March 7th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

Dreaming of a new Nigerian century

By Orji Uzor Kalu, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Orji Uzor Kalu is a former governor of Nigeria’s Abia State and Chairman of the G37, a non-partisan group proposing alternative policy options for Nigeria. The views expressed are his own.

Reports this week that some economists predict Nigeria will overtake South Africa as Africa’s largest economy, in GDP terms, in the next several years highlights how the country is at an inflection point in its great history.

Over the course of the last few years, the country’s spirit of entrepreneurship has stood at the heart of its integration into nearly every sector of global culture, finance and trade. The country is blessed with a bevy of natural resources and aspires to take its place amidst the BRIC nations. And, notwithstanding the seemingly perpetual squabbling, the country is increasingly looking for leaders that can ensure the government works for the people.

However, despite the dream of a new Nigerian century, citizens from all walks of life scattered across the globe would tell you that there is overwhelming concern when looking at the country’s future.

Nigeria sits atop some of the largest oil reserves in the world, yet it is estimated to have lost $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2012 alone, primarily because of oil theft and sabotage. Meanwhile, despite having as many citizens in-country as Brazil, Nigeria’s electricity consumption is only the equivalent of about 5 percent of its South American cousin.

Fundamental infrastructure needs are continuing to go unfulfilled in Nigeria, especially roads, factories and hospitals operating without proper equipment. The country faces a technology divide, where mobile phones have often become the sole source for modern communication as places of business and schools remain without computers and, in many cases, even a reliable source of power.

The fundamental root of all this? Nigeria has undermined collective interests in the name of private interests. It is out of necessity and an inherent Nigerian trait of continual ambition that we chose to form the G-37 movement. In recent weeks, there has been fervent speculation regarding the meetings of the G37 group, which was formed to tackle the myriad problems Nigeria is facing. But the group has been designed to be a non-partisan coalition, consisting of members from different political parties, as well as individuals belonging to no party at all, committed to seeing Nigeria thrive and prosper.

The G37 has tremendous hope for Nigeria, and a new Nigerian century that can be forward-thinking and not mired in the grievances of the past. But to make this happen, it is essential that the country summons the communal will to harness the people’s tremendous potential, generate opportunities and strive for fairness and equality for all.

There has been widespread trepidation among the international community in engaging in business and tourism here. Such hesitation only deepens poverty here at home. And, as former U.S. President Bill Clinton so eloquently noted while in Abeokuta, poverty can beget extremist indoctrination, creating a vicious cycle pigeonholing the country.

The onus is on Nigerians to pull themselves up by the proverbial bootstraps and redefine the country’s trajectory in order to entice and encourage much-needed investment from around the globe.

The average Nigerian should have their voice heard without fear or intimidation, sustaining the country’s growing democracy. I hope that the international community will finally be able to join us in taking part in a conversation about a new Nigerian century.

Topics: Nigeria • Uncategorized

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. matslats

    We need to be very clear:
    Who does the oil 'naturally' belong to?
    Who gets the money from the sale of oil?
    Who decides on the sale price, and what kickbacks are they receiving?
    How much gas is 'burned off' because the extractors judge it unprofitable to capture?
    How are the people who happen to live over the oil being compensated for their inconvenience?
    Then we can talk about "theft and sabotage"

    March 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Reply
  2. Adetuberu emman

    We re bless in this d nest 15 yrs nigeria wil bcm a successful in production of petroliem.

    March 9, 2013 at 9:49 am | Reply
  3. pibek ibekwe

    i thank God who blessed Nigeria with natural resources it is unfortunate that where this resources are coming from like oil &gas are yet to receive attention in infrastuctures yetthe youths in this region are yet to be employed in good offices unless something is done quickly there is still going to be more problem in the economy

    March 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  4. poitier23

    It is such an irony that the Governor that has destroyed the fulcrum upon which Abia state of Nigeria stands is now suddenly so passionate about Nigeria.

    March 17, 2013 at 9:14 am | Reply
  5. ann


    March 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  6. ann


    March 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  7. British Nigerian

    If you interview this man, you'll think he is an illiterate. He can't write this article because he can't competently communicate on this level. Must be a ghost writer.

    More to the point, CNN should NOT give a platform to just any Tom, Dick or Harry because, Mr Kalu is alleged to have looted Nigeria. He is currently facing trial for corruption. Within years of assuming office as a governor he has become stupendiously wealthy. In Nigeria, the richest people are civil servants and politicians. Ironically, they are the lowest paid workers, yet, they are the wealthiest in the Land.

    CNN, you've been hoodwinked by a guy currently using this article to fan he's STREET CREDIBILITY.

    March 31, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
  8. jude chika

    I thank God for giving us that kind of man (O U K)

    April 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  9. noble movement for betterment nig

    the real fact is this nigeria to some extent has gone beyound repair and our political leaders has failed nigeria and our national founding fathers....

    September 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  10. nicholas seth

    Nigeria is very blessed to be possesing such natural resources and has lots of opportunity to advance and become a major player on the world stage today. From reading this article on thing I noticed is, they have not experienced much economic growth; meaning they need to advance there technology in order to see that economic growth. Having people occupy places, whether it is work or school, and not having a steady source of energy or not having computers/cell phones is keeping Nigeria third world while it has potential to be first world. Investing in technology will only speed financial success and people will obtain more information on the outside world which will help them improve materials/ideas they have currently. Trust is another factor which will cause a boom in there society. Some parts of Nigeria are ran by local militia who are a bunch of thugs committing crimes such as stealing and oppressing the people around them. Such acts need to end with the help of a non corrupt government so the people can experience a new wave pf democracy where they may express ideas without being punished. Once such issues are solved its up to the people to create a better world for themselves; theres no more hope in todays world of relying on the government to give you a better life, they need to take this venture into there own hand. I truely believe Nigeria will improve itself rapidly and it will not take a century.

    April 19, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Reply

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