By Kenneth Onyemaka
I see a consensus building that Africa has to find its own novel pathways, which is heartwarming!
In all the centuries of human civilization, nations and races have been agonized and troubled with many different afflictions. In these times, they have summoned their collective innovative spirits and burrowed out of the crisis. The West, Orientals, Jews all have been confronted with challenges and setbacks of huge proportions but they innovated their way out of it and prospered in leaps and bounds.
On the flip side, Africans have done nothing to enhance their vastly endowed continent but everything to undermine it. Consistently, you find a penchant for seeking handouts and palliatives from abroad.
In my previous assessments, I had profiled Africans/Nigerians as a race type suffering from an ailment I termed, Acute Innovation Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). I viewed us as being books smart but hugely uninventive. Here are a few pointers to this assertion.
I worked on the Star Lager (a beer brand from the stable of Nigerian Breweries) when it was the biggest brand in Nigeria. At that time, a small state in the US, the State of Oregon could boast of about 58 breweries and distilleries, whereas 3 of the 4 active ones in Nigeria were foreign owned. I used to wonder how come we didn’t seem to have the capacity to create something we crave the most.
In the first quarter of i-phone 6 launch, Apple raked in 45billion dollars in sales revenue…do the maths and see how it translates in terms of Naira & Kobo.
Today, India is exporting IT talents and making a kill from that industry alone. Better not be caught up in Onitsha main market or Idumota on a rainy day. The smelly drainage will overflow and choke you up. So you see? We can’t even make functional drainage systems.
Prof. Soludo saw all of these and developed a mechanism to cure the baseline deficiency (as you need money to fund innovation) He went to great lengths to revamp the financial ecosystem and upscaled the macroeconomic dynamics but that momentum is lost now and the system is on a decline.
His recent analysis of the consequences of further COVID-19 lockdown generated a great deal of conversations home and abroad and has been trending all week. The cases are growing and if you keep extending with no end in sight, soon you’ll have no economy. And with very little palliatives or none in very many cases, we will have double tragedy on our hands.
Essentially, he propositioned we keep the precautionary measures in place, on a personal level as well as in public places, exit the lockdown and get the economy back up and running. His admonition that we explore Made-In-Africa solution templates echoes the minds of many and underpins the growing consensus for Africa to find it’s own niche.
The President of Madagascar must be a Soludo think alike. In defiance of W.H.O, he reopened the country insisting on the efficacy of homegrown herbal remedy. Away from Africa, the Bundesliga (German football league) is scheduled to resume May 9th. Even in Wuhan where it all began, activities have spiked. Colorado, California have all begun to bubble again.
I believe the analogy of keeping the Nigeria economy under lock and key is rendering a very weak economy weaker is on point! Oil stockpiles have hit all time high and prices all time low. It’s delusional to expect a rebound anytime soon and if we are restricted continually and loses the latitude to create substitutes, you can imagine what we have got coming. Worse still, if farming activities continues to ebb, be certain we have a food crisis closing in.
We are at a crossroad anyway, either way, people will die but the choice has to be made between staying broke and saving the economy. And once again, Soludo has boldly pointed a direction, spurring Africans on to a wholesome new trajectory.
On a final note, thanks to the university dons at UI breaking their sweat to find a home grown remedy. I’m hopeful, of a breakthrough and then we can start winning.
Stay safe, y’all!
- Onyemaka writes from Asaba, Delta State.