Eruwa-born security expert and former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Amb. Oludare Ogunlana has said that Nigeria is having security challenges and underdeveloped because of lack of education and equal opportunity.
According to him, education and opportunity to tackle insecurity will go a long way in making Nigeria great again.
He spoke at a summit in Warri, Delta State which had as its theme, ”Improving Security for Maritime Trade in the Warri River area.”
Below is excerpts of the lecture:
The Spirit of Warri and Genius in You!
When the Warri kingdom was founded about 1480 AD, the founding fathers had a great plan but was there anyone among them who thought Warri would turn out to be what it is today? Today, Warri has become a great City with abundant resources both human and natural. Is anyone in doubt that Warri will rule the entire world in the next 50 years?
Whichever way it turns, you are the answer.
I am delighted to speak to this very distinguished audience on this occasion in Warri City, Delta State of Nigeria.
We have gathered here to talk about a great City in Nigeria. Of course, Nigeria is great not just because it is the 7th most populous country on the planet. It is an important Nation not only on account of her oil wealth. Nigeria is significantly more because of the energy of her people, whose creativity and resilient spirit of enterprise continues to assure her progress even in the face of seemingly hopeless situations. And that is the SPIRIT of Warri Kingdom. Courage and Resilience.
It is due to the hard work and industry of the ordinary Nigerians- the nation’s greatest asset, that Nigeria attained a GDP rebased at $510 billion in 2013 exceeding that of South Africa to become the most significant African economy even in the face of her parlous infrastructure.
I can see the resilience of my people in Warri each time I visit the beautiful City. Of course, you are a significant contributor to Nigeria height of achievements. The feat is the result of the toiling of small-scale entrepreneurs, who continue to create value without adequate electricity, cottage food processors, without affordable financing, farmers without the scantest of state support; artisans, bold and imaginative businessmen and women, dynamic financial managers, young innovators creative artistes and hardworking professionals.
Remarkably, Price Water Cooper predicts that the country’s economy will probably grow to be the 9th largest economy in the world by 2050. The basis for this has already been laid over the past ten years with the country recording 6-7% annual growth consistently. In 2015, even with the collapse in oil price – the country’s major export – the economy still managed to grow at 2.8% compared to 1.2% of South Africa; 1.5% in the Euro Zone; -2.6% in Brazil and 2.0 % in the US in 2017. These occurred despite more than fifty percent collapse in oil revenue and the slowdown in government business due to the inauguration of a new government.
Growth in the Nigeria Economy is expected to be sustained as the economy has acquired a resilience beyond oil and natural resource exploitation which accounts for only 14% of GDP as long as the political and security situation remains stable.
Nigeria has also recorded a robust expansion of her middle class, which Standard Bank reported has grown by six-folds between the year 2000 and 2010.
Warri sons and daughters outside Nigeria are not left out in this process. The Nigerian diaspora community is an integral part of the Nigeria growth story. In 2013, foreign remittances to Nigeria was a record USD 21billion. This forms part of the incredible contributions of Nigerians abroad, innovators, small business operators and ordinary folks eking out a living for themselves the hard-way – picking off tough jobs that a lot of people in their host communities ignore.
It is on record that Warri City has been engaging in international trade as far back as 1720 AD. During this period, the City embarked on economic and political expansion, forming a strong alliance with Portugal. Warri is home of peace and commerce, culture, and entertainment and that is the spirit in every young and old people of this great City.
This is the Nigerian spirit that turns out outstanding achievers from the harshest imaginable environment. Your guesses are as good as mine, where Warri City can be in the next ten years if her hardworking young people can enjoy the infrastructure support that their peers in comparable middle-income countries take for granted. I guess this is one of the reasons I have been invited to explore the topic of today, which is “Improving Security for Maritime Trade in the Warri River area.”
Today, the security situation in Nigeria has become a significant concern to everyone. It is not only peculiar to this City, but it is a global phenomenon. Maritime Security has always been a primary concern for every nation.
Nigeria Maritime Sector accounts for over 80 percent of our international trade through transportation, fishing, oil, and gas. But the irony is that 80 percent of most criminal activities emanate from the maritime sector. It further means the drop in the crime rating of our country and the attendant improvement of our economy is dependent on the security of the marine corridors and territorial waters.
Warri is a strategic City, and the protection of Maritime activities is a vital economic interest that nations will use all means, including the military power to protect. Of paramount to the states are Port, vessel and facility security. Today, the war insurance imposed on most vessels on Warri waterways as result of insecurity.
Economic sabotage, subversion, and act of terrorism are common to maritime. Piracy, robbery, and illegal bunkering constitute a serious barrier to maritime trade and serve as impediments to the development of Warri and Nigeria at large. The leadership of the Nigerian Navy has deliberately undertaken several operations to rid the nation’s waterways of robbery, piracy and illegal oil bunkering. Several ships, gun, and patrol boats have been acquired and deployed for maritime security drills, demographic intelligence, and operations.
Those actions are remarkable, but it is important to invest in our people as means of tackling insecurity. It is time to change our strategy using the instrument of diplomacy, intelligence and law enforcement via community policing.
It should be noted that in all these, there has never been any incident of terrorism recorded in a recent year, but criminal activities occasioned by long-time neglect, injustice and lack of development. Therefore, our people are prone to committing crimes of opportunity because they lack opportunity and enabling the environment to flourish and prosper.
Today, we stand here to change the wrong perception. It is time to tell our story. Let the right spirit in you arise; let the genius in you be revealed to the word. And that is who you are!
Security is everything and PEACE is the by-product of security. A peaceful City, State or Nation will open the door for both domestic and international investment even beyond maritime trade. It is time to open the BIG DOOR.
First, we need to tell our story by ourselves. The most challenging thing to do is to write your history after every battle. May your enemy never write your history for you. You know what you get when your enemy write your story? Therefore, we have to tell the world the story of Warri from the perspective of the opportunity and abundant resources available and not from the point of insecurity, uncertainty, and fear. It is called “People’s diplomacy.”
There is a need to engage the people, educate them on the benefit of the peaceful environment and open their eyes to the opportunities.
As far back as 1800, Warri has remained a center for the palm oil trade and other significant items such as rubber, palm oil products, cocoa, groundnuts, hides, and skins. This place is a considerable City that serves as the Cargo transit point between the Niger River and the Atlantic Ocean. It should be noted that without security there will be no trade flow and there will be no development. Let our people understand. Therefore, the City needs to embark on massive security awareness program, using all available instruments of mass communication. Reach out to each family and let them be the police. As Nigerian will say, \’carry them along.\’ Also, there is a need for rejuvenation of Warri spirit of enterprises and resilience. Let them develop confidence and have reason to BELIEVE in their City again, again and again.
Community diplomacy is the ability to influence others. It is a kind of communication with and dissemination of appropriate information to the general public to inform and influence the opinion. Information such as this has been the basis of survival of the nation of Israel since its creation. The country is not surviving based on her hard power or military strength but based on public diplomacy and soft power.
The Warri City’s soft power relies on its resources of culture, economic strength people, values, and strategies. A smart power policy combines hard and soft power resources. Public diplomacy has a long history as a means of promoting a country\’s soft power and was essential in winning the cold war.
I ultimately agreed with Nye (2008), that Public diplomacy is an important tool in the arsenal of smart power, but smart public diplomacy requires an understanding of the roles of credibility, self-criticism, and civil society in generating soft power.
Diplomacy; Information operations that target the heart and soul of the millennia. A good narrative that attracts foreigners versus the negative; Infrastructure development, and education. Creating a new opportunity for young people are essential towards tackling insecurity in the region. Government at local and state level must make education a priority.
Confucius, a renown Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history gave a leader the following advice. During a visit to one of the States, the following conversation ensued with the ruler.
Ruler: what shall we do with this people?
Confucius: Protect them.
Ruler: And what shall we do with them after we have protected them?
Confucius: Enrich them.
Ruler: What shall we do with them after we have enriched them?
Confucius: Educate them.
Ruler: And after that what shall we do with the people since they now have the education?
Confucius: Since they now have Education, let them govern themselves by deciding at regular intervals freely, of their own choice, who shall govern them, and let them probe all things and examine all things and live as they will, subject only to certain restrictions they impose upon themselves. Education will give them power. The power so derived will be used to make the State great.
Today, Nigeria is having security challenges and underdeveloped because of lack of education and equal opportunity. Give them education and opportunity to tackle insecurity. And the Warri City will be great again!