Nigeria Independence and the dependency of Her Economy
The journey to Nigeria’s independence started with some constitutional developments which saw the country attaining self rule in some quarters in 1957 and the total liberation on October 1st 1960 when its declaration was signed on the main constitutional development in Nigeria.
Economic independence as we know is a necessary pre-requisite to political freedom but it is very pathetic to note that Nigeria is not yet economically independent after 53 years of attainment of political independence.
Economically, Nigeria is currently hanging on the life support of a fragile and temporary oil boom without the prerequisite economic investment to support the vision. Opportunities should be created for business development in Nigeria because this has weakened the potentials for Nigeria’s economic greatness.
Since the political independence of Nigeria has been assured, the vital concern is to secure the rapid development of the machinery to enable us to assume our responsibilities to safeguard our economic freedom.
Prior to Nigeria’s nominal independence from Britain in October 1st 1960 and for some years thereafter, Nigeria’s economy was quite diversified enough that reliance on petroleum as the main source of revenue and foreign exchange was unthinkable. There were the groundnut pyramids in the North and the black gold of the South was cocoa which was a major reliable cash crop in the south and much of the development that took place in the defunct Western Nigeria was based upon the revenue from these cash crops.
Since the era of the oil boom in the 1970’s ,Nigeria has been a victim of monolithic economy without adequately evolving a sound policy that will put the nation’s economy on a firm foundation for steady growth.
The oil glut in 1978 fired the first warning shot while the weakening of the international oil market clearly spelt out the consequences of total dependence on one commodity.
Oil wealth has produced little or no economic development in Nigeria neither has it created the favorable conditions for institutional development as corn and wheat did in North America. The declining extent of earning from crude oil arising from the fall of prices plunged the Nigerian economy into crisis of depression.
There is need to augment foreign exchange earnings from oil through an aggressive expansion of non oil through industrialization not just because it ensures diversification of the economy but because it also accelerates the economic development of a country.
The realization of the consequences of total dependence in one commodity, has turned the country’s attention to the only one possible way out (industrialization). Though the country recognizes the importance of establishing industries to ensure a diversified economy, the mineral oil assumed greater and greater prominence over the years as a crucial production sector. This was to the detriment of other sectors of the economy and given the fact that the revenue got from it was not properly appropriated but on white elephant projects.
Industrialization has come to be seen as the necessary route to the economic and social development of any nation without which it remains stagnant in the fast passed technology oriented world of today. A country’s wealth , development and advancement are normally judged by its level of industrialization.
Industrialization has been seen as responsible for the economic development of the industrial nations in the world today. Nigeria has also taken steps in those directions believing it to be the prime mover of the economy.
The old Western Nigerian government over the leadership of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo realized the importance of the peasant cocoa farmers and he built the Western Nigeria marketing board and his astute economic planning gave birth to the O’dua investment corporation.
Before Nigeria gained her political independence in 1960, Agriculture was the dominant sector in the economy which provides both cash crops and food crops to the economy and accounted for the largest part of the foreign exchange of the country. But the discovery of crude oil production in commercial quantities changed the structure of the Nigerian economy. This led to the neglect of Agric products making the economy to depend heavily on production of crude oil.
In fact, the basic promise is that if a country wishes to accelerate the overall rate of economic development, it must have manufacturing production arising faster than the overall rate of growth of the Gross National Product (GNP) and this has to be reflected in an increasing dominating role of manufacturing industry in the total economy. So important are industries that they have become the major indices for classification of nations in terms of levels of development.
Generally, the transformation of an economy from pre-modern to modern depends on the development of the manufacturing sector.
To move from the traditional level of economic backwardness to modern industrial economy required a great spurt of industrialization.
Industrialization of a truth is the catalyst of economic prosperity and it has been a much emphasized development strategy in Nigeria as providing the basic means of overcoming their economic backwardness.
To the less developed countries like ours, taken account of the high level of industrialization and rapid economic growth of the advanced countries are making frantic efforts towards attaining it through several industrial policies aimed at encouraging both the public and the government to establish industries.
Many western countries like U.S.A., Germany, Great Britain and France experienced changes at roughly the same time and achieved partly industrialization during the first half of the 19th century. These nations started their first stage of development with the factory/private firm.
However, the greatest obstacle to rapid industrial development in Nigeria has been identified to be inadequate finance. If the country’s industrial aspirations are to be achieved, the provision of adequate finance should be accorded high priority. But regrettably, Nigerian industrialists have been badly starved of this very important ingredient for both the establishment and maintenance of Industry (ies).
The lack of funds by industrialists has greatly denied the nation of many opportunities of achieving development industrially which Nigeria has always longed, hoped and craved for.
Considering the enormous importance attached to industrialization in our economic development, any problem militating against its achievement should be of interest to us.
The Federal Government should emulate countries that have attained the pinnacle of success and take advantage of the vast opportunities in all area of human life to solve Nigeria’s socio-political and economic problems because the world leading economies are nations that are leaders in every sector of human life. The political history of our country even before independence shows that we have been pre-occupied with national unity or integration for as long as anyone can remember. Our efforts are a kaleidoscope of honest attempts and false steps. Before independence, the minorities agitated for states of their own because they were petrified of dominance by the big three tribes and would deny them opportunities for full participation in our constitutional democracy.
The military that struck on Jan 15, 1966 believed they were offering the country an alternative form of government with a greater capacity for integrating the country. Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution provides that “the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and need to promote national unity. These where created to give every Nigerian a stake in the Nigerian Nation. They are steps towards the very desirable goal of National integration. Given the overabundance of these constitutional and administrative actions aimed at national integration, have they failed to achieve its objectives?
If yes, their failure has condemned the nation to an endless search for a more effective modus operandi for national integration.
As Nigeria marks her 53rd independence anniversary, every Nigerian have a sacred duty to apply oneself to the utmost in advancing the course of creating a better society in which one would be judged more by his character and less by his religion and tribe. We must endeavor to build a country in which the gentle wind of patriotism and unity will always tame the storm of disunity, a country in which all men and women are brothers and sisters, a country where no man or woman is brutalized and a country where equity remains the other of the day.
God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria as we count 53 years down the memory lane in the annals of our political freedom.
_____________________________Comr Sam Nd Anyanwu is an activist, social commentator and writes from Owerri - 08030611815.