Francis Eniterai Ogbimi
Our 33-year curiosity-driven research revealed that only mass learning – education, training, employment and research (ETER), for all Nigerians, can save the Nigeria of today. This means that every healthy Nigerian must be mobilized for: education to acquire theoretical knowledge; training to input theoretical knowledge into our theory-starved traditional production/service processes to improve productivity and acquire practical skills; employment to use theoretical knowledge, practical skills and scientific capabilities to produce goods and services; and research to find out how things can be done better, to save Nigeria. Mass learning made the United States of America (USA) a great nation, rapidly. Also, mass learning transformed poverty-stricken Japan and China into great nations, speedily.
I completed university education in Nigeria. Thereafter I went to the USA to do postgraduate studies. I studied science. I returned to Nigeria in 1986. That was the year Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) (rtd) adopted the African Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which the World Bank and IMF introduced to over 30 African nations. All Nigerian governments since then, including yours, have continued to implement SAP.
My experience in the USA prompted me to wonder why some nations are rich and powerful while others are poor and weak. I decided to carry out a scientific research to satisfy my curiosity. I started the research in 1986 in the University of Ife, now the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The research has been blessed abundantly. The highlights of the results have been summarised in a 7-book series. With all humility, I believe that the results constitute a gift-package from God to mankind.
All the industrialised nations of today also had agricultural/artisan-economies likes Nigeria’s of today, for a long time. European and Asian nations toiled for about 2000-3000 years before they became industrialised (Carrington and Jackson (1954); Baldwin (1969); Eberhard(1950); and Hall(1971)). The banking and financial systems in the West are fruits or aftermath of the Western industrialisation which began in the 18th century (Glahe, 1977). The reliable infrastructure in the West and Asia are also fruits of industrialisation in those continents.
Western intelligentsia/intellectuals and their African students claim that capital investment is the primary source of achieving sustainable economic growth and industrialization (SEGI). However, our research revealed that they are wrong; learning is the primary basis for acquiring the knowledge, skills and capabilities (KSCs) for solving problems including production. Learning and acquiring KSCs are the primary basis for promoting SEGI.
The life of a nation may be likened to that of the individual person. If an individual attends school to high level and s/he is trained to acquire skills, the individual becomes knowledgeable, skilled and competent, otherwise s/he is an illiterate and incompetent individual. So it is for a nation. If a nation refuses to educate and train its citizens, it stagnates and remains poor. Nigeria’s planning and budgeting processes have always lacked growth-promoting elements because they have always been based on the fallacy that mere capital investment promotes SEGI. All Nigeria’s Four National Plans (1960-1985) and SAP (1986-now) have no growth-promoting elements. This is the basis of Nigeria’s stagnation and attendant problems. This is also why your second term may not bring relief to Nigerians.
European and Asian kings neglected learning activities and toiled for a very long time before they acquired, laissez-faire, the scientific KSCs that facilitated the scientific transformation of their agricultural/artisan-economies into industrialised ones. The USA began as farm settlements for British business men in 1606 with Virginia as the first settlement. There were 13 colonies in the area in 1775. The settlements revolted against the British government in 1775. Assisted by other European nations, the colonies won the War of Independence which lasted 1775-1783 (Baldwin, 1969). The American colonies formed a Confederation government to fight the British government. The Confederation government quickly wrote the Federal Constitution in 1787 and ratified it in 1789 and the colonies formed a federation. The belief that the future of America rests on sound public education was common among early American leaders, though they themselves did not have opportunities for good education (Hicks, et al., 1970).
Consequently, Americans displayed fully the versatility of an educated people. The young boy’s mind was first prepared by school discipline and education. He then began to acquire one type of skill after the other, never satisfied with any single skill type. The young American learnt always (Bartlett, et al., 1969).
Young America did not award big contracts to Britons to erect complex infrastructure for America so that America can achieve effortless development overnight. By focusing on intensive education and training and trying to solve their problems themselves and learning in the process, the Americans developed technological capabilities rapid. When the American Civil War 1861-1865 began, the more technologically developed North defeated the farming South and united the nation. America achieved the modern Industrial Revolution in the period 1850-1900, just 300 years after the first colony was established (Bartlett, et al., 1969). Technology built America and disproved Frederick the Great of Russia, who had predicted that America was a temporary freak because it was too large.
When Britain achieved the first modern IR, the roads in Britain were still the ones built by the Roman empire which harnessed Gaul (modern Western Europe) in 55 B. C. (Trevelyan, 1948; and Gregg, 1971). Following the industrialization, the nation quickly built canals, railways and other modern transport systems. Agricultural/artisan/-Britain did not borrow and accumulate debts to erect complex infrastructure before industrialization.
In 1949 when Mao Zedung became the leader of the Chinese people, the economy was in chaos. The Russians on whom the Chinese had depended upon for a long time to erect her infrastructure had quarreled with them and the Russians had stripped Manchuria, the most built-up city of everything. The Chinese used the resource they have in abundance – people (Stoke and Stoke, 1975). Mao mobilized the entire populace for learning and linking learning efforts in the nation. Everyone in Chinese communes worked together. That was how the Chinese having crawled during the period 1000 B C.- 1949 A. D., 2949 years, accelerated modernization to become the fastest growing economy in the world. China no more waits for Russia to erect roads, bridges, railways, etc., for her, like African nations are doing today.
Education alone, co-exists with mass unemployment and poverty. There cannot be security in a nation where the people are strangers to themselves. Mass learning would make Nigerians know who Nigerians are. Mass learning will promote capability-building growth (not GDP growth) of 10% and higher immediately. Mass learning will be self-sustaining. But Nigeria can proudly borrow to initiate the activities.
Professor Ogbimi writes from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.