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Why Nigeria Must Discard Unfit Borrowed Development Models

Why Nigeria Must Discard Unfit Borrowed Development Models

When a round peg is plugged into a round hole, it fits in. Trying to plug a square peg into a round hole is a fruitless venture. Over the years, Nigeria’s leaderships have copiously adopted development models, particularly from that of western countries with high disregard for variations in cultural and social orientations, educational development levels, natural economic operating patterns, among other variations.
A couple of examples can enhance clarity here. Nigeria is blessed with numerous natural, human and material resources that many of the countries being emulated do not have. Unfortunately, managers of Nigeria’s economy have over the years, built the nation’s budget and economic planning around crude oil, which constitutes just one of the nation’s numerous resources. Most times, planning is not data-driven. This approach has repeatedly resulted in consistently growing records of deficits in housing, employment and other basic needs of the huge population. Yet, government has continued to adopt a failed approach as if it is under some spell.
Nigeria has a labour-driven economy. Most western countries have technology-driven economies. Yet, efforts are repeatedly made to adopt methodologies of a technology-driven economy in Nigeria and they are usually misnomers. Government’s order issued to schools to adopt online teaching methods immediately during the lockdown amidst the Covid19 pandemic is a typical example of attempting to adopt a model that is not applicable to the Nigerian environment.
Another reason that borrowed ways of life of the western world in particular should be discarded by the Nigerian government, is that it has rendered the government totally blind to local inventions, some of which when encouraged, can bring initiative of the so-called world powers under subjection.
I applaud government’s recent declaration of intentions to explore the possibility of using locally developed drugs for tackling COVID19. This move must be followed up to a logical conclusion because it will not constitute a taboo if Nigerian government liaises with the private sector to produce locally, drugs, medical test kits, ventilators and other essentials. Countries like Madagascar, Senegal and the United States of America have looked inwards, taking advantage of their local scientists, some of who are Nigerians, and are coming up with drugs, ventilators and kits to tackle COVID19. There is nothing these countries have in terms of local raw materials that Nigeria does not have.
It is time for our government to break the spell of colonially enslaved mindsets and begin to look in-country for development. It is time to stop preferring Chinese engineers to Nigerian engineers for road construction, Chinese doctors to Nigerian doctors in efforts to tackle COVID19 and foreign prepaid electricity meters to Nigerian made meters.
An American born Economist who visited Nigeria to validate the perception that Nigeria was actually the Giant of Africa, expressed the opinion below in an interview with a Nigerian television station and his opinion can hardly be faulted. In course of the interview, the interviewer asked:
“You have spent two weeks in Nigeria carrying out your research about the strength of her economy. What are your findings?”
He replied “Well, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed my stay really but I discovered that Nigeria is the strongest economy in the world.”
He went on to explain that “I have not said she is the most prosperous economy of the world, mind you. I say so because Nigeria happens to be the largest economy that can survive with the absence of government support except in the area of ensuring security, law and order.
In America for example, the Wall Street would crash if there is failure of public power supply for two hours. In London, the transportation system would fail and there would be huge economic loss if there is power failure for two hours. There would be chaos and breakdown of law and order if government fails to supply water and gas to the people for one week.
But in Nigeria, the government fails to provide health facility. The people don’t complain. Private individuals provide it at high cost. They live with it without complaints. The government fails to provide quality education. Private individuals provide it at high cost. They embrace it and live with it without complaints.
The government fails to provide electricity for local industries to thrive but when private individuals want to start a business, they use their personal funds to purchase a power generating set and buy fuel at very high cost to run their business. Then, still feel comfortable paying multiple tax to the same government.
When the government fails to provide public transportation for the free movement of goods and services in Nigeria, a private individual would somehow source for funds to buy a car and convert it to a cab to ensure the free flow of goods and services and at the end, pay tax to that same government and feel cool about it.
So in a nut shell, Nigeria’s economy is surviving almost without the support of her government. But take away 50% support of government from the so called great economies of America, England, Germany, France, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa and Japan, their economies would crumble within weeks.”
When crude oil was selling at $65 per barrel, Nigerians didn’t feel the effect. It was the selected few that kept looting the money. Now that crude oil is selling at $11 or $12 per barrel, it still has little or no impact on the average Nigerian on the street.
So, Nigeria’s economy is peculiar in nature and different from that of any other country. The private sector is so large and generates more revenue than government but is so ignored. The public sector is so huge but highly incompetent and corrupt. This is not the status of those countries out there that government struggles to copy models from. So, the copycat approach to the nation’s development should be discarded by policy decision makers in the interest of the country’s development.

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