Mr. Leke Alder, Principal, Alder Consulting, has in a lecture entitled Making Nigeria Great: Federated Potentials, outlined veritable means of the shooting the nation back to glory days.
Below are excerpts from the lecture, followed by its detailed PDF document:
Making Nigeria Great: Federated Potentials
This is Dubai in 1970. This is Dubai today.
You could argue Dubai is a city state and therefore, cannot and should not be compared to Nigeria. The land mass of Dubai is a mere 4,114 sq.km. The land mass of Nigeria is 923,768sq.km. The population of Dubai is 3.1M. The population of Nigeria is 195M. And so the argument is credible that the two states are not comparable. But when we talk about the greatness of a nation we’re talking qualitative parameters.
Irrespective of size or land mass, the Emirati have cause to be proud of their country. Patriotism is something they willingly grab because the evidentiary basis of patriotism is manifest.
Everyone talks about the visionary leadership of the leader of Dubai. Greatness is a function of vision. From all available evidence, this has been a great challenge for Nigeria.
The modern history of Nigeria began with a group we can term the “Class of ’66.” These were military personnel who pivoted the federation along a certain trajectory. Notable members of that class are Odumegwu Ojukwu, Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, John Shagaya, Muhammadu Buhari, Mamman Vasta, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Theophilus Danjuma etc. They were all young.
Name Rank Position in 1966 Age
1 Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu Major 29
2 Adewale Ademoyega Major 32
3 Murtala Mohammed Lt. Colonel Inspector of Signal Lagos 28
4 Theophilus Danjuma Major Principal Staff Officer, Army HQ, Lagos 28
5 Abba Kyari Major Artillery, Kaduna 28
6 Muhammadu Buhari Lieutenant 2nd Brigade Lagos 24
7 Ibrahim Babangida Lieutenant 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, Kaduna 25
8 Mamman Vatsa Lieutenant 4th Battalion, Ibadan 26
9 Sani Abacha Second Lieutenant 3rd Battalion, Kaduna 23
10 John Shagaya Corporal 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, Abeokuta 24
11 Chuwumeka Ojukwu Major Military Governor, Eastern Region 33
12 Olusegun Obasanjo Major 29
13 Emmanuel Ifeajuna Major 32
14 Muhammadu Gado Nasko Second Lieutenant Artillery, Kaduna 25
15 Abdullahi Shelleng Lieutenant Company Commander, 4th Battalion, Ibadan 24
They overthrew the old order, developed a military intervention apology, restructured the federation, fashioned the constitution and while at it prosecuted a civil war. That generation has been in power since 1966 and has retained power till date. Any non-member of that class who became president was either gifted the presidency, or was an accidental outcome of the rhythm of life. They gave power to Shehu Shagari and took it from him. They gave power to Ernest Shonekan and took it from him.
They gave power to Umaru Musa Yar’adua as proxy, which said power accidentally devolved to a lucky gentleman named Goodluck Jonathan. He held it as a donee for six years until it reverted to another member of the “Class of ’66.” In other words what Nigeria is today is the result of the power dynamics in that class. For the most therefore, the progression of Nigeria has been premised on the ambition and chess moves in that generation.
A study of the span of political history of that generation shows there are three inflection points that approximate vision.
The first inflection point was the public works drive of Yakubu Gowon as part of the reconstruction of the country after the civil war. We had just come into oil money and so there was prosecutorial means. Gowon built Eko Bridge in Lagos for instance. Before then the only bridge in the then federal capital was Carter Bridge, a colonial relic.
The second inflection point was the industrialisation vision of Olusegun Obasanjo in his first incarnation. He built the Ajaokuta Steel Complex with Soviet Assistance. That project underscores the polemical dynamic of the cold war era.
Subscription to the principle of central planning as an economic philosophy will eventually doom all the attempts at industrialisation including the national carrier, the moribund Nigeria Airways. As a first step towards manufacture of cars, Obasanjo set up factories for the assembling of completely knocked down parts at Amuwo Odofin in Lagos. Predictably we never got round to manufacturing cars. We don’t have an industrial base. Obasanjo would make another attempt at industrialising the nation in his second incarnation. The deficiency of the logic of the federation will ensure that vision never flew. In furtherance of the Obasanjo vision, Shagari would complete the Kaduna refinery and Delta Steel complex. He also created the Aluminium Smelter Company at Ikot Abasi.
The third inflection point was the liberalisation policy thrust of Ibrahim Babangida. The liberalisation would open up opportunities for young people like Fola Adeola and Tayo Aderinokun of blessed memory. With about 35 other young people, all in their 30s, they set up Guaranty Trust Bank. Those are the three opportunities the nation has had in crafting the semblance of a vision.
If Nigeria will ever be great it must fashion an economic vision and create a logical consistency to sustain that vision. We have no choice. The poverty statistics are scary. It doubled from 17m in 1980 to 35m in 1985, which then doubled to 67m in 1996 and again doubled to 116m in 2017. Our poverty rate is growing in geometric progression.
We must abandon our predilection for focusing on political deconstruction to the detriment of economic infrastructuring. We keep creating state government but the states can’t pay salaries. We create states without thought of economic viability. Every time you create a state, you create recurrent expenditure heads. State creation is cost. States are run by civil servants. You must pay them salaries.
We have a proven basis for an economic vision for Nigeria. Unlike many nations, Nigeria had start-up capital. We are blessed with 52 mineral resources. Look at the list: Coal, Lignite & Coke, Gold, Columbite Wolframite & Tantalite, Bitumen, Iron Ore, Uranium, Marble, Clay, Cassiterite, Dolomite, Salt, Kaolin, Bentonite, Gypsium, Magnesite, Lead/Zinc, Limestone, Glass-Sand, Phosphate, Amethyst (violet), Berytes, Gem stones, Diatomite, Hydro-carbon (crude oil and gas), Feldsper, Tatium, Granite, Syenite, Marcasite, Butytes, Sapphire, Surpentinite, Asbestos, Kyanite, Graphite, Silhnite, Mica, Aqua marine, Ruby, Rock Crystal, Topaz, Flosper, Tourmaline, Prochinre, Copper, Talc, Beryl (emerald), Haliodor, Quartz, Zireon, Galena, Barytes, Chalcopyrite, Dimesion stones, Sillimnote, Tin, Phrochlore, Bismuth, Fluoride, Molybdenite, Bauxite, Silica-sand, Potash, Flakes, Soda Ash.
There’s no state in Nigeria without mineral resources.
It’s as if the Omnipotence decided to turn Nigeria into a mineral dump. This is the regional breakdown of mineral resources in Nigeria. (See illustration)
If we network the natural endowment of each region we can turn the regions into economic power houses. We must therefore network nature, people and resources region by region if the nation must be great.
To develop the nation and create prosperity for the people Nigeria should be broken into seven economic regions – Northwest, Northeast, Middle Belt, South East, South West, South South and Lagos. (Though one must note there‟s really nothing called South South on the compass. It’s a peculiar Nigeria invention, but it will do.) These seven economic zones will be progressed thematically.
Note, I said economic regions and not political regions. Political regionalism has not delivered prosperity to the people. That’s because it’s wasteful and hegemonic. We never thought of economic viability. Barely 6 out of 36 states are economically viable. We have produced massive poverty with the state creation.
Very few states have the economic heft to do development. They’re hardly investible propositions. It’s why we need economic zones.
But to develop an economy for each zone, we must take into cognisance nativist factors in each economic region. Each region is unique. The people are different. Their mentalities, giftings and orientations are different. A one cap fits all approach has never worked, will never work. You cannot effectively develop the nation without factoring in local realities.
The attempt will fail. You cannot have economic development without consideration of human factor. We must think of the people, the culture, the natural resource endowment as well as the energy base endowment if we want to develop each region.
For example, it is unintelligent to have the same energy policy for a sun drenched region and a water-logged region. The North should be running on solar energy not carbon based energy system. They should be driving Teslas in the North not petrol guzzlers. The reason several attempts at industrialisation have failed is because we didn‟t factor in the variables.
My proposition therefore is what I term nativist federalism. Nativist federalism factors in regional endowment, competitive advantages as well as the proclivity of the people of a particular region. Each region is peculiar in terms of resources, weather condition, mineral endowment, cultural and human inclination.
The people in the North are not like the people in the East. The people in the East are not like people in the West. The people in the West are not like people in the South South. And the people in the South South are not like the people in the Middle Belt. This is Nigeria. Diversity is not her disadvantage. It is the strength of the country. There‟s a reason every attempt to manufacture a national car has come from the East. Clearly Easterners are engineering inclined. We leave it to anthropologists to tell us why but the reality we see is Eastern proclivity for engineering and manufacturing. Nativist federalism insists we must take that factor into account.
Let me illustrate.
Igbos are known for inventiveness, entrepreneurship, dedication and hard work. These are nativist factors. It makes sense to leverage these factors to create an economy for the East. One would therefore expect that the East would become the manufacturing hub for Nigeria, and by extension Africa. The reasoning is simple. That is the natural bend of the people. It‟s like a child. If your child is science inclined you don‟t force him to become a lawyer. If he‟s arts inclined you don‟t force him to become an engineer. You leverage his bend. Same principle applies to federalist nation building.
In economically progressing the nativism of Igbo land the cultural and personality traits of the people must be factored in. For example, the East has developed a successful proprietary business mentoring system that has worked for over 40years.
After a period of service the mentee gets seed funding to start his own business. This system is so successful it has minted many millionaires. We need to domesticate that system into a science. It‟s a complete system. It teaches the values of discipline, hard work and delayed gratification. Trade knowledge and contacts are also passed on under this mentoring system. We must leverage on this mentorship programme and scale it up to develop the East. There‟s Silicon Valley model, there‟s Aba model. Abarism, or the Eastern method of business mentoring must be developed into business science.
The educational policy must follow the logic of the East. And so one would expect the universities in the East to be focused on engineering, manufacturing, industrial design, industrial relations. Other courses can be offered but these will be the strategic courses. In pursuance of this there‟ll be linkages with universities with industrial design strength, like Loughbrough in the UK. The jet engine was developed at Loughbrough.
For that manufacturing hub to fructify however the East will need a port. The port is necessary infrastructure. There‟s a port in Port Harcourt, therefore there must be rail link between Aba and Port Harcourt. This will carry cargo. Eastern export should be done through Port Harcourt, not Lagos.
Without power there can be no manufacturing. The East has an abundance of coal. There‟s also River Niger. The energy system should therefore be based on clean coal and hydro power. The steel industry in Aladja must be linked to the East by rail. Aladja is a main source of raw material. Our rail systems must be strategic. We cannot afford a political rail system that genuflects at the altar of “federal character”. It is a waste of resources. Our primary focus ought to be economic. Cargo ferries are needed for the East as well.
The East can and should become a heavy industry manufacturing hub servicing the whole of Africa. Supportive industries and specialisations will naturally arise when we have a policy focus. That policy focus will drive health care. For example the hospitals in the East will specialise in industrial health medicine. So will the colleges of medicine.
The East should be manufacturing armour vehicles for the Army, tractors for agriculture, excavators for the building industry, and cars for Nigeria. This logic of development flows from the natural endowment of the people, as well as the geography of the East. Nativist federalism insists there must be relational integrity between human endowment and natural resource endowment. In that way we take care of human capacity development and regional development in one stroke.
Our vision will be to turn the East into Taiwan or China. Initially the world will laugh at us, just as they laughed at Taiwan, just as they laughed at China. But along the way we will introduce branding into the mix and set standards for the goods manufactured. We will create an advertising campaign along this line: The matrix of the East economic zone is diagrammaticallyrepresented in this chart:
We can then apply this logic to other economic zones. Lagos will be the finance and enterprise hub. What London is to Europe, Lagos will be to Africa. It will rely on wind energy and hydro power from the Atlantic.
The South West economic zone will focus on commodities, food processing and agro allied industries. That region has the climatic condition of Ghana and Cote d‟Ivoire. Those countries export cassava, cocoa, palm produce, timber, rice, corn, cotton, rubber, beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, sugar, shea nuts, peanuts, palm oil and fish. Together they earned $23.24b from agriculture in 2017. Just ten years ago, they earned just $8.30b (2007). The South West economic zone has the potential to replicate this success.
Brand wise, the Middle Belt economic zone will become a horticultural haven exporting flowers like the Netherlands.
There are miles and miles of sunflowers in Jos. Flowers love the Middle Belt. But the zone will also focus on agriculture in general. Like the West, it should be an agro allied industry zone.
The South South’s strength is energy and aqua farming. The energy system ought to be natural gas, hydro, and for now fossil fuel. As an energy economy, the South South will create capital, operational, and maintenance inputs for the energy sector.
The two economic zones in the North will focus on tannery and commodities for export. The North will host a trade show every year for manufacturers of fashion accessories. Buyers from Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Versace, Burberry, etc., will be invited. They already buy our leather. Our leather is high grade leather. Our cows are tough!
The energy system will be solar. It ought to be solar.
What I’ve presented is a vision for Nigeria. There’s no doubt Nigeria can be great. But you cannot achieve greatness as a nation without intellectual capacity. Neither can you achieve greatness without political will.
If we rise up to the challenge Nigeria will be great. But if we fold our hands and leave things to politicians we will keep battling the same issues for the next 100 years. Just as we’ve been battling the issue of power generation for the past 40 years.
My challenge to you is, what role are you going to play in the development of Nigeria? Are you the one we’re waiting for, or do we wait for another?
Thank you for listening. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Below is the detailed document with tables, maps and graphs:
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