As 2019 draws near, what remains clearer than his Excellency Atiku Abubakar‘s bid to run for President is the uncertainty of the future of Nigeria. I wouldn’t normally do this but because we are closer to our first private sector leadership, i’d like to have your attention for a sec.
I also hope his Excellency will take the time to read through and to digest this letter as it is more for him than it is for others.
A few days before 2017 ran out, I was in the company of some dare devil entrepreneurs like myself and even though we gathered to celebrate the end of the year, we couldn’t completely ignore the realities that laid waiting for when the party ended.
With enough energy and drive, 6 out of 7 of us, returned home post 2010 upon crossing and completing various academic milestones outside Nigeria with high hopes to contribute our quota to developing our country and the continent but alas 7 out of 7 of us have 2018 deadlines to abandon ship.
What possibly went wrong?
There was hope in the private sector especially among start up founders when the present admin took centre stage promising to tackle corruption, create a level playing field and to promote and establish a merit based system to foster economic growth but the lack of a clear and corresponding economic plan to mitigate the effects of a poorly designed anti corruption drive has impacted the startup eco system so hard that our very own Elon’s have figured that to truly be Musk, one has to abandon the continent.
From failing to successfully establish their multi million dollar science/tech parks for core ICT, medicine and other sciences, these young men who attempted to defy Nigerian logic have come to terms with the realities that brute strength alone cannot bring down these walls.
And this isn’t just about the APCNigerialed govt because after all in 2015, for instance, I attempted to lead the Cross River State government to host the biggest Trade event in the world but, like they say, you can force the horse to the stream but not to drink.
Despite the infrastructure deficit in Calabar, especially with accommodating [my] guests, we succeeded to convince private sector giants, most established before I was even born, to build a mini eco city, from scratch, to host the over 10k vendors and 20k+ international visitors billed to grace the record breaking events. This event will single handedly add 2Billion to the state IGR, create 12k+ jobs, and catalyse over $10million forex inflow with $520million in strategic investments annually.
We went ahead to establish partnerships with leading trade fair organizers in the EU, the Americas and in Asia securing thousands of vendors north of 8k from outside Africa alone but 2 years later, most Nigerians are only learning that the initiative has failed via this open letter or the tweet thread I made earlier on twitter.
Why am i saying all of this or why am i writing you your Excellency? It is because, while we, the youth, truly aren’t ready to lead the country — experience wise, a few of us are getting increasingly concerned about the leadership that confronts us and survival has now become an airplane ticket and a discussion away.
I have made the argument, in your favor, that your presidency will be good for Nigeria in terms of economic activity. Whether you choose to be corrupt or responsible, when/if you become number 1, truth is there will be enough economic activity that will favor the private sector but because more and more people are becoming comfortable with the idea of let’s make do with the devil we know than the angel we know not and this can be increasingly challenging for you especially if, indeed, you can deliver the desired economic activity and growth some of us anticipate.
To be honest, right now, I feel the same way — the way of the familiar devil that I know. Those 6 other guys at the end of year party feel the exact same way and, truthfully, being that kind of safe can do more harm than good.
So I would put you on the spot your Excellency Atiku Abubakar by publicly inviting you to a hangout with randomly selected young entrepreneurs across multiple sectors throughout Nigeria to discuss with you and to assess your plans for the youths you now speak so passionately about.
I understand you haven’t officially declared your intention to run for office but most recently you sent out an invitation, anyway, to I Go Dyewelcoming him to engage you on matters that he may not have first hand info and access to after he lambasted you following a 2019 bid speculation.
But while I join other Nigerians to commend that carefully worded reply, and the resulting invitation, I think your government should not tow the usual line of romancing the entertainment sector for votes and/or praises as successive governments have done. You are the only formidable opponent at the moment and your actions are under scrutiny — not by me alone or even Nigerians but by the international community.
This invitation is an opportunity for you to change that narrative, share your plans with us and have us help you shape it — because you would benefit from a few take aways at the dialogue anyway and if at the end of the day we have a convincing blueprint for economic growth that captures millennial energy and creativity, then I’d personally mobilize more start up founders and youth entrepreneurs to initiate a strong youth followership for 2019.
After all there are what? 1 million, maybe 2, even 3 (who knows) possible untapped youth votes that have simply been ignored by successive campaigns simply because they didnt matter. Well sir, now? They will matter to who takes them serious and who doesn’t.
Some may ask why I haven’t thrown such an invitation to the current @APCNigeria@MBuhari and @ProfOsinbajo led govt but they forget that a sitting govt already has the biggest stage to demonstrate their own. And we’ve been taking notes.
I am private sector. Entrepreneurs are private sector. We are for profit and bad government/bad policies will continue to hurt my ventures and this is why I have decided to engage you sir.
So your Excellency sir Atiku Abubakar, the ball is in your half.
And I’ll personally fund the event.
Give us a reason to unpack our bags and help build Nigeria one more time. #AtikuChallenge #YouthsDecide
Gerald Konwea is the founder and CEO of @mycliqit, an IT company based in Abuja. He is also a thought leader focused on transforming the Nigerian system for the betterment of all. You can connect with him on Twitter at @mistagerald.