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Thoughts on Nigeria’s National Development: THE 7 REAL BARRIERS TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

By My-ACE China


Development is the foundation and in fact at the back of all needs for the very formation of all nations in the world. Development is also behind the visions, goals, policies, political manifestos, debates, aspirations and general activities of any and all nations. The comparison of one nation to the other, growth of one nation over another, success of one nation over another, prosperity of one nation over another, and the general definition of ‘a good nation’, is development. This is so much so that the identity and perception of nations are categorized by development. We therefore have what we call:

Developed Nations 

Developing Nations

Under Developed Nations  

So, there’s no overstating the fact that development determines the identity, prosperity, and posterity of all nations. 

In Nigeria, the British met different villages and independent tribes and nations of productively developing entities with so much development potential to attract their colonization by for economic gains. The very amalgamation of these nations into the Nation called Nigeria in 1914 was a completely economic decision by the British colonialists to multiply the economic efficiency of their colonial enterprise called Nigeria.  And indeed, their goal for the amalgamation of Nigeria for economic growth of their colonial enterprise began to boom and pay off until the Independence of that colonial enterprise in 1960.

The agric revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s that exponentially boosted the development of Nigeria would follow suit and radically catapult the young nation to enviable heights of unprecedented development and prosperity. And with the discovery of oil in the same nation two years prior to the Independence, the hitherto agriculturally productive nation would witness a further boom in prosperity leading to the oil boom that now made Nigeria not only the giant of African, but a global nation to reckon with in the 1970’s. And to understand what it was like in terms of comparative development strength then, the young Nigerian nation’s currency was then almost two times stronger than that of its colonial master nation exchanging One Pound to two Naira (N2) in 1973.

But the more oil boomed, the more the development of Nigeria started taking a nosedive from the 1980’s. And that slide hasn’t halted but continues till this day. It has rather taken a sudden bolt in speed of the slide in the last couple of years and indeed it has been of epic horrific proportions in the last few months with all development indices on historic lows. 

It is thus more urgent than ever before to discuss ‘Breaking Barriers to National Development’. I will, nevertheless, not make this an academic discuss with lots of regurgitated statistics and information. Neither will I delve into discussing the already discussed issues that prevent national development as these are already on major search engines. It is also available with a simple click of one’s phone button.

Moreover, the pages of the internet that is filed with such information are almost endless.

I will not also start with the usual academic definition of terms of the above subject matter as Google and the many versions of dictionaries on our phones will do that very well!

So, let’s talk about the real barriers peculiar to our nation, to Nigeria’s National Development that no one is talking about right now.  

In my opinion, these are seven of ‘The Real Barriers to National Development in Nigeria’: 







      7.  LACK OF COURAGE  

To fully discuss each of the above in full details as I see and observe in Nigeria will take me the entirety of this magazine. For brevity, I will give basic insights to each, hoping it will provoke further thoughts and discussions on them. 


This is the greatest bane of development not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole. We are not only suffering from leaders that see cash as money but a growing demographic of young people that don’t see the real money but erroneously see cash as money. In 1971 when President Richard Nixon of America removed the Dollar off the gold standard, cash ceased from being money and became a currency. And a currency is only as valuable as how fast it moves/exchanges with goods (current of exchange) and how many times (number of exchanges with goods). Just as “stagnant waters stink”, stagnant currency (illegal, non-revolving, stolen, stashed cash) stinks. In fact, my mentor Grant Cardone, calls unused cash, trash!

Cash is not money!

Money is not Pounds or Dollars or Naira. Money is Idea, Trust, Integrity, Value, Service, Solutions and the oldest Money is Knowledge; the biggest money is Scale; the highest Currency is Relationship, while the latest Money is Attention!

Unfortunately, almost all of our leaders think cash is money and they steal it, stash it, and even export it to further exacerbate our already terrible spate of capital flight out of the country. Our developed valuable young people even liquidate their assets and buy Dollars (increasing the demand for Dollars (foreign exchange) and spiking the hike in exchange rates) to run away to other countries to deposit their real money into those countries/economies to enrich such nations for the rest of their lives. While the worst of our young people stay home and seal cash, splash cash, and use cash to increase their vices and avarice especially in drug abuse and moral decadence. A few very entrepreneurial ones are frozen in the limiting thoughts that, it takes cash to start a business, and do little or nothing. And all these creates a downward spiraling trend of development forming a very strong barrier to National Development. We need men and women who know that real money is not cash and can grow and scale the real money of ideas, trust, integrity, solutions, value, service, knowledge, relationship and attention to national and international levels to break this barrier. 


Before the advent of the recent epiphany of emotional intelligence preceding over and above intelligence quotient, the go-getter mentality was the winning mentality. But now, the go-giver mentality has become the winning mentality and this philosophy may have been born by the quote by John F. Kennedy, who said these historic words:

 “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”.

In Nigeria, however, the mentality has degenerated from thinking “What can the country do for me” to the dangerous self-implosive mentality of “What can I grab from Nigeria, How much can I grab of  it and for how long can I keep grabbing it alone with my family, cronies, and friends?”.

This go-grabber mentality has bred a new crop of politicians who are driven by the political philosophy of “Grab it, cease it and run with it!”. So, the resources meant for the national development of the country are now being grabbed, ceased, and taken away by this crop of go-grabber politicians who are not satisfied with looting our common national treasury dry but have gone above that and beyond that, to borrowing our future common national treasury and heinously grabbing, ceasing, and running away with resources from our generations unborn! 

The major threat is not just that these go-grabber politicians have captured the country and asserting their ‘grab it all philosophies’, but are now duplicating themselves in cronies and descendants and bastardizing our political systems to ensure their cronies are perpetuated by all means including the desecration of all known laws and constitution, to do that! 

The hardest barrier to our national development to break hence, is the birth of a new crop of go-giver politicians who are determined to give development to our nation and leave their names etched into Nigeria’s history as ‘The Go-Giver Heroes’. 


I am not talking about political leaders as those are just go-grabbers and I had earlier hinted at their capture of the Nigerian state. I am however talking about Natural Leaders in various fields.

Africa and indeed Nigeria is replete with leaders and captains of industries both locally and in the Diaspora. As a matter of fact, there’s no field or sector in the world that you wouldn’t find a Nigerian in their top positions. For anyone to rise to any leadership positions, such individuals must be sound and mature. This leaves somewhat of some good news for the nation. And I will borrow the best and simplest definition of maturity from Sigmund Freud: “Maturity is the ability to postpone gratification”. However, the level of maturity may differ and be graded based on gratification, into three: 


Seek immediate personal gratification. 


Have the ability to postpone personal gratification. 

C) SUPER-MATURED (my opinion)

Has the selfless ability to postpone personal gratification and Seek the Gratification of the Greater Other People! 

The scarcity of this last group of leaders in Nigeria has become a very serious barrier to National Development. And they’re so scarce we can rightly term them “an endangered species of Nigerian Leaders”. The best brains of Nigeria are in the Diaspora. The best hands in Nigeria are in the Diaspora. And even the few exceptional individuals in Nigeria that are still in Nigeria, have distanced themselves so far away from meddling with national affairs that they are even more distant than those in the Diaspora! One cannot even blame these exceptional leaders because almost every good initiative any individual leader wants to introduce for the greater good of the greater others is fraught with an unending array of bureaucratic and political infarctions that end up killing such visions. This has left behind a nation of exceptional quality leaders who are indifferent to national developmental issues because they value their sanity and serenity more than the “war” of trying to introduce any meaningful development in Nigeria. Besides, men with good ideas expect to be courted.

This is such a huge barrier that none of such leaders comes close to nor participate in any political activities thereby worsening Nigeria’s already chronic kakistocratic polity.

There must be a rising and a daring to rise of these super-mature leaders who are hell bent on delivering developmental values to the nation against all odds and at the danger of harm and discomfort to their personal lives. The future of any meaningful notional development in Nigeria is highly predicated on the rise of such apolitical, competent, non-religiously affiliated, passionate, reputable, and resolute leaders that will dare to bring developmental initiatives to the people of Nigeria and scale such developments to national level against all odds, all infarctions, all deformations, and bureaucratic warfare completely independent of the government of the day! And this is only possible when such leaders are super matured enough to prioritize the gratification of the greater others above their own delayed gratification. 


The greatest human power is taking responsibility. And the greatest human weakness by antithesis will be blaming others. Taking the blame forces one to think of remedial actions to take to correct the error and empowers one to dare to take responsibility for such actions. But blaming others absolves one of any responsibilities and allows one to remain in one’s comfort zone and doing nothing. While in the agric revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s, Nigerians took responsibility and cooperated themselves into different cooperatives that took the responsibility of production and congregation of different types of agric produce. The advent of oil and big money politics not only divided Nigerians across tribal, religious, and political party lines but also weakened the nation’s productivity and led to a learned dependency on the government. As agricultural productivity was dwindling as a nation, the bogus political promises by Nigeria’s politicians to “take care us” was rising and the culture of blaming the government/others rising simultaneously. This has created a massive paradigm shift in our belief as a nation of people that took full responsibility for their productivity to a nation of people that have become experts in blaming others. And as Dan Lok once said: “Lame people blame people!”. So, we have slowly drifted from a nation of powerful individuals that took pride in taking full responsibility for their personal destinies to a nation of powerless individuals who put their destinies in the hands of a few corrupt politicians and take solace in the pit of blaming everyone for everything! And the phoney thing about all this is that nobody is blaming himself nor taking any responsibility on themselves. Everyone blames everyone else but himself.

We need individuals who will take it upon themselves to blame no one and take full responsibility of national development in whatever sector they are passionate about. And I can beat my chest and say I am one of such individuals. I have not only taken it upon myself to solve the housing problems of Nigeria and Africa, but to do so whether the government helps or not! And having started my housing solution journey with that mindset and determination five years ago, we are already making giant strides in our quest. We believe we will soon set a global housing revolution that will be led by Nigeria.

So, the extrinsic blame barrier, where we all passionately indulge in the blame game, may produce very many heated national discussions as are presently ubiquitously happening but will not lead to any development. We must have individuals who will roll up their sleeves, strengthen their knees, take up the reigns and get to work to bring development and scale it to the national level without blaming anyone. And if you must blame, blame yourself for not being one of such individuals. And if you are one, blame yourself for not taking action to start your developmental initiatives already! 


Personal development supersedes and precedes national development. And as my spiritual father, David Ibiyeomie, will say: “People make nations. Nations don’t make people.” And the greatest personal development core is mindset development! The mindset of feeling threatened by problems and obstacles produces weak individuals who feel they always need help. But the mindset of seeing problems as money and all obstacles on the way, as the way, produces entrepreneurs that are not only capable of solving the problems but profiting from same problems. This philosophy is captured in the quote by Marcus Aurelius, a first century philosopher, when he said: “The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” Isn’t Nigeria presently blessed with so many profitable problems? Until a band of national heroes who see every problem as money are unleashed within our country, we may end off with foreigners coming to solve our problem and carting away all the fortunes that come from solving such problems. As a Chinese is once quoted as telling a Nigerian: “Nigeria is so rich, you can practically pick money on the streets”. I guess what he didn’t expound was that problems were the source of the money! So, what he actually meant is this: “Nigeria is so rich with problems everywhere, you can practically pick money on the streets by providing simple profitable solutions to these problems!”.  A nip of the tip of the iceberg of this phenomenon is the encouraging rise of techpreneurs (tech entrepreneurs) who are solving problems and cashing in on them. And the very famous and now global story of paystack has become a shining example.

Frank Lloyd Wright once put it in proper perspective when he said: “The human race built most nobly when limitations were greatest.”

The good news is that there are so many problems in Nigeria right now. The bad news is that there aren’t indigenous individuals with the mindset and resolve to solve such problems and profit from them at a national level. I am such an individual and I see the 22-24 million units of housing deficit in Nigeria as trillions and trillions of money! 

Until we see problems as money and national problems as big money, we may keep having that as a barrier to national development. And in the face of the various crisis in Nigeria presently, let’s end this section with what the former Intels CEO Andy Grove once said: 

“Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them”.

So, individualizing that I say:

“Bad people are destroyed by crisis; Good people survive them; Great people are improved by them”!

These are the great people that will make Nigeria great again. 


We cannot completely conclude that there aren’t individuals providing very innovative solutions to problems in Nigeria. They may however be doing so at such small local levels that they and their solutions are not visible on national level and scale. Once in a while we even hear such stories of one amazing indigenous solution or another. But without the vision and drive to scale such solutions to the national level, such stories go as they come!

Remember my quote on money again? 

Money is not Pounds or Dollars or Naira. Money is Idea, Trust, Integrity, Value, Service, Solutions and the oldest Money is Knowledge; the biggest money is Scale; the highest Currency s Relationship, while the latest Money is Attention!

If the biggest money is scale, not knowing how to scale can only give one small money and bring small local developments. One may discover an electrical solution that makes power from water and if it cannot be scaled, that solution would not be national.

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; says the Bible. Many with very veritable developmental solutions and initiatives only think they can only affect their local space and therefore cannot scale such solutions to national levels. And even when such expansion is suggested, they will say, they lack government support. And remember I said earlier, our government is run by go-grabbers who are not interested in any form of development. So myopic thinking by many exceptional individuals who think their contributions cannot be scaled and cannot make much difference, is another barrier to our national development. 


It is popularly said that: “Everything rises and falls on leadership”. And I know it takes courage to become a leader. So, everything rises and falls on courage. It takes courage to act. It takes courage to look for money in problems. It takes courage to fail and trying again and keep trying until you succeed. It takes courage to be super-mature enough to sacrifice your own delayed gratification for the gratification of others. It takes courage to believe in a country that everyone is blaming everyone else and no one is committed to rescue. It takes courage to take responsibility and take action on any developmental initiatives. It takes courage to dare. And most importantly it takes courage to break these seven barriers to national development: 







      7.  LACK OF COURAGE  

It takes courage to say: “I CAN!” when everyone and everything around is constantly screaming: “nothing can and no one can!”.

Everything rises and falls on courage. 

As I said when I started this piece, my aim is not so much as to fully elucidate and exhaustively discuss these barriers to national development. Rather to elicit further thoughts and discussions on the subject matter. 

I will however conclude that I strongly believe that the future of Nigeria lies solely in the hands of private individuals of exceptional grit and natural leadership prowess equipped with a daring belief to succeed against all odds and against all political bureaucratic wars, without government support. The more of such individuals we develop and have around, the brighter our future. And the sooner we provoke and support such individuals into daring positive developmental actions, the sooner we begin to see developments at the national level. 

(My-ACE CHINA is a Real Estate Success Strategist & The Mayor of Housing! 

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