrant and resourceful Nigerian youths.

On this final edition of my extensive work on the United Nations global goals, I will want to appreciate everybody that has helped in this journey. I want to specially appreciate Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the former Deputy-Governor of Lagos State and the senior special assistant on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.

*To learn more on how you can get involved in these global goals, you can go to www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment.



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