Last week, I watched the explosion proof train a Chinese company had produced for use in Tel Aviv, Israel. The train was as elegant as it was a marvel of modern engineering. The train cannot only withstand bullets; it can withstand mortar shells, IEDs and other terrorist explosives. It was designed and built for Israel, a country which itself is a technology powerhouse.
So if Israel goes to China to buy technology and knowhow, why should we have any hesitation at all? America buys from China in billions per month, Europe too. Many of the goods that come to us as European and American are actually contract manufactured by the Chinese.
The longest bridge in the world today is in China. The largest man built water body today in the world is in China. The best roads today are in China. The most complex engineering and manufacturing processes in the world today are found in China. The largest military, the best technology schools, the most efficient factories, all are Chinese or are in China.
According to Wikipedia, China produces 6.5 million megawatt hour of electricity to power its cities. That is about 2 million more than America’s power generation. When you compare that with our paltry national output, then you know to which country we should go to for help in getting things right in Nigeria. There is no need in being proud when we live in virtual darkness.
There is no point pretending that we can do it. We have been deceiving ourselves in the matter of power for more than forty years and we have not gotten it right. We should simply turn that sector completely over to China to operate. It should be on a BOO basis. BOO means build, own and operate. The only other condition is that 50 per cent of the workforce must be Nigerian. That way our people can learn and work at the same time. After all, this country handed over our power infrastructure and assets to Nigerians called DISCOS! On top of getting those assets at a discount, humongous amounts of money were given to them amounting to billions. Many years later, we are still talking about 10,000 megawatts, which often do not meet, and when that shameful production is met, they have difficulty distributing it.
We cannot grow without power. The micro power systems we run with diesel powered generators for each home or business is wasteful, is expensive per megawatt and it is polluting the environment and is raising all production costs to the point of unprofitability. In my view, inviting China in would be a master solution of the power problem as well as many other challenges we have been grappling with in the recent past. With an organised and efficient power system in place, we can then root out unemployment and other inefficiencies, which cannot be solved at the moment, without efficient and nationwide stable power supply.
And we shouldn’t stop there. We shouldn’t stop with just power generation. This columnist is of the opinion that we should embrace China fully. We should hand over our roads to them on the same BOO basis. They will build the roads, they will maintain the roads, they will operate the roads and they will toll the roads. Period. After all, we pay tolls on horrible government owned roads. What will be wrong in paying tolls on splendid China owned roads? When the roads are handed over to them that will free up the money lost in that sector for use in education, healthcare and rural development. I wouldn’t stop at just handing over the roads, the owners of the roads will also secure the roads so that the lives lost to kidnappers, armed robbers etc will cease.
When you think about it, it makes sense to embrace China fully. We have the minerals that they need, they have the technology and the skills that we need. We ought to embrace their educational systems and even their efficient work ethic.
Look at the thousands of knowledgeable graduates they turn out every year. Compare that to the illiterates that our school systems produce at the moment. How many of our graduands today are work ready! How many have the skills to be immediately absorbed into factories and industries upon graduation?
We should not be ashamed of admitting our failure and going cap in hand to a country that has in less than fifty years, moved from a bush country to a technological marvel. On top of that China has proven its willingness to do business in Africa in a meaningful way. Go around Africa today, China is a worthy partner. It has built ports, it has built airports, it has built roads and other infrastructure for many indigent and underperforming African countries. Whether you like them or not, their projects are everywhere in Africa for all to see.
If you accuse them of trying to own Africa, I will say that there is nothing wrong in developing a symbiotic relationship with a country that is ready to come in and help. In world diplomacy, no country is a Father Christmas; they must gain some benefits from their intervention.
By the way, in comparison, what has our former colonial overlords done for us? The impossibility of progress of many African nations is because of their myopic dependence and continued obeisance to their former colonial masters who embedded a system and process of undermining the development of their former colonial enclaves. The activities of France in depleting the finances of its former colonies are well known. The British are more subtle, but their hands are all over their former colonies and in the extractive industries therein.
Let us embrace China fully so that we can tap into their knowhow and efficiency. After 50 years of understudying them, then we would have made much more strides when compared with the failure and stagnation of the last fifty years. After all, we need their austere no nonsense approach to things. They are neither wasteful nor extravagant. And best of all, they have an efficient judicial approach to corruption. We need that too!
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