Let us also see it from the viewpoint of the huge capital, technological, organizational and ethical outlays involved, and which Nigeria also currently lacks and does not seem ready and able to attain.
Besides, economic and social developments take place only in an atmosphere of peace and political stability. Both are lacking in Nigeria today, and there does not seem to be a clear foreseeable plan and will on the part of the government and the ruling Party to bringing them about. If the government is thinking that a continuous and consistent public propaganda on the Transformation Agenda of the government will bring about the needed peace and stability, then the government is putting the cart before the horse; it is only when there is peace and political stability that the Transformation Agenda, whatever it means, can be implemented, the above 4 critical elements can be attained and the objective of the regime may be realized.
Without these key elements then, the pessimist would reason, how could the country make it?
Secondly, as a pessimist, I will not fail to also look at the reality on the ground as well. If the pace of comparative economic growth and infrastructural development of Nigeria in the past is anything to go by, then I will be more entrenched in my position. In the past, it would seem that Nigerians saw all kinds of economic and ethical policies and visions aimed at putting their country on a respectful footing as a real economic and regional power in the world – the National Development Plans, the Indigenization Policies, Industrialization Plans, Transfer of Technology Policies, Operation Feed the Nation, Austerity Measures, Ethical Revolution, WAI, Commercialization and Privatization Policies, SAP, MAMSER, Vision 2010, MDG, EFCC, ICPC, NEEDS, Vision 20:2020 and now the Transformation Agenda. We also heard of huge capital outlays for the establishment and provision of national railway lines, shipping lines, power supply, Inland Waterways, Road networks, refineries, Iron and Steel Industries, educational and health schemes, etc.
But the more we talk on industrialization the less industrial we become; the more we try to indigenize our businesses, the more foreign companies take firm hold of our local markets; we started importing more food than before the days of Operation Feed the Nation; we started spending more in public service than before the days of Austerity Measures; ethics and moral decadence have taken hold of our national life more than before the institution of the policy of Ethical Revolution; we are more indiscipline now than before the days of WAI; we are a thousand times more corrupt today than before the days of EFCC and ICPC. In effect, therefore, our policy formulation and implementation have woefully failed us – the more we enunciate them the more we achieve their exact opposite. What a paradox! Today, in spite of these policies, Nigeria is still a non-industrialized nation, the country can still not feed its populace and is a huge food importer, its domestic market is still dominated by foreigners, its technology still rudimentary, the country is the second or third most corrupt nation in the world (whatever the right index is), the country is still yearning for dear foreign investment and not investing abroad, and the poverty rate of Nigeria is at 76% height.
In addition, today Nigeria has no national Air Carrier, no national Shipping line, no functional railway line, no power supply, no functional refineries, no Iron and Steel Industries, no good road network and no Inland Waterways. All of these have been attempted by past governments with colossal amounts of billions of dollars expended. Also, we were not so long ago told of the huge debt relief the government secured for the country. That if we pay the sum of N12 billion dollars to our foreign creditors we shall be relieved of the chucking debt burden and shall save the monies from debt servicing for developing our economy. We paid the colossal amount alright, which represents the largest amount of money ever paid by a developing country to the developed countries in the history of Mankind, yet we are still trapped in the vicious debt cycle – the promises of economic boom after payment turned out to be a ruse. To all intents and purposes, it would seem that virtually all of our policies are today monumental failures. Hence, over half a century since independence, Nigeria is still stagnantly underdeveloped, with all the attendant traits – illiteracy and ignorance, poverty and deprivation, famine and starvation, epidemics and health crises, child mortality and low life expectancy, corruption and dishonesty in public service, weak institutions and bad leadership, decaying infrastructure and moral decadence, crime and violence, civil unrest and genocide, electoral fraud, or simply outright threat of state failure.
As I earlier said, it would seem virtually none of those policies achieved the objectives for which they were formulated. How then could the objective of the Transformation Agenda be attained? Besides, the Goodluck regime has not even attempted to give us a clue as to how it will drive the agenda. I need to be convinced. Where are our optimists, please let them come forth with their argument and convince the pessimists. We still have 8 years to go. Does President Goodluck Jonathan still believe in the Vision 20:2020 policy and is willing to pursue it or does he have something else better and more realistic to give Nigeria in his Transformation Agenda? Mr. President, Nigerians are waiting not to hear from you, because to talk is cheap, but to see what you can achieve. We are still awaiting the fresh air you promised us; it has not yet started blowing across the country.
Yet, with our rich aptitudes and talents of large populations, huge physical energy reserve, and abundant untapped natural resources, Nigeria can seize the positives of good governance to overcome its challenges and attain rapid material development. This can be achieved by getting these talents expressed, the energy released and those resources harnessed. I believe this to be the key solution to Nigeria’s development problem in the new global reality. This calls for creative alternative public policy perspectives and strategies. Plainly, in my view, it is the lack of clear understanding of the issues confronting us as a people over the years by our policy makers (either by default or design), itself therefore leading to poor policy choices and implementations, that inevitably led to Nigeria’s developmental failures.
Ardo wrote in this piece from No. 6 Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja – FCT