An attempt to adopt an eclectic solution to all of the nation’s problems is an act of tilting at windmills; it is nearly impossible, given that the problems are an overwhelming glut. Therefore, this piece will be exposing us to the ills that have seemingly overcome the Nigerian economy, hence its apparent decay. The idea is clearly not pro-Biafra but a mere eye opener to some of the critical sectors of our economy, its inability to put smiles on the faces of us all as well as the inefficacy we did and in fact, still experience. This brings us to the concerns for the day.
The first of these cumbrous issues that strikes good rest is ELECTRICITY. Many a person passes off the issue of infrastructure – Electricity as tangential, considering more decimating problems. However, Electricity is pivotal to technological and industrial growth, hence its concern. It is not a moot point after all, the logic behind the essence of light is ossified by God’s recognition of its importance evidenced It vide Genesis 1:3 of the Holy Book where God commanded light upon the earth. This logic has resurfaced as man lumbered IN his quest for continuity of technological growth. Let us leave historical analysis of how PHCN came to be, and focus on the extant parts of our body suffering the heat rashes due to power blackout. Indeed, Nigeria is blessed with oil and gas. I will not know if our wits match the abundant mineral resources, but I know that our problem is due to non-application of common sense. Remember the birth of Niger Dams Authority (NDA)? Well this body saw to the construction of dams and this eventually led to the creation of the Kainji Dam in the year 1962. Everything seemed rosy then as the national grid linked the 36 state capitals including the FCT. Unfortunately, we are at a zero grid capacity per capita. Time for a succinct revelation – Did you know that the average Nigerian uses 136kw/h annually i.e. he consumes only 3% of the power of the average South African, and a laughable 5% of the average Chinese citizen? This means that for every 24hrs, Nigeria gets one hour or less. We are probably in the 4th world as it is obvious that the vision of our country’s leadership is stuck in the 1970’s mind frame.
The ensnaring albatross around our necks include the likes of Poor Policy Initiative, Poor Town Planning, Poor Maintenance Culture, Lack of Latest (modern equipment), Low Morale among the Workers and Embargo on Employment, UNCLE CORRUPTION, so on. On the issue of “no policy initiative”, It will be shocking to note that in the year 2003 through to 2008(10), the Nigeria and USA power sector relationship evinced the precarious state we were in. While USA, with 51 states, generated 813,000MW and had her per capita consumption to equal 3.12kw, Nigeria, with 36 states, generated electricity below 4,000MW and her per capita consumption totalled 0.03kw. USA is clearly more advanced than Nigeria but can it not be said that Nigerians were not ready for independence? As disturbing as the above statistics showed, it has even worsened currently.
The issue of poor town planning is very worrisome. In our urban settlements, we can testify to the irregularity of building placement which of course affects census. It should be known that another area yet affected is the transmission and distribution of power supply. What we experience is the overconcentration of hydro electricity on certain areas void of expansion to other buildings due to UNAVAILABILITY OF MORE CITIES TO FILL IN THE GAP, and UNIDENTIFICATION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS AS A RESULT OF POROUS TOWN PLANNING.
It is no news that we have poor maintenance culture as an issue. There is always the outcry of Government Personnel or engineers that one refinery or the other has taken its last breath. Why wouldn’t it? We never take our time to run a proper inspection on these set of equipment; so it is of no use going to church to pray that our equipment last even longer – that is praying amiss. Even, there is the issue of not buying or importing sophisticated equipment. I wonder why the Government will choose to kiss agriculture goodbye, and embrace the electricity generating area (oil and gas); but still, chastise the sector in such a manner as to deprive it from producing better results.
To address the area of corruption will mean LET US SLEEP HERE. To be succinct however, the reason for low morale among the workers is that Government thought it good to put his PERSONS at the helm of affairs, hence the stench of corruption. The reason your meter does not get read but fat PHCN bills approach your door step is that of corruption.
Condemnations without SOLUTIONS are mere hair splitting, hence the following suggestive solutions.
As regards the issue of poor town planning, more cities should be created or erected so as to enable power regulatory bodies, together with Federal and State, create a proper grid as well as monitoring power supply and consumption level.
The Government needs to recognise the crisis that they are faced with. This is clearly not the time for political vendetta, but a time to reflect on how best to move the country. What needs to be done is the building of wind turbines in the great expanse of land in the Northern part and middle belt area of the country. Knowing full well that the Northern part of our country sees the harsh sun very often, we can look at solar energy. Solar panels are not cheap products but then it is worth venturing into if we must avoid candles, and if we must revive the market and willing foreign investors. US will ever be a good example. That country operates on 19% hydro, and allows electricity evolve from nature’s goodwill i.e. coal – 39%, natural gas – 27%, wind, solar, and others – 7%. Nigeria is blessed, if not more, with all of these; let us spend the money now to avoid the worst of DOOMS DAY.
Sabotage and pipeline vandalism is a problem which I believe can be resolved by the Government. It should be fair to the states that are fertile with natural resources. All they want is development, so develop their habitat – after all, the Government promised that years ago. This is said here because if the Government must use drones or digital acoustic system to monitor and protect the pipelines, then diplomacy should also be key so as to avoid a full blown war.
The solutions cannot be exhausted but that I drop my ink; a solution to the eclipse in Nigeria is if the Govt can take the bold step to stopping importation of generators. This will mean the Govt is keen on tackling the issue of electricity. Indira Gandhi of India did stop importation of cars; now check out the classy cars they produce. It is good we desist from importing generators and tackle this doom. Let us be radical to change this mess. We should even be top suppliers of electric AGRICULTURE
It has been stated in many quarters that Nigeria witnessed her most progressive and prosperous years in the years leading to her Independence in 1960 and the early years of independent statehood before the outbreak of the civil war.
Now, this might be too far reaching an assertion given that by October, Nigeria will be ‘celebrating’56 years of Independence and expectedly, the Nigeria of today has certainly recorded substantial progress compared to what was in place at independence. However, the basis for the earlier assertion must not be lost on us; at the time Nigeria gained independence in 1960, she had an economy that was the envy of the so called Asian Tigers like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and so on.
Well, today, Nigeria has fallen so down the trajectory that Nigerians now go to some of these countries who once looked up to us in search of the golden fleece. The question that should be on the lips of everyone of us is ‘Whither Nigeria?’. How did we degenerate to this level of stagnation and backwardness?
It has also been stated that there was a time in Nigeria when graduates did not leave the University with fear and uncertainty as to what the future had to offer them because from the time they were writing their Final Examinations, they had job offers on the table to choose from. What is most amazing in all these narratives is that Nigeria recorded these feats with little or no input in terms of revenue from oil. These were the times when Obafemi Awolowo used income from the sale of Cocoa to achieve unprecedented development in the South West of Nigeria; The times when the Northern Region of Nigeria was sustained by revenue from the sale of Groundnut and other Cash crops; the times when the Eastern part of Nigeria was placed on the global map for her exploits in the production and refining of Palm Oil. Simply put, Nigeria witnessed her best years in the years prior to the oil boom. Nigeria made her most significant progress with money not from the sale of crude oil but with income From Agriculture which until recently has been abandoned in the country.
Today, the foreign Exchange that Nigeria derives from the export of Crude oil has been grossly depleted due to the crisis in the International oil market. Today, the Nigerian economy is in a recession, specifically because the main foreign exchange earner for the country is slowly but steadily attaining infamy.
What then is the way forward?
Without much ado, the only way Nigeria can escape from this mess is by going back to the very foundation upon which we made our most recognizable progress as a Nation.
A return to Agriculture is the only feasible solution to the Nigerian economy; Government at all levels must show true and visible intent by investing heavily in Agriculture.
Agriculture must be once again, made attractive to the younger generation; we must take significant steps to retake our pride of place among the major exporters of critical cash crops like Groundnut, Cocoa and of course, Palm Oil which were the foundations upon which the progress of the late 1950s and the 1960s were made.
We must invest in Agriculture as though we had no oil because that is perhaps the most practical way of recovering from the Dutch Disease inflicted upon us by our overdependence on revenue from oil.
We must not forget that there are countries who are not as endowed as we are, yet they are making far more progress than us simply because they decided to invest in probably just one cash crop for which they are known for. Why can’t we do better than these countries when we have been so naturally endowed by God that we have the fertile lands with the capacity of growing diverse crops and of course generating more income from them?
For us as a country, we are at the crossroads and we must save ourselves from ourselves, and what better way to do this than by resorting to Agriculture?
Finally, in the light of our desperate battle for survival, the motto should be; “Farm or die”!.
ELECTION AND DEFECTION OF GOVERNORS IN NIGERIA;
The law on this matter seems not to be straightforward. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (CFRN 1999) at Section 131(c) states that one of the qualifications for election as governor is for a person to be a member of a political party and to be SPONSORED by that party. Thus, independent candidature is not allowed. This is consistent with the position of the courts including the Supreme Court in Amaechi v INEC (2007) 18 NWLR (PT. 1065) 98 that it is the party that is voted for during elections. Even in the Kogi state governorship election petition matter which has reached the court of appeal, the court held, inter alia, that Yahaya Bello could validly be swapped for Abubakar Audu who died before the elections were concluded because it was the party that was voted for. However, it is strange to note that because the CFRN 1999 is silent on whether governors should lose their seats upon defection to other political parties, there is no case where the courts have sacked governors who defected. If it is the party that is voted for during elections, why do governors retain their seats after defection? Is it not unfair to the political party?
The resting panacea to this is that law should be reformed to be such that if it is the party that is voted for, then when governors defect, they should lose their seats.
Likewise, if governors should still be allowed to defect without losing their seats, then the law should be changed to be that it is the candidate that is voted for and not the party. This reform could be in the form of a legislative enactment or, better, still a Supreme Court decision which no court can nullify easily unlike legislative enactments.
In sum, and as stated before, addressing the entirety of the nation’s problems is a Penelope’s web; too endless a task to be ventured. In terms of Electricity, Nigeria has assumed a position of being capable of pursuing her enlightened interest. Accumulated research and statistics go to prove that other 1st and 2nd world countries enjoy in a frenzy, what seems insurmountable for ‘Giants’. The sudden reluctance to invest in agriculture, the conduit pipe that previously served the nation’s treasury without failing, is despicable. Government’s abandonment of Agriculture is the height of retrogression.
In Conclusion therefore, the Government should take active steps to hear the wailings of the governed and their plausible remedial measures. Strengthening the Agricultural sector will enhance the economy of the country. Despite the depredations suffered in times of yore, the country is still sated with resources to tap from. This is an advantage will must exploit through constructive mechanisms and application of right intellectual and man power at appropriate sectors.
Law, as an instrument of social engineering, is dynamic. Reform of the law is necessary when the incongruities of Court decisions and the spirit of the law plunges the country into another phase of significant melancholy. Lawyers, judges, legislators and even the executors must have hands on deck to ensure that the applicability of the law is not strange to its purport.
With collective sensitivity of the nation’s problems, sensitization and contributions, we hope that we grow in progressions.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA.