Prince Malik Ado-Ibrahim is a businessman, politician, renewable energy expert and the chief executive officer of Reset Nigeria. He was our guest on LEADERSHIP Podcast recently where he spoke about the kind of leadership Nigeria needs to make progress among others.
What is Reset Nigeria all about?
I started Reset Nigeria to get younger Nigerians involved in the ownership of their own country. The biggest problem I found was that people were not really giving opportunity to young people to understand what Nigeria is. So, it’s the basic stuff, getting your PVC, getting registered, getting to know where your polling stations might be. So Reset Nigeria is to reorient them in some very basic things. Reorientation was really the principal part of it, empowering them was another and this for me was really the key thing going forward. If you’re not empowered, if you’re not patriotic, if you don’t know your country, you are just living in no man’s world and voting gives you ownership in Nigeria.
What have you achieved so far with Reset Nigeria in terms of equipping the youth with the right knowledge?
Knowledge is important. We started this journey in 2016 and I have been to various universities, have set up various conferences. Initially when I started this, it was not pushed towards any particular political organization. It was geared towards Nigerians feeling that this is their country. I belong here, I am a Nigerian. A sense of patriotism.
The classic example is that Nigerians are fantastic, when there’s a football match, and we’re fighting against somebody but when there is nothing to fight against, we fight against each other.
Let’s look at some of the economic mistakes in Nigeria, what mistakes have we made as a nation?
We have to be honest with ourselves, we have found ourselves in this position for a myriad of reasons. The biggest of it is that of the COVID-19 situation which really caused the economy to slow down. We cannot fault government for that, that’s a force of nature. The last three years have been challenging globally. But the fundamentals haven’t changed. We were lucky we didn’t have the strife and strain that other countries have and we should have retooled in that period of time and that retooling for me is something that a lot of us are not paying attention to.
I’ll give that example clearly in growth. Oil and gas constitute the majority of our GDP. Today, it’s only 7.4 per cent. I’ve harped upon this many times, the informal economy, Nigeria is strong and I give you some examples of that. Look at our entertainment business, our musicians, thank God for the talent that God has given this country because we are a global phenomenon. This is a part of the economy, the government doesn’t touch. That informal economy generates up to 19 per cent of the GDP of this country, the creative economy is thriving because government is not involved. Whether it’s paystack, or flutterwave, or Davido, Wizkid, or Burna Boy, we’re not the government stuff. There it thrives, this is why I’ve always been conscious of the fact that we must let them know that giving us the enabling environment to do great things, Nigerians will be at the top of every tree out there.
Look at our sports back in the day when our football players were good football players on planet earth, the JJs and the Omokachi and the Kanu of this world, the Yekinis. To me, all of these things were what made Nigeria great, we were exporting our greatness.
Who is to blame for the state of our economy?
Forgive me for what I’m about to say. Government is not the panacea to our travails. We have ourselves. I’ll give us an example. Nigerians will invent a way to survive and to do well, give these young men and women the vision, the aim, the goal, and we will score every time and that’s what leadership has failed to do. So what we have been doing since the 1960s, 70s, 80s, is what we are doing in 2021, 2022 and we’ll be doing it until 2023.
Unless, by that time we find new leadership with clearer thinking to position Nigeria, because if you do not have a leadership that is visionary, we’re going to be standing still praying for that to happen, we must realise that we are close to the edge. So we need to innovate and that will come with younger leadership and that young is a mistaken term used to identify something that really is not about your age, it’s more about your state of mind. And I explain that in a different way. That was General Buhari and his presidency, he got what he wanted, and he has come in, he’s done what he needs to do and his time will pass. What happens next? This is my feeling, if we bring in the same. If you put in all the uninventive leadership, more traditional leadership, we are going to be stuck in the quagmire that we’re in today.
In your view should fuel subsidy remain or we should face reality by removing it?
That reality is a bitter pill. To swallow that pill, we need to prepare the population not only in the hearts and minds of what is the substitute to this. So I believe that future leaders need to understand that the subsidy must go, talk to the people, they’re not stupid, tell us why it needs to go. Tell us what you’re doing and give us that enabling environment to transition into a different kind of thinking, sell our oil and gas so that we can have a better tomorrow. Crude oil prices were around $74. We’re still borrowing but we have this massive gap between the $40 budgeted and the $74. The reality of all of that, where did that money go? Excess crude account should allow us to embrace electric vehicles, prepare our people to get ready to transition to a more modern, cleaner Nigeria.
The issue of youth and gender in Nigeria, in recent time we have seen children being killed and we also have issues of gender balance. What’s your take on this?
A society that doesn’t value it women, first of all, is going nowhere in a hurry. They are 50% of this population, and they gave birth to the other which they cherished, nourished them and nurtured them. We all have mothers, we all know what we want to do when we see our mothers, we know the joy they bring, they brought us to this world. Without them, we don’t exist. Why are you going to stifle somebody else’s potential parents? So we need to include them in governance, we need to include them in the conversation of the new Nigeria, young and old.
Culled from Leadership