By Adisa Adeleye
THE problems of Nigeria as embedded in the “National Question” have confused many people including foreigners who are friends of Nigeria. People could not understand how a country so blessed with human and mineral materials would be described as a poor country.
As a journalist of the old breed, I have always been tempted to examine, however in a lurid manner, that perplexing condition of the “Nigeria Question”.
Perhaps, as I now understand, that I and others have been seeking rather impatiently, for the real reasons why our living condition has not improved after many years of sufferings.
Fortunately, the Governor of Central Bank found himself in a similar situation in a lecture he delivered at the 2nd General Dr Yakubu Gowon Distinguished Annual Lecture recently.
The lecture was titled: “NIGERIA`S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ASPIRATIONS AND THE LEADERSHIP QUESTION – Is There A Nexus?”. I agree with the organizers that because of his official position, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is the proper person for the job.
It is recognized that the Central Bank and the Federal Ministry of Finance are tasked with the responsibility of advising the Federal Government on macro-economic stability and growth. It is to his credit that the Central Bank Governor spoke brilliantly and lucidly on the chosen topic.
He made his good point. Mallam Sanusi made references to countries which started around the same time with Nigeria in 1960. Indonesia with a population of about 250 million started with a per capital income of about $55 in 1965 now enjoys per capital income of $2,981.
Also, in Indonesia, 60 per cent of the population drank safe water while in Nigeria; only 39 per cent was lucky last year to have potable water, and per capital income is a mere $1,500. The transformation in the economy was due to the vision of a great LEADER who introduced “pro-poor, pro-growth to employment economic policies”, among others.
On Malaysia, Mallam Sanusi attributed phenomenal economic transformation in the past 50 years to the strong political leadership of the country.
Here, the average GDP growth rate was 5.2 per cent; population below poverty was 4per cent; and unemployment rate hovered around 3.1per cent. Electricity production was 118.2 billion Kw/h while consumption was 93.8 billion Kw/h. In Nigeria, we thank God for the provision of 4,000 Kw/h, and even with this, the epileptic stance continues.
Nigeria’s unemployment rate is about 30 per cent. While Nigeria boasts of about $40,000 billion (foreign exchange reserves) in 2011, Malaysia could point to a figure of $129.6 billion.
The Mallam attributed this transformation to quality Leadership which ensured political stability, business friendly policies, productive work force and developed infrastructures, among others. In addition, 87% of the population had access to good water. Malaysia enjoys a per capital income of $2,981, while Nigeria struggles on per capital income of $1,500.
The third success story is that of Singapore which had no natural resources but highly dependent on provision of services to the British military bases present there. According to Mallam Sanusi, today 100% of the population have access to good water and has developed a successful open market system and an environment devoid of corruption, with a per capital income of $43,865.
Mallam Sanusi attributed the source of Singapore‘s economic success to years of successive economic leadership which has been able to transform the economy through consistent policies of a visionary leader.
It is happy to note that Central Bank Governor in his lecture has been able to acknowledge the fact that Nigeria over the years, has failed to match the achievements of other countries which started the race together with her at the same time.
“Let me state emphatically”, the Mallam bellowed, “that though the Nigerian economy has achieved some considerable progress, the accomplishment is far below our realizable potentials, given her abundant human and material resource endowment”. He recommended “visionary leadership and good governance”. To us, this translates to common sense economics, sensible politics and good government which we have been preaching over the years.
While it is agreed that the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is not saying something new, but coming from him at this stage of our economic transformation, what he has said is worthy of note. To some people, the Central Bank with its current tightening monetary policy is a part of our problems – the efforts that frustrate economic expansion and eradication of mass unemployment.
And there was an empire
Surely, the Yoruba people of the present era will perhaps feel a sense of nostalgia as they look back on the grandeur that was the old Oyo Empire or dream of the halcyon days that once pervaded the reign of Oba Abiodun, the Alaafin of Oyo-Ile in the 18th Century.
Yoruba Kingdoms, before the advent of European colonialism and internecine wars had flourished in Ife, Owu, Ijebu, Ijesha, Ketu, Popo, Egba, Sabe, Egbado, Igbomina, Ekiti, Owo, Ondo, Ila and Lagos.
The break-up of the finely tuned constitutional set-up of Oyo empire, as a result of conflicting and inordinate ambition of central government officials, the rebellion of provincial chiefs against the Alaafin, culminating in the perfidy of Afonja of Ilorin, the despotic disposition of Bashorun Gaha and the weak Alaafinate, all these with others had led to the collapse of the old Oyo Empire. The sack of Oyo-Ile by the Fulanis in 1830 signified the end of the glorious Oyo Empire.
The old Oyo Empire was reported to have lasted for about six centuries with emphasis during its heydays on centralization of government processes, efficiency, grandeur and glory. (Extracts from The Agenda, published by me in year 2002 on Genocide of people of old Oyo-Ile).
Ibadan, which became the new Oyo military power, was saddled with the responsibility of defending the scattered Yoruba provinces after the fall of Oyo Empire.
The Fulani forces, after the sack of Oyo-Ile in 1830, believing that the Yoruba were “cowards” raised a powerful force with the aim of dipping the Quran in the sea.
However, the crushing defeat of Ilorin forces by the great Ibadan army at Oshogbo in 1840 finally put an end to the threat of Fulani invasion of the Yoruba country.