14th July, 2010
Whenever, eminent Nigerians want to betray their sense of self-delusion they refer to Nigeria as the giant of Africa when the obvious facts about the might of the country point to the contrary.
In truth, Nigeria is a giant-turned Liliputian, in the sense that it has been raped of its capacity to be great by rulers and public officials whose second nature is nothing but looting of the treasury. To say Nigeria is blessed with mineral and natural resources which are capable of making her an economic and industrial giant is to overstate the obvious. It is, however, painful that the country has not been allowed to live up to her potentials.
Everywhere in Nigeria, there are signs of a nation in doldrums. In Nigeria today there is little infrastructure. And the facilities available have either collapsed or are decaying. For example, our refineries are in a sorry state. This is what makes real the irony that Nigeria, a producer and exporter of crude oil still has to import refined petroleum products.
Today, Nigeria depends too much on oil as the major source of revenue for the country and we largely neglected other products which can be developed for export. One can recall that before oil was discovered in Nigeria, the Western region of the country under the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was well developed from earnings from cocoa.
Nigeria is suffering from shortage of palm oil today and has started importing the product from Malaysia. But only few know that Malaysia got its first palm kernels from Nigeria. That country then went to dedicate millions of hectares to oil palm plantation. It is reaping bountifully from that investment borne out of clear foresight and commitment to its ideals.
In the case of Nigeria, we have not had as much as a million hectares dedicated to such. Hence, there has been scarcity of the product. And it has been too expensive for end users like the soap and cream manufacturing companies. While these companies can heave sighs of relief that the importation of the product will make them have easy access to it, it would have a negative effect on the economy of the nation.
The major problem bedevilling Nigeria is the lack of adequate electric power supply. This is a most critical problem as there can be no serious advancement in technology and the economy when power is not stable. This situation is compounded by the billions of naira sunk into the sector with nothing to show for it, which has brought results. This is primarily so because such funds have often been diverted into private pockets.
The power situation has caused an increase in the cost of production which ultimately affects the prices of products and services. Some factories have even relocated to Ghana in a bid to escape the high production cost.
In Nigeria, there is decay every sphere. The state of education is poor, roads are death traps, there is insecurity everywhere, unemployment rate is at its highest level while sport is its nadir.
All of these are caused by corruption, lack of vision and long term planning as well as wrong order of priorities. Given this situation, it becomes pertinent for Nigerians to begin the search for credible leaders who can fix the numerous problems that the country is fraught with. As the electioneering season draws nearer, Nigerians should critically scrutinise those who offer themselves to be voted into power and make the right choices. Itâ€™s the only way to start the process of rebuilding that our country is in dire need of.