Wednesday, July 22, 2009
OF SLAVES AND DRIVERS
Many are the times that as a people, we have, over the last four decades, set our eyes on attaining various visions, that even I must have lost count. Starting with some development goals in the 70’s. We soon lost focus of that when we struck the black gold in commercially liberating quantity. That was all that was needed to put a stop to the groundnut pyramids (our attempt to build something akin to the famous Egyptian pyramids no doubt), oil palm plantations and cocoa farms. Along the lines came a dream to provide access to education through some other espoused dream. Also caught short in execution. You see it would appear that as a people we are plagued with too many ideas. It doesn’t take very long for new ideas to wane and for us to itch for change, often time without enough considerations and certainly without giving enough room for public discourse and contention of ideas. Somewhere along the line came vision 2010. And soon 2020 followed in its wake. But by this time, my country has settled to the practice of espousing ideas to have a basis for explaining huge budget spends on programmes that never see the light of the day. And we soon had our own terminology for it, white elephant project. And never neglect to add the letter ‘s’, since we had quite a number of projects. You see, we’d discovered you don’t have to sweat to make, money. What started with the upper class, like everything in life, soon trickled down, as everyone carved out his own territory for a share of what we also christened the national cake. But in all of these one thing rings true, we had also acquired the knack to import whole ideas and plans developed in other parts of the world for implementation in our land. What better way to complement our thirst for foreign goods. So why has none of our plans really worked? Truth is we’ve never really owned the process. Most national visions and goals have been foisted upon us by significant others – The IMF, The World Bank or some other nation – to whom we have sold ourselves. We are indeed not drivers but slaves of the process. When you take a count of nations that have developed, I doubt if you’d find one that developed mostly through foreign thoughts. Dubai, Singapore, and many more. All developed out of a deep drive by the leadership to do what’s right for their country. A drive that developed into a vision, that was shared to others and which has become a catalyst to propel economic growth the likes of which the world has not seen before. Birthing wonders to behold and attracting huge investment and tourism income in the process. But when will my people learn? I have seen beggars on horses and kings walking. Isn’t it funny how you can feel you are the driver yet but a slave?
Posted by Femi Oluwafemi - formerly Osikoya