When I heard the news that the Brookings Institution has ranked Nigeria the poverty capital of the world overtaking India that hitherto wears the ignominious crown, in an election year, I feared
that many would like to make political capital out of it. However, the reaction of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was subdued, perhaps aware that its 16 wasteful years in power could be blamed for it.
The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) just shrugged its shoulder and moved on; fearing that dwelling on it could be a sad reminder of failed promises in the past three years. By its
action the APC lost the opportunity to tell Nigerians and the world what it has been doing to reduce, if not eradicate poverty in Nigeria since it mounted the horse of leadership in 2015.
While the political elite ignored the damning verdict from the Brooking Institution, the presence of the British Prime Minister. Theresa May who spoke about it in the country last month caused some
disquiet even if muted. The British leader reminded whoever cares to listen that Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. Even though it is obvious that poverty is endemic in Nigeria for obvious reasons,
should we have allowed May to rob it on our face? Our leaders did not protest. They lacked the courage to confront her and tell her that the tag does not define us. That we are bigger than that!
United States has the highest murder rate in the world, but Theresa May will be hard pressed to travel to Washington and be talking about America as the murder capital of the world, without getting a backlash from President Donald Trump and the Gun Rights lobbies in that country.
Interestingly, Theresa May never traveled to Asia or India and openly ridicule India as the poverty capital of the world while the Asian country wore the ‘crown’. Because the truth is that the tag did not
define India. India has continued to excel in Science and Technology and Cinema among others, which had lifted millions out of poverty, even though there were still millions left behind. While millions of
Indians were in poverty, many Indians were taking over the Silicon Valley-the world’s capital of ICT-in United States and repatriating billions of dollars to Mother India.
A list of who is who in Silicon Valley and of Indian origin includes and not limited to the following; Satya Nadella is the Microsoft chief executive that replaced Steve Ballmer; Ajay Bhatt, an Indian-American
computer architect who is credited as being the father of the USB standard; famous Intel Pentium processor, Vinod Dham, originally hailed from Pune in India; Sundar Pichai currently the man overseeing
Android, Chrome and apps at Google; Sabeer Bhatia pioneering web service, Hotmail; Vic Gundotra, who is known as Google’s social tsar and the man behind the Google+ social network; Ruchi Sanghvi became Facebook’s first female engineer, joining the social network in 2005; Shantanu Narayen, serves as Adobe Systems chief executive; a software and services company that develops the world famous Photoshop among other products. The list is endless, showing that being poverty capital of the world cannot and should not define a nation.
Like India, Nigeria is also making its mark in Science and Technology and ICT, even if it is not in the scale of the Indians. In Nigeria amid the poverty, we have created ICT gurus changing Nigeria and the world. Among these change agents include; Jason Njoku (iROKO Partners) – Jason is the cofounder of iROKO Partners, an African focused media streaming platform that partners with BastianGotter in 2010. Together, they have built the business to prominence; today iROKO is the largest Youtube partner in Africa, with over 500,000 movie licenses purchased.
It has acquired an $8 million investment from hedge fund, Tiger Global; Sim Shagaya (Konga) – Sim
Shagaya, in 2012 launched Konga.com, which has received series of investment amounting to over $35 million. Asides Konga, Sim has also launched ecommerce platform DealDey, a deal offering platform,
sourcing the best discount offers from product and service providers across the country; Abasiama Idaresit (Wild Fusion) launched Wild Fusion, a digital marketing firm, in 2008.
His company is famous for turning a $250 initial deal into a million dollar venture. It is the first company in Nigeria to earn the Google Adwords Partner certification, and provides internet marketing services for international brands such as Pespi and Vodacom. Its operation extends across the African space, reaching countries like Ghana and Kenya; Tayo Oviosu (Paga) – Tayo is the founder of Paga, a Nigerian money transfer service firm. Paga has over a million subscribers utilizing its mobile money services for daily transactions and has received funding from institutional investors including Acumen fund, Adievo Capital and much more; Valentine Obi (etranzact) – Valentine is the founder and CEO of etranzact, a local multi-application and multi-channel electronic transaction switching and payment processing platform.
Launched in 2003, it has evolved into a multinational brand, rolling out products such as ATM, Internet, POS, and Mobile in six other countries including South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Cote d’voire and United Kingdom. Following the award of a mobile money license, etranzact moved swiftly to exploit this emerging space, launching a subsidiary business, PocketMoni; Florence Seriki (Omatek) – Omatek made history in Nigeria by becoming the first IT firm to be listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange. It has a market capitalization of N1.47 billion ($90 million); Leonard “Leo” Stanley Nnamdi Ekeh (Zinox Technologies) – A trail blazer in Nigeria’s IT industry, Stanley Ekeh set up Zinox Technologies Limited in 2001 determined to fill the gap of manufacturing computers locally.
To achieve this, Zinox Computers was launched – Nigeria’s First Internationally Certified Branded Computers which came with a Naira sign and a power supply designed to country’s unstable power; Funke Opeke (Mainstreet Technologies) – Opeke is the CEO of MainOne Cable Company. She founded
Mainstreet Technologies, developer of MainOne Cable, a submarine communications cable stretching from Portugal to South Africa with landings along the route in Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria; Mitchell
Elegbe (Interswitch) – He built a system that would enable electronic
transaction of money the Interswitch.
Nigerians are not only excelling in ICT, they are there in entertainment-ruling Africa and now in manufacturing including vehicle manufacturing by Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company at Nnewi,
Nigeria that produces variety of cars and utility vehicles among others. While we continue to innovate and incubate companies meeting our needs and that of the world, our leaders must ensure that everyone joins in the prosperity. We need to evolve a poverty alleviation measures that will eliminate poverty in Nigeria in the short and long run.
Uwadima, Journalist, Author and Researcher lives in Abuja
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