Restructuring: To what end?
Sir: Since the Industrial Revolution, no country has developed nor can develop outside industrialisation. The major characteristic of industrialisation is that it thrives only on the economy of scale based on the capacity for mass production and access to mass market. The U.S. is a perfect example of a country that has been able to achieve these.
If Nigeria does not industrialise, especially through agricultural mechanisation, there’s no hope for her political and economic survival. But the problem is the division of Nigeria into mini, dependent, parasitic, unviable states that represent economic close circuits but tied to the apron strings of Aso Rock, is a dis-incentive, even an antithesis of industrialisation. Standing alone, none of these weak states has the financial capacity to establish the kind of industries that can guarantee global competitiveness.
Indeed, if cooperation and economic federation are being pursued at both regional and continental levels for obvious reasons even among the sophisticated economies of Europe, Asia, Latin America, even the United Arab Emirate, the viability of mini-state-based economy in Nigeria becomes glaringly an exercise in futility.
What then to do? First, I suggest the creation of four, at most six, geo-political- cum industrial zones based on raw material competitive advantage(s) of each zone. This will encourage both complementarity and healthy competition among the zones. Second, the zones must mechanise agriculture for mass both output and value addition.
It is necessary to warn that if we delay to mechanise agriculture and industrialise our economy, but instead continue with the traditional export of mere primary commodities that are losing both monetary and intrinsic values in the international markets, Nigeria’s economy is doomed. Consider this: Because of the failure to industrialise as a driver of economic diversification, Nigeria remains stranded at both ECOWAS and AfCFTA levels. This is so because, given the competing, non-complementary nature of Africa’s primary products, Nigeria can only export the primary products that the other member states are trying hard to dump on Nigeria. But then, Nigeria is not even producing enough to meet its local consumption, not to talk of exporting.
My submission is that Nigeria must do two things quickly: De-emphasise the political intra-ethnic coloration and the syndrome of who-gets-what of a shrinking ‘‘national cake.’’ For, this seems to be the core of the cry for restructuring.
Second, we need to focus on and redirect the narrative to making Nigeria an industrial economy of global standing. The alternative is Nigeria’s disintegration into penury and irrelevance. ‘‘Pity the nation,’’ wrote Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, ‘‘divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.’’
Dare Arokoyo, Ph.D lives alternately in Lagos and Benin Republic.
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