In the heart of Africa, Nigeria stands as a beacon of immense untapped potential, both for its own citizens and the world at large. It is imperative that we recognize this potential and take action to harness it for global impact. This realization is rooted in the divine mandate given to humanity from the very beginning, as outlined in Genesis 1:26-28: “Dominate, subdue, be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth.”
It is noteworthy that while Europe, America, and other continents have embraced and acted upon this mandate, reaping its benefits and continuing to do so, the African continent has largely remained unaware of its vast potential.
This mandate encompasses all aspects of life, encompassing the inherent potential within human beings and the natural resources scattered across the earth. These elements of empowerment await utilization by African men and women in every sphere of existence. Unfortunately, due to ignorance, misinformation, and an inability to harness these resources, people have fruitlessly searched for what has been freely given to them—a tragic case of looking for what’s already in one’s pocket.
The tragedy lies not in the absence of possession but in possessing valuable resources without recognizing them. Throughout history, countless dreams have been aborted, and ambitions left unrealized. A report by the United Nations Refugee Agency highlights the desperate journeys of 3,000 refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers who perished or went missing in 2022 while trying to reach Europe through treacherous sea routes. This figure does not even account for those lost in the unforgiving deserts.
Empowerment is the key to unlocking these hidden treasures. It involves recognizing and understanding what one possesses, then appropriating and deploying it for personal benefit and the betterment of society. It also entails the ability and authority to claim one’s rightful place in the world. For the purpose of our discussion, “impact” signifies the powerful influence or effect that one can have on various aspects of life—be it personal, professional, or societal. Genesis 1:28 reminds us of this empowerment: “Be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it; have dominion over everything upon earth.”
Empowerment commences with the realization that every individual is blessed with unique talents and capabilities, and their destiny rests in their hands. This realization extends to others, creating a collective awareness of the innate potential within our communities. Knowledge, specifically knowledge of one’s environment and the resources it holds, plays a pivotal role in this process. Africa, as reported by the United Nations Environment Programme, boasts abundant natural resources, making it a global reservoir of both renewable and non-renewable riches.
It is indeed puzzling that, before the arrival of Western corporations turned colonialists and neo-colonialists, Africans, including Nigerians, were largely unaware of the wealth within their reach. This highlights the vital importance of self-realization, awareness, and a deep understanding of oneself and the environment as tools for emancipation and global empowerment. This awareness serves a dual purpose: first, as a means for personal self-realization, identification, and liberation, and second, as a weapon for action in the exploration, exploitation, and recovery of what has been taken or lost.
In this pursuit, knowledge becomes a prized commodity that must be earnestly sought and employed as a vehicle for reawakening. Knowledge serves as a guiding light, illuminating the path to self-discovery, understanding of the immediate environment, and the utilization of inherent resources. It becomes a tool for empowerment and appropriation.
Intertwined with knowledge is vision. The reports of European and American explorations and exploitation of African and Nigerian resources showcase the visionary nature of these endeavors. Visionaries saw the immense potential in Africa and devised plans for the future, propelling themselves with purpose and determination. As Mary Keller wisely said, “It is better to be born blind than to be born with sight but without vision.”
Recent reports reveal staggering losses suffered by Nigeria due to crude oil theft and the mining sector. The entire continent has also experienced substantial losses through illicit financial flows, illegal mining, logging, wildlife trade, unregulated fishing, and environmental degradation. The question arises: What did these external actors see in Nigeria that many Nigerians, who are leaving the country in large numbers, do not? Africa is undeniably blessed, and its people have been empowered for global impact. What remains is the need for Africans to rise, envision, apply their knowledge, and be determined to explore and harness existing empowerment opportunities and resources to make a significant global impact.
Mazi Ibekwe, a legislator representing Bende North State Constituency, Abia State, shared these insights during the 2023 Men’s Ministry Day Celebration at the Assemblies of God Church in Ago 1, Okota Section, Lagos District.