Why Intellectuals Need to Lead Professionally (2)



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There is also much to be said about the strides Nigerians have made in entertainment. Their entrepreneurial and artistic drive has made Nollywood, the country’s movie industry, the third largest film producer, just behind the American and the Indian filmmaking industries.

In music, names like Fela, Davido and TuFace ring bells across the world.

Singer Nico Mbarga’s song Sweet Mother (released in 1976) grew so popular on the African continent that it was referred to as “Africa’s Anthem” by the BBC in 2004. It sold over 13 million copies.

Nigerian songstress, Asa, has reached a global audience with her brand of soul, winning the highly rated French Constantin Award in 2008 for best French talent, and achieving impressive positions on music charts in Nigeria and Europe.

Cyprian Ekwensi, another great pharmacist, was also widely known as a great author in literature

Wole Soyinka’s complex literary style won him a Nobel Prize for Literature,

Chimamanda Adichie’s portrait of the ordinary Nigerian’s struggle was recognised with an Orange Prize for Fiction.

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart has become the most widely read African novel ever.


In attempting to reveal a Nigeria and an Africa that closely mirror reality, these great maestros have shone the light on the power of the mind and pen possessed by Nigerians eager to tell our stories to the world. We have a lot to be proud of and we should look forward to a future in which more great achievements will come from Nigerians who will shake the world with their exploits.


Strategy development

I am a student of strategy and would like to say simply that a strategy development process involves strategy creation, strategy planning with some basic steps. We should be asking:

Where are we?

Where are we going?

How do we get there?

How do we measure how well we are doing?

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For intellectuals to be actively involved in successful implementation of the strategy for a nation, they need to be carried along at the Strategy Development stage. If not, this should mark the beginning of a great opportunity to start conversation in order to address any gap between the public sector and professional bodies.

Are professionals carried along in the contents of the inspiring strategy document called “National Development Plan – NDP 2021-2025”? If not, how do we start the conversation now so that we can participate in the transformation of our nation?

National Development Plan – 2021-2025

Let’s look at the summary of the core goals and objectives of the current NDP 2021-2025:

Part 1: Economic growth and development

Part 2: Infrastructure

Part 3: Public administration

Part 4: Human capital development

Part 5: Social development

Part 6: Regional development

Part 7: Plan implementation, communication, financing, monitoring and evaluation

These goals and objectives of the NDP led to several initiatives to address a number of issues, such as:

Jobs – Agriculture, technology, creatives, industrialisation, school feeding

Infrastructure – Rail, roads, bridges

Broadband infrastructure

Technology – Gig economy, policy, more tech hubs – digital economy

Power – Generation, transmission, distribution and metering, off grid, rural electrification

People Moni Bank – Establish, consolidate, assist

The Entrepreneur Bank – Debt & equity, bus planning, technology, skills and capacity building

Policy – Ease of doing business, MSMEs micro, small, medium enterprises.

Education – Pupils, teachers, classrooms transformed.

Health – Health insurance, 1 per cent consolidated revenue for health, PHCs, N-Power Medic

Security and anticorruption – Police, farmers-herders conflicts, systemic corruption, e-commerce

Inclusion in government – Females, youths, mentors…and so on.


Strategy execution

The NDP 2021-2025 strategy document is comprehensive and well developed. Although the development of any strategy document is driven mainly by a clear understanding of the environment, it is still less than half of the work. Strategy execution is practical. It is what makes strategy credible. It is, in fact, the main reason for strategy. Without execution, strategy development becomes a wasted effort.

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Strategy execution is impossible with contradictory culture. Culture would readily eat strategy for breakfast. For a great success with the NDP, I strongly recommend good daily conversations between the public sector and the professionals. Indeed, this article calls for a prompt collaboration that will lead to the setting up of a Public-Professionals Partnership Group.

We cannot achieve the goals of the NDP when engineers are imported; when our public sector people go overseas to treat malaria, while there are expert professionals in Nigeria. Health insurance will not work without adequate conversation with the healthcare professionals in that sector. Foreign consultants can prepare beautiful strategies or develop the most beautiful models on paper, but the active practitioners within the country today should be engaged to look at the practicality of the theoretical strategies and models.


Global landscape

One of the greatest secrets of the rapidly developing nations of the world is that they celebrate their own intellectuals/professionals.  They challenge them with assignments that transform their expertise. Take a look at the history of the growth of Asian countries like Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

As a student of developmental economics and a perpetual learner, I am particularly interested in the secrets of these countries but time would not permit me to discuss each of them. Still, we could benchmark a country like Singapore that has moved from third world status to a new level by becoming a leading highly developed nation within 50 years.

What was the primary motivation of the intellectuals who provided professional leadership?

How did the country move from the lower level to the upper level?

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What role did the intellectuals play in their journey to the zenith?

What lessons can we learn?


The Singapore transformation

Dean Kishore Mahbubani said, “The lesson of the history of the past few decades is relatively clear: independence, even if it comes after a hard-fought struggle, may still be a relatively easy victory. Success after independence, unfortunately, has been relatively rare.”

The history of the post-colonial period shows that few newly-independent countries have succeeded. It is therefore remarkable how well Singapore has done. Singapore became independent in 1965. There was total gloom and doom when the country was expelled from Malaysia. At independence, Singapore was poor and struggling. The GDP per capita was a mere $500. Majority of the Singaporeans could feel the pinch of poverty. Some children were so undernourished that in elementary school, they were placed on a special feeding programme. Singapore was also struggling in other aspects. There were also ethnic riots on the streets.

Today, Singapore has one of the highest HDIs in the world – 9th in the world. with a score of 0.901. Singapore has the 4th-highest GDP per capita in the world at $76,237 (in PPP terms), nearly double that of its former colonial master, the UK ($37,017). More than one in six households have $1 million in cash savings.

In the past decade alone, the number of Singaporeans running their own businesses has doubled. The US is the only other country in the world with more entrepreneurs-per-capita. Singapore has consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the world to live in. People from all over the world go to this small city-state, attracted by the state-of-the-art education and health systems. Singapore is also ranked consistently as one of the safest countries in the world.


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