Zuckerberg: Did Our Billionaires And Politicians Take Any Notes? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Zuckerberg: Did Our Billionaires And Politicians Take Any Notes?

Nnedi Ogaziechi
Posted: Sep 5, 2016 at 7:07 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ogaziechi Nnedi

The co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg ‘sneaked’ into Nigeria last week and totally stole the show from our vacuously vain politicians whose penchant for ceremonial and exuberant appearances  that obviously make them some of the most unproductive public ‘servants’ in the whole world. It is not for nothing that Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the league of those with worst statistics in the ease of doing business.

Zuckerberg first appeared with his trademark simple T-shirt in Yaba, one of the areas in Lagos that never hugs the headlines except during election campaigns. It is neither the upscale Ikoyi/VGC/Lekki/Banana/Victoria Island axis nor the state capital Ikeja with all the government institutions, Secretariats and is somewhat the economic hub of the state with all the Multi-national companies.

His appearance was first with young entrepreneurs who he understands are the engine that drive modern economies around the world. He was enamoured by the young kids he first met at the Co-creation Hub in Yaba.  His encounter with the kids and the young entrepreneurs speak volumes about his world outlook. Sharing platform with about ten other world billionaires is no child’s play, yet he is so humble and accessible.

Nigeria has more billionaires than about ten African countries put together. The question is: what strategic engagements do these so-called billionaires have with the people whose lives are the fuel that run the engines of their businesses?

The billionaires here seem too elitist and only interface with governments and politicians in what some have described as rent-seeking relationships which are often seen in the money they invest in politics during elections and which they do not hesitate to extract back as soon as any government settles in.

How many Nigerian billionaires can be as unobtrusive and interested in impacting on the lives of the youth like Zuckerberg? Some can sheepishly argue that the Facebook guy came to Nigeria to promote his business. But the question is, why shouldn’t he? He became a billionaire without first coming to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Another very instructive aspect of his trip was that it was totally devoid of our usual government intrusiveness and extravagance. He knew his target audience and the work he intended to do and went straight to the people who mattered to him.

Mark was seen jogging with some young people along Lagos streets, trying out and affirming our popular delicacy – jollof rice. He even tried out some pounded yam and our local soup. For a country so portrayed by sections of the foreign media as very insecure and full of demons, his actions spoke volumes.

The politicians in this country must have felt left in the lurch by the visit of one of the most famous inventors of the twenty first century. His simple and equally fascinating life contrasts hugely from the flamboyance displayed by our often very unproductive politicians whose impact in the world often dies with their exit from office.

What our politicians who always regurgitate the same clichéd promises of creating jobs among other fake promises have failed to acknowledge for a very long time has been pointed out by the visitor. He praised the entrepreneurial drive of the Nigerian people seeing the different milestones achieved by the people he interfaced with.

The level of unemployment in Nigeria and the lack of functional infrastructure are traceable to the failure of successive governments to take into account the fact that to be progressive as a country means providing a conducive environment for private initiatives to thrive. A Zuckerberg might not have been as successful if his governments in the past did not prepare for the emergence and success of people like him.

The simplicity and humility of a Zuckerberg placed side by side his iconic success with his social media success should speak volumes to our politicians and billionaires.

He probably did a good research on our style and decided not to be obstructed from achieving his goals by allowing any politician distort his visit with undeserved exhibitionism that seem to be a clog in the wheels of progress in their activities.

On the other hand, our own billionaires are so self-adulating that they exhibit very strange narcissistic tendencies that totally alienate them from the very people whose very existence make their efforts profitable. 

The Facebook guy with his actions has spoken loudly, but the issue is, do our ever ‘busy’ (all pun intended) politicians and club of very egoistic billionaires realise the value of having productive and inclusive relationships with the people especially the youths?

Bill gates and Zuckerberg have a lot in common, they are very humble, compassionate and are particularly too concerned about progress in Sub-Saharan Africa. Bill gates’ foundation is so concerned with healthcare and Zuckerberg is working towards making internet access a reality to the rural communities. The question is, what are our politicians and billionaires thinking? Legacies are the best epitaphs.