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By Jide (Oso-) Alabi
In an article which I wrote recently to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, I probably left most people with the impression that our dreams were unattainable. To cite one reason for this, that article for instance noted that with respect to electricity generation, the bane of industrial growth and development in the country, it has been variously estimated that Nigeria needs between 80,000-100,000 mw of electricity to become an industrialized country, or more specifically to achieve its aim of becoming one of the 20 biggest economies by 2020.
This would require an annual supplementary provision of about 7700 mw for the next 10 years to boost the current capacity. In fact, besides the $16 billion so far spent on the power sector since 1999, it has been estimated that Nigeria needs $85 billion of investment in its power infrastructure in order to produce electricity 24 hours a day. This is 17 times the amount announced by government it intends to spend on the power sector and four and a half times the country’s oil savings. So on current figures coming close to even achieving this would entail the exclusive devotion of all government revenues to the project. This is impracticality, as that would bring other sectors of the economy and the nation to a stand still.
Nevertheless what I should perhaps have done was to include a caveat in the article; Nigeria will not achieve the 2020 dream if its leadership and its led fail to wake up to the challenges and pro-actively work to tackle them. For instance on the light issue my suggestion would be for government to supplement electricity generation in the country with a drive by the CBN to bring interest rates to a single digit preferably between 4-7 percent as a panacea to industrial rejuvenation. At the same time banks would be tightly regulated to make sure that the bulk of their money goes into priority sectors such as electricity and industry. ( Continues below..... )
On the other hand I could have taken the opposite view. I could have insisted that at current pace and without more, the dream could be achieved by that date. But of course, I would be fooling no one. As such if Nigeria is to make true progress in the 21st century, it must not only solve its power problem challenges, push through reforms in its financial sector with the banks taking a cardinal role in that, pass the freedom of information act which in my opinion would go a long way to curbing corruption, revitalize and encourage science and technology education and vocation noting that such constitutes the industrial base for any successful modern economy, embark on a values re-orientation drive and pro-active use of economic ideologies that work whether they be capitalist or socialist and ensure consistent and investor friendly government policies whilst at the same time protecting key sectors.
It would also need to ensure other aspects of an enabling environment are present, look into new areas of business for Nigerians such as opportunities in the call centers and software manufacturing industry as currently enjoyed by India. Most importantly though it must initiate political reforms aimed at improving how its government is run and its public officers chosen. Needless to say that perhaps one unpopular but necessary measure would be to cut government recurrent expenditure i.e. a decrease in the salary of political officers to attract genuine leaders and free up more money for public projects.
Having said all this though, it is pertinent to appreciate that the biggest challenge that Nigeria faces in its quest to actualize the 2020 dream is not physical but rather a mental one. It is a problem as always of leadership and wrong mental dispositions. As the Bible succinctly puts it, as a man thinketh so he is. Another passage tells us that where there is no vision the people perish. Thank God we do have a vision. Nigeria has come a long way since independence and the fulfillment of that vision may have been delayed time and time again, but it is still intact. In spite of the great diversity of Nigeria’s people and culture, the corruption in high places, the ethno-religious and political crisis here and there, one thing shines through.
The unveiling of the new Nigerian youth. Gone is the predominantly 419, and Yahoo-Yahoo boy mentality of the past. The slight of hand, wink of eye, maga mindset of yesterday. Yes these still exist. But day by day it decreases. The proponents of that ideology are beginning to lose their hold on our youth. And that people is the real reason that we as a nation cannot lose hope yet on the Greater Nigeria project, for the greatest asset of a nation is not its mineral resources, but its people. To hit the nail on the head, the greatest asset of a people is its youth. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria
The average Nigerian youth today by all standards has to be counted as one of the most intelligent in the world. If this were not so, they would not leave the shores of their home land only to start excelling in their host country. What they had lacked back home was the enabling environment to spread their wings and grace the skies. Yet can we continue to insist that the Nigerian problem is a systemic one-the so called Nigerian factor. No, for we must undeniably recognize that a system is only as good as its people have either through construction or practice made it. So if the same is faulty the onus lies on us, the same people, to change in order to change it.
It is in view of this that we must applaud the new mindset, the new orientation sweeping across the youth of the land evidenced in such things as the dozens of sincere (the sincere ones mind) different youth groups mushrooming up all across the land geared towards nation building and actively working to bring that dream into reality. For the youth of today as they have at no other time in our country’s history more done so, realize that not only will the gods not do for man what he can do for himself but also that ultimately mans destiny lies in his own hands. This was exemplified by the stand of the youths of the Enough is enough rally earlier this year. And yet it is sad to note that in the past, some have said that the present (youth) generation is a wasted one.
If that is so, we could in reply ask this question- what did these assessors do in their time to stop the slide into decadence. However we will not argue with our forbears for that is a very unafrican thing to do. We will however set the records straight; we are not a wasted generation. We will stand up in our time. The challenge before us though, is this. In 10 years time, will things have changed or would we have become the reality of our father’s unthoughtful prophecy. Or worse, would we have fallen to their fate. Concomitantly, would we to have to bear the ignominy of becoming that same broken record, playing that same broken tune and telling our own children just how wasted a generation they too are? And ultimately to have to shoulder the reply- what did we too do in our time to stop things from coming to that end. No my friends, the poisoned apple must not be passed along. The buck stops here. We may not have been the first Adam but we can be the second. Indeed, we may not be Musa but we can be the Seal of the prophets.
All of that though depends on what we do now. How we start to move from this moment onwards. The attainment of Vision 2020 whether by 2020 or 2025 is really all on us. Yes whether you’re a Slender Slim hustling honestly at Olasosun for the greater purpose of cutting your dream, a street hawker selling your wares in the late evening traffic. Whether you’re businessman plying your trade at the Alaba markets and its replicas all over Nigeria. Whether you are an Aje Butter or Aje Pako, a chief executive officer of a big time corp or just its door man. Upper class or lower class, its all on us. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigerian Flag
So long as your mind is right, so long as you believe in the Nigerian project and you are ready to unite with your fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters to do all that is necessary to bring that dream into reality, then all is not lost. 10 years is not a long time in the life of nation, but it is a long time in the life of a man and since often times the life of great nations indeed the world itself- I name you Jesus, I name you the great Muhammed, I name you Mandela and Ghandi- has turned on the nature and character of one man, it is not impossible. My brothers and my sisters my message to you is this; you can be that man or you may choose to be part of the body. One thing is clear. No matter how strong we are individually, our greatest strength yet lies in our collective unity.
When we have attained that, then victory is assured. For Almighty God has predicted. He has looked into the future and spoken “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do” My people God has done his part-the rest is left to us. We must rise up to the horns of prophecy and fulfill our destiny. Leadership and led must be focused, disciplined, upright and sincere. There is no time like the present. NIGERIA WILL GET THERE but we must “Seize the day”.
Jide (Oso-) Alabi can be reached at
*Tags: Nigerians, IBB, Goodluck, Jonathan, Political, Ibrahim, Vision, 2020, Babangida, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
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