Nigeria at 61: a call for industrialization
Friday October 1, 2021 marked the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence with an endless quest for leadership that gives citizens defined and tangible value for their collective investment in the Nigerian state.
Upon independence, the country, rising from the ashes of colonialism, looked forward to a great and prosperous nation, a regional leader and a much respected global player in the international system.
However, government and governance have mostly focused on the acquisition and retention of power with minimal attention to the industrial and economic development of our nation.
With devastating poverty, making the country the poverty capital of the world, insurmountable insecurity, making life worthless, religious and ethnic tensions, tearing national leaders apart, corruption ravaging all facets of our national life and inflicting a blow. carcinogenic to the fabric of the country and the insensitivity of the political elite to national malaise, among other things, Nigeria has continued to regress on all fronts, leaving the country to chance and to chance.
Yet the story can be reversed. With abundant human, natural and intangible resources, the focus on industrialization by government at all levels can change the narrative. A radical and surgical departure from the overarching and conservative approach to governance has the ability to transcend the nation to harness its potential to produce what we need, reduce dependence on imports, retain capital in Nigeria and Nigerianize the summits of the economy.
What do we do with little agricultural crops? What do we do with our crude oil? What do we do with our various solid minerals – bauxite, limestone, gold, clay, gypsum, iron ore, salt, zinc, lead,
Cassiterite (tin ore), dolomite, tantalite, marble, magnesite, kaolin, bentonite, oil and gas, uranium, lead, zinc, lignite, phosphate, glass, sand, lead, lignite. Wolfram, columbite, uranium, magnesium, barite, coal, gemstones, to name a few scattered all over the country? Many of these endowments are either exploited by foreigners with local comprados for exports as simple raw materials, or exploited illegally for a few unpatriotic businessmen for their personal enrichment.
We can recreate our raison d’être by realizing that, in the words of Dr Caesar Osaheni Iyayi in his new book, “The ABC of How To Industrialize Nigeria”:
“We must take urgent action to transform Nigeria from an agrarian society to a manufacturing economy. There is no alternative. It’s bend or break. If we fail to industrialize, we will never be able to defend ourselves and will therefore be at the mercy of foreign powers who ruthlessly treated our ancestors. If we fail to industrialize, then we are doomed to suffer a new wave of slavery or extinction on African soil ”. He went further by accurately postulating that there is no country in the world that has been industrialized (developed) by foreigners.
Therefore, I believe that October 1, 2021 must therefore become a turning point for our leaders and citizens to move from the frantic quest for the acquisition of power to national economic development and industrialization.
I like to see more debates on models and strategies of industrialization rather than the rotation of power. It will be more beneficial for Nigerians to see leaders compete on the indices of development rather than throwing jokes on how to retain power at the national and subnational levels. People want to see what tangible progress, rather than fabricated clues that translate into visible impact on their lives. The population expects the government to encourage more Nigerian private entrepreneurs to enter industrial enterprises by employing expatriates in areas where technical expertise is in short supply.
Nigeria must industrialize. Our country needs to get out of the realm of potential. Admirably, the President appreciates this on his Independence Day broadcast when he said: “I fully understand the anxiety of many Nigerians over the inability of this country to surpass endless potential to become a great nation into a great nation ”
Nigerians, a resilient, hardworking, skillful and dedicated people with a propensity for positive advancement in an enabling environment, need pragmatic political leadership to lead the way. Unless and until we have such leadership that breaks with the culture of the impractical governance model, alien issues of ethnicity and religion, unnecessary politicization of service delivery, construction industries, infrastructure and viable institutions will continue to be a mirage. Today we are witnessing how the pragmatic leadership of the late Lee Kuan Yew and his successors in Singapore moved the country to a first world. Singapore, with little or no natural resources, has developed its human resources to achieve its current industrial status.
Our survival as a nation depends on our ability and commitment to industrialize Nigeria. We can’t wait any longer.
It is now!
- Dr Samson Osagie, is a lawyer, expert in governance and development
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