Nigeria is a place of great beauty, history and resource, which is hugely misunderstood firstly by some Nigerians and subsequently by the rest of the world.
As a country, Nigeria has been independent from colonial rule for 55 years, and due to its population, land mass and cultural differences, has had many difficulties which have affected its growth, prosperity and the spirit of the people. The cultural difference has affected the actualization of Nigeria’s full potential, stunting its growth. However, I find it fascinating that despite these huge handicaps, Nigeria is still the biggest economy within Africa.
It is seldom referred to but in the early 1960’s, post war Britain was in dia need of foreign investment and called upon Nigeria and Nigerians to come to Great Britain and spend Naira, which at the time was stronger than the US dollar and was at par with the British pound. The political founding fathers of Nigeria, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, would have much to say about the state of Nigeria today and its advancements. The greed of a few created so many of the problems associated with this great nation, with some European countries at the front of the line. But as the history books are rewritten many of these facts have been forgotten and a new generation of Nigerians, both in and out of the country have forgotten why Nigeria is referred to as the ‘Trigger of Africa’.
The wealth of Nigeria has always been said to be in its mineral deposits, oil reserves and agriculture but this is not true. The wealth of Nigeria is in it’s people, Nigerian’s are among the worlds most diverse and brilliant people, accepting of cultural difference and belief, however this is rarely discussed. Where else do Christian and Muslim coexist without issues and this was the case for many years, living side by side and even in some cases in the same family.
Within Nigeria there are 3 dominant tribes including, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and more than 30 additional tribes including Fulani, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Kanuri, Benin, Idoma, Anan, Ibibio, Efik, Nupe to name a few. All these tribes are separated by geography, language and traditions. Nigeria has a landmass of 351,649 square miles (910,771 square kilometers). With over 20 Airports and more than 120 million Mobile Phones. There are nearly 70 federal government controlled national and regional television stations, with all 36 states operating their own independent TV station.
The Nigerian film industry, referred to as ‘Nollywood’ is now producing more than 900 films per year, second to Bollywood, producing over 1,000 films and ahead of Hollywood at under 500 annually. Nollywood has become a global phenomenon which has grown exponentially year on year over the last decade. This industry is one of several new business areas which have contributed to Nigeria’s newly calculated GDP, propelling it ahead of South Africa, after the re-basing which happens every 5 years. Other industries that have been added include music, telecoms and e-commerce. Nigeria is truly an enigma, there are now many institutional investors and large corporate companies looking at Nigeria more seriously as a destination for investment and discovery. It’s many diverse cultures are now being adopted and imitated around the world, with Afrobeat music cultivating the worlds youth market, and cultural tribal artwork, working its way into mainstream fashion, now available to purchase at leading private auction houses around the world.
Many economists, activists and experts are speculating about the future of Nigeria with the recent change in Nigeria’s government dominating global news for weeks, however no matter your opinion, it is fair to say that Nigeria today is changing at a rapid rate, and the Nigeria of the future looks brighter now, than ever before.
By Joseph S Farodoye