October 1, 2021, marks Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary with a never-ending quest for a direction that gives the citizenry a definite and tangible value for their collective investment in the Nigerian State.
At independence, the country rising from the ashes of colonialism looked forward to a great and prosperous nation, regional leader and a well respected global player in the international system.
However, government and governance have been most focused on power acquisition and power retention with minimal attention to Industrial and economic development of our nation.
With ravaging poverty, making the country the world poverty capital, intractable insecurity, making life worthless, religious and ethnic tension, tearing apart National leadership, corruption ravaging every facet of our national life and inflicting a cancerous blow on the fabric of the country and the insensitivity of the political elites to national malaise, etcetera etcetera Nigeria has continued to regressed on all fronts thus leaving the country to fate and chance.
Yet, the story can be reversed. With abundant human, natural and intangible resources a focus on Industrialization by governments at all levels can change the narrative. A radical and surgical move away from primordial and conservative approach to governance have the capacity to leapfrog the nation into harnessing its potential to produce what we need, reduce dependence on imports, retain capital in Nigeria and nigerianize the commanding heights of the economy.
What are we doing with few agricultural crops? What are we doing 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, gemstone, to mention just a few of them scattered all over the country? Many of these endowments are either exploited by foreigners with local comprados for exports as mere raw materials or illegally mined for a few unpatriotic business persons for their personal enrichment.
We can recreate our sense of purpose by realizing that in the words of Dr Caesar Osaheni Iyayi in his new book The ABC of How To Industrialize Nigeria when he said :” We must take urgent steps to transform Nigeria from an agrarian society to a manufacturing economy. There is no alternative. It is bend or break. If we fail to industrialise, we will never be able to defend ourselves and shall therefore be at the mercy of foreign powers that dealt ruthlessly with our forefathers. If we fail to industrialise, then we are doomed to suffer another wave of slavery or extinction on African soil”. He went further to posit and accurately so that there is no country in the world that was Industrialize(developed) by foreigners.
Consequently, methinks that the October 1, 2021 must therefore become a watershed for our leaders and citizens to move away from the unbridled quest for power acquisition to National Economic development and Industrialization. I like to see more debates on Industrialization models and strategies rather than power rotation. It will be most beneficial to Nigerians to see leaders compete on development indices rather than throwing banters on how to retain power at national and sub national levels. The people want to see what tangible progress rather than manufactured indices which translate to visible impact on their lives. It is the expectation of the people that government encourages more Nigerian private entrepreneurs to embark on industrial ventures by employing expatriates in areas of deficit of technical expertise.
Nigeria needs to Industrialize. Our country needs to move away from the realm of potentialities. Admirably, Mr President appreciate this in his Independence broadcast when he said “I fully understand the anxiety of many Nigerians on the inability of this country to go beyond a never-ending potential for becoming a great nation to an actually great one”
Nigerians, a resilient, hardworking, skilful and dedicated people with a propensity for positive advancement in am enabling environment needs a pragmatic political leadership to lead the way. Unless and until we have such a leadership that breaks away from the culture of unworkable governance model, extraneous matters of ethnicity and religion, unnecessary politicization of service delivery, building industries, infrastructures and workable institutions will continue to be a mirage.
Today, we are witnesses to how the pragmatic leadership of the late Lee Kuan Yew and his successors in Singapore moved away the country to a first world. Singapore, with little or no natural resources developed its human resources to attain its current industrial status.
Our survival as a Nation depends on our ability and commitment to Industrialize Nigeria. We cannot wait any longer.
The time is now!
Dr Samson Osagie, is a Lawyer, Governance & Development Expert.