We have a lot of lessons to learn from nations like Singapore that have no natural resources yet produce so much for their local consumption. We must learn from China as well and think about how a nation like China can be a threat to the US economy. In Nigeria, we have nearly everything that can be used to produce anything being produced in the world today yet we cannot boast of producing anything that’s serving the entire nation or being exported. Instead of working hard at extracting what we have and refining them for export, we keep looking at what other people have an always import.
The rice we eat is imported yet we have one of the most arable farm lands in the world. The beverages we take are imported or produced by foreign companies yet we have cocoa and there was a time we used to export cocoa in this country. All our mobile phones are imported but the materials that made those phones are gotten from countries like Nigeria. We wear gold wrist watches and jewelries but we do not export gold and we actually have it in this country. We still import cement and we have enough raw materials to produce cement without any support from any other nation. Our textile industries are still struggling because we also import what we wear while our local fabrics are there with little demand compare to the foreign fabrics.
Now things have gone to a whole new level and what we now do is to import education. Everyone now wants to boast of having a degree from a foreign university and employers worship such people while rapidly promoting them even if they cannot defend their results or have not proven to be better than those with indigenous results.
It was obvious that we left a number of the things we were producing, especially agricultural products, because we discovered oil. We have killed so many people because of the oil and people in the villages where the exploration is taking place are still dying. Some people have said that oil can dry up so what are we going to turn to if the oil dries up? My take on that is even a little different. I honestly do not expect the oil to dry up but I do foresee a sharp decline in the demand for oil. The entire world has been making a lot of noise about climate change and pollution. We are expected to reduce the emission of carbon monoxide coming from cars and generating sets. Those are the things that use fuel the most. As an alternative, people are beginning to talk about Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and electric cars are becoming more popular by the day. What that means is that in a few years to come, the oil we are exporting and making a lot of money from will be in very little demand and we will either have to think about what else to do with it or hope that something popular will come up and require the use of fuel.
From the outset it was wrong for us to have built and economy on fuel alone. And now is the time to set things right. We stand a chance of quickly adjusting before a rude shock. We have all it takes to improve our balance of trade payments by exporting more than we are importing. One of the reasons our naira notes are weaker by the day, especially against the dollar is because we import more than we are exporting and we have to pay for most of the things we are importing in dollars.
I see hope again in this nation. All we have to do is to be very patient to not want everything instantly which is why we often import. We need to plan for the long term and not get into emergencies of having to import at the last minute to save situations. It is time for us to look inward and begin to explore, develop and maximize all that we have for this nation to prosper.
It is not only a mere wish that this nation will change and we will again become an exporting nation, it is a reality that will happen. I also know that I will live long to see it happen and the harder part for many will be that I see the naira coming back strong against the dollar. If you ask me how strong, my answer is will be ‘a naira used to exchange for a dollar’’ and we will have that again. While the religious folks reading this might say amen, the economists must think that I am nothing but a dreamer or at worse a comedian. Something must have said the same to Martin Luther King for thinking about equality for black and white but today a black president leads the United States in the person of Barack Obama.
The Nigeria of my dream is real. It is the Nigeria that I am working for and living for. It is the kind of country that I want to pass down to my children, not the mess that I am in at the moment. God bless this great nation, Nigeria!
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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