Keep Running!

I love India. It is an absolutely incredible country!

The first time I caught the public bus in Hyderabad, it was a nightmare. When it was time to alight at my stop, the bus driver merely slowed down instead of stopping completely (and apparently, this was the usual practice). Fellow passengers, who were mildly amused at my obvious bewilderment and culture shock, advised me to "just hop off". With my heart in my mouth, I followed their advice and... fell flat on the road. My bag, books and sandals were flung all over and I was just fortunate not to land in front of any moving vehicle.

After picking myself up and packing my things, a local looked at me, offered a few words of sympathy mixed with a good laugh, and finally advised, "when you hop off a moving bus, keep running!"

I was soon to learn a similar lesson when I needed to catch a bus the next morning. Being rush hour, there were too many people jostling for the already filled buses. I kept dashing back and forth trying to get a bus unsuccessfully. After trying for almost an hour, I got another advice: "to catch a moving bus, you have to out-run the bus!"

I soon became an expert at catching buses and alighting from them. But I never forgot those two pieces of advice.

One of the biggest inhibitions to development in my country is the lack of continuity especially regarding government policies and implementation. When leadership positions are passed on to new people, the new candidates often terminate projects that were begun by their predecessors so that they can make a name for their own selves. In Nigeria for example, many of the developmental projects begun by the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan have been terminated by President Buhari. Ready examples are the six new federal universities, various agricultural projects and the Youwin grants program.

Should successive administrations implement existing projects blindly? Definitely not! But when we hop off a moving bus, we should keep running until we become stable and can adopt better postures. Indeed, we can get to a level where a new administration would not need to vilify the former on the altar of politics, thereby making it difficult (and sometimes impossible) to ask for help from relevant figures among such preceding governments.

But even more importantly, to catch up with the moving bus (the rest of the developed world), we are going to need to run much faster.

We need to discover and support those little boys in Yaba who are coding and can create companies with multi-billion dollar revenues. We need to support and amplify the operations of the farming communities of the country's north. We need to provide funding for the manufacturing industry in Aba and training for practitioners in Nollywood (our film industry which reputed to be the world's second largest in terms of number of movies produced)...

Africa is blessed with a rich crop of brilliant minds and creative people. But to catch up with the rest of the developed world, we will need to first gain momentum by using what we have to out-run it.

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