Why are we still at the very stage of development that we thought we should have passed twenty or more years ago? A quotation from the book titled “Home is for the people” will suffice. I quote:
“The worst thing to give to a short man is a seat from which his legs cannot reach the ground. To ensure that his legs touch the ground, he shifts forward thereby losing the back support”. Unquote.
Imported rice has been banned, but what do you find in Aso Rock, the various State Governments Houses, and quarters of serving Ministers, Advisers and Commissioners? Are they the local Abakaliki rice, the Ofada rice or the likes?
No. They are still the imported rice, the Uncle Bens, Tomatoes, etc types. Yet farmers are being advised by the various leaderships to cultivate and produce more of what the latter would not consume nor buy as gift items. Have the farmers produced more from the farms? No. Has the unwanted not happened again?
I like to digress a little bit to bring further home the import of the word “development”. India was poorer than Nigeria in the early seventies and there was large scale hunger in their land then.
This situation forced some Indian engineers, doctors and scientists to emigrate and seek teaching appointments here in Nigeria as Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry teachers. Where are the Indians today? They have become the Managing Directors of most of our companies and businesses. Why? Because they were not given any “false” sense of development.
Jawara Nehru did not import the idea of “giant” first class structures like we have today to break the cycle of poverty and backwardness in India. He knew that the development of India required an organic approach. He directed Indians to first of all fight hunger by planting vegetables in place of their most cherished “flowers” where necessary.
He stressed that a gradual end to hunger was in sight within three months, as some vegetables would have been harvested for consumption. He remained a part of the policy. So they fought hunger not by importing more “rice” or other cereals but by growing what they had. Gradually, they developed cheap irrigation practices until overwhelming harvest compelled them to add processing and preservation methods.
During the period, they developed and used about 100m (300 feet) medium borehole handpumps (Indian Mark I, Indian Mark II & Indian Mark III) for water supply and irrigation but later exported same to various parts of the world. The sale of Indian Mark II was astronomical in the 1980s tagged “water decade” thus bringing into India the much needed foreign exchange to shore up their foreign reserve.
Indian Mark II or III handpumps are still being imported into Nigeria (and all over Africa) up till today for the operation of the various UN, UNICEF, USADE, federal and state governments’ borehole water supply schemes. India did not start by importing the largest turbines and pumpsets from renowned first class pump manufacturers in Europe, America, or China their neighbour in Asia to deliver water for the irrigation of their cultivable farmlands.
By contrast, what do we have in Nigeria today? Our leaders claim to champion development by importing “finished” products with “cutting edge” technology from the developed countries. Think of the gas powered (alias powergas) power projects, for example. Yes, there is trade liberalization. No doubt. Sugar is imported, same with rice, and lots more.
What gain can trade liberalization bring to a rice farmer in Nigeria under subsistence occupation? What gain is there when all implements of farming and chemicals have to be imported? What gain is there when the new powergas concept is yet to enter into our educational curriculum so that we can generate the necessary manpower to maintain or improve on it? This is just an aspect of our national life. Absence of home grown technologies through defective and destructive government policies!
Refineries were down for years but could not be maintained without importing refurbishment components. Same with the railway and train, and we have to invite China to help rebuild ours even when the first set of brilliant and overseas trained engineers in Nigeria were largely from the Nigerian Railway.
Nigerian Airways, vehicle assembly plants, manufacturing industries all suffer from the same problem. New components of any equipment have to be imported. Vehicle parts up to used second hand “Tokunbo” sparking plugs and other parts are imported. (Surprisingly, even pants and braziers come in as “Tokunbo” for our use). Yet, we sing and dance to the admiration of deceptive, corrupt and foolish leaderships! Where then is the development in these past years of military regimes or civilian administrations?
Bitumen is largely imported for road making in spite of the abundant tar sand in the land. Crude petroleum is exported in exchange for finished imported petroleum products – petrol, diesel and kerosene, for instance. Brazil is not blessed with crude oil, yet it does not import fuel. She depends for its fuel on ethanol manufactured from sugarcane, grown and harvested in the land.
All vehicles produced locally or imported are built to conform to 85% ethanol and 15% diesel fuel mixture available locally in Brazil. Surprisingly, it was most probable that this ethanol technology was tapped from Nigeria because the Eastern Region (then known as Republic of Biafra) converted coconut oil to hydraulic oil, etc, to drive their vehicles and plants during the Nigerian civil war years.
Even in America where capitalism is at its peak, all imported crude oil are locally refined daily. In addition, new oil wells are being sunk to augment existing ones to minimize importation (consumption). In spite of this, American government makes move everyday to seek alternatives to crude oil for heating, vehicular movement and power production.
About 116 ethanol plants are already functioning in the US with another 79 units under construction (apology to Whiskey and Gunpowder). The Nigerian leaderships would not see anything similar even if it is in a bid to resolve the Niger Delta oil crisis. Instead, force must be employed, any resistance crushed, and unit price of fuel increased locally at all cost.
In an attempt to use force, damages have been made to pipelines, oil workers held hostages, production platforms and refineries vandalized, etc. The government intended to generate more revenue.
Yes, but ended loosing much more. Who says that the unwanted side of development is not happening again?
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