By Chiedu Uche Okoye
THAT Nigeria is the giant of Africa is a hyperbolic expression. The fact is, Nigeria has the potentialities to become the true giant of Africa. One out of every five black persons in today’s world is a Nigerian. Nigeria has a humongous population. This is a plus for us. Nigerians in the Diaspora are contributing immensely to the development of their host countries, instead of helping Nigeria to achieve technological and economic growth, although they send remittances home for the upkeep of their immediate families in Nigeria. These people with skills, expertise, and knowledge can be lured back to Nigeria so that they can contribute their quota towards the development of Nigeria..
Again, unlike in Europe, America, and Asia where acts of God, such as typhoons, Tsunamis and earthquakes cause the devastation of infrastructure , public buildings, and the loss of lives, these natural disasters do not occur in Nigeria. Nigeria is a very large country that is peopled by diverse ethnic groups. Our strength lies in our diversities as we can utilize our diversities to achieve national growth. Rather, our country is bifurcated along ethnic and religious lines. Here in Nigeria, our weather is equable; and our land arable and fertile. Agriculture, which used to be the mainstay of our economy before the discovery of oil, has been utterly neglected and relegated to the background. Has Nigeria achieved sufficiency in food production? The answer is a categorical no. Food shortages do afflict us.
And mineral resources are deposited below our soil. Such natural resources as bauxite, lime-stone, coal, tin-ore, and crude oil lie beneath our soil. Is Nigeria not the sixth largest producer of oil in the world? Our receipt of foreign revenues is dependent on the sale of our crude oil. Consequently, the slump in global oil prices has thrown our mono-economy into recession and a tailspin.
So, why has Nigeria not attained great heights in terms of economic and technological development for all its human and material resources? Nigeria’s backwardness is not unconnected to bad political and military leaderships. Dictatorial, repressive, and fascist military regimes interspersed with inept and corrupt political leadership ruined our country’s economy, truncated our political evolution, and stalled our technological advancement. Nigeria has not realized its potentialities simply because our country has not been led by its best politicians.
The imposition of leaders, a legacy left behind by our colonial masters, and providential interference, threw up our national leaders. Those unwilling leaders were overwhelmed by the demands and challenges of that topmost and exalted political office. Think about Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua evinced the tendencies of an able and visionary leader, but death cut short his stay in office.
After making some futile attempts at winning the presidential election, Muhammadu Buhari clinched the presidential post during the last general election. The coalescing of some political parties into APC, and the political input of the political titan, Bola Tinubu, contributed to the electoral success of Buhari. He rode to victory on the crest and coat-tails of his distaste for corruption, and his Spartan lifestyle. More so, the APC campaign slogan of change resonated with Nigerians. Many Nigerians were disaffected and disenchanted with Goodluck Jonathan’s insipid, rudderless, inept, and corrupt political leadership.
During his electioneering campaign, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to bring change to our polity. To be fair to him, he hasn’t stayed long in office. But, so far, he has shown incapacity in tackling our national problems. Our problems are mounting while he is still engaging in sloganeering and demagoguery as though the campaign period has not ended.
The queues at our petrol stations are lengthening. Our president who is the substantive minster in charge of petroleum couldn’t address the issue of fuel scarcity decisively and holistically. Dr. Ibe Kachikwu’s statement that he’s not a magician who could cause the issue of fuel scarcity to disappear overnight elicited vitriolic and scurrilous response from Chief Bola Tinubu, an APC political bigwig. Tinubu’s vituperation and criticism directed at Kachikwu point to the crack and division within the ruling party.
And, electricity supply throughout Nigeria hasn’t improved. It is a fact that he inherited the problem of epileptic power supply from his predecessor. But what has he done to address the problem? Both small scale businesses and industries rely on steady supply of electricity for production. Irregular supply of electricity is a disincentive to the rapid industrialization of the country.
What is the president’s solution and answer to the depreciation of our national currency and the depressed economy occasioned by the slump in global oil prices? He has not formulated and implemented economic policies that will boost our economy as well as diversify it. Instead of staying at home to tackle our multifarious problems, our president is engaged in globe – trotting. Rather than send a Minister to deputize for him at global meetings, our president would attend.
. Okoye writes from Obosi, Anambra State