Nigeria; A Republic @ 53,By Issa Aremu

AREMU  new 100Yes Nigeria shall be 53 as an independent nation tomorrow 1st of October. And that is already an open knowledge too. Thanks to the officialdom which observes the anniversary annually either in “low or high spirit” as if breaking the chains of century-long colonialism was a function of the convenience of the ruling elite .
Independence anniversaries are increasingly low-key in recent times, no thanks to the worsening crisis of governance. However the point cannot be overstated; this year’s independence anniversary assumes a special importance. It also marks the 50th year of Nigeria as a Republic. Official memory seems to be in recess in Nigeria. Where memory is alive at all, it is regrettably deployed in the wrong direction, in the service of unhelpful neo-colonial agenda rather instead of nation-building. How on earth would a President roll out the drums to celebrate the so-called amalgamation of the colonial Northern and Southern protectorates (note; protectorates, not Sovereigns!) in 1914, while he remains indifferent to
the historic milestone of the nation as a Republic? Nigeria becoming a Republic means Nigeria’s complete journey to full independence and maturity as a nation ended in 1963, not necessarily in 1960. A republic simply means having a Nigerian as our Head of State. Dr Nnamdi Azikwe in 1960 was undoubtedly the Head of Government in 1960, but he was a Nigerian Governor-General that succeeded Sir James Robertson at the discretion of Her Majesty. To show the significance of Nigeria as a Republic, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on the 29th of April announced that the country would become a Republic within the British CommonWealth on the 1st of October 1963. The question today is; will Nigeria be a functioning Republic or a debating society? Since the Republican constitution of 1963, Nigeria has produced a dozen of constitution and amendments. The latest is the renewed
agitation for the so-called sovereign national conference.

At 53, Nigeria is increasingly proving to be a debating society as distinct from a performing society . With well over 10 written constitutions from 1954 (America retains same constitution as proclaimed in 1788 with few amendments in 1791) Nigeria goes down as the country that is tall on written rules but miserably short on rules of behaviour. Nigeria is better defined not as oil producing country but as a constitution- contrived nation. Paradoxically it is a country of constitutions without constitutionalism. Nigeria has certainly had it’s fair share
of constitutions. It’s time it has it’s share of good governance. Good governance must start with re- Industrialization of the country.

Notwithstanding a robust and strong growth rate of 7.8 percent of Nigerian economy in 2010, unemployment rate is surging in double digit of 35 per cent. Even more damning is the fact the share of industry and agriculture to GDP dropped sharply during this period.

This shows that the Nigeria’s growth drivers are not the manufacturing sectors but mainly services such as banking and finance, telecoms with very little employment content. It’s time that Federal and state governments make case for reindustrialization of Nigeria. At 53, Somebody must speak for Nigeria’s industry in the wake of acknowledged massive illegal imports, counterfeiting, gross under-capacity utilization, collapse of industrial estates and mass job-losses. Various developed and developing countries have announced varying stimulus plans to reinvent industries. And these are countries without power failure and
prohibitive interest rate regimes like Nigeria.

Industrialization assumes a special importance in development given its importance in the transformation of the economy through production of goods and services, employment generation and poverty eradication.

Industrialization is at the heart of development discourse. Industrialization delineates between growth and development of nations. If goods produced are not broadly distributed, among the population, we can only talk of economic growth.However if the goods meet the basic human needs of a large percentage of the population, industrial growth can then be said to be accompanied by development.The advantages of industrialization include lessening of dependency on imports, thus saving scarce foreign exchange.

Where the economy is diversified, industrialization serves as a source of foreign exchange. It also serves as a source of employment for greater number of the population and invariably reduces income poverty. The dispersal of industry and the emergence of new industrial centres are the most remarkable features of globalization. There had been dispersal of industry away from Europe and America to the newly industrializing countries of South East Asia and mainly China,India and Brazil and of course South Africa. Nigeria must just join this industrialization train. The centrality of the transformational role of industry was widely shared by post-colonial states which informed the aggressive campaign of the post-colonial government on industrialization. Industrialization was part of the post-colonial development project. Colonialism undermined the growth and development of domestic industry through a deliberate policy of import for a protected market and blatant indifference to local efforts to promote indigenous enterprises. Independence must make a difference otherwise colonialism becomes attractive.

The painful truth is that Nigeria at 53, a country of 165million is fast becoming a non-value adding, container-economy, exporting scarce jobs, importing everything plus unemployment. Somebody must just stop this avoidable industrial suicide.
Issa Aremu mni

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