By Francis Ogbimi
EARLY in the 1980s, I was bothered by the thought of establishing the scientific basis of the present global distribution of wealth and power and how nations develop. I had acquired a B.Sc in Agricultural Biochemistry and Nutrition from the premier university in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan(1976). I also obtained an M.S. (1981) and Ph.D(1985) in polymer science (the science of rubbers and plastics) from Akron University, Akron, Ohio, USA; and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) (1989), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
King Solomon, appealing for divine inspiration, prayed (Wis. 7:15–17): May God grant me the ability to speak as he would wish and to conceive thoughts worthy of the gifts I have received, since He is both a guide to wisdom and a director of sages. For we are in His hands—yes, ourselves and our sayings, as well as all intellectual and practical knowledge. King Solomon prayed for all who seek knowledge and truth in order to glorify God.
By God’s grace, I received the gift of conceptual skills—the gift of being able to combine many areas of knowledge—science, engineering, technology, the arts, etc.—in carrying out my search. I became employed at Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, in 1986 as a research fellow. It was OAU that gave me the opportunity to carry out my curiosity-driven research. The research methodology was a combination of historical and logical-mathematical perspectives. The research effort has been abundantly blessed. I humbly believe that the research results constitute God’s special gifts to mankind. I have summarised the highlights of the research results in an eight-book series.
The titles are: 1. Solution to Mass Unemployment in Nigeria; 2. Understanding Why Capital Investments Cannot Promote Sustainable Economic Growth and Industrialisation; 3. Understanding Why Learning Is the Primary Source of Growth, Industrialization, and Development; 4. Understanding Why Education and Training Are Indispensable to Rapid Industrialization and Development; 5. Causes and Remedies for Poverty in Africa; 6. Understanding the Theory and Practice of Federalism and Democracy; 7.Understanding Why Privatization Is Promoting Unemployment and Poverty and Delaying Industrialization in Africa; and 8. Mobilizing All Citizens for Learning, Industrialization, and Prosperity.
The titles of the books are instructive. The eighth book, my newest building on the others, was based on some unique historical and scientific fundamental insights with very wide implications and applications. First, our historical search revealed that all the rich nations in the world are industrialised, but the rich nations were poor when they had agricultural or artisanal economies like those in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and some parts of Asia today. The implication of this historical fact is that any nation that aims at solving the problems of unemployment, poverty, insecurity, etc., must work seriously towards achieving industrialisation.
This historical fact and its implication should stop poor nations from moping, drifting and spreading themselves too thin. Nigeria, for example, implemented five-year National Development Plans from 1962- 1986, and then the nation implemented the African Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, introduced by the World Bank and IMF to Nigeria and other 30 African nations in the period 1986–2021. Nigeria turned around in 2021 and began to implement the 2021–2025 National Development Plan again. Nigeria is a textbook example of a country that is moping, drifting, and spreading itself too thin.
Second, when a nation industrialises, it speaks the universal language of science and technology, S & T. This means that all nations must speak the universal language of S&T to be able to solve the common problems of unemployment, poverty, insecurity, etc. Industrialisation is an economic status characterised by high productivity. It is a status characterised by a high level of knowledge, skills, and capabilities. Third, how is industrialisation achieved?
Our research revealed that industrialisation is achieved through learning (education, training, employment, and research). Capital investment or education alone will not result in rapid industrialisation. Four, in all learning processes, the rate of learning or intensity of learning is very crucial in achieving desired targets like a higher status of production/productivity, industrialisation, etc. Five, whereas the intrinsic values of learning people increase with learning rate and time, all structures experience depreciation with time and usage. That is, whereas the learning people are appreciating assets, AAs, all structures, including roads, bridges, and railways, are depreciating assets, DAs. Also, whereas human activities enjoy linkage effects, structures do not enjoy linkage effects.
Six, our quantitative analysis and modeling of the nature and activities of the learning people led to the development of a mobilisation equation and showed that there are five variables for planning/measuring the state of industrialisation. They are: (i) Ni, the number of people involved in productive activities or the employment level in the nation; (ii) Moj, the level of education/training of those involved in productive activities (iii) Lk, the linkages among the knowledge, skills, capabilities, and sectors in the economy; (iv ) ri, the learning rate or intensity in the economy, especially that of the workforce; and (v).np, the experience of the workforce and the learning history of the society.
All of these variables are related to the learning process, and they are directly related to the strength of the economy. This means that the more people involved in productive activities, the higher the average education/training of the workforce, the stronger the linkages among the knowledge, skills, and capabilities possessed by the workforce and society, or by the sectors of the economy, the higher the learning rate in society and among the workforce, and the more society and the workforce learn, the healthier the economy becomes. Economists measure GDP growth.
It is a trivial exercise that has no relevance in the scientific management of an economy. During the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigeria’s GDP increased by more than seven per cent. Immediately after the Buhari administration was inaugurated in 2015, the Nigerian economy went into recession and has remained so for about eight years now.
The mobilisation equation suggests that whereas the cost of funding learning grows in an arithmetic ratio, the benefit grows in a geometric fashion. The mobilisation equation also suggested that a nation may mobilise its citizens for learning and achieve rapid economic growth and industrialisation. Many other pieces of evidence also suggest that mobilising citizens for learning is the route to rapid industrialisation for all the poor nations of the world. The first is the lesson of the spider’s web.
Many people know what a spider’s web is. It teaches a great lesson about the development process of a society. The single silk-thread that the spider spins apparently does not do much for the spider. It fails readily as a structural material when subjected to stress. But when the spider, through instinct, combines many of its silk-threads to make the web, it becomes the economy that catches many small creatures on which the spider feeds. The spider’s silk-thread relationship tells us that rapid development demands group effort in learning.
Second, Adam Smith is regarded as the father of economics. Smith (1776), observed that when one man made the straight pin with one head flat and the other pointed, he made 20 pins a day. He conducted an experiment that demonstrated that the higher the number of people who work together and the greater the specialisation, the higher the productivity (output/input). He observed that there were 18 operations in making the straight pin. He chose 10 men to produce the straight pins. They produced 48,000 (forty-eight thousand) pins in a day. Productivity went up 240 (48000/20) times.
Prof. Ogbimi, an economist, wrote via [email protected]
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