‘Enough of the ‘blame-game’ and castigations of inefficiency. Let us all make Nigeria a better and safe environment’
Olaitan Victor Olatomide in Beyond the Horizon (pg 92)
I would begin by saying a few words about the author. I would like to think we are friends. That’s not why I am doing this book review. I am doing it because this is the kind of conversation that youths, as the future of Nigeria, should be taking an active part in. Sometimes I worry that a lot of us, that is Nigerian youths, have inculcated wrong values and notions. That, when we finally take over the mantle of leadership, we would be worse than the Bode Georges, the Doyin Okupes, the Femi Fani Kayodes, the Abba Moros and the Reno Omokris of this world. Then, I come across this book, and I am thinking maybe Nigeria can be saved. We, however, have to activate the right conversations. In my humble opinion, ‘Beyond the Horizon’ is a starting point.
The author of the book is one of the most intelligent and focused people I have ever met. He is cool, calm and collected. (I have this habit of describing people as sweet.) He is that and a lot more. He is ‘one of a kind’. I am very happy that this book has been published. I hope he doesn’t stop.
For Tomide, the solution to Nigeria’s problems must be tackled on a unit by unit basis. He traces the nucleus of the nation to the family. The family is very important in determining the kind of individual a person eventually becomes. He narrates some events which may have been the defining moments of his childhood. He also includes real life experiences of others. He explores the legal elements of the family, citing provisions from the Criminal Code (yes, abdication of parental responsibilities could be a crime) and the Matrimonial Causes Act. He refers to Tim LaHaye’s classification of personalities into Melancholy, Phlegmatic, etc. and explores the effect of the character traits in parenting. He documents the havoc divorce is wreaking on the institution of the family. He is also quick to point out that there have been successful people raised by single parents: Bill Clinton (His father died), Barrack Obama and Ben Carson. We are able to conclude that a family built by a single parent is not necessarily dysfunctional, but that the price is usually high and the cost is borne by the children more often than not.
The Society is the next unit. The emphasis here is on unemployment, entrepreneurship (especially as a solution to unemployment) and cultural heritage. The major problem for us, he summarizes as ‘Poverty amidst abundance’. The solutions are education, political stability and empowerment programmes. Well, what kind of education? I, for one, think that the education system in Nigeria stifles productivity. The quest is all about the certificate. If it is the sort of education we have now, then we may still be poor for more than a short while. All the technical colleges, polytechnics and monotechnics(I didn’t even know thay existed until like recently) have been allowed to slip into a coma. I am not a huge fan of empowerment programmes. I think they are a short-term solution. But I do like the idea of sensitisation and orientation. The problem is, all these talks just enter into one ear and get out through the other. We may need entrepreneurs, they are usual forward thinking people and problem solvers. We need good leaders too.
The Nation is the ultimate unit. Although, the chapter on terrorism did not do it for me, the author makes up for it in the section chapter titled, ‘Youth’s Apathy towards National Development.’ This, succinctly, explains the mindset of our Nigerian youths. Well, youths should be encouraged to take part in politics. Although, I am not too sure considering this unending craving for a chunk of the National Cake.
Tomide is not Tim Lahaye or Ben Carson, but every word in this book has fulfilled its purpose. They have started the conversation, you better not be left out. It is a good read. It deals with all the issues plaguing Nigeria from the view-point of a young man with ideals and values. It is commendable that he also proposes workable solutions. While there were some mistakes, they didn’t detract from the substance of the work. I do hope to see more books from him.