I have read nearly all articles written by the New York Times between 1966 and 1970 on Nigeria’s civil war. Of course, it was not everything that the Times got right, based on stories by actual participants in Nigeria’s lowest point. The Times wrote about ingenuity, uncommon tenacity and brilliance of the Southeast people of Nigeria. But watching some videos on what happened immediately after the war tells me that today’s Nigeria is redeemable. Yes, from all angles, Nigeria does not have a big problem, if we can pick lessons post civil-war.
Do you know that most community development unions in Southeast Nigeria started after the civil war? Do you know that it was communal? Yes, people came together to build schools, maternity centers, clinics, shops, factories, etc. That is what they teach in business school: attain economies of scale and do great things in markets. Here, community development unions were vehicles for people to pool funds and do big projects.
It does seem that across Nigeria, from north to south, east and west, and beyond, we have tons of knowledge which we do not value. The template deployed across Southeast Nigeria was not developed by IMF, World Bank or African Development Bank, but by the communities. And the thing worked since we have enough time to evaluate.
First, they have economically rebuilt the region. On education, Imo State at 96.43% literacy rate leads the nation. Abia and Anambra hover over 90%; Enugu is above 85% but Ebonyi is below 80%. Across most metrics, the outcome would be better than anything the World Bank and IMF could have designed.
So, the question is this: why is Nigeria not looking for solutions internally instead of hiring experts who compound issues due to the lack of the nuances of Nigeria? Time to invest in community-centered development?
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