Few years ago in the heat of the recent Nigerian recession, I stood to begin a presentation in a Lagos bank Board meeting on technology-enabled business re-engineering with specific focus on cost. After a very generous introduction from the Executive Director who anchored my presence, one of the Board members asked me: “My son, why have none of you Nigerians in America created Google or Facebook in Lagos…?”
The business leader went on to explain how Apple had enough cash at hand to curtail our severe (dollar) forex paralysis then. He concluded, if one of you has created Apple in Lagos, this forex issue would have been dealt with. Simply, the Central Bank of Nigeria would get dollars from the Nigeria Apple [that Apple will have tons of dollars outside Nigeria].
Sure – it is not that easy to create Apple. But the business leader has a point. And I do not want to make excuses on what has not been done. The fact is that we have NOT done it despite the obvious reasons anyone can put forward on the near impossibility of creating Apple in present Lagos and Nigeria in general. But for today, the simple fact is this: we have not done it. Period.
As Senegal descended into exit with no African country making it into the knock-out phase, my mind flashed back to that Lagos encounter. As Africans, we rise as others: good academic grades, success in youth global football events, excellent youthful musical vibes, etc. But that is all – we exit the stage despite our bravadoes at the youthful phases. Yes, our Western compatriots would extend their youthful excellence into late ages while we fizzle. This is very shameful because there is no exception here, across most sectors. You can argue that we are not well prepared to World Cup events. But you cannot neglect the fact that we have won youth FIFIA tournaments! So, I do not agree on that preparation nexus. There is something fundamentally wrong somewhere researchers must dig out.
Nigeria has been winning youth football events since 1985. Yet, we have not made any impact in the World Cup. Ghana has done the same; yet nothing significant in the main event that matters. It is the same thing – we do well in MIT, Harvard, etc but upon graduation, the very people we actually did better in classes shape the industries for us. I have no answers but you can blame whatever you want to blame. But the fact is the fact.
I am not a social scientist but this is troubling – how can you get five countries to World Cup and none makes into the knockout stage. Yet, some of these countries excel in the junior tournaments. What is the issue?