Nigerians keep asking “why is Africa still stuck in the quicksand of underdevelopment? With our huge human power and massive mineral deposit, why is Nigeria still far from being among the G7?”
It is our unsustainable style of living that has brought Nigeria to her knees. Where is Operation Feed the Nation, Better Life for Rural Women, Nigerian Airways, TCTC, SURE-P and many other initiatives and businesses. No country in the world can ever succeed without subscribing to the creed of sustainability. Countries like USA, UK, Japan, Germany, and a host of others are where they are today because the founding fathers and the generation of leaders in those countries didn’t eat up the provisions of the unborn generation. In everything they do, they prize quality over quantity and they’re constantly looking for more economical ways of doing things better. This is evident in their infrastructure and most especially their education system. The best schools in the world are in America and Europe. Most of those institutions are the oldest in the world, some dating back to the 1700s. In our own country however, no university is up to 100 years and according to webometrics ranking, not one of these universities ranks amongst the first 500 in the world; giant of Africa indeed.
Developed countries of the world talk about “cars of the future, houses of the future, fuel of the future”, what do we talk about in Nigeria?
Our institutions are weak. Hospitals have no beds, schools have no chalk, many communities have no peace and Nigeria ranks 152nd out of 188 countries in the latest UNDP Human Development Index reports.
A lot of businesses and industries have left the shores of Nigeria and our economy loses billions in revenue daily due to lack of stable and steady electricity. Monies meant for the production of electricity has always gone down the deep pockets of some powerful few. In sixteen years, it’s on record that Nigeria has spent about 2.7 trillion Naira on power generation with no visible results to show. To keep businesses open, industries running and homes habitable, Nigerians spend 3.5 trillion Naira annually to generate power for themselves according to a Guardian newspaper article. In Nigeria, what preceding administrations leave for the succeeding ones is a huge debt portfolio and an empty treasury.
From the government to the people, Nigerians use more to achieve less which is the opposite of what the sustainability gospel preaches. The average Nigerian takes LAPO or SEAP to throw lavish parties that they can’t afford. We encourage bus drivers to pay the policeman a bribe so that we won’t be late for an appointment. The typical Nigerian that gets to a 10 am event by 12 noon. The one that throws dirt out of the window; that spits on the side walk. The nonchalant average Nigerian that cuts down trees without planting others to replace them. The business owner that doesn’t pay tax. The trader that doesn’t sell with a full measure. The employer that doesn’t give equal pay for equal work. We all need to change our ways.
Truth be told, the only way to push Nigeria out of this present quagmire and set her on the path of freedom and prosperity is for us all to make sustainability a way of life. To think first of the effects of our actions on others and the environment before we take them. The SDGs cuts across all facets of human, animal and plant life. Like Google; it has answers to all our questions.
It is no longer news that Nigeria came first in the My World Survey report that shaped the 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. Shame on us if we therefore fail to have a developed Nigeria, a circular economy that is driven by sustainable practices by 2030.
If we are keen on having a corruption free nation, of having institutions that work, an economy that is resilient and a clean environment, living according to the dictates of the SDGs is the answer. We all have to play our parts religiously by thinking and acting sustainably so that we can lead fulfilling lives and leave enough provisions for generations yet unborn.