By Hajia Halima Idris
Nigeria, a country in West Africa, fondly called Giant of Africa, is one of the most populated countries in the continent with over 201 million people, according to a 2019 index. The country is rich in resources and boasts of over 371 cultural tribes of which Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo seem to dominate, and from which other tribes take their roots. These have form the major tribes and languages spoken.
However, Nigerians apart from the official English Language, are known for their generally and globally accepted Pidgin English. Again, three major religions hold sway in the country, and they are: Islam, Christianity, and Traditional also known as Paganism. The country has seen an intermittent rulership of the military and civilian. But since 1999, civilian government has been entrenched, and from the look of things, have come to stay.
The Ethno-Religious Contentions
Barring the 30 months civil war of 1967 – 1970, Nigeria has relatively existed peacefully with one military regime after another. Much as they come with their attendant hassles, things were not this bad post 1999 when more a permanent civilian democracy was birthed in the country. The advent created more awareness, and people canvassed for a more liberal form of government where their voices could be heard. They wanted to be part of the decision-making for nation building. It is instructive to note that the country was more unified then than now. One wonders therefore, if democracy rendered the entity called Nigeria impotent or are there forces behind the disunity that has currently engulfed the nation. Much as the institutions of unity like the unity schools and the National Youth Service Corps still exist, the crack of disunity has remained obvious.
The post-1999 days have brought with ethnic and religious conflict which started from smear campaigns and escalated to the media. There have been series of ethnic and religious clashes in different parts of the country. And then, there is this quest and struggle for power among the people. The six known geo-political regions (North-East, North-West, North-Central, South-South, South-East, and South-West are all enmeshed in the struggle for power but sadly enough, have ignored the sworn responsibility of developing Nigeria and making it a better place for the citizens.
The country is blessed, and religion, a volatile issue in its existence, is practiced more than it is in (Mecca) Makkah (Muslims) and Rome (Christians). The country is also blessed with arable soil for all forms of agricultural purposes, mineral resources, as well as innovative and creative youth population.
But we are bitter and angry at one another and this has led to ignoring the avenues that will permit the country compete with more advanced countries in terms of Human capital development, social development, and Creative and Tourism wealth. Most of these advanced countries do not have half of what Nigeria has, but they have a mindset for development, and its population are quite happy with the system.
What we need in Nigeria will not be anything new. They are what we already have, but ignored because of sentiments and negligence from both the leaders the led.
These, in my opinion, can move the Nigeria closer to the promised land if given serious and adequate attention:
Nigeria is known for Cotton, Cocoa, Ginger, Cashew, Shea butter, Palm oil, Groundnut, Sesame, Timber, Mango, Orange, Corn, Rice, Sugar cane, Beans, Hibiscus, Moringa, Tiger Nuts, I won’t even go into the mineral resources we are blessed with. As Governor Zulum stated in one of his interviews with Channels Television; a liter of fresh orange juice, fresh ginger, and fresh mango juice is more expensive than a liter of fuel or diesel in the world market, I don’t why Nigerians are fighting for Oil when we can get richer just by exporting our agricultural products.
We use to be the largest exporters of palm oil; we sold the seed to Malaysia and now they are one of the biggest exporters of the product. Shea Butter is picked locally and sold to Ghanaians at a cheap price, and they sell to the world market. Some Canadians have invaded our local market through our people in the Diaspora buying hibiscus and are producing its juice (Zobo) in a well-packaged bottle to compete with other assorted drinks in foreign supermarkets.
All the agricultural products I mentioned above are needed in the world today, and will boost the Nation’s economy. These products can change this country from its poverty state to become one of the richest countries in the world. Thailand is known for rice, Malaysia’s palm oil, Mauritius has sugar cane, India has rice, and the list can go on. But no country has boast of a combination of all these products except Nigeria.
Instead of fighting for power and supremacy, why don’t we compete in the ability to create jobs among our people? Let’s produce and export agricultural products. Let the regions compete in income generated revenue from production and exportation of its agricultural products as well as raw materials. A positive competition will help us create jobs for people, and it will encourage investments for both national and international investors.
HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
To move from our current position to a more adaptable and safer environment, human capital must be built. Policies and the environment must encourage and appreciate innovative and creative people. Not everyone will have to work with the government, people can run their businesses, employ others, and pay taxes to the government to boost the economy. India has created over 36.6 million jobs from the creative and tourism sectors and contributed over 9.4% of the country’s GDP, Dubai created over a Million jobs and 13.4% of its GDP not to mention the USA, China, and others. The youths have all it takes to boost the economy of the country as we see them making the country proud outside Nigeria. The sports sector is another angle from which human development will benefit the country. We have a lot of unused sports facilities, with a proper policy and leadership, the investors who understand the power and money in sports and creativity will run to grab the opportunity to invest.
Nigerians are intelligent and smart people. But there must be an extra effort to get people to acquire both formal and informal education. The efforts put in this sector are not enough, we need more to take us to where we want to go. Where are the Technical colleges and NBTI centers we have? Education should be supported at all the National, State, and Local Government levels. All aspirants/elected members must design the number of people they wish to educate, and they should be held responsible if they fail. Failure to do so should automatically disqualify them from re-election.
HEALTH CARE CENTRES
To reduce the weight on Government, aspirants or elected legislators should all build one or more health care facilities in their constituents for their people. Imagine if there are 471 National and state assembly members but one health center each, Nigerians will benefit from the dividend of democracy and will always support their representatives. The more is built by a member, the higher his/her chances at getting re-elected.
In conclusion, Nigerians should compete as a region in developing this country through their rich natural recourses and human capacity. They will create jobs, make the country richer, attract investors, improve tourism, and reduce insecurity and illiteracy.
If we get engaged, there will be no time for tribal or religious conflicts and we will appreciate our differences and why we are born as a one Nigeria.
Nigeria is a nursing mother, tending her triplets, no one expects her to ignore her pains if one of the trio is snatched from her.
Hajia Halima Idris (Queen) wrote from Kaduna, Nigeria.