The challenges facing Nigeria are well known, in theory, but largely, we have not come to a full grasp of those challenges because we have found it more convenient to turn our eyes away from its sordid realities.
However, the year 2016 might go down in Nigeria’s history as the melting pot with which to gauge what becomes of the Nigerian nation state in the future, beginning with the certainty that the era of crude oil bonanza is gone forever. Leaders who specialize in the sleazy evacuation of state resources are still very much with us though, and for most Nigerians, we really don’t know what to do with these sets of Nigerians. In our perverted sense of justice, we are less aggrieved with the top civil servant who stole USD1 Billion than we are with a common thief who stole a N1000.
We may never really succeed in comprehending the nation’s outlook in 2016 or beyond if we have not dealt decisively with the menace of corruption or more generally, our ethos as a Nation. At best we’ll simply continue in the same tradition of self-deceit and adulation or the outright emasculation of views tending to our collective rectitude
The republic of South Korea was in a strait similar to our own years ago, but was able to resolve the daunting challenge through a national orientation program, which defined a uniform character for the citizens. China, Japan, USA, and several other countries in the world have remained prosperous over years because their citizens subscribed to common commitments. What common commitments do we subscribe to as citizens of Nigeria? What common outlook do we share as a people?
We cannot have economic prosperity or political stability until we confront the nagging questions affecting the cohesion of our nation states. Yes, we have come a long way in trying to build a strong, united and prosperous country, but those efforts are undermined by the realities of our differences. Our differences are not cultural, tribal or religious – those are hallmarks of our diversity. Our differences rather, are rooted in the massive absence of justice as a way of life. We have mastered the art of perverting the cause of justice for self-gain.
What then is the outlook in 2016 and beyond?
Economic turnaround will be heavily dependent on the agricultural sector as investment capital find increasing outlet in food production, processing and exports, and generating the multiplier effect of job creation, domestic economy expansion and definitely, a shift in the urban-rural equation as more people find progress in rural agricultural activities. This projection however, may be muffed by government policy posture of maintaining a dual foreign exchange regime which gives uneven advantage to select private enterprises. In consequence therefore, it is to be expected that government will completely abolish its current foreign exchange policy of subsidizing imports by some private entrepreneurs. The entire arrangement is nauseating, self-defeating and unsustainable, apart from being unjust.The fears that portfolio investors would take harmful advantage of our economy if the Naira is unprotected against the dollar may sound plausible, but we should rather curtail drastically, our imports to shore up the exchange value of the Naira against other currencies.
Infrastructure, Agriculture and the mining sectors will lead the way in navigating the economy out of the doldrums.Concerted effort is required to galvanize the advantage of our huge population for meaningful results in higher employment rate, social equity and domestic market expansion.
High risk and capital intensive sectors of the extractive industry are probably as bright as agriculture if it were possible to replicate the AlikoDangote personae in the areas of industrial mining. Fortunately, the government is already revitalizing the iron ore and steel plants but definitely, we’ll need entrepreneurs with the shrewdness of a Jim Ovia or the charisma of an AlikoDangote to kick start the country’s industrialization. It is most disheartening that the country imports minor industrial minerals such as kaolinwhich is abundantly available in several parts of the country.
The country’s economic outlook in the final analysis is a function of the ability of government to vigorously pursue developments that will improve the living standard of the people. The quality of our leadership in politics and business will largely determine what becomes of the economy and her citizens.
At the moment, corruption, blurred government policy direction and an unorganized citizenry remain the status quo until the much awaited change begins to take effect.