WERE Nigeria to be a sprinter, she would be introduced on the starting block with all the accolades listing the possibilities her presence holds for the race. When the starting gun is fired, she would remain on the block while others engage into action.
This in a way would summarise the oft-praised potentials of Nigeria which governments not only fail to harness, but through thick layers of policies ensure no one else can. Of what benefit are potentials if they are not used?
Vision 202020, the development blue print that foresees Nigeria among the top 20 global economies by 2020, is no longer a national plan. These days it is mentioned in passing – national projects do not reflect it.
Nigeria’s satisfaction with her potentials, and sometimes seeing them as indicators of a bright future, should be of concern to leaders of a country with some of the dreariest statistics.
Its growing army of unemployed, uneducated, diseased, hungry and angry population dissolves the country’s potentials to nothingness, particularly as there are no sustained efforts to address the challenges.
Each year yields new challenges. If electricity supply had been resolved decades ago, businesses that are moving their operations could have stayed and provided the jobs Nigerians need. Thousands of workshops and conference have repeatedly emphasised the centrality of electricity to making the country competitive.
Governments have spent the past 13 years of supposed democratic administrations, running round the problem and creating more in the process. The verdict is that the gas Nigeria flares in exploring crude oil is enough to generate electricity for Africa’s population of more than one billion.
The reality is that Nigeria cannot pipe the abundant gas to its power generating stations! In place of action, all manners of excuses are conjured and accepted as the noble ideas behind Nigeria being in darkness.
Similar attitude applies to the perennial desire to have working domestic refineries, so that money spent on importing refined products could be invested in other areas of the economy. Again, every government admits that importation of petroleum products is a drain on the economy, yet no government deals with the situation beyond words.
A country that runs perpetually on its potentials is doomed. Nigeria cannot be an exception. Governments at all levels should start investing in policies that would enhance Nigeria’s capacity to cater for its teeming population. This is impossible without firm direction and dedication to the future of Nigeria.
The current ad hoc manner of treating issues deceives Nigerians about their illusory place in a competitive world. It bears the additional danger of continuously postponing concerns about the future to a point that compromises even the present.