Having heard so much about the rapid development and indeed the rise from ashes to beauty of Rwanda, I decided to take a five day study tour of the country. I was gobsmacked by what I saw and experienced.
One’s first impression of any country is normallly at the port of entry and Kigali airport made me to fall in love with the country.
First of, it took me less than 10 minutes to pass through the airport even though I did not have a visa. Compare that with the chaotic mess at Nigeria international airports and you can see why we are where we are.
Trip to my hotel was very smooth. I noticed immediately that traffic lights were functioning and everyone obeyed the traffic even though it was pass 11pm. All motorbike riders and their passengers wore helmets. Reception at my hotel was very calming. First cut is the deepest. Kigali did not disappoint.
I saw and experienced law and order. I saw smartly dressed policeman and women standing at all corners of the street not talking to anyone. My driver told me that if ever you are stopped by the police they are only two outcomes- a pardon or a fine. Police in Nigeria? If you don’t get it forget about it.
I saw neatness and beauty. Every street tarred and laid with flowers .
I visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial and was overwhelmed by what I saw . Man’s inhumanity to man. I saw gory sights of human skulls and skeletons . But they acknowledge their reality. In Nigeria we hide everything. We deny everything. We know genocide is going on in Nigeria. We know there is deliberate ethic cleansing going on but we pretend as nothing is happening.
Because the Rwandan people owned up to their mistakes, they have risen so quickly from the ashes and here you will meet peaceful people going about their businesses without let. They do not identify themselves by any tribe. They are Rwandans. Everything works.
I enjoyed security and safety. Crime is almost nonexistent in Rwanda . To test that, I took a motorbike ride in the night and came back safely. This is why their Night economy is booming.
I went to the Rwanda Investment Board a kind of one stop shop for would be investors and I couldn’t believe what I met. I met polite people who were eager and ready to answer all your questions. One can register a company within an hour , online or in person. Try and get your tax papers in Nigeria and you are in for battle of your life.
I went to their ministries and parastatals and each one of them has a performance target boldly written at the entrance gates. Any minister who fails to meet his or her targets will be asked to resign. In Nigeria we reward mediocrity.
I went to their parliament and all I did was register my name at the gate and pass through security and in two minutes I was in their parliament. Have you been to the National Assembly in Nigeria? It is a war zone.
I passed through The residence of their President like you would in Ghana, UK and the US without any hassle. But have you seen any building in the Villa? Dodgy people!
I met industrialists and international development agencies from the EU, UK and other places. When I asked them what was the attraction to Rwanda, the answer was unanimous- rule of law, integrity ( Rwanda is one if least corrupt nations in the world). I saw the map of their presence all over Africa but Nigeria was absent. You know why?
Rwanda, a country that was in ruins only about two decades ago, a landlocked country with just 13million people outperforms Nigeria in every economic indices. They are great in fisheries and hydro electricity and you would wonder where is the body of water!
Throughout my stay I did not even for once experience a blip in the electricity. I did not hear the sound of generator sets. They do not need them.
And here we are in Nigeria hailing ailing, ageing , thieving, sick , corrupt politicians who have nothing to offer Nigerians other than their ego and sense of entitlement.
The coming election is the most consequential. If Nigerians can rise from their premodial religious and ethnic bigotry and vote for integrity, dedication, competence, love for the country , there is a possibility that we can catch up with Rwanda.
What I saw and experienced in Rwanda only helped to reaffirm and rikindle my belief that Nigeria can work . That Nigerians are human beings with brain and with the capacity to conceptualise.We must jettison this cliche “This is Nigeria “ . It can be done.
Whatever democracy that is operating in Rwanda that made it to accelerate this fast is highly recommended. We need a Kagame and I know we have one now unless we are not being sincere to ourselves. And you know who. For the avoidance of doubt he is Peter Obi.
According to George Orwell, people that allow horrible, rapacious, wicked people into power are not victims, they are accomplices. My father taught me to be Obedient and I am very Obedient.