No economy thrives on mono commodity trade, none. This is a dynamic the famous Adam Smith understood so well and explained in his piece “Wealth of Nations”.
The need to reproduce at a faster rate is the thrust on which division of labour was built. We can go into the old refrain of theories, but one cardinal truth remains; a mono- product economy is akin to playing Russian roulette with multiple bullets.
Nigeria has tried to understand that dynamic, in its economic disposition with a lot of challenges. It has transited from an agri-dependent economy to an oil based economy, from a GDP of 6billion dollars in 1967 to a current 387billion dollars presently.
My argument has repeatedly been anchored on the fact that Nigeria can grow better than its present state even as there are claims that the nation hasn’t done badly.
The government representatives will call it a pass mark but it is actually mediocracy cat walking on the runway, we have not effectively harnessed the potentials, and I say this without equivocations because the potentials are enormous and COVID 19 has revealed even more economic faultlines.
Nigeria seats on large swathes of variegated landscape, with minerals and natural resources enveloping a rich 923,000 square kilometers imbued with the Niger and the Benue rivers and crested at the Futa Jalon. This natural paradise is blessed with over 80 million hectares of arable land, but this arable land has not been effectively harnessed to provide the much needed economic viability even in the now desperately touted Agricultural Sector.
It breaks my heart that despite the abundance in the North, the endowed region still suffers Boko haram radicalization as a result of political instability evident through staggering unemployment numbers and poverty rate. The South despite its lower poverty threshold on the other hand, still reels from its lack of infrastructure and comparative development.
Countries that hitherto looked up to Nigeria have started to question the big brother status of Nigeria because a big brother must be able to show a certain level of economic viability, which has become impossible with meagre governmental revenue allocations from only one largely overburdened resource – crude oil.
In a bid to harness our resources, and lead Nigeria to a path of development, action should be the watch-word. Not just lip service action this time, not just good intentions- but rapid and well thought-out action plans.
Some I would enumerate below.
A strong emphasis must be placed on education as education is the nexus for viable economic developments. Without education, the components of any meaningful development will shatter.
Currently, Nigeria ranks very low in education as the standards have become greatly destroyed due to years of neglect both deliberately by the military and other wise. Nigeria must work on every aspect of its education from pedagogy to various forms of innovation. Education must be made the centre point of engineering societal and economic change.
We must develop a national competitive economy roadmap where we itemize the products that give us competitive advantage and pencil down products that can be developed in the future to do same. Malaysia, for want of an example, worked on its competitive advantage in technology and harnessed it over the years.
Most importantly, Politics will spin the economic wheels of any economy faster than the best plans. Nigerian politicians must lead the charge for diversification and show leadership in this drive. Worthy of note is the Norwegian method of saving oil revenue for the future. A method Nigeria might consider and earn government revenue from other sources of income. Nigerians say talks will never give you a pot of cooked rice. We must go beyond being keypad warriors who pay lip-service; we must swing into action, now.
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