Tuesday, August 14, 2018

[A Must Read] This Is Why You Have To Be Innovative: A Quality Which Every Nigerian Youth And Graduate Must Have

A major lack in Nigeria's educational system is "innovation". The system is laden with crude teaching techniques which have negative impacts on students. Students are constrained to go through University to learn theories which they cannot turn into realities and master the mysteries of calculus without knowing how to apply them to solving real life problems. Consequently many students graduate out of the nation's various higher institutions with no innovative skills. Any nation that lack innovation lacks economic growth, because innovation is the major driver of a nation's economy. 

What Then Is innovation?

Innovation is a process of unraveling ideas and concepts to doing things in a new way. It can also involve the modification of existing models or ideas into better products and services. Generally, the act of innovating brings about new ideas, devices and methods for an optimal result. 

Nigeria's "Innovation" Status Quo

Irrespective of the natural endowment of resources which a nation may have, the economy of any nation that lacks innovation will stagnate or depreciate. The following is an excerpt from the 2004 New York Times archives titled Poor Countries, Rich Resources:

It has become clear that plenty of poorly governed nations, including Nigeria, Angola, Ecuador and Venezuela, would probably have been better off had they never discovered oil or other valuable minerals. The discovery of these resources usually foments corruption, prevents the development of a diversified economy, props up dictators and fuels wars.
It appears from the foregoing that Nigeria is in a quagmire. The nation's dependence on crude oil has not only fomented corruption, it has also murdered "innovation". It's time we looked beyond our natural resources and focus on the greatest resource any nation can have -the people that makes the nation. In other words we have to focus on "us". The catch here is that the most powerful driver of any nation's economy is its people and not its natural resources. This statement is in complete agreement with what Microsoft's founder Bill Gates said in a speech during his last visit to Nigeria at the National Economic Council. In the speech, Bill noted that of a certainty Nigeria has unmatched economic potential, but what becomes of that potential depends on the choices Nigeria's leaders make. In furtherance he said:
The most important choice you can make is to maximize your greatest resource, the Nigerian people. Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive.
Bill's statement is profound. As simple as it appears, it is the solution to Nigeria's ill health economy. The people that makes Nigeria are the driver of the economy. It's like the ancient Babylonian empire, Babylon's economy was rich because it's people were rich. Apparently, rich and healthy people will beget a rich and healthy economy. The converse of the aforementioned is also true, poor and unhealthy people will beget a poor and unhealthy economy. It is then crystal clear that the greatest resource a nation can have is its people. Bill didn't just diagnosed the problem with Nigeria's economy, he also proffered solution to it as presented below:
If you(i.e the government) invest in their(i.e Nigerians) health, education, and opportunities -the "human capital" we are talking about today -then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don't, however, then it is very important to recognize that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow.   
If government invest in the sort of education that will make Nigerians innovative and create opportunities for the implementation of innovations, then the economy of the nation will become better. The nation's youths and graduates will become creative and self reliant if and only if innovation is placed on the front burner in their education from the primary to the tertiary level. However we don't have to wait for the governments. It's a dangerous thing to do.  Consequently if Nigeria must thrive economically, then its youths and graduates must become innovative for the following reasons:

1. National and Personal Economic Growth

This has been discussed about  above. Innovation will not only help build the economy of Nigeria, it will also help build yours. You might probably have an idea or a small start up business, if you incorporate innovation you can turn that idea into wealth or grow your business. In effect you will contribute to the nation's economy by downsizing the level of unemployment while building up wealth for yourself.  An example of an innovator is Aliko Dangote who started his business in 1978 with NGN 500,000 (that's about $1,400 today) which he borrowed from his grandfather and is currently worth $11.6 billion according to Forbes.  Dangote who is currently the richest man in Africa didn't just contribute to the nation's economy, he was also able to build wealth for himself. Apparently innovation brings about expansion. Imagine the turnout that will occur if a good fraction of Nigeria's youth and graduates become innovators. 

2. Foster Technological Advancement In Nigeria

There will be new scientific breakthroughs and development of usable and exportable engineering products by the time youths and graduates who are scientifically inclined or who has acquired skills by apprenticeship or has trained as engineers start incorporating the art of innovative thinking into their work. This will serve as a leverage and shape the way upcoming Nigerian students think about their studies.

3. Diversification of The Nation's Economy

By the time Nigeria's youths and graduates start thinking out of the box by incorporating innovation, there will be development of new economic niches in the arts, engineering, sciences and social sciences. This will not only help diversify the nation's economy, it will also spring up great organizations and industries, thereby downsizing the level of unemployment.  

4. It will Prepare The Youths For Leadership

Just as Stephen R. Covey noted in his book The 8th Habit
The purpose of medicine is helping people get well, but if you have bad leadership, you'll have bad medicine.  
A good leader is an innovator. A major failure of leadership in Nigeria is the lack of Innovation. A good leader is suppose to assume the position of leadership with the intention of creating new and better ways of doing things or modifying existing policies. So if the nation's youths must assume the position of leadership, they will have to be innovators. 

5. Increase Globalization

Within the framework of interconnectedness, companies and organizations both big and small that are emerging everyday all around the world have global access. Consequently national boundaries that demarcates business customers are gradually breaking down. This implies that a company based in Malaysia can have access to your customers here in Nigeria. So you can see that there is a stiff competition around the globe. In order for Nigeria's indigenous companies and organizations to thrive and gain leverage, there is the urgent need to incorporate innovation. Globalization is an advantage, so make good use of it.     


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