By Afolabi Great
Recently in August 24, 2023 at 6:04 pm, Chandrayaan-3 landed on the unexplored south pole of the moon and set off jubilation among 1.2 billion Indians who succeeded where all other countries had failed.
The Russians had recently recorded a failure at this same expedition. With pride, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced- This success belongs to all humanity. It reminds you of Neil Armstrong’s first words on the moon- One giant leap for man-kind! In both cases, the victory truly belonged to their respective countries.
There has always been a space race; the United States defeated the Soviet Union during the cold war and exerted her claim as a superpower; India has also earned her bragging rights as a space superpower.
Most astonishing is that the indian space agency is less funded than its competitors, proving their superior technology and engineering by achieving more with less. Like Nigeria, Indian experts- doctors, engineers, and lawyers are the most brilliant in the world.
Experts from both countries have always excelled in the diaspora and have been in high demand by the superpowers. The clear distinction and statement is that the Indians have shown working right in India- By Indians for India in India.
Before now, India was synonymous with poverty and every other negative index one could think of. Bollywood movies like Slumdog Millionaire and Three Idiots painted a graphic image of how terrible poverty used to be.
Nigeria was comfortable knowing that no matter how bad things got, India would always hold the first position in the miserable ranks, maternal and infant mortality to extreme poverty. Unfortunately, India has since slipped and let Nigeria overtake her in these non-coveted spots. It begs the question- what was India doing that Nigeria did not do?
One may argue that no two countries are the same. Their different histories, make-up, culture, values, and religion could be responsible for their individual fates. However, the similarities between both countries are too many.
Before civiliation, both countries housed several great kingdoms with different ethnicities, religions, and histories. Britain colonized, oppressed and plundered them. Both countries are very religious and cultural. Expectedly, both have had their fair share of violent religious and ethnic clashes. Just as India shares its borders with the Indian Ocean, Nigeria also shares its borders with the Atlantic Ocean.
While India is the most populous nation in the world, Nigeria is the most populous black nation. For the longest time, while they shared challenges, especially poverty, they both blamed it on their large populations.
India has chosen to forge ahead, while Nigeria has not. Twenty friends do not play together for 20 years, they say. India isn’t leaving Nigeria behind just as China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Morocco, and Indonesia did. Since 2010, 415 million indians have exited multidimensional poverty (MDP).
Sadly, 44 Indians are pulled out of poverty every minute, yet 6 Nigerians are pushed into poverty every minute. With the biting effect of fuel subsidy removal and the devaluation of the Naira, it may be much worse with the ongoing obliteration of the supposed middle class. India is going to the moon while Nigeria is going underwater.
It should bother every patriotic Nigerian whille at the same time also give hope because if India could do it, we can do it too. India managed to lift 145 million people out of MDP in 5 years but still inches away from its goal. Relative to India, our 133 million in MDP is more bearable such that we could even aim at achieving zero poverty. These countries that have left us behind have provided themselves as textbooks and models.
All we have to do is follow and learn from their mistakes. One common theme among these countries is political will. Political will is all we need to wake up the sleeping giant, Nigeria.
The recent expedition to the moon should be a wake-up call to all patriots. The standard we have set for our leaders is too low. HRM Emir Lamido Sanusi was right when he said- Nigerians take too much rubbish from politicians. They have successfully conditioned us into believing that the necessities of life are impossible. As Nigerians, we deserve more and should get more.
India has landed on the moon, Nigeria can also shoot for the stars. It is not rocket science.
Dr. Afolabi Great, a medical practitioner, writes from Bayelsa