Wednesday, October 22, 2008

DREAM NIGERIA: The Land Is Green

Whenever I get on the all popular youth interface website-facebook, surfing to find friends, catching up on old times and seeing what they are up to, what hits me every time is the number of Nigerian Youths who have left Nigeria in search of greener pastures, greener education, greener jobs and greener lives.

In actual fact, almost every Nigerian youth is either planning or on their way out to the United Kingdom or the United States. I even gather that the US and UK are becoming too saturated and we have began spreading our tentacles to some “out of the world places” like Cyprus, Ukraine, Singapore, Thailand and even Mongolia (who ever said there was a Nigerian in every corner of the Earth probably wasn’t guessing!!!)

We take these journeys in the hope that whatever exists as life in those countries “must” be better than what we have here in Nigeria and if you were to ask what we hope to achieve by these journeys you get various answers such as, “I’m leaving for my Masters, or first degree, or job opportunities abound beyond measure, or a straight answer like ‘I want a better life’”. You know the funniest part is how it is said with a smirk on their faces like the ones left behind are the unlucky ones not to have the opportunity to travel out of the country.

Well, it really is difficult to argue in favour of Nigeria, especially when you look up, there is no light, you go out into bad roads, you turn the taps and stale air comes out, ask for jobs they ask you to pay N5000 for some hocus-pocus pre-interview tests. You start business and run it to ruin on ever escalating fuel prices…please someone say stop! I could go on and on.

On the other hand, if we say any Nigerian can survive anywhere, anyhow, and under any conditions, then why is it hard to survive, suppress and succeed here in Nigeria? That is a thought to ponder. I would also hate to seem like a bitter cynic, speaking from a bias of one who hasn’t had the opportunity to travel out. In truth, if I get the opportunity I ‘might’ as well take it, but under certain circumstances, so the issue is not against the concept of traveling out.

So what exactly is my stand on this issue? To the youth who says I am going to look for a better Life, better Education, better paying jobs, et cetera. You are quite right about the fact that they have the better life, education, the better paying jobs, but you have it all wrong about what real life or education or job opportunity is. Let’s use education as an example, a good Education imparts good knowledge, but does not give the ability to apply it. Character does that. Or do you know a school where they teach people to become Martin Luther King Jr, or M. Ghandi, or Wole Soyinka. If you do I’d love to know. Do you think it was the British Education Wole Soyinka got that gave him his Nobel Laureate, if so all the guys in his class should have one too. Character is the factor that cuts across all the great people in all works of life and it is learnt in the place of the heart and the discipline of the Mind.

So what will your heart teach you that your teachers won’t put in your head? Let me tell a story I read in the book by Russell H. Conwell. Once a man found a Priest and asked him to tell him where to find Diamonds. The Priest replied that if you find a river that runs into white sands and between high Mountains, in those white sands you will always find diamonds. So the man believed the priest, sold his farm and used the money to begin his trip. The person he sold his land to one day went into the farm to give his camel a drink from the shallow brook that ran through the farm, and we all know how these stories end; He found pieces of dull looking rocks which turned out to be diamonds. Now the cheeky part of this tale is that the man who went on the journey through many lands on his way back home actually found out that the mountains and white Sand River told by the Priest was the one in his backyard.

I have read a number of motivational books, Think and Grow Rich, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Who Moved my Cheese et cetera and found they all point to the same moral of this story. If you will open your eyes, and look at the environment around you hard enough, you’d find that the opportunities you seek elsewhere are everywhere around you. Like the bible says …open thine eyes and thou shalt be satisfied with bread” Prov 20:12-13. Your eyes are the windows to your heart. What you’ve seen and desired, you can have. God does his part by putting those opportunities around, but you have to find it. Going to America or Britain wouldn’t necessarily help you see better, (the glitter of the blings they have will probably have you chasing shadows for the rest of your life) but putting your mind to the discipline of meditating on the issues concerning your desires and the character to keep working at it till you succeed. Trust me; you’ll find the Land on your side is the greenest when you get this process right.

Let us see how this process works. A friend of mine, back in the University, who like everyone of us, had been looking for any opportunity to make an extra buck, had to help his dad check if his container had arrived at the Port. It took him over a week to locate the ‘bleeping’ container. He was downright frustrated. But it got him thinking, “Na wa for this port people O! Can’t they just arrange these containers by assigning a serial number to each one and tag them to the correct container documents, that way it will be easier for anyone to find their stuff in this place.” The idea struck him. He could do that, and that is what he did. He created a software that is used to tag each container and attach them to the correct documents in their records unit at port as they arrive.

It was a simple idea, to a big problem, but it wasn’t easy to get them to adopt it into the bureaucratic and corrupt system they ran at the port then, but he knew his idea was good so he didn’t give up. Finally, when they accepted it, they offered him a payment contract that stated that as long as they used his software, they would pay him royalty on it. This contract runs into millions of Naira yearly. Now let me blow your mind this friend of mine is only 26 year old. He didn’t have to go to the Greenlands in Europe; his Greenland is called Nigeria. What is your Greenland called? Lisbon; Portugal, or Beijing; China, or Las Vegas; USA. Sorry, mine is Nigeria and I am right proud it is.

My friend, Opportunities abound. Let us think; nothing is impossible as long as we don’t let it die at the door mouth of the challenges that we must face to be great. Put your mind in gear- Meditate; take time to think more about yourself and your life. Begin to ask why not? Why can’t we have our own London in Lagos? If you only open your eyes you’ll see it. This article says the land is green; it is not the land we are referring to, it is your heart that needs to see all that you can do to the land God put you in. Trust me again, it was no mistake and only a fool says so.

Now if you are reading this and you’ve traveled or are planning to travel, please do not be dissuaded, God’s word says as far as your eyes can see, it all belongs to you. Go, if you must and be all you can be, but please do not forget that your own land remains green and needs something deposited in you to make it the DreamNigeria we want it to be.

Finally pips, it takes character to grow your mind. Stay away from everything your heart says is not fair and just, not even if everyone is doing it especially Yahoo and all the corruption that is here today. What will give you the true increase, opportunity and prosperity you seek is within you; draw it out…and Oh! Yes the land is indeed very green.

Written by Tolulope Awobiyi (, 08023043878)

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