Sustainable transformation efforts being initiated to effect marked improvements in the quality of life of the people in all areas of human endeavour certainly involve change-producing forces in any society. This is because such necessary forces, when commenced, deployed, guided and monitored tend to produce development-focused activities and meaningful changes in any situation or sphere of human existence.
Fascinatingly, in an attempt at righting the wrongs of the past and charting a pristine way forward for the nation’s economy, President Goodluck Jonathan Administration in Nigeria, upon inauguration in May 2011, reeled out a number of crucial areas in which the future of the country is expected to be positively directed and affected for an enhanced future for all.
It would be recalled that the seven-point areas of focus outlined by the Administration at the time include Critical Infrastructure, Niger Delta, Food Security, Human Capital, Land Tenure Changes and Home Ownership, National Security and Intelligence and Wealth Creation, to revitalise the nation’s economy and herald an era of transformational leadership under its slogan, “Transformation Agenda”.
Nevertheless, creating a practical template to actualise many of these potentially promising items in the agenda, and progressively pursuing same towards achieving the much-talked about Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and becoming one of the 20 top economies in the world by year 2020 (christened Vision 20:2020) have constituted the bane of the Administration, peradventure due to one form of distraction, self-inflicted problems or another.
In other words, aside from the ongoing Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, which is gradually restoring relative peace to the troubled region while boosting oil prospecting activities, virtually nothing consequential is happening in other sub-sectors of the economy, as earlier enumerated in Transformation Agenda ever since it was rolled out.
Rather than making quantifiable progress and conscientiously work according to plan, Nigeria all in the name of “politicising” almost every development-oriented policy/issue in the country, as President Jonathan himself recently and precisely acknowledged, has continued to sink further into the usual anti-development pattern of doing things: Political patronage, rent-seeking, greed, official corruption, ineptitude, godfatherism, financial indiscipline and profligacy as well as deep-seated ethnic consciousness as against national consciousness among other regressive factors prickling the psyche of the country.
While the powers that be often claims it is desirous of “engaging”, through robust discussions and consultations with the key stakeholders in the Nigerian enterprise every step of the way in attaining new frontiers in the essential sectors of the economy, yet, to say the obvious, the January 1, 2012 announcement through the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) of an abrupt and controversial fuel price increase from initial N65 to N141 per litre of petrol largely fell short of expectations of millions of the Nigerian populace.
There is therefore no gainsaying the fact that before the somewhat reluctant reversal to current N97 per litre, the absolutely needless civil uprisings that greeted the fuel price increment and purported subsequent “deregulation” of the downstream Petroleum sector were directly induced by the Government itself. How? Of course, for daring the masses of the people by not walking its talk of carrying them along on any policies that will directly impact their daily existence for good or otherwise.
Besides losing hundreds of billions of Naira, tens of human lives, much goodwill, and causing anger and high tensions during the industrial cum mass protests against the fuel price hike, it should be noted in clear terms that the near-breakdown of law and order in certain parts of the country has further deepened the already yawning gulf of crisis of confidence in the leadership more than ever before.
Thus, in quitting the status of being a nation of huge potential for outstanding success, but currently filled with millions of apparently depressed citizenry suffering from poor, visionless leadership over the decades, research has shown that any worthwhile endeavour the leadership has to make in order to herald a major socio-economic transformation in today’s world fundamentally needs to transcend explicit dependence on sheer natural/mineral resources.
Instead of concentrating on transforming an economy and huge market like ours through oil an unstable sector as Petroleum, even amidst dearth of well-functioning refineries to derive maximum benefits from the resource, it is high time the Government diversified the nation’s economy, at least to douse the stifling tension which price volatility in the international oil market usually induces in the nation’s economic system.
Following Nigeria’s comparative advantage in the sector prior to the oil boom era in the ’70s, further considerable investments in modern implements and equipment in the Agricultural industry with its potential to generate massive employment opportunities for millions of the unemployed youth promise to be a suitable way to start this.
With the fresh Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Policy expected to be launched by the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology soon, man cannot but embrace the transforming fire of technologies in building new economies in today’s world. Human expression, thought, communication, and even human life have been infiltrated by high technologies as a hallmark of a new global economic order.
Instead of fighting tooth and nail over often-mismanaged oil wealth all the time, Nigeria can well leverage the immense power of modern ICTs that are fast reshaping the geography of wealth across the globe to catapult itself into the league of 20 top economies by 2020.
Therefore, for any viable transformation as a way of defining a clear departure from the existing order in the Nigerian system to emerge, the Government needs to cultivate a culture of transparency, fiscal discipline, continuously re-orientate, consult with and empower the populace as major stakeholders for their necessary “buy-in” and inputs into its economic policies and programmes to achieve success.
Provision of indispensable and supporting infrastructure such as good road networks; adequate power generation, distribution and supply to homes, factories and offices; quality education to liberate millions of the nation’s unlettered population from the deadweight of ignorance, and enabling environment for businesses, particularly the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in order to boost economic activities, create wealth, and generate employment opportunities will fast-track enduring transformation.
Toeing this line of transformation will assist the Administration in avoiding pointless disruptions in socio-economic activities and engender true development. The time to speed up the economic transformation efforts towards regaining Nigeria’s pride of place in the comity of nations is now.