nation building

By Patrick Dele Cole

The first part of this article which was written to commerate Dr. Uma Eleazu, chairman Think tank, focused on the political party system in Nigeria which the author described as special purpose vehicles. In this concluding piece, he blames lack of good policy implementation on the absence of think tanks in the country

THE Igbo is seen as extraordinarily good in business. He has long transport routes (now reduced by armed robbers); he is good at electronics, spare parts and building luxury houses in Lekki, Festac, Abuja, Port Harcourt, etc. He is an aggressive, ambitious and achieving businessman. He seems to have social structures that encourage enterprises. So also have the Hausa-Fulani as shown by Dangote, Ismaila, Rabiu, Funtua, etc

The Hausa Fulani are courteous, helpfully and I would not be who i am today if help had not come from the Northerners.

Again, I asked, when bandits capture school girls in Chibok and Dapchi are you enraged that these are Nigerian girls to be molested as play things by a terrorist organisation. Do you feel personally violated? What kind of ethics do we teach in school? In the West there is the concept of fair play? Do we have it enough in Nigeria or is every issue politicised along tribal lives?

The United States’ constitutions starts with a preamble (which we copied) that all men are created equal, have an inherent right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness: that all men are equal under law; no one is above the law. These same precepts are in our constitution but do they hold?

When George Floyd died by a white policeman choking him with his knee on his cortarouid vein there were protests all over the US and other parts of the West. George Floyd was a black man but the protests which had lasted for eight months was made up all shades of people, in fact, mostly white. I did not see too much of a protest against Chibok and Dapchi.

The Northerners are diplomatic, respectful but they are great money changers often out performing calculators. There are values that we could find among the Ijaw, the Ibibio, the Itesekiri, the Urhobo, the Yoruba. Perhaps this is a job for think tanks collating our values and finding glue to them to make them Nigeria’s values.

I observe that ambition is strong in all Nigerians. Nigerians want to succeed and would do anything to succeed. Walk across Sahara, enter a dingy to get to Europe,  manufacture documents to get to the United States, go to work in South Africa, UAE, Lebanon, Belgium, France, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Iceland, etc.

Even the excessive spirituality among our fundamentalist Christians and Moslems, (who am I to doubt the depth if their sincerity?) is fired by ambition. But there seems to be a transitional relationship in the zeal and piety of the worshippers who call on Holy Ghost Fire to destroy their enemies and swear haram to all unbelievers: all these people are all waiting and praying for their epiphany.

There must be some more good that can come from this desperate devotion. When people see that the president’s appointments have been a little one sided, I believe protests are in order, but it should be protest by all including those from the area favoured.

No Yoruba man should be happy if 70 per cent of the federal and supreme court appointments are Yoruba. He should protest against such deviancy. The greatest good is a contented people. If the head of the Army, Navy, Police, Immigrantion and Customs, were all Ijaws appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan, I and a whole lot of Ijaws would protest.

A think tank can look into the functioning of the political parties, how policy is formulated and how to implement them. Chief Awolowo was a political genius – he saw that education was the most important tool of all development and started free primary education in Western Nigeria and that gap has never been filled. He wanted to give Nigerians a joyous life, a life of more adundance: a feel good enhancement.

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If you have the above, the blocks of your national building are there. In fact they are there now but we pretend to be blind. Our contribution entrenched federal character, that you must resign your post if you leave your political party: Do we expect God to come, show us the light and the people will find the way?

If it seems that Nigeria launches from one catastrophe to another it is probable because there are no think tanks. Ideas move policy: policies move a nation: clarity solidifies a nation. Invertirate adhocism spells doom.

We need think tanks on the future and price of oil and indeed all our agriculture products (compare with the Falconi Institute in Israel); what would be the position of oil and coal in the energy sector in the next decade or two when electric cars, electric trucks, electric trains are finally launched? Will Nigeria ever have had a steel industry? If so to do what? If not what are the implications of not having steel? We have tried to have a steel industry since 1978; we have failed for 42 years. We tried Aluminium and paper. We failed.

What is the blueprint for growing our economy? It cannot be on the price of oil: what innovation have we brought into this most crucial of Nigeria’s lives?  We have not but does that mean we cannot? If NNPC is notoriously expensive to run, what should we do? Suppose we had a study group to cut NNPC costs by say 30 per cent. Have these questions ever been asked?

Inflation is rated at 13 per cent at the moment. Can it not be reduced to what is average in the rest of the prosperous world to below three per cent. Have these question ever been asked? What are the values of Nigeria? How do you stamp these values into the Nigeria psyche and use these for development and progress?

It is good to have over 100 universities in Nigeria. But to what purpose? Are they the spigot of ideas which become useful in industry, commerce, science, etc.? What arrangements have been made for the hundreds of thousands of graduates produced? A sea of unemployed graduates is a certainty for political instability.

If we had a think tank to which government listens to, we would never have closed our borders. Whoever does that when there is no state of war? If Nigeria had an appropriate thinking machine and implementation ability we would not be flaring gas since 1960, when the rest of the world woke up to the importance of gas. We abandoned our refineries – all not working despite the fact that they could produce substantial gas.

We jumped on the band wagon of fueling our cars in Nigeria from using petrol and diesel to using gas, whose conversion the government promised would be free and now changed its mind to charging N250, 000 per conversion. What kind of drunkards do we have deciding our policies?

In the South South, Warri, Sapele, Burutu, Ports do not work. Warri refinery does not work. The Warri airport is sold and then closed. There are no good roads in South South. What message is being sent to the indigenes of South South?

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