A country of great minds

It’s no longer uncommon to read about the financial crimes committed abroad by some Nigerians. While it’s only a few Nigerians who are involved in these devious acts, some have said Nigeria has become synonymous with fraud and email scam. There are efforts by the Nigerian government to check this menace, however, there is a school of thought that the growing culture of materialism and greed which has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society is the main reason for the rise in these criminal activities.

There is no doubt that there are several socio-economic problems in Nigeria, however, there are still several things to be proud of Nigeria for.         

Over the decades, Nigeria has taken leading economic and military roles in ensuring peace returns to crisis-hit regions in West Africa. The country plays a major role within the West African peace-keeping force – Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group(ECOMOG).

A country with a yearly GDP(the value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given year) of over $300billion no doubt has vast economic potentials. While there are a number of factors that may discourage some foreign investors, there is hardly any versatile international businessperson who would disagree that there are enormous profitable business opportunities in the most populous black nation.

Several world leaders, both past and present have at one time or the other noted Nigeria’s potentials. The most recent I am aware of is the Prime Minister during his recent official trip to Nigeria, which was however cut short following the phone hacking scandal.     

One of the statements ascribed to David Cameron was;                

“Which country is predicted by some to have the highest average GDP growth in the world over the next 40 years? You might think Brazil, Russia, India or China. No. Think Africa. Think Nigeria.”      

During her visit to Nigeria in 2003, the Queen, said at the Commonwealth Head of Government meeting;          

 “Without prosperity in Nigeria, there can not be lasting prosperity in Africa, and without prosperity in Africa, there can not be lasting prosperity in great countries of the world’  

     Bill Clinton, former American president, once said on one of his visits to Nigeria;            

“give me Nigeria and I will feed the world’   


While it’s interesting hearing or reading about world leaders talk about Nigeria’s potential greatness, my thought on this occasion is on the great minds Nigeria can boast of.  

An average Nigerian loves learning and is never afraid to try new things. Their strong mental attitude doesn’t usually go unnoticed in any field they are outside the shores of Nigeria. There are millions of talented Nigerians and I have come across a good number of them. A friend once said that in every Nigerian family there is a genius. Of course this is a an unsubstantiated and debateable claim, however, I have no doubt Nigeria is full of great minds in various fields of human endeavour – academia, business, medicine, politics, IT, art, sports and so on.              

It’s always a pleasure to see a Nigerian or a Nigerian born individual making a positive impact in their community or in the world.  Talking about talented Nigerians or Nigerian born individuals, some notable names come to mind. Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, an amazing writer who published her first novel, purple hibiscus, in 2003 and won the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Chimanda also won the prestigious Orange Prize for fiction award for her second novel half a yellow sun. Phillip Emeagwali, Engineer, computer scientist and geologist, who once won the Gordon Bell Prize. Bukola Elemide, popularly known as ‘Asa’, once featured on this website, is a very talented musician who has been compared to Tracy Chapman. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,  Nigerian finance minister was said to have been considered as a possible replacement for former World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz. Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian based businessman, was once ranked by Forbes magazine as the third richest person of African decent in the world. The list goes on and on. Some of the above named Nigerians have been influenced by great minds like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and by statesmen like Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello.              

The list of great talents from Nigeria is endless. There is hardly any field or profession that a Nigerian or a Nigerian born individual is not a leading figure in. It’s true that one in every five black person in the world is a Nigerian, but I don’t think it’s a number thing. I think Nigeria is simply blessed!              

Given the right education and opportunities, we would see many more Wole Soyinkas, Kanu Nwankwos and Agbani Daregos. Talking about education, I was happy to read about the recent development in Imo state, where the governor, Dr Rochas Okorocha, declared free education up to tertiary institution for all indigenes of the state. Education should always be an integral part of any political agenda. It is the bedrock of the development of a nation. I think this is commendable and perhaps a challenge to other state governments. I don’t think there is any public office holder or politician who loves his or her country and would not strive to make it better.    

He loves his country best who strives to make it best  ~ Robert G. Ingersoll         

There is a lot about Nigeria that can put a smile across our faces.

About The Author

Gabriel Gabriel is a volunteer motivational speaker, life coach, editor and writer. He is also a community leader and Ward Panel member in the London Borough of Greenwich.

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