By Okunrinboye Olu
I am quite prepared to leave history to judge whether I was telling the truth or whether the British governments are honorable in what they say.- Sir Roy Welensky
For over two years after President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration came on board, the government has been fighting corruption which unfortunately seemed to be a never ending battle. Today, corruption has become a common challenge to many nations of the world and there is really no excuse that the battle against corruption be given-up as a lost exercise.
It is not an under-statement that this government invited corrupt officials of the past government to participate in its administration. Officials that were involved in high degrees of bribing and acted as loathing corruptive machineries to demean Nigerians were seen as drivers of the present administration.
Unfortunately, the government was not properly advised by administrative technocrats that fighting corruption is a tiny item on the existing list of Nigerian problems. The present government totally neglected Nigerian’s economic growth because of the oil boom. This situation gave enough room for Boko Haram to concentrate its dastard operation in the more efficient battle zone and neglected wilderness of North East of Nigeria. No doubt, loathing after corruption by the government has no doubt exposed various dubious avenues that many ‘super-rich’ Nigerian brats were making illegal wealth. However, we are yet to block existing loopholes through which the Nigerian looting machinery became fervently operational. The national economy is stylishly grinding to a halt with no adequate food supply, good health, sound infrastructural facilities, reliable electricity and unemployment. Many Nigerians are now dying in an unprecedented manner for lack of good welfare and adequate medical care. Unfortunately, most Nigerian children can no longer attend schools for lack of educational facilities and well-motivated teachers. Presently, it is too late to apportion blames as most Nigerians are very hungry and have become scavenger to eke out a living. Many people are at the close point of their death with no patience for any excuses by our leaders.
In 1932, there was a ‘general depression’ in United States of America during which millions of American lost their jobs and homes. President Franklin Roosevelt – the people’s president regularly explained to U.S. citizens the things that were affecting the nation. His famous and regular broadcast, “fire side chat” forged a bond between him and the people. The depression changed the lifestyle of Americans as many banks became bankrupt. There was a financial panic during which many businesses and stock-market closed down operations. The high lifestyle of some Americans disappeared from the society during the “great depression” otherwise called the “worst financial disaster” of the modern world. It was described as the “bed-dream that would never end” by president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who later became the only American president elected for more than two tenures. The arbitrary power with which he introduced “the National industrial Recovery Act” was unpopular but he said the one thing we have to fear is “fear itself”. He did not deal with specific issues but with events and challenges as they arose.
It is a common statement that the modern economy needs a sound financial system to transfer huge bank savings into productive investment. Ismail Radom and Gulia Pallegrin in their book, Knowledge, Productivity and Innovation in Nigeria explained the theoretical expectation on Nigerian’s hope to become one of the top 20 nations in the world if the nation can base her economic recovery on educational revolution and not natural resources. Similarly, the World Bank reported that “Knowledge” has always been germane to development and emphasized the difference between poverty and wealth. Other contributor to the World Bank Report, apart from Guilin Pellegrini & Chukwuemeka Ugochukuwu was Amus Wyesinha of Leads University. The report further analyzed “the Knowledge Assessment Methodology (KAM) development” and based the inherent postulation on four points that were unfortunately lacking in the country:
Skills and Education; Business Environment; Information and communication and Innovation system
The above authors postulated further that there is hope to achieve planned developmental target if the present government seven-point agenda can be successfully implemented. These include: “increase in power production, investment in education and health, boosting agriculture production, and all achievable with the concept of peaceful and corrupt free Nigeria is a divided and polarised nation always experiencing tribal conflicts, religious intolerance, unstable security to life and property. We must endeavor to erase the clear divisions between the haves and have-nots, while changing the ‘merely sufficient to enough’ of the national sharing values.
Similarly, Jellrey D. Sachis Bono in his book, Ending Poverty established that millions of people die every year because of poverty and due to diarrhea, respiratory infection, weakness due to chronic hunger, accidents, lack of health information, unstable electricity, sound education, etc. Furthermore, Sachis postulated that attempt to end poverty must include remarkable progress in education, technology, economic growth, good health financing to build modern hospitals stuck full with the right equipment, medicines, etc.
Today, there are many countries that have similar economic challenges. It is necessary to examine how they wriggled out of their economic woods. For example, the rapid economic growth of China and Indian are worthy of our educational study. Both China and India based their economic developments on the similar system of adjusting and improving governmental structures, industrial establishments, resource control, resolving general constraints. Constant technological improvements, achievable national goals, strong belief in nationhood and strategic management approach for identifying reasonable solutions that can galvanize economic growth.
They believed that strong health, good welfare and education for children as well as achieving pressing human needs will drive economic growth. Similarly, they understand that to fulfill human needs will speed up national economic growth. This belief is rife that above approach will assist thorough understanding of their countries. The “World Bank Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network” (DREM) will be a useful tool if Buhari’s “think-tank” can consider various studies initiated by the World Bank (e.g., PREM, etc.) that can help Nigeria’s recovery and the pursuit of poverty reduction.
Our president must endeavour to drive himself past the breaking point in all ramifications. In other words, this government, which has not done enough to improve the economy by working in the opposite direction, can put extra efforts towards achieving the common national goal. Mchatma Ghandi once said, “When restraint and commitment are added to strength, the latter becomes irritable.” It should be well understood that innovation and technology are the crucial tools for human capital development. This is important for president Buhari’s administration in order to achieve a reasonable linkage among trade and investment, education and technology; that are essential to the national growth. The emerging economics in the world are the future markets for international trade and investment that promote economic growth for full/fuller employment and wealth creation.
Education, science and technology are important tools for diverse co-operations among developed countries of the world. A Stanford University research once pointed to the fact that: “without improving the school quality, developing countries will find it difficult to improve their long run economic performance.” It is unfortunate that some presumed educated leaders are parochial in their opinions. Recently, someone openly criticised Buhari for supporting good education. Nigerians need specialised skills and effective trainings for educational institutions to take full advantage of human, industrial and economic developments. Nigeria and other developing countries need reliable social infrastructural base for economic growth. Also, there is need for deep regional integration and building of skilled workforce that can drive the economy.
Recently, it was gratifying to read in The Guardian of an interview credited to Governor of Kastina State, Aminu Bello Musari, in which he stated that: “Education is the sure way to tackling poverty.” “I am proud to admit that Kastina State made its name because of education….” And “… not from oil or any other thing.” “Without education, Kastina State cannot compete with other states in fighting poverty.” It is on record that an Indian indigene and graduate of about 20-year old worked as transcriber for a new India Information Technology (IT) company operating in Tamic Nadn Chennai with her IT education. She was able to move from data transcription to financial record testing and financial consulting, thus creating jobs for others. Today, India and China governments have become the emerging technological base of the world and engine-room of global development. Suffice it to say that advancement in education will end our economic challenges and elevate other poor nations of the world.
Access to quality education can equip the national work-force with adequate skills, developmental knowledge and creative ideas needed to compete in IT and knowledge-based global economy. For example, China and India invested in technology that inspired them to build modern factories with machineries and operational techniques that can run at relatively low cost while training workers on required proficiency skills. As a catalyst of growth in this dynamic arena, China increased her export value from $20 billion in 1980 to over $400 billion in 2004. Today, China has become the world’s second largest economy and a single contributor to the annual increase of global GDP, and it is still growing. Also, India made similar significant improvement in her export within the same period.
High level innovation and technology growth revolve around economic growth used to address high food supply, improved electricity, safe drinking water and highly trained work-force in many nations. Notable achievements and advancements in the global community of science, knowledge and innovation have fueled the 21st century, technological innovations that were vital to the global growth.
All we have in Nigeria are schools and colleges with literary and numeric proficiencies that were the start-point of the 21st century education. But specialised skills and technological training in our higher educational institutions are needed to take full advantage of the global economy growth. I plead with Buhari’s administration to understand and act according to the common saying, “only the paranoid and fittest can survive.” Every national crisis is a revised call for action and the bigger the crisis is, the more frantic the call for action becomes.
– Originally published in The Guardian, November 27, 2017
By Okunrinboye Olu