By Christian ABURIME
A couple of days ago a friend of mine sent me a forwarded WhatsApp message on a write up about a certain bridge: “The Bridge on the River Choluteca” authored by Prakash Iyer
I was curious about the title of the write up. The sender was not someone given to frivolities, moreso, Prakash Iyer, the writer of the said article was equally a well known personality across the globe
As a matter of fact, Prakash Iyer is a well known best selling author, motivational speaker and leadership coach.
Prakash started his career with Hindustan Unilever Limited and later on became Managing Director of Kimberly-Clark Lever and before that, the Managing Director and CEO of Infomedia India Limited. Some of Prakash’s best-selling books include “The Secret of Leadership” and The Habit of Winning,” among others
So, Prakash could by no means be described as a novice but a man of considerable experience going by the above background
However, the thrust of this discourse is essentially not about Prakash, the author but the message of the author
In that enthralling story about ” The Bridge on the River Choluteca”, Prakash brought to the fore the challenges before us as citizens of the world and how lack of vision or indepth thinking by mankind will continue to be an obstacle to development.
While recounting the story about ‘The Bridge on the River Choluteca’ as a metaphor for lack of proper vision and planning against the changing dynamics of the world we live in, Prakash narrated the story as follows:
The Bridge on the River Choluteca: it is a 484-metre-long bridge over the River Choluteca in Honduras, in Central America. A region notorious for storms and hurricanes
So, when they decided to build a new bridge over river Choluteca in 1996, they wanted to ensure it would withstand the extreme weather conditions.
A Japanese firm was contracted and they built a solid bridge, designed to withstand the powerful forces of nature.
The new Choluteca bridge – a modern- day marvel of design and engineering was thrown open to the public in 1998. And as people drove from one side of the Choluteca river to the other, they couldn’t help but admire the new bridge. It was Choluteca”s pride and joy.
And in October that year, Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras. There was 75 inches of rain in four days – the equivalent of what they receive in six months.
There was devastation all around. The river Choluteca swelled and flooded the entire region. 7000 thousand people lost their lives. All the bridges in Honduras were destroyed. All, except one. The new Choluteca bridge remained unaffected
But there was a problem. While the bridge was intact, the road leading to it and the road leaving it were both swept away. Leaving no sign that there was once a road there
And that is not all. The flooding forced the river Choluteca to change course.
It created a new channel, and the river now flowed beside the bridge. Not under, but beside the bridge.
So while the bridge was strong enough to survive the hurricane, it became a bridge over nothing. A bridge to nowhere
It happened 22 years ago. But the lessons from the Choluteca bridge is more relevant to us today than ever before. The world is changing in many ways we may have never imagined
The challenge for us is that we get focused on creating the best solution to a given problem. We forget that the problem itself might change
The foregoing aptly demonstrates the trajectory of our history in Nigeria. How lack of vision (thinking completely out of the box) and proper planning have continued to be our bane years after negotiating independence from the British
Virtually every basic achievement here or what seems to be an achievement, bears the semblance of this sad story of river Choluteca. Largely, because our leaders do not think ‘beyond the kingdom of their noses’. We don’t ‘build to last’ let alone ‘build to adapt’
However, before this story was written, one man, Prof Chukwuma Soludo has for many years been ‘hammering’ on the essence of the story told by Prakash about the bridge on the River Choluteca.
Soludo has canvassed vigorously at different fora on the need for us in Nigeria to adapt to change in a fast transforming world
The erudite Professor of economics has stressed many years back that “adapting to change and at the same time building to adapt” as revealed in Prakash’s intriguing story was the way to go
This was what gave filip to Soludo’s banking consolidation that has today made Nigerian banks the toast of investors and global players in the world financial circles
Today, we hear stories that gladdens our hearts about Nigerian banks acquiring foreign banks .
The cheering news of the global exploits of Nigerian banks is the direct fallout of the vision, sagacity and the ability to adapt to change that Soludo brought to bear in the banking sector in Nigeria in his days as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN). Given credence to the fact that great things can be ‘build to last and adapt to change’ through the instruments of Vision, Focus, Dedication and Perseverance
A keen observer will also notice that at every given occasion such as seminars, workshops, paper presentations etc, Soludo have always harped on the need for us to adapt to global change as dictated by a constantly transforming world so that the country is not left behind like ‘the bridge on the river Choluteca’
It is therefore instructive, as Anambra gears up for the 2021 gubernatorial election, that Ndi Anambra takes the bull by the horns by queuing up behind Prof Soludo and ensuring the right choice is made. This decision is even more critical especially at this Post COVID-19 era that has drastically redefined the global economy and the way we live.
Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo, no doubt, represents the best in this present circumstances and uncertain times in the evolving new world order
Therefore, for us to avoid the danger of the Choluteca bridge, a superb bridge, that leads to nowhere, let us do the needful !
Note: This article was first written in 2020 but edited and reproduced for the reader’s pleasure