By Ucheka Anofienem
I have always wished and prayed earnestly that the easy wealth that has kept Nigeria from attaining the greatness it is endowed with should be done away with. In recent years, as I came to realize the reasons for advancement and development of nations, I kept believing that something will happen to our petroleum resources to jolt the nation into practical thinking and awakening to the techniques and realities that make modern economies excel.
Sincerely, I believe that very soon, sustainable alternative to oil will be found, such that within months even water will have more usefulness than crude oil. So do not rejoice if the crumbling oil price bounces back, otherwise your joy may be short-lived. Yes, visionless economies may collapse, but those are economies managed by clueless people who always fail to see the damaging nature of easy wealth.
That mentality is the bondage that tied Nigeria into a mono economy, and blinded her to alternatives existent in science, technology, information, human capital resources, or even diversification into agriculture and mineral resources.
Cheap oil wealth has made Nigerian leaders to behave like overfed cat that will never think of hunting to survive. Any sincere observer will admit that oil wealth has done incalculable damage to our development potentials, exposed the mediocrity of our mindset, lay bare foundations of injustice, and birthed the current crisis that has subsumed the nation. And the question is, “ have we actually learnt any lessons?” No!
Look at the speed of development we experienced when we had no oil, and despite the trillions of dollar sale in oil in nearly 60 years, we are still at the bottom of development indices, ranked among the poorest nations. What a shame and irony of self-imposed limitations.
Nigeria is a nation of billionaires and multi-millionaires, not of men of industries nor of men of business and entrepreneurial acumen, neither is it of men with inventive dexterity, but of politicians, cronies, and hangers on to the corridors of power.
Thanks to our devalued moral equations, most of our recognized leaders in most cases over the years are successful crocks, and persons that had skillfully subverted the system to their advantage. We have elevated temporary position occupiers as leaders. Here, leadership means extolling thieves and self-seeking bigots with money.
It is a shock that few people are bothered why we ranked among the most fraudulent, the worst developed, best crisis ridden, and morally bizarre nation. All because of the poor quality leadership the oil system has thrown up over the years.
What progress do you expect if your leaders are selfish, directionless, and genuinely development bankrupt? What kind of development do you expect where those in leadership think little of education, think little of human capital development and think little of the unemployment that has crippled 60 million of its able-bodied youths?
What kind of advancement do you expect in a situation where the psyche of the youths and their mental attitude have been corrupted as they too are looking for every opportunity to stealing, clapping and dying in defense of those whom they should put on the spot for desolating their future and destiny.
May the oil value become useless that nobody will have cause to look at it as anything significant. I believe such a day is coming in the next few years. Let this be, for that is what will wake us up as a people and as a nation. This is what will give rise to informed attention to qualitative education. That is what will force development of credible policies that give prime attention to science, mathematics, inventive technology and mechanics.
That is when we shall honestly wake up to study the fundamentals of modern first rate economies. That is when knowledge driven and purposeful individuals that understand the working of the new millennium will be given pride of place. That is when it will become impossible for people to hold government positions for a few years and come out boasting they are billionaires. That is when it will become difficult to steal, and impossible for looters to get away from justice. That is when we shall begin to invest in building our heavy potentials in human resources.
That is when we will begin to pay attention to Nigerians who have so much to offer but are stifled by the visionless leadership that have no regard to new ideas, innovations, creativity, hard work, corporate or individual initiatives. That is when we shall know that technology is the new way out, and that real money can be made from tourism, not talks and intentions. That is when the true Nigerian spirit will show up to the maximum.
Nigerians are gifted people and one of the most industrious, ingenuous, creative and unique race on the face of this earth. Other nations envy us and yet pity us because we do not realize what we are blessed with in human capital. Nigerians are among the best in every corner of the world. Yet there abound such caliber of people wasting away just like that.
When our oil wealth is gone, those with creative genius will emerge as leaders to build an economy that will spring to compete and advance the cause of mankind, as well as address the concerns of our national challenges. The new economy will birth industries faster, compete in information technology and advancement in sciences.
Let us wake up to the realization that the wealth of individual and nations today are the product of their minds not in oil and solid mineral wealth. Modern billionaires create products and services using the ingenuity of their mind’s resources. They don’t steal public funds. Emerging and developed economies invest to produce the quality of citizens that will drive its economic sectors and evolve development initiatives.
They spend money to mobilize their citizens to imbibe the true spirit of can-do, possibility mentality and quality positive mental attitude. They don’t mobilize their youths to use them to win elections and thereafter dump them like trashcans. They don’t fool the people with false promises; rather, they invest to make sure they are equipped to contribute to the best of their ability in national development in their chosen fields. Our leaders have turned the average Nigerian youth to a zombie who cannot think beyond fighting for crumps that fall from greedy fingers of dubious politicians.
I urge those who are working and researching to work harder so as to find sustainable alternative to oil. Those who rule the oil economy and deliberately block encouragement to technology that will displace oil should give up. If they don’t, they will wake up one day to find that solutions that will sweep them off relevance will come from sources most unexpected. Perhaps, one could soon be driving one’s car and running one’s industrial machines with ordinary air or water. The invention will come from a school child and not from a funded research agency.
As for Nigeria and its leaders, you better wake up fast. To sustain our economy based on dependence on oil money for nearly 60 years and be thinking you are doing a great job is the exaltation of baby brains. Wake up because crude oil price may not just fall, oil wealth will disappear and the time may not be too long.
- Ucheka is a business development strategist; a Director with Skill Development Information System Ltd.