Our dependency makes slaves out of us (Fritz Perls)
Dependency is death to initiative, to risk-taking and opportunity. It's time to stop the spread of government dependency and fight it like the poison it is (Mitt Romney)
It is in our best interest to. . . embark on a revolutionary change that will lead us away from oil dependency rather than drag our feet and suffer the costs of becoming growingly dependent on a diminishing resource.' Truer words were never written (Albert Marrin)
Continued from Part 3
nly in Nigeria: ASUU is on strike; universities are churning out half baked or sub-standard graduates, as the Kano State Coordinator of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Mr. Sanusi Abdulrasheed, has lamented that 89 percent of corps members in the country could neither write good application nor communicate effectively in English Language. The co-coordinator stated that the majority of the corps members were more at home with the use of "broken English" as a means of communication. More to that, according to ALLAfrica, The latest ranking of world universities released by the Times Higher Education (THE) for 2012-2013 has indicated that no Nigerian university made the list of the best 400 in the world. Who’s surprised; when the Nigerian universities are awarding first class honours with reckless abandon, unlike when this writer graduated at UNN in the late 1980s, when passing of JAMB was harder than winning American Visa lottery, and the making of first class was like going to the moon and back. To add salt to the injury, the ruling class has abandoned the graduates and can’t offer some of them jobs. The ruling class should blame itself for the poor quality graduates the universities are churning out, after it allowed the education sector to rot away; so, members of ruling class should be ready to employ the graduates their higher institutions trained, and not to tell them to create job for themselves. How can the graduates do that?
After using them, the states have dumped the corps members. After providing the states cheap labour, the corps members are being pushed away (at the end of the exercise), and this time, all that the respective state governors can tell the NYSC members, who served in their states, is that they should create job for themselves. The governors asked the corps members to help sustain Nigeria by deploying their energies towards nation building (to serve the interest of the ruling class better), but, when it comes to job for the graduates, the governors told the NYSC members to create jobs for themselves. Akwa Ibom State, the governor, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, advised the outgoing 2,893 corps members in the state to embrace self-employment. Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, urged the corps members to deploy their creative thinking into how to create jobs for themselves rather than roaming the streets in search of paid jobs. In Aregbesola’s word: “You need to apply creativity more now in the face of unemployment bedeviling the nation. Focus more on self employment”. Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, advised the outgoing corps members to train themselves to become self-reliant in order to assist government to tackle the problem of unemployment. Amaechi added that white collar jobs were no longer available for employable Nigerians. From report, it was only the Gombe State, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, who offered automatic employment to 13 NYSC members who distinguished themselves in the service year. The governor also announced N20, 000 transport fares to each of the 720 youths who served in that state, N500, 000 to the overall best corps member and N1m to the soldiers that conducted the passing out parade ceremony.
To put it in the most simple way: The members of the Nigerian ruling class should be ashamed of themselves for receiving the best education during their own university days, but are now mis-educating the Nigerian youths who look up to them for guidance. The ruling class forgot that Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874 –1936) wrote that “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”. Also, John W. Gardner (1912–2002) wrote that “Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants”. Nigerians are really suffering everywhere. Did you read what the founder of the Mental Health Foundation, Dr Emmanuel Owoyemi, said that "Sixty four million Nigerians today are going through one form of mental illness or the other because everything that would cause mental illness is on the increase in Nigeria. Poverty is on the increase, hopelessness is on the increase, insecurity is on the increase. There is so much panic at heart, anxiety, high level depression. And also, there is no mental health policy in Nigeria right now; the National Assembly has been delaying in passing the Mental Health Bill. None of the psychiatric hospitals in Nigeria today has up to 1000 beds and we have over 160 million people.
We have about 150 psychiatrists; we have 34 neuro-surgeons in the whole country, meaning that, one point something million Nigerians is to one psychiatrist. How many people can one psychiatrist attend to within the 1.2 million or 1.3 million? So, we are not doing enough. The human capital is not there, the facility is not there, and yet everything that could cause mental illness is on the increase in Nigeria".
Paradoxically, while Nigeria and poor Nigerians are getting poorer, handful of Nigerians, especially politicians and government officials, are becoming (Nigerian) billionaires. No wonder that Pope Francis (1936) said that “elected men have taken it upon themselves to indebt their people to create an atmosphere of dependency. And why? For their own selfish need to increase their own personal power”! Verily, verily, as Edward Langley wrote, “What this country (Nigeria) needs are more unemployed politicians”. In Nigeria now, we’re witnessing the terrible increases in the incidence of oil theft, the over-dependence on oil, protests, marches, strikes, human alienation, poverty, illiteracy, high rate of unemployment and miseries. Because Nigeria depends entirely on oil, Nigerians have lost their creativity, ingenuity, inspiration, statesmanship and patriotism. There are only few Nigerians imbued with patriotism and loyalty to the country in Nigeria right now; so, Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1828 – 1910) rightly predicted then that “The time is fast approaching when to call a man a patriot will be the deepest insult you can offer him. Patriotism now means advocating plunder in the interest of the privileged classes of the particular State system into which we have happened to be born”.
Definitely, we need to break our dependency on revenue from oil, which leaves us at the mercy of foreign powers, by developing our other sectors to compliment the oil resources. With oil gradually losing its global value, it becomes more and more crucial than ever that we take steps to diversify our economy and reduce our dependency on oil export. We must be committed to an increased electricity generation capability for rapid modernization and industrialization of the economy. No one would be accused of making an overstatement if he or she says that the non diversification of the Nigerian economy is killing Nigeria, encouraging criminal activities, influencing corruption and fuelling the high rate of unemployment. The President and Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mr. Segun Aina, rightly pointed out that “the uncertainty in the oil and gas sector globally was a wakeup call for the diversification of the Nigerian economy”. Even the richest black man on earth, Dangote, called for the diversification of Nigerian economy. Huhuonline.com wrote that “as part of strategies to diversify the nation's export base as well create more value for its crude oil, foremost industrialist and President/Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has tasked government to begin the production of petroleum products for export. Dangote said that with the discovery of crude oil in many African nations, fall of oil prices in the international market, and exploration of alternative sources of energy such as shale oil, the nation should seek ways of enhancing its economic sustainability.
One of the strategies he identified is refining and production of diverse petroleum products for export. He stated that with the creation of industries dedicated to the production of petroleum based products, there should be conscious effort by government and stakeholders to create a demand for these products in the local economy. He explained that Nigeria has a large population which translates to huge market if harnessed, adding that countries like China and India relied on their population to create a huge domestic market for products. Dangote also called on government to use the nation's abundant petroleum resources to drive the industrialization of the economy, adding that it is only through industrialization that value is added to raw materials.
A Vanguard editorial notes that “Perhaps more frightening, with all the positions on laying more solid foundations for the economy, away from the volatility of oil, not much has been done in the more than 40 years oil assumed podium position in our economy. Oil could become irrelevant quicker than the most optimistic predictions. Its damages to the environment, its unpredictable high prices that task planning even for the most advanced economies, the West's inability to control the vital resource, are increasing the pace of searches for alternatives to oil. Plans for the Nigerian economy are primed on oil. They would have been as simple as re-investing some oil revenue in other sectors of the economy. They have remained unimplemented. According to the World Bank's Nigeria Economic Report for May 2013, "Despite the recovery in oil prices, Nigeria expanded its fiscal stimulus significantly, increasing consolidated spending by an estimated 2.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product, GDP, and drawing down the remaining balance of the Excess Crude Account at the same time that many other oil exporters were building back their reserves”. Oil still accounts for 95 percent of Nigeria’s exports and 75 percent of consolidated budgetary revenues. Its mismanagement throws the economy into a spin. When the prices dip, or more thieves help themselves to the oil, as seems to be the case now, the economy wheels almost to a halt. Without a thorough planning of the economy, an indiscernible future awaits Nigerians. Our governments should rescue Nigerians from the blight of oil”.
Nigeria imports petroleum products even from countries that have no oil. What a shame! For instance, Nigeria imports sub-standard refined petroleum products from countries such as Romania that has no oil, while Nigeria with its oil can’t maintain and sustain its four refineries which are operating below full capacity due to lack of maintenance and corruption. A country like Nigeria is supposed to have upto 20 fully operational private refineries, but, those who import the petroleum products have put their personal interest above that of the country, and have sabotaged every effort to repair the existing refineries so that they can be fully operational. Also, those gaining from the rot have thwarted every effort to privatize the refineries or to build new ones until recently that few private ones started sprouting.
Just look at the insane economic policy Nigeria is operating: The federal government said that it reduced public spending on oil subsidy payments from N2.2 trillion in 2011 to N971 billion in 2012, and then the government started rejoicing about it. For what? The Finance Minister said that the reduction was over N1.2 trillion or 56%. In her words, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said: "In 2011, there was a huge public outcry. As a result, this administration has worked hard to clean up the process of subsidy payments. In response the ministry set up the Aig-Imoukhuede committee which investigated the subsidy payments. The committee was later elevated to a Presidential Committee by Mr President. The ministry hired new auditors and put in place different checks and balances, and last year, we brought subsidy payment down to about N950 billion, and we expect that this year, we will pay about N971 billion. I believe this is a huge achievement for which the Jonathan administration deserves some credit, something that should make Nigerians proud of their government. In furtherance of the Jonathan administration's commitment to transparency and accountability in the management of fuel subsidy payments, the Federal Ministry of Finance has released the sum of N46,764,191,448.16 as latest payment to oil marketers whose claims have successfully gone through the verification process. This means that, so far in 2013, a total of N287, 351,770,696.16 has been paid in verified claims to verified marketers". Ms Okonjo-Iweala and her economics are failing Nigeria; as a world celebrated bluestocking, Nigeria deserves better from Ms. Okonjo-Iweala. Check what the amount of money the minister was talking about could have done in fixing the ailing four refineries. The monies went into private pockets while the refineries continue to remain obsolete. Common economic sense should have told us that instead of paying individuals such whooping amount to import petroleum products, we ought to have invested it in the refineries, so that they will become fully operational and would employ more Nigerians, rather than sustaining other countries’ infrastructures, businesses and people, while everything Nigeria suffer.
More to the above points; the different parts of the government seem not to be unified on any issue, as they give different and contradictory reports, just as Ndiigbo, in Ngwa dialect, say that “It’s bad for the costume and the dancer wearing it to be dancing different styles at the same time (Ololo ndi agba odo, ogodo ya adi agba odo, adighi nma)”. For instance, while the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) (Financial System Stability), Dr Kingsley Chinedu Moghalu, said last weekend, during a lecture delivered at the Golden Jubilee ceremony of the pioneer graduates of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), that the nation's economic performance had been rather weak. Exactly the same time and somewhere else, at the Independence Anniversary lecture organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, debunked claims that the economy is in a comatose state, and challenged anyone with contrary information about the economy to come out for a debate.
Moghalu noted that other emerging economies; in particular Malaysia, South Korea, China and India, who were behind or at the same economic pace with Nigeria in terms of growth in industrial production in the 1960s and 1970s, have transformed their economies. He rightly regretted that Nigeria's economic performance does not reflect its endowments. In his words: "With a population of 170 million people, Nigeria is generously endowed with human, physical and natural resources. The country is ranked the 6th largest producer of crude oil and also has the 6th largest gas reserves in the world. It also has very significant reserves of solid minerals which remain undeveloped. The country is richly endowed with about 34 different types of solid minerals in commercial quantities in about 450 locations across the country. Regrettably, Nigeria's economic performance had been rather weak and does not reflect the country's huge endowments. South Korea, China and India are not only far ahead of Nigeria but are major players in world economy today. Between 2005 and 2010, the average growth in industrial production for China, India, Brazil and Malaysia was 16.0, 8.0, 3.6, and 2.5 percent respectively while Nigeria recorded only 2.1 percent".
For Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: "The micro economy is stable, the economy is doing well. We may experience cash flow problem, that does not mean the economy is in problem. Nigeria is an asset rich country and its economy remains strong. If we are not doing well, people will not be coming to invest in the country. President Goodluck Jonathan and his cabinet members are not losing sleep over the nation's problem. The present challenges are not peculiar to Nigeria. We are not an island. Some of the problems we are facing are not strange. Even South Africa is battling with unemployment, and the government is fighting hard to salvage the situation. We are progressing and developing. There are a lot of emotional statements doing the rounds. Some people are saying Nigeria's economy is comatose. If the economy is comatose, where did Dangote see money to invest in refinery? If the economy is comatose, the private sector would be carrying placards by now".
But, slightly contradicting Ms. Okonjo-Iweala at the same forum, the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Goodie Ibru, while acknowledging that the Nigerian economy has undergone major transformation over the decade, added that “We have seen remarkable developments in the telecommunications sector, the entertainment industry, the manufacturing. However, the economy is still too dependent on oil and gas; weak in domestic production and local value addition. The diversification of the economy has become imperative and compelling. Disproportionate reliance on natural resources exposes the economy to tremendous risk of shocks and vulnerability".
To be continued!
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!
Continued from Part 3