Most African countries secured their political independence from their colonial administration in the 1900s and have been enjoying sovereign status for upwards of half a century currently, a period of time long enough for them to have achieved full blown political stability and high level of economic development. That these nations and high continental attributes have eluded these nations of Africa, especially the sub-Saharan nations including Nigeria, calls for self-examination and discourse.
Countries of the world are now being ranked in descending order of economic development, with United States of America taking the number one position. The yardstick for the ranking is the level of attainment of the Millennium Development Goals as well as the ability to curb corruption. Nigeria, the so called ‘giant’ of Africa, from available indices, is not at an enviable position on the table. Recently, the Transparency International ranked Nigeria as the 35th most corrupt nation on earth, a development which has brought shame to all right thinking Nigerians.
Although individual African nations have their own peculiar problems and circumstances that hinder rapid socio-economic development, some of the problems appear to be common to all of them including:
Underdevelopment of Agriculture: Africa is a rich continent, in terms of natural resources – extensive landmass, rich tropical forests, good climate that is (characterized by high annual rainfalls, high solar radiation and high relative, humidity) and abundant water resources. Nevertheless, food production in the continent is at variance with the agriculture endowments adumbrated above. Food production has not kept pace with rapidly increasing population growth. In fact, there is food crisis in several African countries which is being compounded by civil strive.
In Nigeria, agricultural has since lost its enviable position of being the mainstay of the nation’s economy, in four of petroleum oil. The following are typical characteristics of Nigeria agriculture. Land tenure systems which constitute serious bottlenecks to mechanization and modernization of agriculture, dearth of food processing and storage facilities, farmers receive little or no credits form Government Finance Institution to support their production and rural areas that constitute more than 50 percent of the population of each nation, are largely deficient in modern amenities such as good roads, hospitals and/or clinics, schools, pipe-borne water.
The former President General Olusegun Obasanjo, remains highly commended for his desire to develop Nigerian agriculture through floating of a N50 billion agricultural loan facility for the benefit of Nigerian farmers, and in encouraging massive cultivation of cassava crop under the Cassava initiative programme. This has consolidated Nigerian’s position as the world’s largest producer of cassava and a major exporter of cassava-based products. Similarly, Nigeria’s late President, Alhaji commended for initiating the vision 20:2020 programme aimed at developing all aspects of the Nigerian economy such that Nigeria can join the league of the 20 most developed economies of the year 2020. His successor, incumbent President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, luckily has decided to continue with this programme vigour and determination and particularly to use agriculture as a platform to attain the lofty objective. Nevertheless, it is still a matter of deep regret that Nigeria, the 6th largest producer of petroleum in the world, has failed to take good advantage of her stupendous oil wealth to develop the agricultural sector of the economy.
The current Ebele Jonathan administration is quite cognizant of the great harm done to the country by the syndrome of food importation, namely huge capital flight, heavy external debt burden and discouragement of local production efforts, amongst others, and has consequently decided to place a ban on importation of a wide range of food items, including rice. The administration has also initiated the Agricultural Transforming Agenda, which is being Council. Under this laudable programme, Nigeria is expected to produce extra 20 million metric tones of assorted food stuffs to boost domestic production by the year 2015, create about 3.5 million jobs for the nation’s army of jobless youths, and help move Nigeria form a net food – importing country to a next-exporting one. I join the rest of anxious citizens of our dear nation to pray for the success of Government, bearing in mind, the fact that several previous programmes established at different times in the collapsed one after another, due to largely mismanagement.
Dearth of Patriotic, Selfless, Visionary, Detribalized Leaders and Absence of Good Governance of Nigeria.
The pace of socio-economic development of any nation depends largely on the quality of the leadership and its ability to provide good, patriotic, visionary, result-oriented governance. Such qualities are desirable to galvanize the citizenry into high level of allegiance and support which are ingredients of national cohesion and progress. A delve into history of Africa’s evolution has shown that the pioneer set of African leaders that took over the reigns of governance from their colonial masters were great patriots, selfless, intelligent, patriotic visionary, of great integrity, and commanded great respect from the western world and other parts of the world. We remember, with nostalgia, such great African leaders as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Robert Mugabe (still alive) of Zimbabwe, Jomo Kenyata and Arab Moi, both of Kenya, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Houphet Boigny of Ivory Coast (now Cote’ D’ Voire) Captain Thomas Sankara of Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba also of the DRC, Etiene Eyadama of Togo, William Tolbert of Liberia, Samara Machael of Mozambique, Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Haile Selasie of Ethiopian, etc. In Nigeria we had Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Festus Okotie Eboh, Dr. M.I Okpara, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Alhaji Aminu Kano, Prof. Eyo Ita, Chief I.U. Akpabio to mention but a few. These African leaders made Africa proud through their track records of hard work, selflessness, diligence, shunning of bribery and corruption and great love not only for their individual nations of origin but also of Africa as a whole. It is a matter of regret that after this generation of leaders passed away, succeeding leaders especially the recent and present-day ones, have fallen far short of the superlative qualities and historical antecedents of those early leaders which have resulted to a slow down in the pace of development of those nations. Amongst the nations of Africa, Nigeria appears to be worst hit in terms of quality leadership and good governance to the embarrassment of the rest of the world.
Africa’s Inability To Organize Free, Fair and Credible Elections To Bring In Honest, Patriotic Detribalized Leaders into Governance:
While African leaders appreciate the importance of democracy and its role in facilitating rapid economic development many of them have refuse to abide by the tenets and principles of true democracy. True democracy and good governance starts with the organization of free, fair and credible elections and putting in place, of strong democratic institutions. Nigeria’s prolonged failure to organize free, fair and credible elections so as to bring in hones, qualified, upright, selfless and patriotic people into governance is a major factor that accounts for our stunted growth as a nation.
Good governance entails accountability to the electorate, strict adherence to the rule of law and respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
Nigeria’s Prolonged Inability to Generate Adequate Electricity and throughout the Country:
Adequate and sustainable power supply is crucial to the development of the economy of any nation. Many nations of the world, in full realization of this fact, have left no stone unturned to put in place the required infrastructure, spare parts, and manpower for the effective generation, transmission and distribution of electricity throughout their nations on a continuous basis. In Nigeria, we have the potential of generating electricity from coal, wind moving currents of water (hydro-electric power), sunlight or solar radiation (thermal electricity) and even from nuclear reactors if successfully installed in the Nation. The abundant natural gas in the Niger delta region of the country could be used to power electricity – generating electricity.
In Nigeria, many industries have folded up or have been relocated to neighbouring African countries e.g. Ghana where uninterrupted power supply throughout each year, is guaranteed. The daily power output in Nigeria is about 3,800 megawatts whereas the country requires about 40,000 megawatts of electricity daily, so there is a daily power deficit of
Endemic Corruption and Looting of Public Funds at all Tiers of Government
The bane of Nigeria’s development is corruption. It has held the nation back for many decades and assumed a frightening proportion currently in Nigeria, eating deep into Nigeria’s socio-economic and political life and threatening to destroy the country.
The greatest degree of corruption that has effectively hampered Nigeria’s march to economic development appears to be in oil sector where several indigenous companies and well placed Nigerians have defrauded Nigeria of millions or trillions of naira oil revenue, as revealed from the oil subsidy probe report. With crude Oil export level of 69.3 million barrels per month which is about 2.24 million barrels per day, sold at the international market at an average rate of $85.00 per barrel, there is no doubt that Nigeria has made stupendous wealth from petroleum and ought to be amongst the top 5 most developed nations of the world several years ago.
A Poorly Planned Educational System which Cannot Promote National Growth and Development
Although Nigeria has over 90 universities both private and public owned, there appears to be no good planning, to ensure orderly and sequential development of university education.
Most of the Universities can, at best, be schools” because of poor infrastructure poor staffing and very unattractive environmental setting that characterize them. The poor remuneration of staff, poor facilities and utter lack of motivation of the staff have resulted in high level of job un-satisfaction, with attendant.
Nigeria’s very low level of Industrialization.
There is a positive correlation between industrialization and economic development of any nation, that is to say, the higher the degree of economic development of that nation, of course when all other growth factors such as peace and stability of the polity and continuity of government policies and programs, are present. Nigeria is one of the most richly endowed nations of the amongst which are minerals of high economics valve which could form the basis of industrialization, if properly harnessed.
Only a few of Nigeria’s minerals have been harnessed. These are coal, tin, limestone, granite, marble and kaolin. The Iron and steel industry at Ajaokuta, Kogi State is still a sleeping giants.
A major factor militating against the industrial development of Nigeria is absence indigenous technology
The way forward for Nigeria is to go back to the drawing table and convene a sovereign national conference, restructure the economy and make every Nigerian an equitable beneficiary of the wealth of Nigeria. People of the oil-producing areas of Nigeria must be giving their fair share of the oil wealth of their also must evolve a brand new generation of patriots who well be trusted with the responsibility of governance. It is time to make a change!.
Prof. Ebong T. Eshett is a Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Academics) Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) Nigeria, Being excerpts of keynote Paper presented at the 5th National Leadership Conference by Integrity International in Port Harcourt River State,
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