According to the US government, Nigeria must accelerate its economic growth opportunities not only for its population, but also for the fact that the country helps other African countries.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, W. Stuart Symington, made this comment yesterday while speaking at a two-day workshop on election reporting organised by the US Embassy for political reporters in Abuja.
The envoy insisted that if Nigerians collectively stand for economic growth, the country will develop. He, however, lamented that half of the nation’s GDP is from oil and Customs revenue, which are sometimes embezzled by public office holders.
According to him, for Nigerian youths to get the maximum benefit of Nigeria as the fastest growing economy in the world, there must be economic restructuring.
“It’s not all about you,” Symington said, referring to the economic rejuvenation he prescribed for Nigeria, adding that “it will be for the good of the African continent”.
He noted that “Nigeria must grow its economic opportunities faster than the population,” even as he pointed out that as a country that has been helping other nations, Nigeria’s economic acceleration will help Africa.
“So, it’s not all about you alone. It’s about Africa. When democracy is threatened in any part of Africa, Nigeria always sends help. You are not only thinking about your ship, but you are thinking about the citizens of the world”, Symington said of Nigeria.
“If there is a failed leadership, citizens must ask themselves what they are doing to make it better. What are you doing to ensure the ship gets home,” Symington added, referring to citizens contributions to nation building.
“The people must ensure the ship gets home,” Symington said, noting that the media has a big role to play in linking the government and the people.
“You must connect the people and the leadership in a democracy,” Symington told journalists, urging them to adhere strictly to their responsibilities.
While decrying the menace of the farmers/herders clashes, Symington said the media must pass information that makes a difference not only on the elections, but also on how conflicting communities can live together happily.
The envoy challenged Nigeria to sustain the gains of the nation’s nascent democracy in the 2019 general elections, even as he urged the media to regulate the political discussion so that it is not distorted and derailed.
“If the discussion is going wrong in the nation’s political space, change it,” Symington urged the media, adding that it is the key to sustainable democracy.
“They create the platform. They create the engine and water for it to sail. They also determine if the ship will sink or sail,” the US envoy said of the media.
According to Symington, the media must ensure that the information flow between leaders and the citizens is one that will unite the nation.
“As media practitioner you are not just to pass message, but a message full of thought, inspiration and content,” the envoy said.
“It is up to everyone to break uninformed conversation and focus on the truth. Every day that I am here, I am reminded how important Nigeria is to the comity of nations.
“The role Nigeria has played in ensuring peace cannot be over emphasized. All across West Africa, Nigeria has ensured that peace is restored to nations where peace is threatened. Nigeria has always intervened in the entire crisis and ensures that peace is brokered.
‘’What happens to Nigeria, happens to all of us; your influence remains like that of a pilot. And it can be sustained by having a robust press. The world is watching and I am begging you,’’ Symington added.
He called on the government to educate, train, mentor, motivate and inspire its citizens