President Goodluck Jonathan reacting to the World Bank report, which placed Nigeria among the countries with the highest level of poverty in the world, said the following.
“The nation is not poor.”
“If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries.
In a perfect world this would be the case. The citizens of the richest nations would be in first class (as commonly seen when Nigerians fill the first class cabin) while those from the poor nations would be in economy. Unfortunately that is not the reality.
It is a common misconception that poverty is solely a negative reflection of a person or a nation’s bank account.
Poverty is more a function of one’s mental state than it is of one’s bank account. Fact is we were all born naked. Even with the most noble of houses, if you go back far enough, you would find a peasant ancestor. It is the mindset that sets the truly Rich man or truly rich nation apart from the poor man or Poor nation.
A quote from the former will read;
“If you talk about plane construction and technology, air freight and air logistics, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries”.
Poverty mentality is explicit in the fact that the people that create and maintain the planes sit in economy and maybe business class while those who do not have the capacity to create it are in its first class despite the fact that international airfares from Nigeria are some of the most expensive in the world.
This poverty mentality is seen in families where wealth never transfers to the next generation. Sometimes due to the fact that the wealth was stolen and thus the thieves do not know how to create value or due to the ease with which money is accrued. If a father does not know how to create value, what values can he possibly give his children? It is seen in the swiftness with which lottery winner’s return to poverty.
The President goes on to talk about wealth re-distribution, which in itself is noble. Similarly, It is worth understanding that this wealth he speaks of was not put there by us (resources such as oil or fertile land), neither is it mined with our OWN technology, we just happen to sit on land that is resource rich and a climate that bestows unlimited potential. Comparing our reality to China, Russia, the Nordic countries or Japan, it becomes clear that their wealth is more to do with their mindset than the resources under their feet.
The thing with “a mentality” is that it is formed from prevailing ideologies and paradigms of the time. It is here that the most profound negative effects of colonialism and neo-colonialism can be felt on the African continent. Selfless leaders such as Thomas Sankara, Patrice lawumba , Toure, Sylvanus Olympio all of whom had a “Wealth mentality” were assassinated by western backed coups such as the CIA in Congo and France in Burkina fasso.
Ideologies that were in a process of flowering were cut off. In exchange the CIA gave us Mobutu and France gave us Blaise Compaoré . Both of whom danced to the beat of the western powers (How has that worked out for Africa?). So is our poverty mentality solely shaped by the western world? No – Western powers have always had their “Askaris” the ones who sell their people out to dependence on western powers, these include the likes of Mobutu and in Nigeria currently the likes of NABDA and the Minister of Agriculture as it relates to GMO’s.
“Poverty mentality” is glorifying the export of raw cocoa in the 21st century, knowing full well that 4 steps down the value chain income could potentially increase by 7 fold as well as the chain reaction of creating Jobs for- machine hands, engineers etc as well as a service/support sector. This could potentially stem the continuous migration in to already dense city areas of Nigeria. Unfortunately “poverty mentality” is blind to all that. Instead we tell the youth to do farming ,get a nice jingle going and photos with dbanj and abracadabra, we forget why the youth disengaged from farming in the first place. Now is that solely the ministry of Agriculture’s short-sightedness? NO. They are trying to communicate with a generation that thinks three paragraphs of anything is too long. A generation suffering from artificial A.D.D – A generation which needs bright lights, song and barely clad women shaking to keep their attention. Even with the most serious of activities e.g. cancer awareness, fuel subsidy etc, we have come to accept the sad reality that the Nigerian youth cannot be engaged without being entertained. It is highly unfortunate we cannot dance or sing our way out of our problems.
Furthermore, foreign industries have set up dynamics to only allow for the export of raw materials, mainly because they will rather service and create Jobs in their own countries until Africa independently sets itself up as a viable alternative as was done in Asia.
A wealth mentality is about striving for greatness independently, through sacrifice, long-sightedness diligently working to be the next great power in generations to come. Without this thinking, No matter how many Jets we buy, re-basing of GDP or how much AID we collect from the World Bank and the IMF, THEY WILL ALWAYS CALL US POOR. It should come as no surprise that our dependency and mediocrity is in the interest of foreign powers.
The likes of France call Africa poor, yet 14 African countries are obliged by France, through a colonial pact, to put 85% of their foreign reserve into the French central bank under the control of the French minister of Finance. Until now, 2014, Togo and about 13 other African countries still have to pay colonial debt to France. African leaders who refuse are killed or are victims of coups. This racket puts about 500 billion dollars from Africa in to the French treasury year in year out. France has been holding the national reserves of fourteen African countries since 1961: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
The monetary policy governing such a diverse aggregation of countries is uncomplicated because it is, in fact, operated by the French Treasury, without reference to the central fiscal authorities of any of the WAEMU or the CEMAC. Under the terms of the agreement which set up these banks and the CFA the Central Bank of each African country is obliged to keep at least 65% of its foreign exchange reserves in an “operations account” held at the French Treasury, as well as another 20% to cover financial liabilities.
In summary, more than 80% of the foreign reserves of these African countries are deposited in the “operations accounts” controlled by the French Treasury. The two CFA banks are African in name, but have no monetary policies of their own. The countries themselves do not know, nor are they told, how much of the pool of foreign reserves held by the French Treasury belongs to them as a group or individually. The earnings of the investment of these funds in the French Treasury pool are supposed to be added to the pool but no accounting is given to either the banks or the countries of the details of any such changes.
Somehow the African Union has existed and still lets this happen, Think about the positive effects such funds can have on the continent. Unfortunately that would be wishful thinking. France has a “wealth mentality”, African leaders are yet to develop one, so the leaders will look out for their OWN personal interest and maintain the Status Quo.
Africa has become the next frontier. The unfortunate thing is at the rate we are going; the next generation would wake up to find all of Nigeria has been SOLD. – Africa is for sale, didn’t you know?
No country ever became great by taking loans and taking AID. It is unfortunate that with the balkanization of Africa, Africans leaders have never been given a chance to define systems for ourselves that reflect who we are as a people or our own values. It is either we are friends with Russia, China or friends with Europe, America, which results in their values projected on us. If we seek greatness, we would need to define what greatness means to us and what cost we are willing to pay to achieve it. Whilst setting up systems that work for us and are true to whom we are. Case studies include the re-emergence of Russia, the rise of Singapore, The emirates, China, and even America which went as far as differentiating itself from England its former colonial master in the units it uses to measure (imperial units vs metric).
The rise of China is the single most impressive economic turnaround of this century. The following explains the “Wealth Mindset” with which they achieved it.
Asian Interviewer: “Can you address their concerns Mr.Chang?”
MR. CHANG: “The concerns of Black people? Yes I can. The fact is that we all live under a system of White Supremacy. We Asian people look back at our long history of conflict with the European. We observe their strategies and develop our own, in response and in kind. There is no need for loud mass movements on our part, because we intend to overtake them in time, through action and personal sacrifice”.
Asian INTERVIEWER: “And the Black man?”
MR. CHANG: “He does not count into our situation. He is simply here. We do not hate the Black man. We just love the Asian man most. Real love–not cliché. We want to see Asian man happy, so we employ him. We eat together. We spend time with each other. We want his kids to be educated, so we invest in our own schools that offer our children the technical abilities to change the world’s power structure in our favor. We want to see the Asian man safe, so we purchase and organize our own communities. We want him to remain Asian, so we reduce the outside influence of others ideologies and cultures. While he fought to sniff behind the White man, the Black man has had the opportunity and every right in the world to do the same, but he chooses to indict people like me for not hiring him over my own brothers. For me to do this would be foolish and that would not be Asian love. In contrast, the Black man will fight for the right to be up under everyone else other than other Black people who he should feel the most love for. If our indifference to their situation makes us racist, then what would you call the Black man’s indifference to his own situation?
No nation becomes rich by borrowing or glorifying consumerism. No nation becomes great by dependency on foreign technology and short term thinking. No nation becomes great by copying and pasting systems created by other nations which evolved for them naturally. Systems they fought wars to create. It is no wonder that even with the size of America’s army they have never had a military coup.
Prof Pat Utomi once said, Nigeria has to switch its mindset from the hunter mentality (a mindset of instant gratification and short term thinking) to that of the farmer mentality. I couldn’t agree more.
A nation’s wealth, soul and status are directly linked to its people’s mindset. If we want to be TRULY RICH, it is important to note none of these people or countries are Gods or are even smarter or more intelligent, they simply control the game and skew the rules in their favor. To be great we need to set our own rules as did America, as did China. They believed in themselves and built themselves by independently putting in work. We are starting to see that in the Nigerian automotive industry and it is a thing of Joy.
Nations rise and fall, with the shifting dynamics of Geo-politics, it is my hope that when the light shines on Africa it would meet us with a “wealth mentality”. Let’s think different.
Interview with the visionary behind dubai.