Nigeria: Redirecting the lost giant
“When we innovate, we create millions of jobs, we build the companies that lead the world, we are healthier, and we make our lives more productive”, this was written by Bill Gates on accelerating innovation with leadership. Moving Nigeria to the status of a First World nation is a challenge any willing leader should love to take on. Blessed with natural resources and a large population, Nigeria has the potential to compete with other nations of the world in any sector, but we need first to put our home in order by diversifying our economy, and restructuring our institutions to cover up the loopholes that allow for corruption. To move Nigeria from being a third world country to a first world nation, a leader should in no particular order, invest in education, increase the manufacturing capacity of the nation, remove the hurdles facing entrepreneurs, provide basic infrastructure that propel a nation’s growth, be dedicated to providing statistics and information, promote mining and agriculture, make the environment tourist-friendly, promote the numerous traditions we have in Nigeria and most importantly, invest in and support innovation.
Every sector in present day Nigeria has decayed and the most delicate of all, which is the education sector has suffered the most. Investing in education should be top priority in moving Nigeria to the status of a first world nation. Taking a cue from first world nations like Luxembourg, Singapore, and Switzerland which have 59.6%, 54.7% and 51.3% respectively of people in high-skilled employment, according to the Human Capital Index 2015. A leader should educate the population to the extent of attaining at least 99% literacy rate and 80% of high-skilled citizens. This can be done by revamping the educational system of the country. Firstly, all the syllabuses in Nigerian schools should be reviewed, especially in the universities, in such a way that they should meet up with the current international standards and subsequently set the standards for syllabuses around the world. Also by improving the researching capacity of our universities and making them more practical oriented than they currently are. Then go ahead to remove the numerous hurdles students face while trying to get into the universities by creating a system whereby students can apply to as many universities as they wish in other to give them more options and reduce the number of high school graduates lurking the streets. An educated population can propel innovation and turn out good leaders, and this combination is what is needed to move Nigeria to the status of a first world country. Innovation makes a country competitive in the global market.
A testimony to the massive effect that the availability of basic infrastructure can have on the economy of a nation or state is Lagos State, Nigeria. The government of Lagos State over the past couple of years have invested heavily on roads and good transportation system and thus the state has experienced consistent growth making it the fifth largest economy in Africa, if it were a country, according to Wikipedia. To move Nigeria to the status of a first world nation there should be focus on provision of basic infrastructure. This should be done by investing in a good transport system that should not only connect people with their destinations across the country but connect them as quickly as humanly possible, in other to save time which ultimately benefits businesses in the country. Also, investing heavily on power so that the nation becomes a nation of light. To do this a pubic private partnership should be started on electricity generation, as well as allowing each state to generate electricity if it can, while holding on to distribution and price regulation to protect the citizens. Furthermore, there should be adequate security by making provision for state policing while putting them under the watchful eyes of security agencies under the control of the Federal Government. Adequate security would go a long way as it would lay to rest the fears of tourists and foreign investors alike. Other basic infrastructure that should be provided include, proper water supply channel and good drainage to prevent flood.
Also, a lot of focus should be placed on the manufacturing industries. Nigeria is nowhere near being a first world nation when it comes to manufacturing. The country can barely boast of competitive or prospering automobile manufacturing companies, electronics manufacturing companies, aircraft manufacturing companies, among others. In this regard, a leader should first create a fund that will be accessible to all entrepreneurs who are interested in manufacturing, reduce or remove taxes on start-ups, reduce taxes on foreign companies that have their manufacturing done in Nigeria, increase taxes on imported goods and limit the amount of goods that can be imported thereby forcing up prices of such goods and making them less competitive. Also, invest in research institutions.
The political environment of the nation cannot be overlooked when it comes to development and making Nigeria a first world nation. Nigeria claims to be practising federalism but that is far from the truth. Every state in the federation should become self-sufficient, the states should be given more powers which will be checked by the Federal Government. States should be given control of the natural resources embedded in their soils, they should trade these resources and a percentage should be sent to the Federal Government. That way there would be competition among the states and that would foster development. Tourism is the main source of income and employment for countries like Macau, Seychelles, Cayman Island, Tanzania, and many other nations. According to UNWTO’s Tourism Barometer, tourists spent $126.2 billion in the United States in 2012. Nigeria being a nation occupied by over two hundred and fifty tribes provides a lot to be seen and learnt from the history, dialect, delicacy and culture of these different people. Investing in promoting the heritage of all tribes should be of top priority, creating museums to house and showcase the history of the people of each tribe, organising festivals for each tribe around the year, advertising age-long festivals and the history behind them on international media. Investing in beautification of the environment to portray the history of the inhabitants, providing schools to teach foreigners the language of any place or tribe they would like to visit, protecting landmarks and age long sites. With adequate security, a stable political environment, basic infrastructure and well beautified environment, Nigeria can tap into the wealth of the ever growing world of tourism.
The role of statistics in development can never be over stated. Government, investors, large businesses, small businesses and tourists all need statistics that they can rely on to make decisions on their relationship with the country. A leader should invest in making sure that the National Bureau of Statistics is well funded to provide regular statistics on the death rate, birth rate, national debt, national resources, level of poverty, level of inequality, and other information needed by all the stakeholders in the economy. This way proper planning can be made which ultimately brings about progress and development.
Nigeria has the potential and can be a first world country with dedicated leadership.
Moyinoluwa writes from YABATECH, Lagos