Ten Change Waves in Nigeria that Nigerian Americans May Have Missed
Living back at home in Nigeria presents one with a myriad of situations. Depending on what city you reside there definitely is something intriguing, exhilarating, challenging and did I forget to add frustrating on a daily basis. This article details the ten Change Waves in Nigeria.
For Nigerian Americans, the first thing that strikes you on arrival is a paradigm shift occasioned by the change in culture and exposure. It doesn’t take too long to lose touch with the realities on the ground in Nigeria. Admitted, the media in Nigeria daily pushes out the news, but do most Nigerian Americans know about Nigeria? This is question is rhetorical and not a test:) Here is another one: do you know Nigeria has a space program? That’s right, Nigeria is space capable, and that if it gets its ‘s*it’ together in terms of science and technology it is positioned to reap an astronomical growth that the world is yet to conceive. This book from this link details all that you might want to know http://amzn.to/2FEckiw . It’s a must read for all who cares about Africa!
To those that are curious about the United States relations with Nigeria, and wanting to know whether the image of Nigeria flashed in the mind of ‘those’ who think African countries are “shithole countries”, definitely explore this book by Olayiwola Abegunrin http://amzn.to/2GIqT69 .
This article documents key updates that Nigerian Americans who are constantly on the move – busy working, schooling, and hustling hard to make their dreams happen- may have missed. Certainly not exhaustive, here are the list of ten lovely experiences or development you might not be aware of today in Nigeria:
- Infrastructural Development- Lagos: An Emerging Mega-City
Lagos had a reputation for being one of the most disorganized cities in Nigeria and the world far back a decade and a half ago. Compared to other cities in Nigeria, Lagos clearly depicts a picture of a refuse dump with the streets all littered, I am sure some of you are familiar with these situations already. But if this was the picture you had of Lagos ten years ago then you would be shocked to see the monumental improvements in terms of road network, central public parks, relaxation spots/ gardens and even the pedestrian crossing.
-Improved Transportation System
The introduction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) provides first-class mass transit systems for residents of Lagos. The BRT partnership offer commuters air conditioned and affordable means of transportation cheaper than the regular buses on the streets of Lagos called ‘Danfo’, a 14-seater bus by Volkswagen. BRT buses cover most major routes around Lagos. Their drivers, known as busman, ‘ticketers’ and conductors usually wear a uniform while passengers purchase tickets, board or alight the buses only at the designated stops. The BRT management also provides e-payment options so commuters could purchase transport debit cards and load funds into it. So all they need do is tap in or out at their designated bus stop. These systems allow commuters to only pay for distance covered.
Pedestrian walkways should provide comfort, ease of movement and safety for commuters, not a death trap. A little over a decade ago, must road users feel safer walking across the express with cars coming on both sides than to make use of the pedestrian bridge. Pedestrian bridges before now use to be dilapidated, worn out and pose a security risk at night for users due to pickpockets and more. Besides the use of concrete bridges, some pedestrian bridge were made of metal and easily become rust, broken with holes.
Today’s reality shows a more modern, state of the art pedestrian bridge with concrete, roofing against rain and sun exposure. At night the new pedestrian bridge also has lighting systems and security personnel to ensure the safety of commuters from pickpockets both during the day and at night. There are also Parks and public space ideas coming to live. There is a newly introduced Central Parks system in Lagos to help ease out traffic along major routes.
- Business & Economy
Nigeria’ dependence of crude oil has resulted in a narrow economic path. The economy has suffered more setbacks due to its dependence on crude oil while other sectors were left to rot up until now with the attempt to revive the Agricultural sector from 1999 with return to democratic rule.
With total dependence on importation and crude oil export, Nigeria’s exchange rate experienced a steady fall as stated by Info Finder. As at the year 2000 was $1 to N85.98, in 2010 it rose to N148 officially but as of today, the dollar goes for N304.
The challenges facing the economy is an enormous one, but businesses still strive to keep afloat amidst the problems of epileptic power supply, government policy somersault, and the security situation in the country. However, since the year 2000 till date, the private sector is the real drivers of the growth and major economic fortunes that Nigeria has experienced in recent times. These areas of growth include:
Spring Up of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises
One key factor responsible for the outflow of Nigerians to other parts of the world is the harsh economic climate where Nigerians work and live. But over the years, a lot of Nigerians have taken up the challenge to set up small and medium scale enterprises moving away from the usual norm seeking white collar jobs or waiting for the government to provide a source of employment for Nigerians.
Though the challenges very much still exist, there are a lot of successful small and medium scale businesses providing top-notch services for Nigerians.
One key driver for Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SME) is the presence of Micro Finance banks scattered across the nation giving access to micro-finance for SMEs with very easy to access terms and conditions. Quite a good number of SME rely on these banks to get funding for their businesses. The only drawback in most cases is high-interest rates for such loans ranging from 5% to 20%. But that of microfinance banks are still a lot easier to access and cheaper than commercial banks with more stringent conditions and higher interest rates of 20% to 36%.
The micro-financing sector provides investment opportunities for individuals to cash in on as the setup procedure and regulation do not take much time and resources.
On a big scale, there are so many organizations providing goods and services to the Nigerian populace locally. One innovative organization, for instance, is the multi-million dollar Innoson Motors, the only existing car assembly plant in Nigeria, located in the eastern part of the country with over 200 workers.
- Nigeria’s Educational System
Though the educational sector in Nigeria is a far cry from what you can find in most developed cities across the world, the introduction of private institutions from primary to university level has provided a little ray of hope for Nigeria’s education system. The major challenge with most public institutions has to do with the lack of proper accountability and transparency with the management of available funds, poor funding and development of teaching skills by the teachers and university/ polytechnic lecturers.
The university community, however, has been an area of major interest for Nigerians in the diaspora as Nigerian universities and organizations generally prefer foreign trained personnel due to the quality of teaching and learning methods they bring into the classroom.
Private institutions fare better and provide high educational standards than most public institutions for obvious reasons. For the standard private institutions owned by individuals and religious bodies, they operate mostly British and American curriculum providing a global standard for Nigerian students. Education offers an excellent avenue to make a difference in society as well as a huge profit-making venture.
The hold of Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL) on telephone services finally came to a halt in 1999 giving room to individual players to take the center stage. As of 1999, there were only about 300,000 telephone lines available in Nigeria using the trunk line system. ( Here is a resource that digs deep on telecommunication – a must read for any aspiring investor in Nigeria http://amzn.to/2DXKddQ). It took the introduction of the Global System of Mobile communication (GSM) by private operators like Econet (now Airtel), MTN, Glo and lastly Etisalat (now 9Mobile) to change the face of communication in Nigeria. Today, there are over 70 million GSM subscribers around the country. Nigeria is referred to as one of the fastest growing mobile technology adopters worldwide.
The gains of GSM for the Nigerian society have been astronomical for the business world. It has enhanced social interactions and security. Worth mentioning here is the fact that the second Nigerian richest man, Mike Adeniyi Adenuga, who according to Forbes, is over $5 billion worth as of February 2018. A one-time African immigrant in the US, made a part of his wealth from telecommunication. Also, the removal of monopoly by NITEL brought about a faster advancement of the telecommunication sector and forced the prices of calls downward by almost 200%. As at inception calls were on a per minute basis only and at N48 per minute which is about $0.13 per minute. But calls today goes for N7 to N15 per minute which is $0.02 to $0.04 per minute all on a per second billing system.
Beside GSM calls the use of the internet has further opened the door for business successes with more companies offering their services online, with persons with physical stores across Nigeria owning online stores on Jumia, Konga, Dealdey, Jiji, and so many e-commerce sites.
- Entertainment Industry
The entertainment industry in Nigeria particularly the music and movie industry have for over a decade now taken a new turn. Though there is still a clear dirt in terms of technology and more, Nigerian entertainment industry currently is a multi-million dollar one with greater prospects for the future.
The rise in the industry has resulted in some Nigerians in the diaspora returning home to contribute their quota and attain fame and wealth. Example of Nigerians who returned home include:
and more. Award such as the African Magic Award and so many other awards help to recognize the efforts of Nigerian entertainers for bringing content, production and entertainments to Nigerians.
For the movie industry, Nollywood, Nigeria ranks as the second most popular nation worldwide in terms of movie production as observed by Forbes, US News and the United Nations News Center with over 2,500 movies annually. Gone are the days when piracy of the hard work was so prevalent. Now, viewers can either view these movies directly from Amazon. Here are a few new release to enjoy: 1. Ben&Ara:
2. Only in America
3. Half of a yellow Sun:
There has been a gradual shift from a mass market to one of quality content and production. Less than a decade ago, Nigeria movie started to get premiered at the cinemas before its introduction to the public. Some movies are known to make a return on investment from the cinemas alone.
Nigerian stand-up comedy since became popular from 1999. Currently, stand-up comedy has become a household name with individuals and corporate organization paying between N3000 to N1, 000,000 ($9 – $2,782) for regular seats, VIP, VVIP and table for ten. The comedy industry has so grown with events such as ‘AY Live’, ‘Bovi Man-on-Fire’ run special events in other countries including the US and the UK.
- Fashion Industry- The Swim Suit Bikinis, The Origin Declare and The Casuals
Events such as the Nigerian Television Fashion Show and more help promote Made in Nigeria apparel line for local and international audience. The Nigerian fashion industry has taken an international dimension with designs and runway events to call attention to intricate designs by Nigerians. Here are some views:
- The Swim Suits Bikini
2. The Origin Declare:
3. The Casual:
- Agricultural Sector
One notable thing about agriculture in Nigeria is that there has been a sharp increase in the number of individuals taking to agriculture away from paid employment. Catfish farming, for instance, is a mega business in Nigeria with throngs of people racking in billions through this sector. Additionally, the production of local rice such as the Ofada rice, Abakaliki rice, and Lagos state government Lake rice are some of the few innovations in the agricultural sector.
- Healthcare delivery
The health sector in Nigeria still leaves much to be desired especially when dealing with public owned medical facilities. The lack of basic medical infrastructure poses a huge challenge for healthcare delivery in Nigeria. Medical doctors suffer from funding and access to proper education, research and rigorous training. Even when internationally trained doctors return to their home countries to practise and make a difference, they face the challenge of working with obsolete equipment.
Nevertheless, there are some standard medical facilities in Nigeria mostly owned by religious outfits and private institutions veined by both local and international organizations. Examples include:
- Hospital: Primus International
Location: Abuja, Nigeria
Specialty Surgery cases, dialysis, etc.
- Hospital: Lagoon Hospital, Hygeia,
Specialty: first hospital in Nigeria to carry out Open Heart surgery in 2014 and metallic
replacement of arm bone in 2013.
- Hospital: Save A Life Hospital,
Location: Port-Harcourt, Rivers State
Specialty: General surgery, orthopaedic cases, etc.
- Hospital: Save A Life Hospital,
Location: PortHarcourt, Rivers State
Specialty: Fertility, General Practice, surgery, etc.
4 Best Ranking Hospitals in Africa from Nigeria by the Ranking Web of World Hospitals
- Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro Abeokuta 6th best hospital in Africa
- Bridge Clinic, Lagos 43rd Best Hospital in Africa
- Saint Nicholas Hospital, Lagos 89th Best Hospital in Africa
- Abuja Clinic, Abuja 93rd Best Hospital in Africa
These medical facilities help to bring about the needed medical care, but at the rates that everyday people without means could cover. With list provided, Nigerian Americans could explore where they can visit while in Nigeria.
Here is definitely a new wave highlight: some states such as Lagos has the LASAMBUS, a medical emergency bus stationed across the state to provide immediate relief and response to medical emergencies. It’s the closest to 911 emergency ambulance in the US. Just put a dial through to 767 and 112 and within seconds someone will take your emergency and forward to the appropriate unit. Within a space of 5-10 minutes, the nearest ambulance service closed by will respond. The LASAMBUS project is still in its infancy stage with very few buses. How is this for growth! Slowly, but surely, Nigeria will get to its promiseland.
- Promotion of Human Right Laws
The lack of respect for the rule of law and human right has been one of the banes of the Nigerian society. However, due to the efforts of Non-governmental organizations and some state governments like that of Lagos states, laws against female gender mutilation, violence against women and children, Lagos tenancy law and other issues have been taken with much seriousness.
Lagos state, for instance, has the Office of the Public defender and then the National Human Rights Commission that attends to human rights abuses, providing representation for aggrieved members of the public who cannot afford one. The Human Rights arms of Lagos state also have a mobile court to tour some of the streets to provide legal advice to Nigerians in need. This type of society consciousness and an involvement from a state government rising to defend women and children is super new, and it’s a light at the end of a dark tunnel that Nigeria will soon be a beacon of civilization soon.
- Security & Emergency Response
Nigeria’s security challenge is still very enormous but in some states have security trust funds for providing equipment and funding for security forces. Some states such as Lagos have State-owned traffic officials, LASTMA, and the recently introduced Community Police in 2017 to provide information and security across each street in Lagos. Compare this trend to what is available in the US and you will laugh at its ridiculousness. But when you realize that this new development only lived in thoughts of people more than a decade ago, and now has somehow become formative, you’ll feel more hopeful for Nigeria, and even for the continent.
——————–Written by Vwede Ohworho. Edited by US African Immigrants Gist.
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