By Ilyasu Gadu
Today the greatest source of frustration among Nigerians of all shades is that of our country’s underachievement relative to its massive endowments. This frustration is expressed in several ways from those blaming what they think was the forced fusion of the country by the British colonial overlords of Nigeria of disparate peoples without regard to history and cultural affinity. There are also those who believe that the country is too big and unwieldy to function optimally and that the better thing to do is either to break it peacefully and creatively into manageable pieces or to rupture it all together.
While these frustrations are understandable and may even be pardonable if considered that they are meant to spur some positive action towards making amends on the relative lack of progress in advancing the development of the Nigeria we all desire, we must however remind ourselves that the Nigeria we all crave for can only happen by our own endeavours above everything else. We must begin this by appreciating what we are, who we are and what the spiritual and physical essence of the Nigeria is.
Nigeria is God’s unique and greatest gift to the African and Negro race. It is the natural and rightful heir to the vast, unfathomable riches of the African continent. Spiritually Nigeria with its strong triple heritage and roots in Islam, Christianity and traditional African religion is the spiritual capital of Africa. Physically and geographically, it is the point in the African continent where the greatest effort at state formation where such great pre-colonial African empires and states were evident. Nigeria was in creation long before the British came. It is no wonder that the area we now call Nigeria being situated at the geographical cross roads of African interaction is home to the greatest diversity and population in Africa.
Accordingly, Nigeria is meant to realise its essence which is to unite and advance the spiritual and material development of peoples of African descent in the world. This is what constitutes the raison d”etre of Nigeria and its consideration must be at the core of Nigeria’s quest to be relevant in the world. As long as this is not factored into whatever plans Nigeria has for its future so will it continue to atrophy and flounder in its quest for development.
Given this background, how then can Nigeria hope to realise its mission as a country and what ways can that be attained?
The following five areas are critically necessary in this regard.
First off, we must have a leadership which must discover, identify, focus and drive Nigeria on the path to realising its essence in the comity of nations. From our knowledge of the historical experience of other countries, such leadership can either be exercised by a group or class of individuals acting in the interest of the group and by extension, the country. In other climes, such leadership is exercised by an individual who will either take on the responsibility powerfully or be nominated to take it by the group.
The classical example of the former is in Britain, USA and the western democracies. As for the latter, the clearest example is Russia, Singapore, Malaysia and Turkey of Ataturk.
With the diversity of Nigeria it makes sense to expect that the required leadership will be of the type that will be exercised by a collegiate of groups representing the diverse interests that make up the country. But then when we realise that the various group leaders in Nigeria are fractious and have been unable to arrive at a consensus on how to advance the country, perhaps what can be recommended here is the Singapore option of Lee Kwan Yew. Such a leader is required to forge a consensus among the groups and focus them on the overarching national interest of Nigeria as a nation. Indeed the preference on such a leader by the Nigerian elite which saw them going for the likes of Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari at different times indicates this is the way for Nigeria as far as the suit for purpose leadership is concerned. But then these leaders have largely proven incapable of identifying and connecting with the true essence of Nigeria as stated here, hence the sense of atrophy and frustration in the land.
The second is technological acquisition and development to drive Industrialisation of the country. The main basis of our economy presently is on rent derived from oil export revenues. For Nigeria to be relevant in the comity of nations she must aim for and acquire industrial power. And in this the critical area is in establishing industries that create industries that would manufacture anything from light to heavy industrial goods and products. The type of industries that we have in the country are too minuscule to drive industrial growth in the country. Industrialisation will not only result in the rapid transformation of the socio-economic fortunes of the country, but will provide Nigeria with the opportunity to be the economic hub and power that it should be on the African continent.
The third factor is national orientation. In China the importance attached to national orientation is such that it is the third largest government ministry in the country. At present, national orientation around positive values of love of country, respect and pride in our diversity among Nigerians is very low. Our expression of national pride when and where they occur are most often sporadic and accidental mostly during sports activities than deliberate, and sub-consciously. In our strivings we all too often try to seek our comfort and convenience at the expense of the country with little or no regard to the negative effect this causes.
A country that must be great must have the ethos of civic behaviour and responsibility built into the psyche of its people to imbibe and key into the attainment of national goals and objectives.
The fourth area of emphasis is on foreign trade and foreign policy. Nigeria must begin to look forward to the day when it should be economic hub of Africa producing and exporting industrial goods. Due largely to our mono product economy and the revenues from only one major source, oil exports, we run deficits against our foreign trade partners. The countries in our west African sub region avail their ports to industrial countries to dump products which destination is targeted to Nigeria from which they collect import duties helping to undermine our economy. These countries have frustrated all attempts to streamline this through a genuine customs union on trade and tariff and the sharing of revenues.
▪ Gadu sent this material via firstname.lastname@example.org