How possible? The dilemma of building a new Nigeria by Hamzat Lawal

How possible? The dilemma of building a new Nigeria by Hamzat Lawal

Editor's note: Hamzat Lawal, an activist, in this opinion lamented the rate of poverty in Nigeria. He argued that as a young Nigerian, he needs to do something to help save the situation the country finds herself.

Just like the lifecycle of a butterfly, my life has been about transformations. The metamorphosis is as organic as it is radical. However, the transitions in the life of a butterfly are sometimes not only about growth; but also about a normal reaction to the environment – an adaptation to survival. In my case, this is both a reaction to the misnomer in the society – the menace of corruption, lawlessness and lack of consequences – and an unstoppable clock ticking on the inside, demanding that I speak out, nudging me to stand up for my generation. Now, more than ever, the nudge is stronger, tick tock, tick tock.

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The World Poverty Clock reveals that about 90 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty– roughly half the population. Thinking out loud– If poor Nigerians could make up a country, they would be way more than the population of Germany. In another mind boggling flip, if all the poor Nigerians voted for one candidate during a presidential election, they would garner enough votes to seat in their preferred leader. Interestingly, no presidential candidate has ever secured more than 30 million votes. What this then means is that changing Nigeria’s electoral narrative is crucial to driving a sane country.

How possible? The dilemma of building a new Nigeria by Hamzat Lawal
Hamzat Lawal claims building a new Nigeria is a dilemma. Photo: Hamzat Lawal
Source: Twitter

At the root of poverty lies the denial to basic necessities such as food, education, healthcare, sanitation, and rudimentary assets. Evidence shows that solving these fundamental issues is powerful enough to bring people out of extreme poverty. This transformation will require political leadership at every level of governance. More importantly, at the helm of power is the national leadership, wherein lies the duty to make or mar the destiny of the whole country.

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As I announced at the Hamzat Lawal at 35 symposium, I am compelled to find a way to solve these existential problems that continue to plague our country, Nigeria. There comes a time in every man’s life when he becomes aware of his God-given purpose, for which all previous work and life experiences manifest as training camps to prepare him for the ultimate assignment. I have evolved from my younger days as a cub scout to a boy scout, secondary school prefect, to a primary school teacher, to a cyber-café attendant, to an Information Technology specialist, to becoming a civil society activist, a climate change campaigner, an anti-corruption activist, a community organizer and mobilizer, a global citizen and now, a political activist. I believe strongly, at this point in my life, that this is my mission.

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2023: The week that remakes or breaks Nigeria by Dan Abubakar

Nigeria is at a crossroad. One would think that the hard work and sacrifices of our past heroes, shadows of previous wars, gains and misdeeds would haunt those that have contributed slowly, and imminently to damage our nation with no regard for consequences or the future. I, however, still believe that we as a people are on the edge of a great rise. We stand at the threshold of history and it will be an honor to join patriotic Nigerians to make the right move, as Africa awaits us.

I am looking to work with institutions and individuals to mobilize 40 million Nigerians to vote for a candidate in the 2023 general elections. This is the start to building a better Nigeria- electing a person of character, who has the will, integrity and foresight to steer the cause of this country in the right direction. The average Nigerian is powerful enough to spark a change - each eligible person can easily imprint their thumb on the ballot paper to vote for the right candidate. This is a call to awaken our collective political consciousness. To every young Nigerian, who is as passionate about transforming Nigeria’s next phase, join me to shape the conversations and the debates around 2023.

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) records that there are more than 80 million registered voters, however, in 2019, less than 30 million people voted. A glaring misrepresentation of this kind begs to ask why the remaining 50million+ eligible voters did not show up at the polling booth as a measure to redefine what appears to be Nigeria’s future?

I hope to inspire young people to make things happen, not only through political power, but goodwill, consensus, dialogues, debates, consultations, engagements; using the various relevant channels and platforms in digital, media and civil society spaces. I am hopeful that with our collective voices, we can garner the majority of Nigerians with voter’s cards (PVC), to exercise their willpower in this critical election season.

There are many young people who do not recognise the powers they will, to drive a foreseeable future for Nigeria and are ignorant of the value they can add. This lack of foresight has made them tools in the hands of corrupt politicians. These young people are on the street causing havoc, harassing other citizens and carrying out the selfish and insensitive desires of politicians.

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Hence, my mission is to shed light on how young people can tap into their unique abilities to raise up this country. We will counter voter apathy and do our best to rekindle the hope for a better Nigeria.

Nevertheless, I am not only interested in shaping 2023. I am also committed to building the next generation of leaders, who will join me in changing the developmental narrative and trajectory of this nation. I am convinced that the most practical way to achieve this is by helping young citizens to tap directly from Nigerians who have succeeded in the different sectors, like business, politics, media and the civil society. Individuals like Ewah Eleri of the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED); Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer anti-corruption star at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); and Atedo Peterside, the financial guru who founded the Stanbic IBTC bank at age 33.

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I was not up to 25 years old when I founded Connected Development (CODE), and its flagship social accountability initiative, Follow The Money (FTM). Through tenacity, focus and partnership with the right people, I was able to surmount all the challenges in order to serve my nation and humanity. I am grateful that this social accountability movement has carved a critical niche in the social space. Now that I am 35, I see countless opportunities ahead of me and also recognise that I have also outgrown many opportunities as a result of my age.

So, Hamzat Lawal of CODE and Follow The Money has metamorphosed to Hamzat Lawal of Nigeria. But with this development comes an enormous responsibility. I am somewhat afraid of what the future holds because in spite of my experiences, I cannot boast of being certain of the next definite step to take. I am, however, driven by an unquenchable hunger to stand for what is right.

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I will keep trudging ahead towards intergenerational consensus that seeks to entrench equity and fairness, while imbibing global best practices to elevate Nigeria in the comity of nations. I am persuaded that key institutions, including the civil society, the media, the government and the private sector, have crucial roles to play in unlocking Nigeria’s potential.

I am not afraid to fail and I recognise that success is mostly achieved when one is outside their comfort zone. I am ready to tow the path again. As I match into the future, my journey is about mobilizing, organizing and educating people to understand their power, their vote and their voice. It is also about improving their knowledge on how to become icons for local, state and national governments.

Ultimately, this is about identifying hidden talents among young Nigerians. There are many gifted young Nigerians who are blessed with key potentials to unlock the doors to the new Nigeria. Ewah Eleri found me; I want to discover other people. I am young, and eager to serve.

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Indeed, on this journey to a new Nigeria, I am still evolving. I am praying for divine direction. I am also consulting with mentors. I am hopeful about clarity of direction. But for now, the purpose is clear. As has been illustrated in China, an educated, healthy and resilient youth population is the best catalyst for growth. As a leader, I have built influence; integrity and credibility is my watchword; grateful to have a global network at my call, and now I seek profitable partnerships that will help build a new Nigeria. The work is easier when we toil together.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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