Connect with us

Editorial

Galvanising local technology for Nigeria’s industrialization

Published

on

It is now of public concern or rather disturbing that Nigeria at sixty three has not started its journey towards industrialisation.

Sixty three years down the line, the nation is still grappling with teething problems, such as poor electricity infrastructure, poor road networks, poor housing schemes for its citizens, unemployment, poor health care services etc.

Some well-meaning Nigerians are not bothered that the country is not industrialised at sixty-three, but they are more concerned that at sixty-three, the country has not started planning for industrialisation.

India, Singapore, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) used to be far behind us in everything, politically, economically, socially but today, Nigeria cannot tie the shoelaces of the aforementioned countries. Once, we were all categorised as third world countries, but the level of degeneration experienced in Nigeria qualifies it for a new, baser category.

Nigerians now move in droves to these countries for either medical tourism, pilgrimage, all the while, spending hard currencies for this purpose. No surprise then, the weakness of the naira. There was a period when Indian masters degree was Nigeria’s first degree equivalent, but today Nigerian PhD is now equal to Indian’s first degree. A plot twist of fate!

It all boils down to poor leadership and bad governance.

The Ajaokuta Steel industry project, meant to produce raw materials for effective economic development and industrialisation of the country, remains uncompleted several decades after it was started.

Three/four imported refineries built by the colonial masters on the heels of their departure have deteriorated under our watch and the Government seems helpless in resuscitating them. And if the refineries had become unrepairable based on their ages, why have new ones not been built instead of resorting to importation of refined petroleum products.

This singular policy has thrown the country into penury, as some self-centered Nigerians with their cohorts have hijacked the process to milk the nation dry over these years.

No wonder a litre of fuel now costs over N700, as against N145, a cup of rice now sells at N500, a bottle of kerosene now goes for over N1000, among others. To worsen the situation, over N1,500 now exchanges $1 in a country where 75K used to exchange $1 and still counting.

War-torn Ukraine has volunteered to supply grains to Nigeria, a supposedly peaceful country. The irony of the Nigerian condition is astonishing.

It is our considered opinion that all research findings churned out from the nation’s tertiary institutions, especially the universities should be collated for purposeful scrutiny and onward utilisation towards our industrialisation.

It has been said over and over that no nation can develop more than its education sector. Reason being that the drivers of the development of industrialisation are educationists.

We also suggest that intentionally, the country should hold a confab with academics and think of the  best way to industrialise the country. It does not take rocket science for any society to develop, even if it does Nigeria as a country should be equal to the task.

A country with over one hundred million people should be qualified for such a challenge. As it is now 50% of our daily petroleum products are allegedly produced by artisanal refineries, commonly referred to as kpofire. Why is the Government hesitant to look in that direction and approve or legitimise that subsector? This is in the context of turnaround maintenance of our old refineries being a thorn in our flesh.

This is where leadership comes in. It makes no sense that a country of over one hundred million people cannot cultivate food to feed its citizens. We go to Malaysia, Singapore and other smaller nations for food. And we seem to be comfortable with that. Hunger, poverty breed crime. Insecurity cannot be extinguished without fulfilling the most crucial needs per Marslow’s hierarchy. But as it is currently, that will be difficult or even impossible.

Good governance or leadership is of course a product of free and fair elections. Politicians should allow Nigerians to elect their leaders, so that they can still remove them if the need arises. Anything short of that is unacceptable in a civilized society like ours. It is important to re-emphasise that the development or industrialisation of every country lies on its sound polity.

Electoral offenders need a public, shameful prosecution and conviction by our courts to serve as a deterrent to others. That is the way to go. The Asian Tigers have done their best to solve this problem. The method is simple: when politicians finish their tenure, they are usually put to probe and if found wanton, a hangman awaits them.

Nigeria should not be an exception, for as long as corruption continues to be the order of the day in determining issues, we will remain a dwarf in the comity of progressive nations. But God forbid! We must therefore walk the talk for a better country. Time for action is now!

Editorial

Endless wait for Port Harcourt Refinery’s production commencement

Published

on

It is no longer news that Nigeria and indeed Nigerians have waited patiently and endlessly for the commencement of production of the four refineries in the country, especially Port Harcourt Refinery, but lo and behold, it has been continuous shifting of the goalpost.

This hide and seek game has continued since May 29, 2023, which officially marked the inception of the current Federal Government led by Sen Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

The promises actually pre-date the present leadership of the Federal Government. The endless turnaround maintenance started many administrations ago and has outlived several Petroleum Ministers.

The last Minister of Petroleum that promised heaven on earth regarding the commencement of production of the Port Harcourt Refinery was the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, who suddenly jumped boat, to recontest the last gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State and failed.

One now begins to ask what is still holding the kernel from falling? The situation is becoming embarrassing to hapless Nigerians who can no longer afford three square meals a day because of the hike in prices of food items, induced by fuel subsidy removal.

Public watchers and indeed concerned citizens have started suspecting foul play in the entire process.

Perhaps the current Federal Government is only doing the bidding of the IMF and possibly the World Bank, who are supposedly responsible for the removal of fuel subsidy without adequate plans to mitigate the sudden economic shock from such anti-people policy.

Even in the most industrialised countries of the world, certain essential items are still being subsidised. So why pick on Nigeria, celebrated as a third world country, that is, if we have not fallen far below that rating.

A nation that is not bringing anything on the table of the comity of nations, apart from crude oil, suddenly wakes up and announces subsidy removal. And worse, the President announced the policy from the swearing-in parade ground, without proper assessment. True to it, the abrupt subsidy removal announcement ignited a simultaneous economic crisis that we are still finding a way to tackle.

Thereafter, it became a promise galore. Over and over promises of commencement of production by Port Harcourt Refinery kept rolling in. Natural skeptic, because of the pattern of failed promises, have concluded that it is a complete mirage. Governments all over the world are rated for what they verge on with their citizens. In short, a credible government’s word should be its bond.

Therefore, the law of safety says that if you cannot work safely, it is better not to work at all. The reason is that such ‘try-your-luck’ can plunge such entity into some level of irreparable losses, amounting to economic woes and in most cases, lives are involved in addition to equipment or property loss.

No Nigerian or friend of Nigeria is happy or comfortable with what is happening to citizens of the country. The situation is more worrisome that Nigerians are suffering in the midst of plenty. How does one envisage that a major producer of crude oil in the world is being subjected to such inhuman treatment all in the name of subsidy removal?

Several government officials under this administration have proposed dates and times for the commencement of production by the refineries, especially Port Harcourt Refinery to no avail. So why must a government official come out to the public to make untenable promises, without due diligence or proper survey?

It is only in Nigeria possibly that such thing is practicable. And such public officers make such statements with impunity and still walk around the streets unmolested. Such practice is taboo in some climes. t is even safer and more honourable to keep mute, instead of misleading people (over 100 million people).

The question still echoing in the lips of Nigerians is when will it be? And by that they mean when will the cost of living reduce?  When will petroleum products be available and affordable? And until these questions are answered, the struggle continues.

The latest promise came from the Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) stipulating June 2024.  Majority of Nigerians tend to believe IPMAN as a major player in the petroleum distribution industry than the government and her privies. May this promise materialise.

Nigerians will roll out their drums to the streets in celebration of the development. It is our prayer that the pledge works this time around.  Economic watchers have said repeatedly that even if Dangote Refinery releases its PMS, it will still not be affordable. Their reason is that it is only competition that can force prices down, not the benevolence of capitalism. Though one must commend Dangote’s efforts in crashing the price of diesel.

Alongside millions of Nigerians, we continue to clamour for the federal government to live up to its responsibility by providing petroleum products for its citizens, which we strongly believe will force down prices of other products, including foodstuff. Until this is achieved, it is not going to be uhuru.

Continue Reading

Editorial

Nigeria and the Jericho syndrome

Published

on

According to the Christian bible, after the Israelites conquered Jericho, Joshua placed a curse upon whoever ever considered its rebuilding. At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates, he said. Not so different, the endless travails of whoever tries to rebuild Nigeria. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, being a most recent example on the part of leaders, while thousands of Nigeria have fallen under the heels of the wickedness of other self-seeking politicians, whose ambitions are deemed worthy of the blood of Nigerians.

Whoever considers rebuilding Nigeria from its foundations, if they do not lose their lives, lose financial security due to a deliberate network of greed. The reader is encouraged to try to remember the names of people who died as a result of election violence in the last election. It is possible that one will pull a blank if one is not a journalist, and even journalists will remember less than three names.

Alexander the Great once remarked, “I would rather live a short life of glory than a long life of darkness.” This is because the Grecian world accorded sacrifice for country its due value. This narrative is reflected in Christ’s day, saying, “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”

One could argue that the reason any life is worth laying down is because it will be remembered. Nigeria makes it such that to die for country is to be forgotten. Its annals of history are populated by genocidal leaders, self-seeking tribalists, and those who are actually remembered for their good works are so remembered because the light of their actions could not be put out by the amnesiac culture. This is why loyalty to country is lacking. Why would anyone want to die for a country that merely considers you a statistic?

Unless you are the President’s son in a power bike accident, medical care is promised to be sub-optimal. As long as you are the child of a Senator, buying a kidney is just another Tuesday. Nigeria deifies the inordinate and criminalises the hallowed.

To rebuild would require a generation of people who are fearless in the face of guns at Ozumba Mbadiwe. To rebuild Nigeria will require the press to not be the puppet sock of the powers that be. To rebuild Nigeria will require a portion of politicians to damn the consequences of election primaries, not kowtowing to godfathers for the sake of the people, the mission of liberation. To rebuild Nigeria would require a loss of many firstborns and last borns.

To rebuild Nigeria would require a culture of remembering the blood spilled for the cause of rebuilding. Until we attain this collective realisation, the Japa wave of young and old alike will be unending. Our churches and mosques will continue to pray to God for solutions he has put in our hands and hearts.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said some days to his death. And it did bend towards justice, and will continue to bend. We are full of hope for this cause. We need better leaders, but more importantly, we need better citizens.

Continue Reading

Editorial

New minimum wage and the informal sector

Published

on

The Minimum Wage Act of 2019 signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari set the amount at N30,000. Five years later, not all governors are paying the current wage award which expired in April. The Act is to be reviewed every five years to meet up with contemporary economic demands of workers.

The informal sector has the dominant population of citizens, what provision is the government making to cater for them other than palliatives. The Muhammadu Buhari leg of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Federal Government failed to wave the magic wand they had promised during the campaigns towards the 2015 presidential election. Instead, the economy was left in utter ruin as Buhari handed over to Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29, 2023.

From day one, the current government deftly transferred the burden of petrol subsidy removal to Nigerians one month ahead of the supposed take-off time, skyrocketing pump price above 300 percent. The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, floated the Naira against its foreign counterparts, thus eliminating the differential between the official and black market rates. Within weeks, the Naira tumbled to almost N2,000 to the Dollar.

Businesses – the big, small and multinationals – started closing down or leaving the economy because of the astronomical cost of production. Unemployment and hunger worsened. Inflation hit the highest point in our living memory.

Not done yet, the Federal Government announced the hike of electricity tariff from 68kwH to 225kwH as from April 1, 2024. The CBN had also instructed the banks to collect 0.5 percent levies on transactions, until public outcry led to a paise of the instruction. As a result of these and other government-induced price increases, other service providers, notably Multichoice, have announced their own price increases.

Government policies, rather than fix the economy,  keep eating away the real income of the populace. The struggling middle class, meant to be the social safety buffer between the rich and poor, is near extinction.

All palliative measures announced by the Federal Government – salary awards, cash transfers, introduction of gas-powered public transport vehicles and release of food from the strategic reserves – are yet to produce meaningful economic impact. Yet, this government is responsible for the appointment of the highest number of ministers ever in Nigeria’s history.

Judging from the foreign economic trips and elements of the controversial Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway contract, the controllers of governance live in a different world of their own. There exists a gulf between the leaders and the populace.

This disparity has not gone unnoticed. If we must tighten our belts to rebuild the economy, the leaders ought to set the example. Without being a part of the travail, how will the leaders be inspired or motivated to lead well and get us out of this mess?

Nigeria’s progress is dependent on the accountability of its leaders, and more importantly, their sense of humanity. History books are replete with demagogues in the guise of political leaders. The renewed hope agenda should prove its antagonists wrong. Nigeria can be fixed, its people are not hopeless. The ball is in the court of the elected leaders.

Continue Reading

Trending