Finally, scenarios for the people, By Chukwumerije Okereke & Richard Dion

How the West owes Africa $100 billion for climate recovery, By Chukwumerije Okereke

CS60 will be different from standard scenario exercises because it will go beyond a vision document. Team members will create roadmaps until 2060 in various disciplines – health, education, energy, economy, urban planning and conflict. These are loose strategies in five-year intervals in which a general trajectory will be outlined. What are the policies and programmes that need to be in place? Which interventions have the best value for the most people?  

Which Way Nigeria – Citizen Scenarios to 2060 began last week with a multidisciplinary team of leading civil society organisations, academics and experts to create a vision that goes well beyond any tribe or region. It belongs to the whole country.

The initiative’s process include BudgIT Foundation, Connected Development, Spaces for Change, Accountability Lab, and over 25 Nigerian thought leaders, who see the value of having citizens in the focus. Citizens should be the directors of the theatre and not just the actors.

Madam Oby Ezekwesili, Professor Pat Utomi and the Spoken Word poet Dike Chukwumerije showed their support and their enthusiasm for the initiative, offering their views on the challenges, but also the areas in which a just, sustainable and prosperous Nigeria is possible for all of its citizens.

Uncomfortable questions

CS60 intends to ask the very uncomfortable questions that we need to pose ourselves:

Can Nigeria handle its currently forecasted 400+ million population by 2050?
What are the resource implications for that projected population, potentially the third largest in the world?
What will Nigeria, post-oil, resemble?
How does the country prepare for the impacts of climate change?
What governance innovations does Nigeria need to end energy poverty, expand economic opportunity and achieve decent health and education for all by 2060?
Which positive impacts can sound urban planning have on the population – economically, socially, and psychologically (with Lagos as lighthouse, not only for the entire country, but the entire continent)?
Can a culture of compromise, dialogue, and empathy (CDE) be created to reduce conflict and the culture of toxicity among conflicting parties?
How can Nigeria increase the participation of women in politics?

What are scenarios?

Scenarios, so-called “memories of the future”, have been used in private sector and government circles to imagine a future that is possible. These are not predictions, but realistic understandings of where a society could go, given the current information at hand. They provoke and they inspire. Scenarios are hardly feel-good documents – they put their finger on the nerve of society.

To us, the scenario process belongs in the hands of those most implicated – its citizens. With all due respect, governments come and go, and the private sector has their own profit motive. How many countless visions and strategies have this country come up with over the years, many lying as heaps of paper once government officials clear their offices? Frankly, more than you can shake a stick at….

We are not naive. Paper and plans aside, a transformational culture change must take place. The acceptance of mediocrity can no longer be tolerated. The concept of public service all too often has stopped at the tip of a politician’s nose. What if “someone on the take” was replaced by “someone on the give”?

Which Way Nigeria – Citizen Scenarios to 2060 is only the second time ever that a citizen-driven process has been created.

Scenarios, roadmap and process

To answer these questions, we hope to offer a real, practical and impactful narrative of going from today’s A to 2060’s B. It is both talk and walk.

CS60 will be different from standard scenario exercises because it will go beyond a vision document. Team members will create roadmaps until 2060 in various disciplines – health, education, energy, economy, urban planning and conflict. These are loose strategies in five-year intervals in which a general trajectory will be outlined. What are the policies and programmes that need to be in place? Which interventions have the best value for the most people?  

Finally, our hope is an arms length, independently funded secretariat which reports annually on whether the country and elected representatives are on the right path. Yes, we intend to grade politicians and leaders. It’s been a long time coming.

CS60, we hope, will offer a general blueprint for future governments to follow and a template upon which citizens can judge elected officials. At the very least, the price for a vote should go up dramatically.

We are not naive. Paper and plans aside, a transformational culture change must take place. The acceptance of mediocrity can no longer be tolerated. The concept of public service all too often has stopped at the tip of a politician’s nose. What if “someone on the take” was replaced by “someone on the give”?

Well, to the citizens of Nigeria, you may view righting this ship as impossible, but are you interested in giving it a try? The task at hand borders on the biblical, but through small groups of like-minded people, making change on a daily basis, it is a realistic timeline. The question is – can you tell your grandchildren that you were part of it?

It has got to change

The life of tens of millions of citizens is a daily struggle – food, shelter, livelihood – not only for oneself, but for immediate families and extended families. However, for those at the pinnacle of society, the status quo is some kind of wonderful situation in which money comes in bricks, water is clean and sparkling, you can buy a proper education, be cured outside of the country and drive yourself around in a bubble resembling a tank.

Righting a ship of 200+ million seems insurmountable, indeed impossible. However, civil society leaders throughout the world have proven that change is possible. Nigeria’s CSOs have advocated for and delivered change that has made a real difference in the lives of the country’s citizens.

This change happens in small increments, it needs to be relentless in execution and it requires the perseverance of many marathons. That journey resembles the construction of mosques, cathedrals and temples. Many of those who built those great edifices did not see the finished product, but they were part of it and future generations knew it as well.

Turning the impossible dream into reality

The founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River, the poet Lewis MacAdams turned a 50-mile concrete flood channel back into a river running through one of America’s largest cities. He once quipped, “If it’s not impossible, I’m not interested.”

Through his advocacy, tens of miles of concrete will be removed in the coming years to restore the Los Angeles River back to its natural state. What MacAdams did is nothing short of tearing down the Berlin Wall to heal an ecosystem.

Well, to the citizens of Nigeria, you may view righting this ship as impossible, but are you interested in giving it a try? The task at hand borders on the biblical, but through small groups of like-minded people, making change on a daily basis, it is a realistic timeline. The question is – can you tell your grandchildren that you were part of it?

Let’s face it, February 2023 is around the corner – time to get to work….

Chukwumerije Okereke and Richard Dion are the co-initiators of Which Way Nigeria – Citizen Scenarios to 2060.

 

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