This morning, I want to talk about Mrs Ibukun Awosika, chairperson of First Bank Nigeria Limited.
I watched two presentations she gave recently at the Governors’ Forum and The Platform.
The first time I watched her speak, many years ago, I was completely awestruck. It was on The Platform, (I think the Nigerian Independence Day version many many years ago). She absolutely blew me away. She made so much sense. That was many years ago. But hearing her speak a few days ago, I started to get annoyed and very irritated by her message.
She sounded like the coach of a football team losing by 20 goals to nil trying to ‘ginger’ the players after 3 players have been sent off and the rest are nursing injuries. She kept talking about being positive and speaking well about Nigeria and then she talked about opportunities.
This is the problem with the Nigerian elite. They come before an audience of broke, young people whose only thoughts and knowledge of Nigeria are hardship and struggle and tell them to be positive. They make them feel as if Nigeria’s demise is somehow their fault.
Mrs Awosika attended Methodist Girls High School in Yaba, Lagos and the University of Ife.
I cant help but wonder what Mrs Awosika would have become if she had grown up in present day Nigeria.
A Nigeria where a child who isn’t born with a silver or at the very worst plastic spoon in his or her mouth, is already scratching at a wall in a vain attempt to demolish the wall, a Nigeria where a person continually receives hard knocks in an attempt at survival. A Nigeria where dreams are buried and forgotten in a quest to breathe and live. In a quest to just survive. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Nigeria of today does not provide opportunities, instead it frustrates ideas.
Where is the next generation of the Ibukun Awosika’s? What are they doing right now? Most of them are young and vibrant people, but who sadly need someone up there to help give them a lifting hand.
I am not talking about the children of the noveau rich, who were raised with money that their parents loaned from the banks or stole from government. I am talking about the ordinary Methodist Girls and Ife graduates from modest homes. The children from the now eroded middle class.
Where is the policy to support their dreams and aspirations?
This is what I told a former Nigerian leader recently about Nigeria:
I said: Sir, Nigeria provided you a free education at primary and secondary level. When you finished secondary school, there was a job already waiting. With that job you could raise a family. If you decided to go to a university, there was a scholarship to go to any institution you wanted to anywhere in the world. In our days we had it slightly worse but our fees were affordable. So my generation is the last that may owe Nigeria a little bit of gratitude.
So let me ask: Where did Mrs Awosika’s children go to school? It is apt to ask this question.
I am sure even without checking that none went to Methodist Girls or St Gregory’s maybe not even the once prestigious Kings College Lagos would make the list. I am sure they went to universities abroad, or will, if they are not of university age yet.
None of them will go to Ife. So when she talks about positivity, I want to suggest she and her fellow elites put their heart where their mouth is and let their own children also be privileged to experience the troubles with Nigeria.
It is an insult of ungodly proportions to tell people to do what you yourself is not doing and hide behind: “I can afford it.”
It is now the norm that those who preach: “we must make Nigeria great again”, are those whose kids are studying abroad and who own property abroad.
Yes, you have a successful business in Nigeria which you have built for over 30 years. But the country is in a mess and the truth as the Bible says will SET YOU FREE.
The podium of a pro people event such as The Platform must not be a place to make Nigerians feel downcast and think of themselves as not doing enough. It should rather be a veritable platform to express ideas and share opportunities that are outside their reach, and perhaps provide a few of them with the chance to access unreachable tools to help them escape poverty and frustration of a FAILED SYSTEM.
The hypocrisy of the elite contributes 90% to Nigeria’s inability to rise.
They should stop telling us what is wrong, what we are not doing, what we should be doing, and start showing the ordinary Nigerians the way to success.
Anything short of this is a total waste of time.
Thank you for granting me audience.