Charity begins at home, builds a community, and binds a nationtogether. A challenge to working Ibos and Yorubas worldwide to help developour communities in Nigeria

By Abitunde Taiwo

An open letter to Yorubas and Ibos worldwide, and to the Vice Chancellors of the University of Ibadan and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof Isaac Folorunsho Adewole and Prof Barth Okolo respectively.

In Nigeria today, due to endemic corruption, insecurity, massive poverty, misery, homelessness, the emigration of Nigerians, including emigration through a dangerous desert, hunger, starvation , and massive graduate and youth unemployment are the order of the day.

In the light of these conditions, it is imperative for Nigerians worldwide to come to the aid of our people at their time of need. Working Yorubas and Ibos who are present in large numbers, in millions, in the Diaspora and those in Nigeria, have a moral obligation to help. By helping, working Yorubas and Ibos will provide a leadership by example for other Nigerian communities to follow.

As a result of excruciating poverty in the Southwest, Southeast, and elsewhere in Nigeria, the following conditions exist in the nation:

1. 80% youth unemployment and extreme poverty, hunger, and starvation in the population.

2. Armed robberies, kidnappings, a widespread state of insecurity.

3. Accidents on bad roads, lost productivity from long delays on poor roads due to traffic congestion.

4. Inadequate water and power supply that have caused the relocation of some industries to other countries.

5. Tension and resentment between communities exacerbated by the struggle for control of diminishing resources and opportunities.

6. The emigration of 20 million Nigerians which include 10 million or more Yorubas and Ibos.

7. Poor educational, residential, and health infrastructures.

8. Poor competitive positioning of Nigeria for local and foreign investment and tourism.

9. Environmental pollution and sanitation crises.
10. Rural-urban migration and congestion in urban areas from the neglect of rural areas.

11. An underdeveloped agricultural sector of subsistence farming grossly inadequate to feed 160 million people.

The status quo in Nigeria today is decidedly unacceptable. Working Yorubas, Ibos, and others must help. It is a moral imperative! If every Nigerian community reaches out to help, a cumulative effect of this help will make a decisive difference in Nigeria. It will help to diversify the current corruption riddled oil-based economy, employ millions of youth, reduce insecurity, and make a decisive difference in the lives of many families.

A mandatory community development tri-level levy regime is hereby assessed on working Yorubas and Ibos worldwide:

1. Workers, artisans, tradesmen, and tradeswomen: $1 to $5 US dollars or N160 to N800 naira a month.

2. Professionals/business people:$10 to $25 US dollars or N1600 naira to N4000 naira a month.

3. High income professionals/ businesspeople: $50-$100 US dollars or N8000-N16,000 naira a month.

An optional additional way to help is through a voluntary contribution or donation: in memory of a loved one, to honor or recognize an individual, an endowment or grant, or a generous gift for any other reason.

If millions of working Ibos and Yorubas worldwide participate in this effort, it is very likely that other Nigerian communities will emulate this example.

With generous contributions of Yorubas and Ibos, an annual goal of $2 billion to $10 billion US dollars, or N0.32 trillion to N1.6 trillion naira, is reachable.

Two regional consortia of universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and research institutes led by the Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan for the Southwest and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nsukka for the Southeast will manage this effort.

The rules to be followed to ensure the success of this effort in each region include:

1. Transparency
2. Accountability
3. Coverage of all youth in the Southeast and Southwest in work-study and employment

4. A maximum of 5% for overhead is allowed for the support of, and the administration by, the consortia of universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and research institutes to be led by the University of Ibadan and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

5. A zero tolerance for corruption
A set up and maintenance of a comprehensive website for each region is needed to document all activities including projects, people employed, contributions, and plans for input by contributors. The websites should have the ability to receive payments securely from Ibos and Yorubas worldwide.

Without any doubt, Yorubas and Ibos are endowed by God with knowledge, intelligence, and resources. Now is the time to employ those God-given resources to help humanity. It is a moral imperative! With sacrificial giving by 10 to 20 million Yorubas and Ibos worldwide, the following outcomes are possible:

1. 1 to 5 million part-time work opportunities for all students in tertiary institutions: at N8,000 naira per person per month or $50 US dollars a month, for a total of up to N40 billion naira per month or N96 billion naira to N480 billion naira per year or $0.6 billion dollars to $3 billion dollars per year.

2. 1 to 5 million people in job training, internship, research assistantship, small business enterprises, industrial work, etc, at N16,000 naira per person per month, or $100 US dollars a month, for a total of up to N80 billion naira per month or up to N960 billion naira per year or $1.2 billion dollars to $6 billion dollars per year.

3. An end to graduate unemployment in the Southwest and the Southeast.

Projects/work that can be done by 2 to 10 million new workers, graduates, and work-study students can include

1. Cash and food crop production.
2. Fisheries.
3. Animal husbandry.
4. Rural-Urban road construction.
5. Rural and urban water provisioning.
6. Rural and urban electrification projects.
7. Rural and urban environmental and ecological remediation.

8. Tree seedling, flower seedling, and afforestation projects.

9. Game reserves and eco-tourism projects.
10. Rural and urban adult, primary, secondary, and vocational/job training projects.

11. Community security monitoring projects in support of police.

12. Cooperative community projects.
13. Small scale cottage industries.
14. Food confectionery projects.
15. Export infrastructure and promotion
16. Rural and urban health clinics
17. Etc.
Yorubas and Ibos worlwide should please step up to this responsibility to provide up to full employment and training to all youth resident in Southwest and Southeast, diversify the economies in these regions, and help families ravaged by poverty, insecurity, and despair. Yorubas and Ibos worldwide through these efforts will provide examplary leadership to other Nigerian communities, a leadership by the examples of selflessness, sacrificial giving to others in need, and a leadership in facilitating community transformation.

The Yorubas and Ibos worldwide through this effort will enable each region to reach and possibly exceed a $100 billion non-oil GDP. In this effort, mutually beneficial ventures should be actively encouraged such as joint infrastructure projects and the sharing of information so that the regions can learn from each other's successes and difficulties. With the God-given talents in the local universities and other relevant institutions tapped in this effort, and the God-given resources of Yorubas and Ibos worldwide harnessed, transformation of the Southwestern and Southeastern economies will take place.

Over to you Ibos and Yorubas worldwide.
Please accept this leadership challenge, a challenge to help. As you know, selfishness, the unwillingness to share and help others in desperate straits, when one is able to, is a close cousin of corruption, and both are deplorable vices. Also, charity begins at home, builds a thriving community, and binds a country in harmony!

Over to you gentlemen, the honorable Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, and the honorable Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The ivory tower provides a vantage point to survey society, assess and analyze its socioeconomic problems, and profer solutions to those problems. Public service is an engagement in providing solutions to societal problems. Your engagement in this effort will close the wide gap between town and gown.

Please accept the leadership challenge to manage this effort. This is a great opportunity for you and the universities, polytechnics, collleges of education, and research institutes in the Southeast and Southwest to marshall the resources in these institutions, the resources that will be provided to you, and the young people that you will employ to tackle the socioeconomic challenges in your region. It is a research and development, a funding, an extension, an outreach, a training, and a community development opportunity! Please accept the challenge to lead this effort. Please set up two comprehensive websites, one for each geopolitical region, as indicated above, to let Yorubas and Ibos worldwide know that you accept this transformational challenge.

Yorubas, Ibos, and the universities, research institutes, polytechnics, colleges of education in the Southwest and Southeast must use God-given endowments and resources to help humanity. The value of these endowments and resources is in their employment to serve God and humanity! Yorubas and Ibos and the consortia of educational institutions in the Southeast and Southwest have multiple responsibilities to fulfill: character and conduct responsibility; legacy responsibility; responsibility to use God-given resources to help humanity; and community development responsibility. Yorubas and Ibos must not capitulate to, cower to, or celebrate corruption that has impoverished our people, but conquer it through charity in the community and country in order to bring prosperity to our people, regions, and nation!

If Nigeria's dynamic duo, the Ibos and Yorubas, take on this challenge, assisted by the consortia of universities, research institutes, polytechnics, colleges of education, etc, in the Southeast and Southwest, the economies of these regions will take off like a rocket and lift Nigeria's economy up with them.

Thank you.
Abitunde Taiwo

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