Saturday, October 1, 2011

Nigeria@51 - Birthdays Mark the Time between the Past & the Future


Last year, 2010, I had a wish list for Nigeria@50, a milestone in the life of your nation, which was published in Leadership, the Guardian and a number of other Nigerian newspapers. Leadership has asked me to review that summer 2010 list to see which wishes, in my personal opinion, have come true and which ones are still things to be realized or are in progress. Although I am no longer living in Nigeria at this time, I personally continue to wish the people of this great nation the very best @51 years as it weathers and seeks to manage some difficult security issues. That being said, one huge part of that July 2010 list, which I never wavered on, and that has come to fruition was - a free and democratic election, that Nigerians could be proud of – which by accounts of many international observers happened in April 2011.

Other things on that list -- rebuilding agriculture, enhancing transparency, fighting corruption still represent challenges but are being worked. In a July 2010 speech (, I wrote that Nigeria was"@the point where the road to change should be paved with more action on food security, improved education (particularly for the country's nearly 70 million youth & 74 million women), the environment, energy needs, and development," what I have referred to as the FEEEDS® issues over the last year. I will say now, as I did then, that every generation should be a force for change, and every year a marker of progress. So in this 51st year, many Nigerians are working to change the paradigm on the FEEEDS® issues and on past perceptions of the nation by the public abroad. I will continue to do my part to help in these areas. This does not diminish the present serious security issues because they are a reality of the world today, and we all must work together to make the world, and Nigeria safer. I know there are a number of partners working with Nigeria to address these challenges. In the same July 2010 speech, I noted that I wanted to fast forward to summer 2011 when I had just finished reading my Nigerian newspapers which were full of articles about how proud many (did not say all) Nigerians were of their election. This was the case.

In the last two quarters of 2011, Nigeria's economic growth is being heralded by many financial experts, with some pundits citing BRICA countries (, of which Nigeria is one, serving as examples to struggling Western economies. Nigeria’s agriculture has an uptick of 7-8%, but most recognize there is so much more potential in this area; energy still is one of the key challenging linchpins for Nigeria’s development; and most investors are beginning to appreciate the incredible market that Nigeria offers (although American investments lag behind that of China and India in the region). According to recent press reports, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Donald Kabaruka, said last week in Washington D.C., during the annual fall meetings of the World Bank Group, that many African nations have "been there and done that" to address some of the economic challenges they faced 2-3 years ago. Nigeria is a good example of this, particularly as regards to banking reform. Your present security challenges I know are at the top of the list of issues to address. I also send my condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones in the recent security environment.

Today in your 51st year, I remain a supporter of your democratic destiny, your progress on the FEEEDS® issues, your push for investment, and development, and the positive paths you will decide to take as a nation in the future. Happy Birthday!