NIGERIA: Choosing the Less-travelled Road

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 Since getting involved in nation building as opposed to my regular calling, I have come to realise the failings of our elite who are saddled with leadership in our dear country Nigeria as they flow with the wind when they are expected to take up the challenges of correcting the anomalies in our political sub-culture. The idea of political gains in Nigeria appears to contradict what the benefits of political participation connotes.  Notable anomalies are inherent as we operate a “government of the few, by the few, for the few”.

It is however disturbing that these anomalies continue to thrive in spite of the influx of enlightened and educated (some will say “half-baked” going by the unexpected and surprising  anti-development statements by some of them in Ogun state in recent times) participants into the political space.  Although Rome was not built in a day, my expectation for progress is for sanity to get embedded gradually into our political processes, thereby correcting the abnormal practices of the past. After all, that is the normal trajectory of the evolution of a state. However, the opposite is the case as evidenced by the growing prevalent  negative practices that we witness on a daily basis.

The general expectation of gains in political participation especially by the actors and the ordinary people appears to be severely corrupted. The gain here is what in local parlance is referred to as dividends of democracy. Dividends of democracy differs in our sub-culture to that of developed, or even better still, some similar growing democracies. Ours is about what we can gain immediately without any gestation period. This amounts to less interest in sacrifice. Most successful democracies endured sacrifices to achieve economic development.

Most economic policies that were introduced immediately after the mortgage crunch that befell  the United States last decade are still molded daily to attend to changing needs. HARP to HAMP, HARP2 to HARP 3 and so on. The economy endured, and both the people and the government endured and sacrificed to get desired results. Up till now, the effects and lessons of the mortgage crunch in the USA still linger after almost a decade. However, it is palpable that the country and its citizens have come out stronger and are certainly in the right evolutionary direction . This is expected in any macro-economy in which the governed and the government recognize the interrelatedness of every component of an economy.

In Nigeria our political elite have failed to educate the political actors and the voters on the need to nurture economic policies and actions. They seem to prefer the path of least resistance- just flowing with the tide and taking care of short-term needs of the actors and the populace without pursuing sustainable policies and development programmes needed to solidify our economy. They appear not to have the capacity for deep rooted strategic thinking nor the moral fortitude to take hard decisions today in furtherance of a stronger, more prosperous tomorrow. In most cases, such short-term solutions only lead to lining of the pockets of a few people to the detriment of the impoverished poor  who yearn for better quality of life.

The most successful people in life are those that are ready to pursue a path less travelled by others. Senator Ibikunle Amosun,  the governor of Ogun State, falls into the rare category of those who dare to make the difference. He decided to pursue the path less travelled by others in order to achieve his goals in life. That’s the same path he has chosen in directing the affairs of Ogun state as well – The Less Traveled Road. He has chosen the path of sustainable growth as a way of achieving economic development for Ogun State.
The sustainable growth comes in many shades: Infrastructural development, re-invigoration of the education sector, integrated health care, Security, reformed Land Administration system via the innovative “Home-owners charter” programme”, Agricultural development and industrial development.

The most visible and desirable of the programmes is the infrastructural development that is necessary for any serious economy.  Infrastructure is what drives industry. Industry is what drives employment. Employment is what drives prosperity. Without quality infrastructural development, there is no economy that will develop and its people will continue to live in abject poverty. SIA-NOMICS, Amosun’s economic policy, took into cognizance the interdependence of the component parts of any economy and that of Ogun state in particular, and decided to prioritize infrastructural development that will in turn inspire other variables.
No investor wants to bring his money to where there is no accessible and quality road, to where there is no power supply or other enabling facilities for business to thrive.

This brings me to the concept of value proposition in marketing which is applicable to political patronage as well. What is the value proposition of SIA-NOMICS? It is the total benefits of what the Ogun State populace receive or benefit in return for  Amosun’s governorship  which they made possible with their freely given mandate. It is a concept on why Ogun State people should continue to support Senator Ibikunle Amosun as governor.

The value proposition is to convince Ogun State citizens that the path to economic development he has taken them through is bound to add to their total wellbeing. That the difficult road is better than the short term economic empowerment of the few being practiced in the past, and being sold by his opponents as the best route. In the local lingo, they call the policy of sharing money among some supporters ‘empowerment’. Empowerment, according to Amosun’s opponents is the enrichment of the few to the detriment of the majority. That’s the path SIA-NOMICS avoided by travelling the path less travelled by others.  SIA-NOMICS has focused on the creation of assets that can be shared by all. He has sought to add value to the commonwealth and creating avenues for more people to fulfill their individual aspirations. The idea is to give both the rich and the poor equal access to state assets and prepare the whole state for economic development by creating enabling environment for businesses and industry to thrive.

The value proposition of SIA-NOMICS is very clear. It identified the long-term needs of the masses, by providing the necessary impetus for economic well-being. The populace, both the governed and the government sacrifices for the future of our state. SIA-NOMICS is not about vote-catching palliative. It’s about sustainable growth for the state.

There have been consistent clamor to attract businesses to Ogun State. In the first four months of 2014, 46 new industrial facilities, each investing nothing less than 100 million dollars, berthed in the state including those belonging to Procter and Gamble and Unilever.  Industrial concerns will not come to town without a meaningful belief in the infrastructural development outlook. That is why Ogun State has become the preferred investors’ destination.

-Adebayo is Senior Special Assistant on ICT to the Governor of Ogun State

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