Expert unveils the bane of Nigeria, Africa's development

Tunde Ajaja

It was a gathering of thinkers in the society, from professionals to entrepreneurs, select politicians and media practitioners, among other eminent individuals that graced the occasion with their presence. Venue was the Banquet Hall of Sheraton Hotels in Ikeja, Lagos, which was filled to capacity, on Monday, April 9, 2018.

The programme, tagged, ‘Africa Future Discourse Series,’ was put together by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, The Africa Future, Dr. Tosin Ajayi, who is also the Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of The First Foundation.

Though, according to the invite and the programme, one would almost feel it was only about the usual discourse on the decrepit state of Nigeria, which was the crux of the brilliant introductory lecture given by a veteran journalist, Mr. Ray Ekpu. But there was more. The topic of the series, ‘The Master Drive: The only thing that connects you to all, to everything (and changes everything!)’, which was delivered by Ajayi, convinced the participants that there was more to the event than the usual. It gave an unusual link between the human mind and the level of development in Nigeria and the African continent.

No sooner had the event begun than Ekpu threw the audience into a sombre mood with his well-researched, heartbreaking timeline of Nigeria’s journey from abundance to lack and frustration, and from a country with a bright future to one that seems to have taken mediocrity and underdevelopment to a worsening level.

He lamented that despite the nation’s enormous wealth, there had been a progressive deterioration in public amenities and the quality of living, adding that bad leadership was to blame for the nation’s woes.

While reeling out evidence, supported by statistics, of how bad the country had been managed, fuelling its underdevelopment, most of the people in the audience kept chuckling in pitiable bewilderment, with sadness written on their faces.

Ekpu said, “Nigeria is an exciting country of paradoxes. Let me just name a few of them: We have huge crude oil deposits but we sleep at the petrol stations waiting for petrol. We are a major gas producer but we do not have electricity. We have a huge land mass, good vegetation and good weather but we import food. We have huge deposits of bitumen in several states but our roads are bone breakers.

“We have huge deposits of gold but our women go to Saudi Arabia and Dubai in search of gold. We have abundance of water but we import frozen fish. Grinding poverty resides with us in the midst of opulence.

“These perplexing paradoxes I must say bring me to the main meat of my message: leadership. Leadership is it. It is leadership that makes the difference.”

While noting that the nation’s underdevelopment could not have been made possible without an equally bad followership, Ekpu said it was sad to note that things might not change soon because “the young people do not know how to put one of their own in the Aso Villa even though they have the numbers. Young people must fight for it because the old people won’t leave the stage.”

He added, “No elected government in Nigeria, no matter how well intentioned, can make a significant impact in terms of curbing corruption. The money that puts any President in Aso Rock is from sources known and unknown (apologies to K. O. Mbadiwe).”

He applauded the convener of the conference, Ajayi, whom he described as a medical doctor who is passionate not only about the state of medicine in Africa but the state of other things on the continent.”

While the participants were still trying to drag themselves out of the mood that Ekpu’s lecture put them, Ajayi sauntered unto the stage in the midst of the silence that already permeated the atmosphere.

He began his lecture by posing some teasers; “Why do all our efforts yield very little in our communities; Why do we have small short-lived performances in Nigeria, in Africa; why does the cloud of underdevelopment continue in Nigeria, in Africa; why don’t most people self actualise if their basic needs are met and how can we understand the problem of evil?”

He tied the real problems of under-development in Africa to “very small capacity to listen, see and learn; inability to relate with and utilise the environment; low capacity and capability; normal high human intelligence but inability for deductive and abstract thinking, and very low intellectual capacity for solutions,” among others.

More importantly, he stressed that Nigeria and Africa are where they are because their people are only concerned about self and they are unable to relate effectively outside their own self and genetic self as their focus revolve around survival.

Relying on Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation, Ajayi said findings have shown that less than one per cent of adults self-actualise, noting that self-centredness promotes only the smallest performance, outcome and effect.

He explained that self-centredness is at the moment the greatest hindrance to the development of mankind, disabling the expression and manifestation of the grand attributes endowed and adorned on him as a defining nature.

He added, “Self-centredness promotes jealousy and competition and it is the root of all evil. We are not designed and made for ourselves; nothing is. We are all variants of one another. Disconnecting from self is humility and that self-centredness is the only thing that connects you with everything, with your essence, with God. “If you don’t forget about yourself, you cannot be self-actualised on earth.”

Ajayi said Nigerians and Africans could create a new world for themselves if they free themselves from self-centredness. The way forward starts from us as individuals and we cannot get the desired result unless individuals divorce themselves of self,” he added.

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