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10/14/10

Permalink 08:00:00 am, by wordaz, 6542 words   English (Nigeria)
Categories: News

*Coming To Nigeria

-An academic discussion of Nigeria’s economic performance in the decade, the challenges, and possible solutions for the future.

By Jide (Oso-) Alabi

In the 1988 film Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, there is a scene where Lisa Mc Dowell asks Akeem (Eddie Murphy’s character) how he, an obviously well respected person back home, can come to America and cope with having to work in a restaurant in order to pursue his dreams. He replies something along the line of “One must first learn to crawl before he can run”.

This is no doubt a truism which holds not only for people but also for all nations everywhere and in all generations. For nations what might be different and thus of interest to us is the manner and speed with which this transition is made from socio-economic infancy to full fledged developed nation status. For while some make the journey of a thousand miles in a mere fifty steps, others have much preferred the Israelite intercourse. As we celebrate Nigeria’s 50th independence, if we are to make progress in our national life, it is critical that we take inventory of our national stock profile-falling in this case within the time frame of the last decade, in order to map a winning strategy for the future.

As always discussing Nigeria is never an easy task. On one hand while there are a thousand issues which one must consider –dispassionately, on the other there is equally the obligation one feels to ignite the phoenix flame, the Caleb zeal in ones fellow man. This nominal challenge is compounded by the limited space given me here to work with. Accordingly for the sake of brevity and clarity, I have elected to divide this article into three parts. One- a review of the past ten years of Nigeria’s socio economic life, two- the problems we still face now as a nation and three- the way forward.

At the beginning of the present republic, Nigeria’s economic performance wasn’t so much bad as it was uninspiring. Although the naira was not doing too badly at between N90-N92 to a dollar, the figures did not add up. Unemployment was high. From the mid nineties highs of 70 percent, inflation had decreased to 6.1 percent but industrial growth was only moderate. On the other hand, the populace was still yet to recover from the SAP austerity measures of the early nineties as poverty remained endemic. To make matters worse Nigeria had only just recently emerged from the damning designation of a pariah state and as such was yet to get to grips with the realities of the world or indeed to change the mind set of nations who had for so long associated it with only two things-football and totalitarianism. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and capital (Abuja or FCT)

With the handing over however, of power by the military via the General Abdul Salami administration to civilians on the 29th of May 1999, there arose real hope for change across all decks. As it turned out however the first four years being a period of transition from military to civilian rule, was spent by the Obasanjo administration largely on securing civilian control of government institutions- the armed forces etc, and ensuring stability of the polity. Thus from 1999 ,although the Nigerian economy expanded as the non-oil GDP grew at an annual rate of 5.8 percent, improvement was most noticeable after the 2003 elections and during Obasanjo’s second term in office.

For then armed with an economic team of technocrats and managers, the government established the main economic objectives of (1) Macro-economic stability and (2) reducing vulnerability to oil shocks. These factors and the rising oil revenues caused revenues to surge. At the same time public spending was reduced from 47 percent of GDP in 2001 to 35.4 percent in 2004. This coincided with the increment in non-oil growth to 7.4 percent (2004). These factors resulted in a surplus budget of 7.7 percent of GDP for the year, up from deficits of 4-5 percent of GDP in 2002-2003. Thus placing Nigeria on a much better fiscal position than Ghana (3.6 percent deficit, Cameroon (0.7 percent deficit) and LI-SSA (4.6percent average). By 2005, non oil growth had increased to 8.2 percent and 8.9 percent in 2006. Over the same period GDP per capita in US dollars more than doubled. In 2003, GDP real growth was at 3 percent. This jumped to 7.1 percent in 2004; fell to 6.2 percent in 2005, further still to 5.3 percent in 07, but by 2008 had risen back to 6.4 percent. Unfortunately, with the economic crunch, by 2009, it had fallen once again to 5.3 percent and further still to 3.8 percent in 2010.

Unfortunately, the GDP real growth pattern was equally reflected in the industrial growth rate. In 2003, it was 4 percent, in 2004 2.3 percent; in 05 it dropped to 1.8 percent but rose to 3.8 percent in 2006. In 2007, however with the consolidation drive in the banking sector completed, it shot back to 3.2 percent. No matter the case, on a 2008 country comparison of West African states- Ghana (8.1 percent), Niger 5.1 percent; Senegal 4.5 percent and Cameroon 4.2 percent, all performed better than Nigeria. This was not helped by the poor business environment, most particularly electricity supply, infrastructure and high banking rates. It is perhaps for this reason that the statistics show a marked improvement in the performance of these West African states precisely at the period of Nigeria’s declining economic performance, as erstwhile Nigerian companies moved into other parts of the sub-region in a bid to cut production costs and stay competitive.

With respect to these and other factors contributing to the poor business environment, electricity has been a major culprit. Although production increased steadily from the estimated2003 figure of 15,670,000,000 to the projected 2010 22,000,000,000 kilowatts figure, a sizable amount of this was lost during transmission and distribution to bad equipment. Moreover compared to Nigeria’s 140 million plus population, this was only a pittance in the collective bowl of Nigeria’s energy need. It would also explain the progressive deterioration in investment numbers from 27.7 percent and a ranking of 23 in 2004 to 17.1 percent and a ranking of 124 in 2010. To compound issues, from the second Persian Gulf War surplus of 2003/04, budget expenditures had come to exceed revenues. Thus the 2009 estimate for expenditure was 18.08 billion whilst revenue was a mere 10.49 billion.

Reflecting this was the fact that while oil imports increased marginally from 154, 300 bbl/day in 2008 to 170,000 bbl/day in 2010, oil exports dropped marginally from 2,470,000 bbl/day in 2008 to 2, 327,000 bbl/day in 2010. Oil consumption on the other hand shot up from 15,680,000 bbl/day in 2004 to 32,820,000 bbl/day in 2009. As such governments drive since the early days of Obasanjo’s second term to deregulate the down stream sector of the oil industry became more pertinent. Luckily for Nigeria a situation that might ordinarily have spelt disaster for other nations was greatly ameliorated by the fact that not only was Nigeria’s proven oil and gas reserves burgeoning (Nigeria as at 2010 occupies the 8th position of countries in the world ranking of proven gas reserves), but in line with the improvement in production related technology as well as the Federal governments ban on gas flaring, natural gas exports had increased to take up some of the slack. Thus from 7,830,000,000 cu m in 2004, it grew to 21,200,000,000 cu m in 2009 before falling to 20,550,000,000 cu m in 2010. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

The same trend is mimicked by non-fossil fuel exports. Nevertheless, the government continues to have problems with a burgeoning domestic debt profile and as such has increasingly resorted to the selling of debt bonds in order to finance its expenditures. For example on Wednesday (September 15th), Nigeria sold ₦105 billion ($700 million) of 20-year, 5-year and 3-year sovereign bonds at its seventh debt auction of the year, as reported by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on Thursday. Other economic indices also paint a mixed picture.

Statistics show for example that banking rates increased from 2008’s 15.4 percent to almost 17 percent while central bank discount rate hovers at around 9.75 percent. Again while Nigeria’s external debt was $29.7 billion in 2003, in the aftermath of Nigeria’s $12 billion debt buy back from the Paris club of lenders, by 2005/06 it had fallen to 6.3 billion. This grew to $10 billion in 2010. Also vastly increased was Nigeria’s reserve of dollars and gold at the value of $46,540,000,000 from the 2004 figure of $7,128,000,000. Again foreign direct investment in the country increased from 33,640,000,000 to 71,590,000,000, a change of over 100 percent. The stock exchange was an equally exceptional player in 2007 but by 2008 with the crisis in the banking sector it had crashed by almost 70 percent and so lost much of its 2007 value.

In the services sector telecommunications technology an undisputable aid to business and thus development, moved in leaps and bounds. From a mere teledensity of about 500,000 fixed phone lines, with the introduction of GSM telephony in 2003, by 2010 figures had jumped to some 75.9 million. This placed Nigeria with respect to subscribership first in Africa with South Africa placing a distant second. The same trend is reflected in internet users with figures for Nigeria hovering on the, in my opinion grossly under-estimated 11,000,000 mark as against Egypt’s 8.6 and South Africa’s 5.1 million. In the area of transportation there were also marked improvements, although more still needs to be done. For Instance, in the merchant marine division Nigeria is bested in West Africa by only Sierra Leone in terms of number of ships. Unfortunately the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and off-shore waters in the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea as high risk for piracy. Nevertheless, it should be noted that with the coming into effect of the late president Umaru Musa Yar’Aduas 2008 amnesty to militants, conditions in these areas did greatly improve.

Militarily, Nigeria remained strong throughout the decade under consideration with perhaps the most experienced peace keeping force on the continent. Note also that Nigeria has great numbers of its people fit for military service. Being a contributory factor to economic development, statistics equally show a marked improvement in the area of knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention, retroviral drug use and at 3.1 percent, low HIV morbidity. In the same vein there has been improvement in child health with widespread infant immunizations and anti-malarial drugs usage. However, there could be more improvement in maternal health.

From the foregoing it can be seen that Nigeria’s economic performance over the past decade has been a mixture of hits and misses. Thus for instance while there has been significant growth in telecommunications, banking (before the banking crisis and credit crunch), gas production and export, some like electricity production has remained stagnant relative to population and industrial growth. On the other hand, others such as industrial growth has positively plummeted. Accordingly, on a scale of 1-10, I would give Nigeria 5. To conclude therefore, economically speaking, Nigeria’s great potential in the last decade has been grossly underutilized and much of the people’s aspirations as at 1999 left unattained. Several factors constitute the cogs in the wheel of progress.

They are areas that must be resolved if Nigeria is to make any appreciable move forward. Namely 1) Banking ; sustenance of banking sector reforms, decrease in interest rates and resumed lending of loans, particularly long term loans to businessmen and industrialists, 2)Power; improvement in power generation, infrastructure and supply. 3) Science and Technology; a new emphasis on, support and encouragement of science and technology education and vocation as the industrial base for any successful modern economy. The case of the Chinese, Indian and Asian tigers. 4) the problem of corruption; the enactment of The Freedom of Information Bill.5) Value system reorientation and more pro-active use of economic ideologies that work, whether they be capitalist or Socialist. In addition to these, it should be noted that government policy should be consistent and investment friendly yet protective of certain local industries. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Nigerian Naira Notes *Current Exchange Rate(14/10/10) = N151.00 to $1.00

Lastly, there needs to be political reforms with respect to how our governments are run and our public officers chosen. This is cardinal to the success of any measure instituted to move the nation forward. For after all, a law or system is only as good as the people who run it.

BANKING SECTOR

Along with telecoms, the banking sector could be ascribed with much of what verve the Nigerian economy can be said to have been moving over the past few years. However, all of that came to a halt with the sudden crisis in the banking sector and world economic crunch. According to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Nigeria’s Central Bank governor, 8 main interdependent factors were responsible for the crisis. They are; 1) Macro-economic instability caused by large and sudden capital inflows, 2) major failures in corporate governance at banks, 3) lack of investor and consumer sophistication,4)inadequate disclosure and transparency about financial position of banks,5)critical gaps in regulatory framework and regulations, 6)uneven supervision And enforcement, 7)unstructured governance and management processes at the CBN, 8) weaknesses in the business environment.

Expanding on point one, Sanusi maintained that as oil prices and thus revenue increased steadily between 2004 and 2008, the amounts held in Nigerian deposits increased with it. The economy was not able to absorb the excess liquidity from oil revenues and foreign investments in productive sectors. This resulted in significant flows to non priority sectors and the capital markets mostly in the form of margin loans and proprietary trading camouflaged as loans. This set the stage for a financial asset price bubble particularly in bank stocks. At the same time there was an unprecedented failure in the observation of corporate governance standards at banks. Insider abuse was rampant and in many cases a lot of the capital supposedly raised by these so called mega banks was fake capital financed from depositor’s funds. Part of CBN reforms which I totally agree with to preventing such future occurrence include limiting capital market lending to a set proportion of a banks balance sheet; prohibiting banks from using depositors funds for proprietary trading private equity or venture depositors investments. In other words better monitoring and regulation of bank activities. Also exchange rate policies are being designed to limit exchange rate volatility which has been shown to reduce growth.

Most importantly though and I believe this is the way forward, government needs to assume a more direct interventionist policy with respect the economy via the CBN and the banks. Nigeria needs to promote linkages and strategic ones too, between her raw and natural resources, production capability and industry. Some have opined that it is the continued lack of this linkage between the oil and gas sector and industry which has largely been responsible for the oil and gas sector exogenous to the rest of the economy. TO do this the government may implement the deregulation of the down stream sector of the oil and gas industry. The problem with this though is that without an adequate safety net to cushion the effect of such on the general populace, it may eventually prove destabilizing of the country.

One, as the purchasing power of peoples naira diminish owing to the multiplier effect of greater energy cost forcing prices up, and two as workers embark on industrial action aimed at salary increment to combat that trend. One way round that would be to compensate industrialists by improving the business environment. In other words there must be provision of better power supply, infrastructure and lower bank rates, so that industrial production can be more cost-competitive and thus profitable. Thus whilst reducing consumer prices, it would at the same time ensure that people have more money in their pockets-the result of a thriving economy, to spend or save as they wish.

POWER

Without doubt the epileptic nature of electricity supply in the nation has been a bane to development. Due to the lack of electricity, most businesses have had to rely on generators which are very expensive to run. This has forced many companies to close shop or relocate because they can no longer remain competitive. The Manufacturing Association of Nigeria estimates that the imperative of providing alternative power supply in the face of power shortages adds up to 40 percent to the cost of factory products.

Currently, Nigeria produces about 3,000 mw of electricity having been unable to deliver on former president Umaru Musa Yasr’Aduas promise of 9,000 mw by year end 2009. It has been estimated variously 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 7700mw annually for the next 10 years to supplement 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 mount 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. Indeed a much preferable and workable solution would be 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.

Moreover because as records show 25 percent of the electricity produced in Nigeria is lost to the poor transmission and distribution networks this too-electrical infrastructure needs to be rehabilitated. Moreover electricity generation, distribution and transmission in the country needs to be fully deregulated. States need to be allowed to do all three within their territory as against the recent grant to them of generation and distribution minus transmission. If the revolution in the GSM telephony in 2003 is anything to go by, not only will foreign investors come into the Nigerian market bringing much needed foreign direct investment, help create jobs for Nigerian citizens and contribute to the transfer of technology, as time goes on competition will ensure that power generation and supply becomes affordable for more and more people.

Moreover as a further measure to safeguard the interest of the majority of Nigerians who are poor government can provide a pricing policy or framework for energy companies, which they must follow in setting just energy prices. For example in the state of Alberta, Cananda, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) regulates investor owned natural gas, electric and water utilities to ensure customers receive safe and reliable service at just and reasonable rates. At the same time as opined severally, because the vast majority of Nigerians will not be buoyant enough at the initial stages to afford this electricity, government must provide incentives to power companies in order to attract foreign investment in Generation, Transmission and Distribution (GTD).

Presently in Nigeria there is a tax holiday of 5 to 7 years for investments in the sector. More however needs to be done to further encourage private participation. In 2004 the government implemented the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) with a goal of building new generating plants: numerous transmission and distribution projects as well as gas pipelines and other related equipment infrastructure. These projects have however been held back by various challenges and few are on schedule. One of the major reasons for the poor state of power sector performance in the country is that there is not enough gas available to run gas powered plants, these being continuously exported. Further Nigeria is still tied to multi-year contracts to supply gas to international companies.

Falling water levels at hydro-electric plants have also been blamed for lower power generation. Over the years many plans have been introduced and suggested to rectify the sector without much appreciable results. In the offing now though is a new plan by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), governor Lamido Sanusi which might bring some real change to the electricity situation. The CBN recently announced its intention to extend a N500 billion (U.S. 3.3) facility for investment in emergency power projects dedicated to industrial clusters. The funds are to be channeled through the Bank of Industry for on lending to the deposit money banks. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Some federal government power projects will be covered under this facility subject to them being restructured into bankable ventures. These projects include power plants in Lagos (500mw); Kano (250mw); Onitsha/Nnewi (200mw); and Maiduguri/Gombe/Bauchi (200mw). Other projects currently being financed by banks may also be financed from the fund. However, banks will be required to secure the funds drawn with securities. No doubt Independent Power Projects (IPPs) hold the key to improved power generation in Nigeria and they should be actively encouraged. Companies who have successfully or should be completing Independent power projects soon include Oandos 12.5mw platform built to service the Lagos Waterworks Corporation, Geometric Power’s 6,000mw producing plant for Aba and Paras Energy and Natural Gas Resources Limited’s planed 8mwplant to service a Lagos industrial cluster.

For a fact, the sources of electrical energy are largely influenced by a country’s location and the resources available to it. As such according to Adesiji Rabiu , a good approach to solution should include the following phases.

1. Government, leadership must commit to positive actions, a) including reviving worn down and neglected electricity infrastructure b) defining and strengthening institutional and regulatory jurisdictions, c) providing a required subsidy to those who need it.

2. Following this government must identify generation options that are in tandem with National Energy Strategy. Thus it might consider solar and wind as complements to oil and gas generated electricity.

3. Lastly the next steps must include actions and policies to further strengthen her National Energy in the long term. This may apart from investor targeted incentives include forming alliances and partnerships with local and foreign power generation and transmission companies.

CORRUPTION AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL

As a constituent to the poor business environment within Nigeria, corruption in government is perhaps the foremost problem. According to the Transparency International Corruption Index, Nigeria is the sixth most corrupt nation in the world. Although Nigeria’s score card of 1.9 is a slight improvement over its previous score, in relative ranking, it means that Nigeria is more corrupt than LI-SSA on average, Ghana or Cameroon. As such a prerequisite for achieving the above stated objectives i.e. power generation etc, is curtailing endemic corruption.

During his tenure, the Obasanjo administration instituted several government agencies geared towards battling this. And these, namely the ICPC and EFCC would get much of the accolades for the steady improvement in Nigeria’s score from 1.0 in 2000. Unfortunately that administration was later criticized as using these agencies to fight its political enemies. More recently though, excepting the prosecution of former MDs of several Nigerian banks for financial improprieties, there is the feeling that momentum has slowed and that the EFCC and ICPC have lost the engagement of the average Nigerian. Whatever the case one sure aid to fostering greater accountability, transparency and thus less corruption in Nigeria would be the adoption and enactment of The Freedom of Information Bill.

According to Longe Ayode of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a Lagos based NGO “if these secrecy laws are not there, people will sit up. If you know the public will get access to your fraudulent acts, you will not do it’ This bill also called the FOI bill has had a long and chequered history. In 1993,MRA joined forces with the Civil Liberties Organization and The Nigerian Union Of Journalists to push for freedom of information legislation in Nigeria. A draft bill - The Access to Official Information Act was produced by the MRA in 1994. This drat became the predecessor of the current Freedom of Information Bill which submitted to the National assembly in 1999 failed to get legislative approval during that arms first four year term. Its attempted Re-incarnation in 2003 equally proved elusive despite widespread support by media groups, business interests and human rights organizations.

In the light of recent accusations leveled against certain members of the Nations House of Representatives just to site an example, it is perhaps not surprising that that situation holds. Indeed, it was opined by Lanre Arogundade a member of the International Press Centre (IPC) that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is a key opponent of the bill. “The president is afraid that the bill will give too much power to probe the activities of those in government”. Cast your mind back to the Obasanjo/Atiku PTDF scandal of 2006/07 and that might not be too far from the truth. In the light of Nigeria’s development aspirations for the 21st century, it becomes imperative that the bill is passed. For as one time American president Thomas Jefferson said, information is the currency of democracy. And as we all know democracy practiced well is one sure way to development.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Today in Nigeria, it is rather unfortunate that what serves as inspiration to most youth is the entertainment and arts related disciplines. Today we have so many pageants, reality TV shows artist wannabees and the like. Often times these have left possible careers in the science fields to pursue a career in a field seen as potentially more lucrative. Ironically, it is observed that the opportunities abounding in these places only come about as a result of the sponsorships and endorsements by companies whose raison d’être is founded on the breakthroughs in science and technology . For instance the GSM companies and microwave technology. Accordingly, is it a wonder then that the ongoing boom in the Nigerian music industry for example coincides with the introduction into the country of the GSM technology just a few years ago.

In America too, there has been a noticeable apathy for the hard core sciences, with many opting for careers in finance, business and entertainment. Many contrast the mood now to that post the lunar landing of 1969 which inspired a generation of Americans to later become Physicists, rocket scientists and ancillary science and technology professionals. Professionals who formed the industrial intelligence base for Americas technological leap in the nineties. The new dispensation contrasts sharply with the Chinese and Asians in general who emphasis math and science education and whose students outshine Americas regularly on the global chart of student peer performance. Keeping in mind the historical rise of nations, from Babylon to Rome, from Europe(Spanish, British, French, Germany, Russia) to America, is it then a wonder today that the nation to more keenly watch is not America but China? Research shows that this nation churns out more scientists (that is science graduates) per head than America or Europe for that matter. Unsurprisingly, China recently overtook Japan as the second biggest economy in the world.

On the down switch, history equally shows us that the slide from pre-eminence in the natural empire life cycle of a nation is usually evidenced by either its penchant for or over emphasis on entertainment, for instance the Roman Empire and its gladiators. The irony of the whole thing here is that Nigeria seems to be evidencing signs of this latter stage without having ever gained its zenith. This is a dangerous trend. What then is the way out? What is needed are incentivized strategies to turn the mind of the youth to science and technology. Since we live in a society which is highly materialistic and short of the present consensus that value re-orientation is needed to address much of this, the monetary factor must also be considered, if you will, to lure the youth back to the sector. The national value for science and technology must be quantified not only in intellectual terms but also a monetary one. Giving lip service or mere intellectual expositions on its merit will only effect an equal and sometimes opposite reaction-No real action will be taken.

What I propose is the introduction of a culture of science and technology market driven invention festivals and competitions. Now although we do have a few national science and technology competitions (I have seen reports of these a few times on the NTA), these need to be structured in such a way that 1. The youth across all sectors are adequately engaged, 2. It takes on the prominence of say the Lagos International half Marathon, Obudu race or the many science festivals around the world (British Science festival, World science festival, Edinburgh International science festival,, U.S.A. science and Engineering festival, Austin Energy Regional Science festival, Fete de la Science, Scifest Africa-South Africa’s science festival, just to name a few). This must be done through timely and adequate pr, awareness for the programme and sponsorship. Sponsorship can come from corporate organizations like GSM companies, oil companies, banks and the like. What is also important here though is to show prospective participants that their efforts will not only be adequately compensated but to actually compensate them. If the winner of the Project Fame West Africa can be given an S.U.V., a recording contract and millions of naira, a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire a chance to win 10 million naira and the winner of the Miss Nigeria pageant an S.U.V and cash prize, I see no reason why the same cannot be done for the science and technology sector. Every youth seeks fame and fortune and the facts of industrial history show us that the best brains will always go where their talents or skills will be most appreciated. From the corporate perspective of sponsors, this may not be easy to swallow since these tend to support projects that will highlight their brand in a flashy and attention grabbing way-hence the focus on projects with entertainment appeal.

Nevertheless, there is no reason why a marriage of sorts cannot be contracted between these two sectors (science and Technology, and entertainment and the arts). For instance a TV reality science competition show could just as easily be produced to engage audiences whilst encouraging science and technology, entrepreneurial and indigenous manufactures development. I have several formats for this. Lastly inventions and discoveries from these should be encouraged to be Nigerian market oriented so that such festivals and competitions can eventually serve as bases for industrial development and launch of products. Lastly owing to its high,vibrant english educated youth population, Nigeria should also consider going into the call centers and software manufacturing industry as currently enjoyed by India so as to equally enjoy the opportunities available therein.

Value System re-orientation and pro-active use of economic ideologies. It has variously been noted that we need a values re-orientation in Nigeria. That is no lie, and to be candid the assertion applies in equal measure to individual and leadership behavior in so far as it impacts on the economy. Let me go straight to the point. We need to de-emphasise the culture of materialism, the worshipful attitude we have to money and those who have it irrespective of how it is got. Such a system inadvertently breeds corruption. In a sense, we need to bring honour and dignity back to play. In addition government needs to put up sweeping measures to restrict importation on certain items. Quality issues notwithstanding, this is the only way to not only encourage local manufactures, but also curb the taste and orientation of our people for imported goods. Secondly and in relation to the foregoing, Nigeria and Nigerians need to imbibe the savings culture. Currently what subsists is the culture of consumption. The average Nigerian believes greatly in “enjoyment”.

Once he gets his salary, a high proportion of that is set aside for merry making. This is wrong. The rate at which any economy-capitalist, socialist, feudal, fascist or what have you can grow is dependent on how much of its production is saved and invested, rather than consumed. Contrast this to the high savings rate in Asia- as high as 60 percent and their attendant high annual economic growth rate-Japan in the past, China now at 10 percent and you will get the picture. Collins, Bosworth and Rodrick (1996) did a research in which they concluded that as against TFP (Total Factor Productivity), savings and investments had a greater role to play in the success of these East Asian countries. This conclusion was also supported by Lau and Kim (1996). Their own analysis of the sources of growth for the Asia-Pacific countries and the Industrialized Western Countries (IWC) show that capital accumulation was the major source of growth in the Asian region while technical progress was the major source of growth for the IWC.

There are legitimate reasons for this which space will not allow me here to explore. However they did predict that sustainable growth is not possible with capital accumulation due to diminishing returns to the factor of production. So the future growth of Asian countries will depend on the research and development work from within the Asian region. Nevertheless, Nigeria having more similarity in its traditional economy with the Asian countries, should accordingly lean more towards their developmental path. At the same time however as earlier explained, it should not neglect to build up its science and technology capabilities, so as to be better equipped to make use of its surplus savings when these do become available. Government will be key to co-coordinating this dual objective. Indeed many successful markets, emerging and otherwise have seen pro-active government actions to ensure that the financial sector contribute to the real economy. One lesson which the recent financial crisis has taught us is that one need not and in fact cannot continue the slapdash followership of the some what laissez faire economic orthodoxy of the Washington consensus. We need to find an effective halfway house. The case of Japan is classic. Against conventional capitalist designation, Japan should be perhaps better termed a non socialist centrally planned economy. To over-simplify a bit, it is a centrally planned capitalist economy.

It is in one way that the socialization of the commanding heights of the economy without a total Gosplan-style takeover, as advocated by the likes of Hugh Gaitskill in his “mixed economy” has been attained. This aspiration was misinterpreted in classic socialism which understood the commanding heights to be basic industries like coal, steel and railways. The problem with this however, is that these industries do not command the economy. They do not constitute a lever by which the economy as a whole can be controlled. The supply of capital to business, however does and this is under state control in Japan.

The Japanese government deliberately channels savings into a limited number of financial institutions under its control simply by making sure there is nowhere else to put the money. For example it has seen to it that the Japanese cannot just open a brokerage account at Merril Lynch and invest their money in the American stock exchange.( It is needless to say here that the Chinese example is even more severe). Nevertheless in Japan, this huge torrent of savings flows to a handful of major banks, which the government has under its thumb because banking in Japan is extremely regulated, enabling regulators at the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to crack down on any bank at any time they see it doing something they don’t want it to.

So the banks are subject to the whim of the government which then controls the economy by controlling how the banks allocate all this capital. What the MOF is able to achieve by this is essentially its aim- the supply of huge quantities of cheap capital to Japanese industry to build up its long term productive capacity. The MOF wants capital to be paid a low return so that Japanese companies will enjoy the competitive advantage of access to cheaper capital than their European, Asian and American competitors. And so in Japan interest rates are as low as 1 percent. On the other hand in Nigeria, its as high as 25. This therefore needs to change, for in capital intensive industries like the advanced manufacturing in which Japan specializes and which Nigeria one day hopes to attain, this is a huge advantage.

Taken along with the more severe Chinese example one lesson can obviously be learnt from all this and it is that a planned economy can work. What is needed is the sincere and experienced leadership to give it direction and focus. Honest, disciplined, focused leadership and consistent policy woven round a non-socialist centrally planned economic ideology. Taking from both sides- capitalist and socialist, elements that work and marrying them to our purpose. As far back as the sixties, China drew our attention to the advisability of closing our markets in some strategic industries to the west and building up our productive capacity from the ground up. We paid no attention. Today not only is Nigeria in terms of general manufactures at Chinas mercy, but also too are the traditional western powers Britain and America which we have for so long looked up to. The paradigm has shifted. In this global world economy, as Leke Alder once remarked generally of the world- he who dares, wins. China has been daring and it is now winning.

Once again the ball is in our court. The question is, will Nigeria dare to win? As a nation, the lesson of non least the world financial crisis is that we don’t have to come to America before we find our land of Canaan. In fact that might prove disastrous. Like the proverbial farmer who sold his land to prospect for diamonds in far off lands, only to find out much later that one of the richest deposits ever had been all the time under his feet. We, like him only have to look, get our minds right, focus and apply our natural energies to extract it from the ground. Of course in doing so we may call for the advice of successful fellow travelers. We may borrow their implements and ideas of extraction. But we should remember too that our terrain is different and as such may call for a differing approach, perhaps even, an hybrid extraction method.

We must remember that loyalty lies not with any one system but the ends for which these systems are applied. Accordingly if that entails some implements assumption of both Farmer Smith and Farmer Chan, so be it. Ultimately man was not made for theories or systems, but systems for man. The defining element in most circumstances is the quality of leadership a country is able to bring to bear on issues at those critical points in time. Population wise, the right 1 percent if you like, of the 100. And so with that right 1 percent at the helm of affairs in Nigeria, anything the nation sets its mind to can be achieved. Let that be done and believe you me, one day Nations everywhere too will dream of coming to Nigeria. Thus as we approach the 50th independence anniversary of the nation, the rallying cry which should draw all Nigerians together should be a vote for the right crop of leaders. Irrespective of where they come from, a vote for the right 1 percent. Some 50 years ago, it took men of similar character to win us our political independence. Today we need men of some what similar brand to win us the economic one. 2020 is round the corner-a vision of economic greatness. Will that vision be met? Maybe not exactly then, but… Nigeria WILL get there.

Jide (Oso-) Alabi can be reached at wordaz@yahoo.com

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10/13/10

Permalink 01:22:29 pm, by hyeldajoe, 388 words   ng-NG
Categories: News
*Nigerian At 50

By Joseph Hyelda

Nigeria gained her independence on 1st October, 1960 and by the grace of God she turned fifty (50) on 1st October, 2010.

We have achieved a lot as a country since inception and I guess our golden jubilee called for celebration. This country has undergone some transformations, as it is evident in our lives, because despite the fact that in the past our leaders who are supposed to be “elected” were “selected” - at least we can boast of saying we have eleven (11) years of uninterrupted democracy and with the appointment of Professor Jega, a quintessential paradigm as INEC Chairman, our votes may count in the forthcoming 2011 general elections. It is also important to note that at hundred (100) some countries were unable to achieve what Nigeria has achieved at fifty (50), though the rate of unemployment and poverty is very high. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

One of the unfortunate things with Nigeria at fifty is that our leaders are yet to differentiate between the do’s and the don’ts because some of our supposed Honorable Members of the House of Representatives have turned their parliament into a BOXING RING! Regardless of the fact that they are supposed to be parents. Those concerned should be jailed for disgracing Nigeria (The lion of Africa).

Another interesting and unimpressive story is that Nigeria spent approximately six (6) billion Naira for independence celebration! The question is - are we celebrating having the highest number of illiterates in Africa or having the worst election so far in the world? Celebrating golden jubilee is never wrong but I think with the present position of the country, spending up to five (5) million naira in the name of celebration is unjustifiable! ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

If the rumor of embezzling six (6) billion naira on golden jubilee celebration is true, then the transparency of the present administration is questionable, and if not - for transparency purpose, Nigerians deserve to know how much was spent and details of the expenditure.

As my mentor always say, Nigeria cannot get any worse, it has to start getting better and that change can only start from you! Long live Nigeria.

Joseph Hyelda can be reached at hyeldajoe@yahoo.com

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10/10/10

Permalink 06:23:00 am, by Ikechukwu, 1153 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, World News

*Christianity And The Nigerian Nation

By Ikechukwu Enyiagu

According to the Christian faith, Jesus Christ is not only “the” way, but “the” truth and “the” life. This means that there are no shortcuts for as many as would desire to identify with the Christian God except through this singular way, truth and life-Jesus Christ. In this statement of divine authority lies the answer for all questions, solution to all problems and health to all flesh. If that is the truth, it therefore means that, as a country with many Christians, we actually have before us the way for advancement, the truth about how to become, and the life which gives everything its root.

It’s also noteworthy to say that the Christian religion has a commanding number of adherents in all government offices in our country. However and sadly, the disparity between Jesus’ message and mandate to his followers and the picture most of the said believers and followers depict are so glaringly obvious that it’s no longer attractive to identify oneself at police checkpoints or places that preference is happily and readily given to men in authority as a clergyman-it is even far worse, for many, to openly identify themselves as Christians in their working and business places.

Religion has sloped a little bit down the wrong side in the advancement of mankind, no thanks to those who claim to have gnosis and, therefore, represent us. Moving from the time of the patriarchs through the time when the Israelites demanded from God a human king to the time of the apostles, the unmistakable clarity of God’s voice on how a godly nation should live is heard. Every king who hearkened to God had fewer things to worry about and had men of God who always communicated to them the mind of God. On the other hand, every king who ignored the sovereignty and omniscience of God was punished, and that, with the entire nation. It was the duty of the ones chosen by God to tell the king when he errs and to also warn and keep him from erring. Now, the office of the “men of God” in those days were not smooth and easy but the prophets trusted completely on him who had called and sent them. ( Continues below..... )

 A Christian Church service

Photo Above: A Christian Church service

The central purpose God comes to man is to take absolute charge as to make man live a fulfilled and complete God-ordained life; a human life with a divine ability-that’s the driving force of all religion. God’s aim for calling through Jesus Christ and sending out men is to make “disciples” of all nations-to make men have Jesus’ life and like-mindedness. Now, anyone from any religion may comfortably identify with the excellency in Christ and his words. Having said that, It is important that every Christian living within our country, Nigeria, revisits the tenets of his faith and counter-balance it with his life and role in the Nigeria of today.

The leaders of various Christian bodies in our country should not solely confine themselves to the preaching of the gospel but also to checking out how and whether their seeds of Christian messages are growing in the lives of the hearers. The bishops and the pastors should, especially at this time, remember and consider to whom they were called, for what purpose, and their answers to that call. These reflections will bring to light before many genuine men of God the various areas where they may have arbitrarily aided godlessness in Nigeria and have constantly and/or ignorantly worked below their calling and at cross-purposes with God’s plan for this country. It will also bring a swift change and observable godly harvest in every area.

Election is at the corner and, as a custom, every candidate aspiring for any elective post in the country is preparing on going from church to church to, directly or indirectly, solicit for the votes of the congregation. It’s a time for a surge of politicians into the church. It is a time for great change in our nation. Every church leader should, in this period, reflect on the grace of God in his life to lead, and make use of it. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria

It is not a time to allow politicians read and teach from the Bibles; rather, it’s a time where all church leaders should make the politicians amongst them sit down and be thoroughly taught on “godly governance.” It’s not a time where religious leaders should entertain incessant political visits, but the time when they should drum the mind of God for the country into the ears of every politician in their fold. It’s not a time for Christian leaders to be politicized, rather, it’s the time for Christian politicians to be truly Christianized. It’s not a time for the incessant and monotonous preachings on prosperity, rather, it’s the time for the foundations and prerequisites of true and enduring Christian prosperity to be revisited. It’s not a time for Christian leaders to entertain or continue living in fear; it’s the time for them to put on the whole armor of God and stand to defend the flock scattered all over the nation by making sure that the qualities of the right candidates, and how to identify the hypocrites, are continually narrated before the votes begin to count from their flocks. It’s not a time for random and redundant meetings with political and government figures in the country, rather, it’s the time for sober reflection, effectual and fervent prayers. It’s not a time for anticipating and receiving of gifts but the time to give wise, clear and unambiguous advice to those aspiring for political posts from amongst them. It’s not a time for resignation to fate, cruel and forceful leadership, but a time for Elijah-like faith in declaring God’s oracle for the nation. It’s not a time for inter-denominational struggles over nothing but the time for a formidable unity among the Christian bodies to root out, with every divine strategy, the enemies of our national dream who are nothing short of enemies of God. It’s not a time for inter-religious debates but the time to identify and identify with whoever God has chosen for the country in the now-from whichever religion.

I believe that every practicing Christian in Nigeria knows the infallible nature of God’s word and what he has said concerning a situation like Nigeria’s. I also believe that, with the Christian leaders taking their rightful place in the country this time alongside other true religious leaders, this coming government will not only shock the entire Nation into a future of great satisfaction, but will turn every eye towards us and, as a result, put our country in its rightful place in global governance.

Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at ike.enyiagu@gmail.com

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*Tags: Nigerians, Christianity, Nation, Goodluck, Jonathan, Political, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb

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10/08/10

Permalink 12:15:51 am, by lateef lawal, 394 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News
*Nigeria: NAMA CEO Stresses Importance of Aviation Statistics

By Lateef Lawal

The Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency(NAMA), Alhaji Ibrahim Auyo has stressed the importance of statistics to planning and development in Aviation Industry. He noted that lack of accurate data in the past militated against putting in place government statistical policy and development strategy, especially for the sector.

Director of Engineering and Safety Services, represented by the acting Managing Director of the agency, Mazi Nnamdi Udoh at the Aviation Statistical Committee meeting held at Gateway Hotel, Ota, Ogun Stste noted that it was heart-warming that the federal government in conjunction with the World Bank has embarked on major reforms in the aviation sector and that with the reforms and the regulation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation(ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association(IATA), the need for availability of accurate and reliable aviation statistical data could not be over emphasized. ( Continues below….. )

United Airlines Airborne Plane

The acting Managing Director, Mazi Udoh said there was urgent need therefore for the Planning, Research and Statistics(PRS) department in all the Aviation parastatals to ensure production of timely accurate data and qualitative data toward the upliftment of the aviation industry and ensuring compliance with recommended practices.

He reminded members of the committee that: "As Statistical experts, I need to remind you that planning without facts and figures, is planning to fail and no effort committed to promoting the collection and usage of reliable, complete and up-to-date statistical data and information would be of immense value and quality if they are relevant, comprehensive, accurate and consistent within time and space and also accessible." ( Continues below..... )

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

Photo Above: Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

Mazi Udoh pointed out that he was aware that through the collabotative efforts of menbers of the committee and that of the regulatory agency, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), statistical data on Nigeria were now readily available at the level of the ICAO, while efforts had been made to ensure that officials were exposed to various forms put together by ICAO in the last few years to discuss issues affecting the statistics division. As a result, he said Nigeria was no longer regarded as a nation that does not provide expected statistical information.

Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)

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10/07/10

Permalink 02:20:30 am, by lateef lawal, 365 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News
*Nigeria's DANA Air Flying Dangerously Into Turbulence

By Lateef Lawal

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) must urgently call to order, the excesses of DANA AIR, especially that of its pilots who have been known to play with their customers' safety by always ignoring weather reports.

Information reaching RED ALERT indicates that three Sundays ago, passengers on board its Lagos-Abuja flight virtually lost hope of coming out alive, when despite the fact that before the plane took off from Lagos, the pilot himself told passengers of the dangerous weather on the way to Abuja characterised with lightening, thunder and stormy downpour. Yet the pilot risked flying into the dangerous horizon. ( Continues below..... )

An airborne Dana plane

Photo Above: An airborne Dana plane

A journey that ought not to take more than 55 minutes took approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. One can imagine the trauma suffered by the innocent passengers on board the flight.

Again, on Thursday, September 23 on the Abuja-Lagos trip, despite obvious bad weather and heavy downpour, pilots of DANA played death game with peoples' life on two separate flights from Abuja to Lagos. Twice, each of the flight recorded missed approaches in Lagos.

When the flights evetually landed, it was complaints galore with many vowing not to fly the airline again. Even a senior official in the industry has already warned his staff who cared to listen to be wary of flying DANA. ( Continues below..... )

FAAN logo On A Nigerian Map in Nigerian Flag  Colours

Photo Above: Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) logo On A Nigerian Map in Nigerian Flag Colours

Early in the year, similar scenario played out with some high profile passengers which included a governor from one of the south-west states, who were visibly worried on landing at the MMa2. They one after the other narrated their nasty experience on DANA flight.

Hmmmmm... danger is looming if the management of DANA AIR refuses to look inward and warn the pilots of their dangerous adventure (possibly in the quest to garner more landing allowances), if not, NCAA should urgently wade into this misadventure before any harm is done. A stich in time saves nine!

Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)

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Permalink 12:30:36 am, by Ikechukwu, 1044 words   ng-NG
Categories: News
*Few Questions For Nigerian President Godluck Jonathan

By Ikechukwu Enyiagu

This is particularly directed to our honorable president, Godluck Jonathan. It’s my humble and noteworthy step in representing before you a collection of archived fears and yearning of our people, your subjects. Nigeria has clocked 50, and according to records, you were born close to three years prior to our declared national independence from Great Britain. By this, you should be in every position to detail anyone about Nigeria, independence, and what the measuring line inbetween entails.

Having come from one of the states in the Niger Delta to where you are today, gives you a greater chance of understanding both the one who could not speak and the one who speaks from the mountain top-you can now be comfortably referred to as a master of both the individual and family struggles with and within imposed and enforced poverty, and the careless and carefree affluence of the affluent in the same given nation. As a master of both experiences, you have been graced with a rare ability to correctly understand both the so called “poor” and the so called “rich” from their different viewpoints in order to erect a tolerable and manageable bridge for democratic consensus. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Many say that your name has been instrumental in bringing you from the cradle to your position today. Well, I do not want to contest that even though I know that some armed robbers have been shot bearing names like “Peter, Mamnoon, Paul, Saajid, Muttaqi, Christian, etc.” However, there is a notable giving-in to thoughts that God might actually be wanting to use you to reshape our country, Nigeria. This, so far, has only been the observation of some citizen who are free to observe.

Since you have not been, before now, in positions that highly questioned your ability, willingness and readiness to serve, everyone should assume that you deserve a chance to prove your worth and experiences. I am of the opinion that we can’t possibly allow Nigeria to be led by callous men any longer nor can we afford to elect the character of president Charles Logan of Hollywood TV series called “24” into the most important decision making position in our country-not now, not anymore. You declared your interest in this coming election a while ago and, as a result, I am dutifully compelled to table out these few questions before you. I also believe that the first step towards understanding your motives in seeking for election will be seen by your official and direct response to this-since it’s not coming from UN secretary general’s office but from the people whose votes may count for you next year. My few questions are these:

1. How, in your terms, do you define democracy and its workings, and what type of democratic leadership are you willing to deliver to our great nation if elected?

2. What do you call national security-is it the security of your political and “family” interests or the security of the citizenry and our resources?

3. How do you view and react to those with opposing views, and how do you view and react to the press?

4. What do you think about politicians, instead of professionals, holding professional posts?

5. How do you really plan to react to the militants (in whose place the nation scoops wealth) in their quest to be heard and understood-with military and leadership might or with democratic rightness?

6. What do openness, accountability, and responsibility in a democratic stage truly mean to you?

7. Can you rightly explain a leader’s act of cowardice, act of dictatorship, act of selfishness, and act of patriotism?

The answers you give to these questions are unmistakably the bedrock and picture of your type of leadership. It will also show in the goings-on in Nigeria now, even as we await the future. It will address why some Igbo leaders were locked out of their meeting-place by “security operatives" in a democratic setting and why the annual world Igbo Day celebration organized by the FCT chapter of the Ohaneze Ndigbo was also forced to vacate the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja on last-minute’s notice and taken over by your wife, Patience Jonathan; it will reveal why, with all the security agencies in Nigeria, the presidency can’t contain these incessant kidnappings and the re-introduction of bombings; it will show why more outrageous money is being borrowed for addressing power issue while previous contracts for the same purpose have not been accounted for; it will address why Nigeria, with all the graduate professionals, is being run by unprofessionals in professional fields; it will show why many politicians have best mansions in best cities of the world while the roads to their native communities remain in pitiable shapes. It will also clarify us on the need for a 120-man delegation-others not counted- to New York for a program of less that two days. These matters beg for urgency. ( Continues below..... )

Seal of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Photo Above: Seal of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the official symbol of the Nigerian President, first used in 1979 by President Shehu Shagari.

Mr president sir, as you give your heartfelt answers to these questions, I’ll like to also bring to your notice that “he that is faithful in little will, of course, be faithful in much.” The road towards making the Nigeiran dream a reality will not start only when you are elected as the incoming president, it took off when you took over from our late president, Umaru Yar'Adua.

It is logical and even observable, therefore, to say that what you do now tells of the president you will be if elected. The way you handle your seat now determines if indeed you are our national goodluck or one of those establishing personal kingdoms with our national purse. It will also help the voters in determining who to vote for if their votes are to count this time. You alone can translate your name into a national meaning....and it all begins now.

Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at ike.enyiagu@gmail.com

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10/05/10

Permalink 02:37:53 am, by wordaz, 4101 words   ng-NG
Categories: News
*Nigeria & Environmental Sanitation

By Jide (Oso-) Alabi

In Nigeria today as it has been for a long time now, living with waste as part of the natural environment has become a way of life. Though vastly improved from the situation of the late eighties/early nineties, it nevertheless remains true and was most recently brought to the fore by the documentary by BBC in which they depicted Lagos our “Centre of Excellence” as a vast slum.

Immediately of course, patriotic Nigerians of all shades and colorations, including career civil servants such as Nigerian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Dr. Tafida up in arms against the lopsidedness of a report that failed to just as equally recognize the massive improvement made by Nigerian governments in general environmental sanitation. Describing Lagos as a slum is not only controversial but slippery.

In the United States, slum is often used to refer to marginalized neighborhoods, but in developing countries, it usually means a settlement built in or near a city by residents themselves, without official authorization or regulation. Such housing are typically substandard, and the infrastructure and services range from non-existent to improvised. This later definition is more in keeping with the Oxford dictionary definition. This defines a slum to be a section of a city that is very poor and where the houses are dirty and in bad condition. From the standpoint of BBC as an outsider from a country in which things not only work but one can proverbially eat from the sidewalk, whatever the agenda, their position becomes perhaps understandable.

But is the whole of Lagos like this? Can the whole of Lagos fit into that definition? Hell no (A drive to Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island or select parts of mainland will put paid to that). However, their error is not total.

The problem with Lagos as with many other great cities of the developing world - I can name a few Mumbai(India), Nairobi(Kenya), Cape Town(South Africa), Bangkok(Thailand), Rio de Janeiro(Brazil), Medelin (Colombia), etc is that development is not general. For instance within the same axis that you find the high brow Lekki and Ikoyi estates of this world would you also find drab looking living habitations as the run down Jakande Estates and satellites of the same. (How often it is that I have passed through Bourdillion Avenue in Ikoyi or the “law school” area of the Island and thought to myself –if only all of Nigeria or at least all of its major cities was like this). ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Not to mention the more obvious places like Ajegunle, Amukoko, Badia, Bariga, Ijeshatedo/Itire, Iwaya, and Makoko . And in Nigeria this situation is replicated all over the country in places like the FCT, Ibadan and Port Harcourt. Accordingly the verdict passed by BBC albeit erroneously on Lagos could just as well go for many other cities or areas in Nigeria. It could perhaps also go for half of the other cities of the developing world. Thus consider these statistics.

According to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) report of 2003:-

• Some 923,986,000 people, or 31.6 per cent of the world’s total urban population, live in slums; some 43 per cent of the urban population of all developing regions combined live in slums; some 78.2 per cent of the urban population in the least developed countries live in slums; some six per cent of the urban population in developed regions live in slum-like conditions.

• The total number of slum-dwellers in the world increased by about 36 per cent during the 1990s and in the next 30 years, the global number of slum-dwellers will increase to about two billion if no concerted action to address the challenge of slums is taken. Although (my word) sub-Saharan Africa had the highest rate of slum-dwellers with 72 per cent of the urban population living in slums, followed by South Central Asia with 59 per cent, east Asia with 36 per cent, western Asia with 33 per cent, and Latin America and the Caribbean with 32 per cent. In numbers alone, Asia accounts for some 60 per cent of the world’s urban slum residents. Asia has about 550 million people living in slums, followed by Africa with 187 million, and Latin America and the Caribbean with 128 million. While slums have largely disappeared in developed countries approximately 54 million urban dwellers in high-income countries live in slum-like conditions.

• Slums are also places in which the vibrant mixing of different cultures has frequently resulted in new forms of artistic expression, including some of the major musical and dance movements of the 20th Century, such as jazz, blues, rock and roll, reggae, funk, hip-hop, soukuss, break-dance, fado, flamenco and (Afro-beat-my words) .

Having said that though let it be noted that my aim for writing this article/paper is not as a defense piecefor Lagos or even Nigeria for that matter. Though an incorrigible patriot, the sole purpose of my writing here is to offer a solution. The first step towards a solution is to admit that there is a problem. Irrespective of the congestion problems that our cities face, Nigeria and the vast majority of Nigerians are dirty. Please note that I say this with respect to our people’s attitude towards the environment and not necessarily their personal hygiene. In that sense, I want to look at the solution from three angles. One-Law, two-entrepreneurial participation as a panacea to unemployment and environmental sustainability, and three- environmental reorientation.

LAW

Though strictly speaking a positivist and so subscribing to the positivist view of law as a command given by a political superior to a subordinate and backed by sanctions (of course, I am aware that there are problems with this definition), I am nevertheless an equally fervent believer in Roscoe Pounds interpretation of law as a veritable tool for social engineering. In view of that fact, it behooves not only our legislatures every where to utilize their law making powers to help bring about an environmentally sustainable polity, but equally too, we citizens as potential beneficiaries of a sanitized system to participate in the process of law making and law observance.

As often as we care to look for it in Nigeria, remarkably we always find laws for the regulation of hitherto apparently unregulated or legislatively unaddressed issues in the land. Environmental protection is a case in point. The Federal environmental Protection Agency Act no. 14 of 1999 ,earlier finding life as no.58 of1988 and the FEDA decree no. 59 of 1992 respectively is instructive. It is an act which establishes the agency of that name with the function of protecting and developing the environment and bio-diversity conservation of Nigeria’s natural resources…. (S.5 thereof). Another is the Environmental sanitation law cap E5 of Lagos state . It is styled “A law to provide for Environmental Sanitation in Lagos State, to establish the Environmental Sanitation Corps and for connected purposes”. In view of the discussion at hand, let us consider briefly a few provisions of that law. ( Continues below….. )

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Nigeria

Photo Above: Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Nigeria

Section one of the law mandates every owner, tenant and occupier of any building to amongst others, a) keep clean the sidewalks and gutter area (45cm from the side walk into the street) along the building frontage, sides and back at all times….h) not litter, sweep out ,or throw ashes, refuse, paper, nylon, and rubbish into any street, public place or vacant plot. The penalty for non compliance as provided by the first schedule for the first a), is a minimum fine of N500, maximum N2,500 (side walks), and N1,000 minimum, N2,500 maximum for failure to clean drains and gutter area. For the second- h), a fine of between N500 and N2, 500.

Section four provides that no pedestrian shall dispose of any scrap paper, newspaper, candy wrapper, fruit skin and similar refuse anywhere except in litter bins. Presumably offenders of this section are liable to the same fine as those who litter the street as found above. Section five imposes an obligation on every commercial vehicle to carry litter bins. I can count the number of Lagos commercial buses that I have entered in my life’s sojourn so far that complied with this provision.

Section seven provides that no person shall dispose of refuse or waste except through a private sector participation operator. Although Lagos State Management Agency (LAWMA) has been doing a highly commendable job, many people still violate this tenet on a regular basis. What is the laws bill?-where that waste is burned, between N5, 000 to N10, 000. Section sixteen equally provides that no person shall leave silt, earth or other materials excavated during construction or maintenance of drains on the road roadside beyond 48 hours. The fine for non compliance with this is N1, 000 minimum and N5, 000 maximum. People still widely flout this regulation. There are also like provisions it should be noted for the regulation of markets, bukkas, restaurants, hotels, carpentry and mechanic workshops, iron mongers/workshops, construction companies, brick and tile industries and the like.

Thus from the foregoing it can be clearly seen that government has put into place laws geared towards the attainment of a clean, hygienic and aesthetically pleasing environment. What is lacking irrespective of the existence of the Environmental Sanitation Agency Law Cap E6 is like much legislation in Nigeria, enforcement. Now although nobody is praying for the good old Buhari styled administration of yesteryears, it is incontrovertible that at least with respect to environmental sanitation and enforcement, till date that administration remains an unrivalled champion.

The situation in Nigeria today with respect to the issue of compliance reminds one of the differing approaches taken by two European countries England and Germany with respect to tax administration. Whereas the former leans more towards persuasion and an appeal to the societal values of the British public, the latter is more force driven with its emphasis on tax enforcement using the police . We could go the way of the British and perhaps have to wait for some hundred odd years before the average Nigerian imbibes the values germane to a clean environment, or we can go the way of the Germans. If the last performance of these two teams in the recently concluded world cup is anything to go by, the German option is no doubt the better one. However this is not football and we don’t need an octopus Paul to tell us that we will definitely end up on the losing side should we fail to sit up to this and other like issues. I bet you other documentaries will come that will paint our cities and institutions in a worse light.

So what do I suggest? Look, we can have it both ways. First, our sanitation law needs to be rigorously enforced. In fact if need be scapegoats should be made of some people to serve as a deterrent to others. In that instance, not only will people be mindful to make sure that they observe environmental sanitation laws individually but also pro-active in stopping others from contravening them. This holds true especially where not doing this could lead to they themselves being punished. For example where they fail to stop somebody else from littering their gutter and building areas (as provided under section one, Para. a).

Section thirty of the same law (Lagos Sate Environmental Sanitation Law) provides for the establishment of an Environmental sanitation corps. Whereas section thirty one to thirty five provides variously for membership, appointment of, registration, identification card and comprehensive register of members, it is pertinent to note that membership needs to be opened up to other interested individuals apart from the five persons from each registered Community Development Association; one person from every approved market in the state; and one person from each ward in every local government in the state as the law provides. I for one having an interest in environmental sustainability would not mind being a “part time” member (since it is voluntary) if such is possible. ( Continues below….. )

A Lagos reconstructed road

Photo Above: A Lagos reconstructed road

In Lagos state where you have roughly 33,000 officers to a population of 18,000,000 , working out to 1 police man per 545 persons, the number of “corps” members that the law provides for and that are on active service is inadequate. Accordingly their numbers need to be greatly increased. (They need to be out there in the society working. People need to feel their existence before they will/ can be respected). This may take a toll on the resources of the state, but if that be the case, owing to relative distrust to which the average police man is held by Nigerians, I see no reason why either a special wing of LAWMA cannot be created to enforce this law or provide these functions (This is particularly viable in the light of LAWMAs 25,000 strong staff ).

Alternatively some or all members of LAWMA can be simultaneously designated “corps” men with all the requisite powers of that office and an increment of their salary. I say this with all seriousness knowing full well the success of LATSMA and the fear with which erring members of the public, particularly “danfo” bus drivers hold them. However we cannot stop there. When a law is made, government and law making bodies should strive to equally make obedience to that law as easy as possible. In that wise, it is important for government to provide suitable waste disposal baskets at convenient spots all over the metropolis so that people will not be tempted as I have on several occasions been, to litter. In the absence of this alternative any law to ensure compliance with sound waste disposal is not only impractical but will ultimately fail.

Environmental sanitation reorientation: Environmental sanitation as a way of life. Having stated the above and having opted for the dual approach to environmental sanitation, we must now consider the place of environmental awareness and conscientisation as a working process towards that end. The government has indeed done much through advertisement and the like to bring this to our people. But this is not enough. Not only does this need to be reiterated, the messages have to be reinforced through popular culture mediums like music (afro hip-hop for instance), films (Nollywood) and by the corporate social responsibility drives of our businesses who are essentially better at cooking up or at least implementing interactive projects for it. For example I see no reason why a quarterly or bi-annual award of best environmentally clean street, district, business premises, L.C.D.A, local government council (for states this can be annually) cannot be initiated through some public/private or purely private initiative.

Alongside this as part of a purely privately organized venture, a sanitation lottery of sorts can be established. My proposed format for this is simple. The corporate organization involved divides each of Lagos 245 (federally recognized) wards of its 22 local government areas into between 5-10 districts depending on size. Everybody in the state who wishes to take part in the venture is to register online or through text message. All and sundry is encouraged to keep their environment clean. For those taking part in the venture they are to then send a picture showing the efforts they have been making to make sure their district and immediate surrounding is clean, via MMS or on line.

Thus for this purpose, although people may work individually, they will be encouraged to work as teams. Alternatively people need not have to send in their pictures but make sure that their houses and immediate environment are clean. On a monthly basis inspectors will go out to inspect and determine which 10 local government area are the cleanest and/most improved. From these 10 another raffle is done from which 5 local government areas will be selected. Now taking each local government area individually 5 wards are chosen by draw from each. From each of these wards, three districts are chosen and from each of these districts, persons exhibiting the cleanest work areas or home areas are awarded N50,000-N80,000 (depending on sponsoring power of corporation). To encourage continuity, persons in those districts winning prizes are eligible for the biannual draw for N1, 000,000 if they continue to maintain the cleanliness of the environment. Please note that inspection tours should be at any time but should not coincide with the monthly environmental sanitation so that participants do not pass its result off as their efforts towards the venture. Moreover note that since it is a monthly thing and a fresh exercise springs up immediately the draws and consequent sanitation/Keep Lagos Clean lottery winners are known, continuity in the sanitation exercise will more or less be ensured. Again there ought to be a television show to run concurrently with the venture, documenting each monthly inspection, participant effort and draws. (The author can be contacted for more details on the particulars of the venture and the problems likely to occur.) Note however that such sanitation lottery is not meant to be indefinite. It should serve merely as a leeway to helping people form the habit of cleanliness and environmental pro-activity. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

This said, television and money alone though will not change people. Change and mindset reorientation is effected through engagement. Accordingly active awareness through the recruitment of trained young men and women to go into their communities to disseminate this information must be considered. There must be regular workshops to bring home the desirability of a clean environment to people and the prime actors in that venture must be the youth. In doing this the government should seek to bring NGOs with similar objectives on board. For all that it is worth if there already isn’t, it may be useful to set up a national online database of these NGOs as a tool towards their effective coordination and for information dissemination. The ultimate aim would be to make environmental sanitation a way of life. Next let us consider another idea. This idea takes us back to laws avowed social engineering tenet.

Entrepreneurial Participation as a panacea to Environmental sustainability.

As rainy season would go, this years has been none the worse than others that I have experienced. What as been a new experience however was the picture presented to me of people of all types-civil servants, business people and “fine girls” in certain areas having to pull on their wellington boots in order to go from one street to the other or indeed jto literally swim through knee deep water to get to their front doors. The situation was not much better in parts of even traditionally regarded better living areas of Lagos such as Victoria Island and Ikoyi. Research into causes of the perennial floods that engulf our neighborhoods and roads on a yearly basis ,point to the presence of either inadequate drainages or overflowing gutters and drains. These gutters and drains in their turn usually lost functionality after being clogged by dirt and waste material constituted mostly of plastic/polythene material.

A material too I have observed which has been a major pollutant of our water ways. A fine example of that being found of the waters of the Atlantic on either side as you cross going to or from Lekki, the little bridge between Bonny Camp and Round about bus stops on the island. Thus it would appear solving Lagos polythene waste problem might in more ways than one contribute to the environmental sanitation and sustainability drive of the government. How to do this.

Previously government had proposed a venture wherein manufacturers of sachet and bottled water can collect these waste items from designated locations from a public that had deposited them there and thus possibly recycle them for reuse while at the same time ensuring they don’t end up polluting the environment. I lose track of the specifics. Again there was the plastic waste buy back programme , a programme which I have since come to learn has many of the hallmarks I will present in this paper)Nevertheless what is obvious is that it never took off nor it appeared was there an economically viable incentive to make it worthwhile for individuals to participate therein.

In view of this what I propose is first and foremost a law that would mandate all makers of sachet and bottled water to include no less than 40% recycled polythene materials in their products packaging material. This will first of all create a demand for such recycled material. Nigerians are not lazy. We are extremely industrious. Next thing it would do is “ginger” individuals whether as free lance collectors, partnerships or companies to search for this type of waste material in lieu of either recycling them or selling them off to said water companies. At the same time there will be agents or government workers whose primary job amongst others would be to ensure that such materials are genuinely of waste origin.

Note that priority is to be given to collectors collecting from the most polluted or environmentally sensitive areas of the state such as Ajegunle, Amukoko, Badia, Bariga, Ijeshatedo/Itire, Iwaya, Makoko, Agege and Olasosun etc and our water ways. A reward system of note can equally be devised as a further incentive to do this. For example assuming a collector is entitled to N5/bottle on his waste bottles, those that collect from areas that fall into these categories will be entitled to say N6/bottle instead. Secondarily and most importantly regulating officials will issue a ticket to these independent collectors who in turn will show such to companies they are selling the materials to. These officials can be created as a division of LAWMA. LAWMA itself can take part in the exercise.

They can do this by insisting that people especially commercial establishments-shops, restaurants, hotels etc provide two dustbins-one specifically for polythene materials and one for “others”. These materials can then be recycled in like manner**. However note that selling price by LAWMA to companies should be higher so as not to work against the interest of independent collectors. As part of a wider government effort government can move further in the direction of recycling by extending this mandate to all Lagos households. In this case though there can be a further dustbin for just food and like materials, which materials are to eventually be utilized in fertilizer production (I recently learnt that LAWMA does actually recycle some of the waste they collect at several centers in Lagos, deriving fertilizer from such. However this is not done on the basis of the two/three waste bin per house format ).

In fact in most slums of the developing world today recycling is a way of life. The Dharavi slum in Mumbai has 400 recycling units and 30,000 rag pickers. Six thousand tons of rubbish are sorted every day. In 2007, the Economist reported that in Vietnam and Mozambique, “Waves of gleaners sift the sweepings of Hanoi’s streets, just as Mozambiquan children pick over the rubbish of Maputo’s main tip. Every city in Asia and Latin America has an industry based on gathering up old cardboard boxes.” There’s even a book on the subject: The World’s Scavengers (2007) by Martin Medina . Again LAWMA or private organizations working with LAWMA can also look to generate bio-gas from waste for the purpose of power production , a thing sorely needed in Lagos due to its highly industrialized nature, and in Nigeria as a whole. As we look to decrease our dependence on oil and find more clean fuels, this should be taken as a viable complimentary energy source.

The good thing about these ideas for recycling and the enforcement of Lagos state sanitation laws is that not only does Lagos stand to eventually wear a cleaner and healthier look at all times of the day, help decrease the incidence of flooding, raise some self financing funds for the participating LAWMA, create employment opportunities for hundreds of currently jobless youth in our society today, is adoptable by other states of the federation but that it can actually work. It is actually doable and relative to these benefits, would probably not cost the Lagos state government much to set up. In view of this fact I urge that government and all other relevant stake holders concerned with the environmental management of Lagos and its general well being consider fully and effectuate the ideas contained in this paper. EKO O NI BAJE O.

Jide (Oso-) Alabi can be reached at wordaz@yahoo.com

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10/04/10

Permalink 10:07:09 am, by admin Email , 383 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News
*Nigeria Independence Bombing: 10 Arrested, 2 On The Run

By Masterweb News Desk

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Nigeria police has declared two men wanted in connection with the October 1 car bombing of Nigeria Independence celebrations. Those declared wanted are Ben Jessy and Chima Orlu, both Nigerians. Emmanuel Ojukwu, Nigeria police spokesman described Jessy and Orlu as suspected masterminds of the bombing. Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), an umbrella militant group operating in Nigeria's Niger Delta claimed responsibility for the bombing that killed 15 people and wounded 21. ( Continues below….. )

Ben Jessy And Chima Orlu

Photo Above: Ben Jessy (Left), Chima Orlu (Right)

Nigeria's secret service, State Security Service (SSS) according to reports, has made arrests in the case. SSS spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar in a press conference in Abuja today said nine people were in custody in connection with the bomb attack. The names of those arrested were not disclosed. Ogar said the arrestees all had links to Henry Okah, an ex-MEND leader in exile in South Africa.

Okah was arrested in South Africa on Saturday and today charged in a Johannesburg Magistrate Court with terrorism. He was charged with engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activity, and delivering, placing and detonating an explosive device. The case was postponed and a bail application is scheduled for October 14. His lawyer Piet du Plessis said Okah was not involved in the bombing. He demanded Okah be placed in a high risk detention facility as against his detention in Johannesburg central prison which poses security risk to him. ( Continues below….. )

Tompolo And Henry Okah

Photo Above: Repentant Militant Leader Tompolo(real name - Government Ekpumopolo) (Left), Ex-MEND Militant Leader - Henry Okah (Right)

SSS today said it foiled a larger plot by those who carried out the independence bombing to car bomb key government and security buildings in Abuja on September 29. SSS said six car bombs were to be detonated in the "three-arm zone" made up of the presidential villa, parliament and the Supreme Court.

Masterweb will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Click here to read related article "Nigerian Militants Claim Independence Bombing".

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10/02/10

Permalink 12:07:00 am, by admin Email , 491 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News

*Nigerian Militants Claim Independence Bombing

By Masterweb News Desk

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Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has claimed responsibility for the car bombing of Nigeria 50th independence celebration. "MEND is claiming responsibility for the attack," the militant group wrote in an email to CNN. ( Continues below….. )

Scene from Abuja MEND Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration car bombing.

Photo Above: Scene from Abuja MEND Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration car bombing.

Two bombs exploded five minutes apart outside the Justice Ministry as Nigeria marked its golden jubilee independence celebration at Eagles Square killing 15 people and wounding 21. Most of the casualties came from the second blast. 38 vehicles were destroyed from both blasts. A Red Cross official said the death toll was expected to rise. A third and smaller explosion hit Eagle Square which is less than 2 miles (3.21 kilometers) from the Justice Ministry. No casualty was recorded from the Eagle Square blast. ( Continues below….. )

Scene from Abuja MEND Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration car bombing.

Photo Above: Scene from Abuja MEND Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration car bombing (Photo 2) - Security, paramedics and emergency personnel stand beside a damaged car following the blasts.

The Justice Ministry bombings seemed to have been planned to lure security and paramedics to the first bomb and then killing them with a second blast. The third blast seemed designed to frighten and terrorize celebrants. In a statement to Associated Press, MEND acknowledged that it knew detonation of the second bomb may put civilian passers-by at risk. The statement partly read: "We warned the authorities ahead of time who decided to ignore the warning and alert the public. The blame goes to the Nigerian authorities and our message to the families of those who may have been affected is that we deeply regret any loss of life." ( Continues below….. )

Scene from Abuja MEND Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration car bombing.

Photo Above: Scene from Abuja MEND Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration car bombing (Photo 3) - Forensic experts comb and examine a blast scene, looking for clues and collecting samples for forensic analysis.

MEND is an umbrella organization of several oil-rich Niger Delta militant groups. It has battled Nigerian government for fairer share of the oil wealth for many years through oil sabotage and kidnapping of oil workers. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

In a 2006 BBC interview, one of the group's leaders who identified himself as Major-General Godswill Tamuno said MEND was fighting for total control of Niger Delta's oil wealth. He said Niger Deltans had not gained from the oil wealth beneath their land, creeks and swamps. The BBC interview was the first time a MEND leader spoke publicly of their group's goals. ( Continues below….. )

A Nigerian militant levels his machine gun.

Most MEND leaders are faceless, communicating with reporters mainly through emails and sometimes phone calls. In Tamuno's BBC interview, he refused to be interviewed on tape or for his location to be disclosed.

Masterweb will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

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09/30/10

Permalink 10:00:02 am, by wordaz, 1711 words   ng-NG
Categories: News
*Nigeria: Vision 2020 - Is It Realistic?

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..... )

Map of Nigeria

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….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

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….. )

Nigerian Flag

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 wordaz@yahoo.com

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