By Ekerete Udoh
For almost a month now, I have been in Nigeria, first to attend the ceremonies marking the Silver Jubilee of my state of birth, Akwa Ibom, and second, to observe, document and have a better view and impression of the emerging Nigerian spirit, and I am happy to report here that the new Nigerian spirit I have seen and observed is strong, resilient, hopeful, sunny and engaging.
People have always wondered why America became a beacon of hope - the bastion of democratic ideals and traditions; why it has become the dominant power in the world, shaping policies and demanding actions on fundamental elements of our collective existence, the simple answer is the American spirit- a spirit that is anchored on the abiding belief that the circumstance of your birth cannot and should not circumscribe your capacity to be what God had destined for you to become- a productive and result-oriented individual, seeking and working toward things that would enhance your pursuit of happiness. A spirit that celebrates all that is American and willing to pay the ultimate price in the pursuits and projections of its cherished ideals.
For centuries, since the Pilgrims first landed in the Massachusetts Bay, that ideal has propelled Americans and even when faced with severe and somewhat debilitating challenges, that spirit has always shone through and blunt the edges of those challenges- from its wars of independence, to the challenge of its post independence governance mechanics that the Articles of Confederation had revealed was unworkable, from its economic challenges to the era of bosses in governance, from the morally revolting trade in humans-slavery to civil war and the attendant reconstruction’s issues with the south, the American spirit has always overwhelmed and brightened the darkest alleys of its history and evolution.
All through its history, the American spirit has stared problems in the face and took them on them on. It stared Jim Crow’s creation of the real Americans and the ‘others’ through racial discrimination, it stared the Great Depression and rather than succumb to defeat, the spirit told Americans to roll up its sleeves and go to work,and go to work it did and a few years later, capitalism and free market were restored and a psychologically shrunken people of just a few years earlier, had restored the bounce in their steps. The American spirit I can say confidently, is the reason why she has remained the world’s hegemonic power and may remain in that capacity for decades to come.
The question I may ask at this point is is there an emerging Nigerian spirit? As I stated in the opening paragraphs, the answer is an empathetic yes. In my four weeks here, I have seen that spirit come alive and shine through brightly. I have seen a spirit that though burdened by a disconnect of the essence of the social contract on the part of its leaders, has refused to give up. I saw people who in spite of the multi-layered challenges that daily assail them, they still retain that ingredient that is the difference between failure and success-hope. I saw a hopeful and determined people who would go to bed in total darkness, swathing away mosquitoes, and looking for anything that could help cushion the effect of the heat and uncomfortable sleeping condition they seemed to have internalized and conditioned their minds to. I saw a people who would trop to bars and drink to a better tomorrow even if today was bleak and agonizing.
In my engagements with these people, I observed a deeply internalized faith in the nation to rise up to the full potentials of its founding-from the barber in Lagos, to the corporate titan, their faith in this country remains strong and rock-solid. As American leaders-from George Washington, who rallied the American people to victory over Britain in its war of Independence, to Thomas Jefferson whose intellectual depth provided the foundation for much of its constitutional safeguards, to Abraham Lincoln, whose avowed determination to ensure the union remained one and that slavery was morally reprehensible- a decision and belief he paid the ultimate price for, to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who motivated Americans to go back to work and recapture the lost luster of capitalism, to Ronald Reagan who saw communism as evil that must be stamped out of the world, American leaders have always tapped into the American spirit to do big and profound things. The Nigerian spirit I saw in the course of my four week visit to the country, is available, begging and ready to be used to move the country forward. All government needs to do, is to engaged this spirit by creating avenues and ways for the spirit to rise and pursue things that would ensure happiness and self-actualization- the basic things that make life worth living-especially in the are of power generation.
Oakland, California and Bauchi in Sister-Cities’ Collaboration
From October 14 through October 31, a delegation to be led by Mallam Isa Yuguda, Governor of Bauchi State will visit Oakland City, California, to formalize and sign mutual agreement between the City of Bauchi and the City of Oakland, and to officiate the sister cities relationship between both cities. The signing of this MoU is as a result of an earlier trip undertaken by Engineer Noah N.A. Dallaji in September 2010 as the President/Founder of African Children Talent Discovery Foundation (ACTDF) where an agreement was reached with the mayor of Oakland, to train talented kids sent by ACTDF to the city
The City of Oakland, located in the center of the Bay Region (San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose with a population of over 6.5 millions), is the world’s most dynamic regional economy. A business-friendly city offering financial incentives and business support services to new firms, the City of Oakland is considered one of the most culturally diverse cities in the United States and is a leading advocate for international trades. With the opening up of doors on both ends of the coast with Nigeria entry into the World Trade Organization, the Port of Oakland is the fourth largest containerized cargo ports in the U.S. and among the top 25 in the world; the Port is well equipped to link Northern California & the US to the global economy. The Port of Oakland also scored highest overall in a study evaluating air quality, water quality, land use and community relations.
Forbes Magazine ranked Oakland the 8th best place to do business in the United States (San Francisco ranked 54 and San Jose ranked 62). In 2005, Oakland rated the nation’s number one office market. We are also ranked as number one for business location. In 2010, Oakland was selected by the Money Magazine as America’s top five best places to retire. Newsweek Magazine ranked Oakland among the top ten technology cities of the future. At present, The New York Times ranked Oakland the 5th place to visit in the world in 2012. Our goal is to be the leading Northern California city with the most amount of export and import action, and establish trading partnership with other cities and ports worldwide. It is in this vein that we sincerely believe that our relationship will enhance our mutual understanding and lead to new business opportunities for both countries.