The current state of the Nigerian economy and its infrastructural leanings is unfathomable. Thanks to years of neglect, corruption and nonchalance by the despots that masquerade as leaders since independence.
With a staggering population of 175 million (2013 est.), our human resource and propensity to develop is and should be unrivalled but the glaring and unfortunate reality shows clearly we are micromanaging our potentials.
In Nigeria, bringing up good reforms in key sectors of the economy from Agriculture, Health, Education and Power has never been a challenge. In fact, it’s as routine as coffee breaks. We get lost in the process due to the sabotaging efforts of our self-seeking and politically minded leaders.
Of note is the Nigerian education sector. Since the return of democracy in 1999, the country has had ten Education Ministers with each of them introducing supposedly good policies. Just as the seeds begin to blossom into a flower, the administration is changed, the policies have not had the capacity to run on autopilot and we begin to undulate in a cyclic twist of ineptitude.
When Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, the immediate past World Bank Managing Director for Africa was Nigeria’s Education Minister, she did curate a couple of policies by reinventing the country’s Education framework from 6-3-3-4 to 9-3-4. Six years after, the ripple effects of policies like these are at an abysmal low.
Classrooms from Primary to Tertiary institutions of learning in the country are an eyesore; other physical infrastructures that actually make learning comfortable like furniture are dilapidated. There are no books in the libraries and if they are, it’s outdated. The curriculum and instructional guides are not pedagogical and to crown the insolence, the graduates that are churned out of the system can’t compete for jobs in the industrial age, more less this information age.
I’m not in any way swerving towards pessimism, in fact, I’m an eternal optimist. In the midst of this madness, there seem to be some few flashes of brilliance. For the past two years, The Nigerian Agriculture Ministry has been managed by a technocrat who sees the big picture.
Nigeria’s agricultural output for two years now has consistently been northward bound. The Minister has an eye for detail and he’s quite prescient in managing the people and the processes in the ministry.
Prior to 2011, Nigeria loses 66% of its agricultural produce just from the farm to the market. The entire value and supply chain wasn’t seamless. Dr. Adesina, the man at the helm of affairs adopted and implemented strategies that were sine qua non to sustainable development.
For instance, the Nigerian fertilizer distribution chain was reeking with corruption prior to his arrival. The real beneficiaries, the farmers have been constantly force-fed with a constant diet of half-truths and whole lies regarding the status of their fertilizer needs. The real case scenario at the point was that the elites where diverting the subsidized or near-free fertilizers into the commercial markets.
As soon as this gaping hole was closed, agricultural output in 2012 had an increase of 42% and was the highest contributor to the GDP only after the Petroleum Ministry. That’s the power a maverick wields in making developmental agendas work. For development to have a place of permanence in our polity, those in the position of authority like this must stick to be transformational and not transactional leaders.
The reform for development in key areas is imperative and long overdue and I’m of the opinion that we consistently need to drive ourselves towards perfection. The key policy wonks must put the qualified people at the right places so we would hasten up the pace of development and make our society become that last best hope, for all those who are called to the cause of freedom, who yearn for a life of peace and who want a better future.
As we approach 2015, it’s propitious of us to revisit the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which is an acceptable international benchmark of development and ask ourselves stern questions on what we did right and where we went wrong for progress to be entrenched. There sure wouldn’t be development without the people and this would in turn make the citizens of the country regain believe in themselves, putting away the complexes of the years of denigration and self-abasement.