BusinessDay

The new US Consulate: Insight before jubilations

In 1931, James Truslow Adams, an American writer and Historian, coined the word the “American dream”. He defined it as a world where “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to his or her ability or achievement. Regardless of social class or circumstances of birth”. Today, globally, the America dream is synonymous with better a future.

A few weeks ago, the American government did a groundbreaking of its largest consulate in the world. The consulate when completed in 2027, would have cost American taxpayers $537million. What informed the choice of Nigeria by the American government for such investment? Before going into the details, perhaps it might be nice to ask. What makes America the greatest nation on earth? What gives America a competitive edge over other nations?

It might be easy to say technology, military or its financial strength or even good and courageous leadership. Why all these may be true, however, at the heart of America’s greatness is its immigration system, remove it and America will lose its superpower status.

Today, everyone talks of the American dream, it is a national inspiring ethos that makes people hope for a better future. It is a dream that provides an opportunity for prosperity and success achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. It is therefore insightful that meaningful national development is possible when everyone regardless of their background or orientation can hope for a better future wherever they reside.

National pride is possible when there is a collective hope, Nigeria leadership needs to restore and promote a society where everyone feels valued and where everyone can seamlessly hope for a better future. A sense of patriotism is aroused when everyone can build and live their dream. We have the American dream, so also there should be the Nigerian dream.

War for talents

In today’s economy, innovative organizations and institutions understand the need to compete for top talents. They do everything possible to develop, attract and retain those talents. The leadership of underdeveloped nations struggle to attract and retain good talents because most of those country lack future-focused, courageous, and smart leadership.

Today, an average Nigerian youth wants to “japa” (voluntary migration to more economically developed countries) why? because they believe that there is a hope beyond the gloom of hopelessness that they possibly see in their motherland. Regardless of the institution, to thrive and build prosperous institutions leaders should deliberately build strong ethos and inspire hope without which people’s dedication, commitment and productivity will be nothing but mere shadows of possibilities. The $537million US consulate in Lagos testament to and a reinforcement of the American values and ideals.

Regardless of media propaganda, Nigerian immigrants remain one of the most educated, hardworking, and productive anywhere in the world. There is hardly any sector you go to that you wouldn’t see a Nigeria not doing menial work but creating value at the top level. Either academic, ICT, medicine, or Finance. Nigeria is a major contributor to global development. The American government recognized this and as a country that is a net borrower of human capital, she will leave no stone unturned to attract the best talents to its economy. It is time for us to think beyond self-centeredness and look into the future.

Diversity and inclusion

No nation can become truly great without the embrace of diversity and inclusion. America is a strong promoter of Diversity and inclusion hence the country is strong in cognitive, cultural, and religious diversity. America’s inorganic diversity enables her to leverage the best potentials all over the world. In a recent projection by the Census Bureau, 49 millions of her population would be 65 years old by 2030 and the demographic scale would be tilted as older adults are expected to outnumber children for the first time in US history. Thus, making the population a graying and dependent one in the future. With its immigration system, the country is able to seamlessly reinvent itself and shore up against potential decline by attracting young talents from around the world to add value to its economy. Nigeria has an organically diverse population and highly talented minds across the world, there must, a deliberate attempt to look inwardly and develop and retain a robust human capital in redefining her economic trajectory.

Strong sense of patriotism

America has a creative way of stimulating its economy, of the $537million only $95million gets to the Nigeria local economy, the remaining $442million stays in the American economy through consultancy fees, the purchase of building materials, equipment and infrastructure that will be supplied by American firms. To grow the Nigerian economy and build strong capacity, projects financed by the Nigerian taxpayer’s money should have a direct impact on its taxpayers by ensuring that preferences are given to Nigerians for the benefit of Nigeria.

From Brain drain to brain gain

In a recent discussion with a friend, he concluded that the new American consulate is. “Greek gift” and a way to promote brain drain. However, without the Diaspora remittance what will the Nigerian state currently look like? Remittances from the diaspora have largely helped to improve the fortunes of Nigerans. We need to leverage the power of the diaspora to transform our national economic trajectory. Enviable development recorded by Asian countries was largely driven by the American Born Chinese (ABC), Koreans and Indians. With the creation of an enabling environment, the same success can be recorded in Nigeria.

The government can demonstrate this by creating a Ministry of Diaspora Service, which should have a special mandate to leverage on the diaspora to facilitate national development. It is time to leverage the power of Nigerians in Diasporas and make use of our own America Born Nigerians (ABN).

Conclusion

In all, as Nigeria basks in the euphoria of having the largest US consulate on her soil, there is a need to understand that America is doing this first and foremost to strengthen its competitive edge and build capacity for its economy. The framework is there for grab, before the drum of celebration is rolled, the drum of insights should beat faster, louder, and stronger, it is only then that an investment like this can make any sensible sense.

Dr. Olukunle Iyanda, CEO, Broot Consulting, writes from Lagos

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