THE FUTURE NOW: NIGERIA'S GOALS FOR 2019 AND BEYOND


By Akin Ojumu

Nigeria is a rich country, blessed with abundant human and natural resources. Yet, too many Nigerians are struggling to make ends meet. We shouldn't settle for a future where our children are worse off than we were.

The current generation of Nigerian leaders have failed the country woefully. It is time to invest in the next generation of leaders. To move the country forward, we must elect the next generation of Nigerian leaders who will help us to achieve the Nigeria's Goals, a blueprint for our nation's renewal. With a focus on ground up and grassroots strategy - the most cost-effective path to having the biggest impact - we must invest in candidates committed to standing up to the powerful cabals that have put a stranglehold on our nation for so long, and in turn achieve the goals of making their state the best place on earth to live, work, and raise a family.

With a focus on the future, if we adopt the following goals, Nigeria will achieve a renaissance, and become a much better place in the future than we are today:

GOOD JOBS
All hard-working Nigerians should be able to earn a livable wage and have a decent standard of living, including paid time for family leave, vacations, and sick leave. Employees should have rights at work, an expectation to have their salaries paid on time, and the chance to be represented on key decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. 

AFFORDABLE QUALITY HEALTHCARE
The biggest healthcare challenge in Nigeria is that of an antiquated healthcare system. The hospitals are poorly funded and abysmally equipped. Medical education is stone age with curriculum that lacks innovation and favors rote learning and cram work. Public health agencies lack the structure and expertise for surveillance and response to disease outbreak. Access to care is hampered by health insurance scheme that has failed to provide necessary coverage to all Nigerians. The healthcare industry is poorly regulated resulting in the mushrooming of privately clinics and hospitals run by quacks and wannabe doctors and nurses.

INVESTING IN OUR CHILDREN
Every parent wants the best for their children, but too many public schools lack the needed facilities and teachers; too many young kids are denied affordable quality pre-school and the care needed to remove barriers to learning; and college or technical training seems an unreachable goal because of soaring tuition costs. In developed countries, young people have a clearer path to decent work, from early childhood to job preparation. It's time that Nigeria also invests boldly in our children's future.

EMPOWERING PEOPLE OVER THE RULING POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT
We know what is wrong with politics in Nigeria: wealthy and powerful individuals and interests drown out ordinary voters, and politicians choose self-interests over the interest of regular people. Too many politicians lack the spirit of public service and only seek to enrich themselves and serve the interests of the rich and powerful that most people oppose. They implement electoral procedures designed to make it harder for qualified and competent candidates to stand for, and compete in, elections. It sometimes seems that powerful cabals control everything. It's time to break the political grip of the rich cabals and powerful special interests and empower people in politics and society.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
Nigeria is a diverse society of more than 200 ethnicities and tribes, and it works best when every hardworking Nigerian can achieve their own vision and dreams. We trust each other - and our nation - when we feel that we are getting a fair shake. A level playing field that ensures everyone gets a fair chance at success should be a basic Nigerian value and an important building block for a stronger nation.

SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE, RESILIENCE, AND INNOVATION
In the early of the 20th century, Nigeria built a network of roads, bridges, and telecommunications second to none in Africa. Yet for several decades, we have underinvested in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure. Our states are now filled with manhole filled broken-down roads, closed bridges, mass congestion, and bottlenecks in rail and seaports. Our dilapidated infrastructure costs us time, aggravation, and income. Rebuilding Nigeria's infrastructure for the 21st century will boost jobs, productivity, resilience to floods and storms, and our capacity to innovate. 

CLEAN AIR, WATER, AND ENERGY
Rising damages from droughts, floods, heat waves, forest fires, extreme storms, and changing patterns of ravaging infectious diseases such as Ebola and Lassa Fever are just some of the dangers of long-term climate change. It's time that Nigeria commit to reliable power generation and distribution, and safe renewable energy sources that can protect us from climate hazards while reducing our vulnerability to, and reliance on, oil. And communities must be able to trust that their water systems are not poisoning them, and that pollutants are not causing disease, lowering farm productivity, and threatening other species.

Adapted from The Future Now: America's Goals for 2030

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