21 April 2017

Nigeria: Let's Put Nigeria On the World's Map!

opinion

The news going round that the current meningitis scourge affecting some parts of Nigeria is the result of the sins of Nigerians is absolute rubbish!

Meningitis is caused by bacteria not sin. If sin caused meningitis, most of us politicians will get it, but it is the poor who suffer it most.

It is more likely that ignorance is a greater destroyer than meningitis.

The real sin causing meningitis is the sin of not budgeting enough money and then mismanaging the little money budgeted to cure and prevent a disease that regularly affects Nigerians.

We have a situation that is almost an epidemic in our hands. Over 330 people have died from meningitis within months.

God gave us as Nigerians some of the brains in the medical world. Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, who removed a fetus from its mother and performed surgery on it and then put the fetus back into the womb is a Nigerian.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose story was made into a movie starring Will Smith and who discovered and published findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in American football players is also a Nigerian.

We can't have such brilliant medical minds and still operate from the mindset that sins cause diseases like meningitis.

If we are to avoid being the laughing stock of the world, we must immediately declare an emergency on meningitis and make it a priority to provide treatment to those affected and vaccines to those in communities vulnerable to the scourge.

If we could defeat Ebola that we were not expecting three years ago, is it meningitis that we get every year that we cannot defeat even if it mutates into a variant that has been around for more than a decade?

For those who do not know it, Nigeria is part of what is known as the Meningitis Belt of Sub Saharan Africa. This Belt begins in The Gambia and extends all the way to Eritrea and the reason meningitis is so prevalent in this region has nothing to do with sin and everything to do with our weather conditions which are conducive for the bacteria that causes meningitis.

An understanding of cause and effect is necessary for any leader if not we will degenerate to the type of leadership that made the Salem Witch Trials possible.

I must stress that the fact that leaders actually believe that meningitis is caused by sin is a vindication of Chinua Achebe's diagnosis of the cause of Nigeria's backwardness.

As he said in his 1984 book, The Trouble With Nigeria, 'the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure in leadership'!

I mean, the other day I was shocked to watch on NTA network news as the Nigerian Customs Service celebrated the interception and destruction of millions of Naira worth of smuggled fish!

Why on earth will the Nigerian Customs destroy 10 million worth of edible smuggled fish in a country with millions of hungry Internally Displaced Persons? Why not give them to the poor instead! If I continue writing on this issue, I will betray a kind of anger that is un-senatorial, but this is one more in the long line of poor leadership decisions that has brought Nigeria to the sorry state she is in.

Recently, I was thinking about our aviation industry because I am a member of the Senate's Aviation Committee.

Do you know that in 1985 Nigeria Airways had 17 planes while Emirates had only 3 planes? Now we are in 2017 and Emirates has 256 planes while Nigeria Airways has none. The difference is leadership.

In the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum selected the best brains that the world has to offer whether they are UAE citizens or not.

In Nigeria we do the opposite. We rely on quota system instead of merit and then we wonder why things are upside down in our country.

Nigeria Airways died because we sacrificed merit and competence for quota system and ethnicity.

The same practices destroyed the Nigerian National Shipping Line and the Nigerian Railways until it was revived by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

We cannot expect to progress with such retrogressive policies. Insanity was defined by Albert Einstein as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Expecting quota systems to bring us progress is madness.

And that is why I salute the courage of the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in supporting the call to restructure Nigeria along the lines of merit.

If we do not restructure Nigeria, we will continue to watch as smaller nations overtake us while we continue to promote ethnicity over merit and then we wonder why things are upside down in our country.

In fact right now our economy is in a very tenuous state. People with money are now suspects in Nigeria. We are now a country I have seen where suspicions of corruption automatically leads to an assumption that you are guilty of corruption. Suspicion should result in investigation and not an automatic media trial and conviction.

Take the recent case of the $43 million found at Osborne Towers. People's reputations are being destroyed in the media when we should have carefully and quietly investigated the matter before going to court.

Nigerians are now afraid to be rich Nigeria. Even legitimate business men are losing their gumption because they feel that moving money around might attract suspicion and suspicion is almost as good as conviction in the minds of some people.

And another thing that this Osborne Towers affair brings up is the need for Nigeria to make progress in making the Proceeds of Crime Bill a law. This bill, if signed into law, will do away with the need to subject seized cash to a judicial process before it can be forfeited to the federal government and will enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other law enforcement bodies to fund their considerably expensive operations from the proceeds of crime that they are able to track and seize.

At this juncture, I want to pause and encourage my readers to soberly reflect with me as I mourn.

Patrick Ityohegh was my predecessor as Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority and was also a dear and treasured friend whose extraordinary life added value to Nigeria and the Black Race.

Many Nigerians were able to escape the hardship of life by relaxing to episodes of the Sunny Side of Life in the eighties because Patrick was creative enough to develop that TV show which was a first of its kind in these shores.

He produced other brilliant TV shows and added value to the electronic media in Nigeria. Patrick lived a full and very successful life, so even though I am sad at his passing, those he left behind have every cause to be proud of him and to celebrate the life and heritage he lived and left behind.

May his soul Rest In Peace. Adieu sir, you are now at the side of life that is sunny forever.

The 100th Commonsense Series

How time flies!

Two years ago, I began shooting the common sense messages in video format as my non partisan contribution to the development of the full strata of Nigerian society from the grassroots to the very top.

Now, after 99 episodes, we are about to shot the 100th episode.

Now, this episode is all about giving back!

God has blessed me immensely through Nigeria and by His grace I own Dream Magic Studios, one of the most modern studios on earth!

It is based in Los Angeles and used to be owned by the legendary and sometimes infamous Larry Flint from whom I bought it.

It has some of the very best sound stages the world can boast of and they can be converted into almost any scene required to make a movie.

One of my clients/tenants is Kevin Hart and the studio regularly plays host to some of the best and brightest contemporary movie and TV stars. The best always attracts the best.

To give back to Nigeria and help develop the Nollywood movie industry, I want to shoot a Nollywood/Hollywood movie that will take the world by storm and show the entertainment industry that Nigeria's movie industry has come of age.

I will finance this movie and guarantee world wide distribution both on television and cinema.

Now, here's where you come in.

Are you a Nollywood pro? Are you an amateur set on making it big in Nollywood and on the world stage?

Send us your script and a panel to be headed by the queen of the African movie industry, our very own Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, will rate the scripts and select the best script and I will sign a contract with the winner and make their script into a movie that will be of sufficient quality to qualify for entry into the world's very best Film Festivals.

Who knows, you could even win an Oscar!

Murray-Bruce is the founder of the Silverbird Entertainment Group and the Senator representing Bayelsa-East in the National Assembly

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