Blueprint of Economic Development, Nigeria – Idiot Guide

By Njoku SaintJerry A.

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…ordinary people do not understand the jargons of GDP, ERGP, SEC or any of those grammatical development analyses – He wants answers to his numerous questions of neglect and lack and why the government cannot provide answers to these simple requirement

I may not be a professional in any science of nation building, neither an economist, a lawmaker, nor professor of any knowledge or discipline that bothers on the science of nation building or the art of socio-economic development, I may not be a politician either or a security expert to advise those who manage the art of government, I may not even be a farmer to speak for the farmer’s association yet I know when I am hungry and need food, I know when I need a shelter and electricity to light my darkness, I know how to walk on good roads and enjoy decent accommodation, I know when I am sick and need adequate healthcare, more so, I know when I need security both at home and in my community and I do pretty know when I am abysmally lacking access to any of these rights and privileges as long as I live among humanity – same knowledge and experience applies to any acclaimed idiot.
When you put a frog in an earthen ware, he enjoys the cool of the earthen pot and could croak at ease until you set a heat in the bottom of the pot, the frog will adjust as the temperatures rises until he either jumps out or be cooked in the rise of the heat to his death.
This same analogy applies to humans, when conditions in the community or the larger society is favourable to you and your folks, you enjoy and support every decisions and policies of the system and those who manages the system, those who decides the temperature of the earthen ware until it is no longer habitable then you begin to adjust, you keep adjusting until you are unable to continue to adjust. At this point you either jump out to save yourself and the rest of the frogs or you die a slow and painful death.

It takes sheer common sense to understand this simple analogy of setting yourself free from imminent danger, whether you are a clergy, a technocrat, a politician, a professional in your own world or just one of us ordinary people in the streets of Lagos, Aba or Abuja.
Now, by the rule of thumb; you jump out to where? To your own independent community or the one you participated in molding? 
You have taken part in installing the system, directly or indirectly – you have played a role in gathering together the men and women who  design the policies and the plans to run your system, He is either your friend, your neighbor, tribesmen, goes to the same church or mosque with you or even a leader from your political party and now he controls the temperature of the earthen pot of ‘comfort and crisis’, ‘power and prosperity’ albeit to your dismay or to your frustration – either ways you will be culpable as a recipient of policies designed and managed by your friend, your neigbour, your political associate, your church or mosque member and now your government

The People’s Power
First Idiot Guide of Nation Building and Economic Development is the people who install the government, It is called the ‘People’s power.’Every time I heard the government is proposing at something or planning to propose at something or someone talking about the government, how incompetent, fraudulent and disconnected the government is from their primary responsibility – the people and their community;  I always request to see who the government is; Is it the President? The governor, the Senator, the members of the House of Representatives or the local government Chairman, the Permanent Secretaries, the DG’s or who?, I go to these categories of individuals and I ask them why is the roads in your state in such a disheartening and shameful condition – and the Senator will size me up and pout, then throws his hands up and exclaimed “it’s the government”, I throw the same question even to the governor of a state and he cries out – it’s the government, or if he wants to be kind to you, he will say “government will do something about it, I will speak to the government.”
Without going further I took the pains to find out who the government is; and I arrived at the understanding that the government is an administrative unit of any institution that designs policies and see to the implementation of those policies for the benefit of that institution and everyone under the umbrella of that institution. They are appointed or elected by the people to sit at the decision table. This is where the People’s Power comes under a hammer in Nigeria! You have all installed the incompetence and failures of your rulers and you have been repeatedly involved so much that you do not know that ‘the government starts with you’ by default. 

The Business of Government
Secondly, the Government does not run any business other than administrations – all the business of government is to see to the effective implementations of those policies and ideas that were provided by the people, whether they are called technocrats, lawmakers, religious people, professionals in various field, artisans and even ordinary people like us who belong to no exceptional class. Conflicts begin the moment you install them and fail to organize a system of checks and balances at whatsoever level within your reach and capability.
But how can ordinary people organize such a system the moment the man in the seat of power chose to become something scary and a tormentor overnight.
The ordinary people do not understand the jargons of GDP, ERGP, SEC or any of those grammatical development analyses – He wants answers to his numerous questions of neglect and lack and why the government cannot provide answers to these simple requirement – So I took my time to find out why the government will continue to fail to provide answers to these simple questions of welfare and development.
 

The Absence of a Development Plan
Developing a plan or what you call the Economic Blue Print on how to run the system is the first and basic guide of any responsible group of administrators, let’s assume the citizenry got it wrong by electing the wrong people in government, yea, this could be excusable – However, this phase will form the actual basis of administering any policies to the people and their communities whether it be roads, healthcare, education, industry, security, foreign or inter-relations, this will be the guide book on how these ideas will be implemented.
Unfortunately this is where about 75% of Nigerian rulers got it all mumbled up – The critics said; the governor, the senator, the local government chairman etc is working for his sponsor therefore he delivers not according to any developmental plan but according to the wishes and desires of his sponsor. Ex-governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode was a classic example of going against the wishes of his sponsor. How true this assumption is, I decided to find out.

I worked my way up as a guest to a team set up by a newly ‘installed’ governor of Abia State. He called them ‘Economic Team’ and they certainly were properly selected to the best of my knowledge. While people of the state were grumbling and engaged in the common whining against the man they deemed ‘unfit’ to rule, he tried to impress the people of the state by setting up what he called an economic team to give his government a better working plan than the previous.
They sit down to work only to discover that the State has no economic blueprint since inception in 1999! So how has the government been working, if it has no Economic Development Plan? The leader of the team decided to search deeper and found out – the only existing guidebook on how the State would be administered was designed in 1978 by Late Dr. Sam Mbakwe when Imo, Ebonyi and Abia were under one single administrator– In reference, we found out that the existing structures of the state, the road network, industry, residential areas, market and farm settlements were the ones drawn since 1978 by the late Dr. Sam Mbakwe and scarcely has anything been added other than the rot and collapse of almost the entire state structure.
As surprised as everyone in the meeting was; I volunteered to bring a partner survey team to redesign a new plan that will see to a functional state adding to or remodeling the aging industrial sites, residential areas, improved road networks, farm settlements, education and all that, However, to my dismay, the thought and every other opinions and excitement ended in that meeting in Umuahia.
The next series of announcement that will follow after this meeting was a screaming news headline of a proposed mega projects and award of contracts like the water reticulation project across the entire city of Aba, an Airport Project and Overhead bridges etc. Heavy budgets were drawn and till date there is nothing like any of these projects in sight or where you had one the confusion of the government is very obvious. How can you run the business of administrations or the science of government without a guidebook?

This error cuts across all aspects of governance in Nigeria; the Local Council Chairman, the Representatives both at the green and red chambers, etc, He receives money to contribute to development in his community; he decided to expand his buildings in the village and in the cities, took some Chieftaincy titles, buys properties overseas and bought more cars for himself – then to appease his depraved conscience he install one or two bore hole water tanks, patch some roads on a good mood,  buy few bags of rice and shares to the community and repeat the cycle throughout his tenure – and his people celebrate him!
Fact is; This man has no Economic Development Plan to work with or a thought process that put into consideration where farming should be emphasized in his communities to grow more foods, where more markets should be built or develop areas where young people who are able to create jobs should cluster and horn their skills under a Micro Small Medium Enterprise Scheme, he has no thought process of the impact of small scale industry and accompanying infrastructures that runs a development cycle. So how did the governor, the senator, the member of house of representative or even the Local council Chairman got to these high positions of dire decision making.


The Politician’s Manifesto
I wouldn’t discuss on this document because in Nigeria, it has little to do with the actual governance – this is a piece of document developed by experts for the politicians to recite during campaigns and should never be relied upon. However, this document should be required from all potential office holders whether plagiarized or genuine for reference.

The business of economic development
Every region, cities and districts across Nigeria has particular business vacuum and inclination, some enjoys a particular demography of artisans, traders, professionals as in Lagos Imports & ICT industry, Aba Small Medium Scale Industry, The Expansive evergreen forests in the entire Southeast and Southwest Exports of various agro commodities, The presence of opportunities as energetic young people, a thriving community and an environment of lack, virtually in every aspect is already enough inducement to drive the so called Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) if the government and his agents sit down to draw a plan of action.

The business of economic development is to follow the money by engaging the people who made the money, the people who make the money are the Micro Small Medium Enterprises, the artisans, the farmers of all categories. – All these groups come together to grow a larger industry of goods and services that fuels economic activities of the state.
 Government do not make any money, they do not produce anything therefore the number of employees of government should be drastically reduced. The money paid to those who sit to argue over implementation of policies and ideas generated by the people should be ‘compensatory’ other than the bloated sums paid to politicians and their hanger-ons named Assistants. The people in government are not engaged in any life saving occupation and should not be bathed with free monies they have invested nothing or created any idea to produce the money.
The analysts said; government create enabling environment for investors – There is no enabling environment if the people who make up the environment are frustrated by the policies and decisions of those who sit at government offices struggling to interpret ‘implementations.’
Why would a governor keep up to 50 to 100 advisers and special assistants? – In the beginning it appears comfortable and a form of employment until the heat of too many administrative workers begin to overwhelm the budget of government

More so, Government do no create employment, the business owners do. What products do groups of men and women sitting and debating, sometimes jive talking in Abuja or any of the state house assembly produce, Nothing other than ‘talking workshop’ Sometimes it’s useful most times its not, then they enjoy heavy budgets that caters even for the newspapers they read and clothes they put on – as fitting and acceptable such conditions may appear to Nigerians and its administrators – It sparks off misplaced priorities, laziness, plenty English speaking and analysis that has no positive impact on the communities, the people and even the environment that harbours these individuals 

The business of IGR
Lagos generates about #300billion annually – This is not money earned from selling crude oil and receiving free money from Abuja baptized as “allocation” This is money generated from the commercial activities of Lagos created by the business people of all categories despite the harsh environmental conditions.
How do Lagos State made such money. They engaged the private business men in building their finance base by constructing more markets to receive all the goods coming in to Lagos from virtually all aspects of the country, they expanded their infrastructure base by focusing on areas where there are demographic advantages like in the case of Alimosho LGA and Ojo LGA.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State is replicating the Lagos Model by partnering with renowned business owners like Coscharis Group and others to establish massive industrial base in that Southeast region, these industries on completion will create the employment and boost the market shares in the state. Ayade do not rely on ‘free money from Abuja’ rather he choose to commoditize and commercialize the state by bringing in several independent business owners, “I will isolate the state and run it as a business model” He said. Ebonyi State is expanding and improving on its existing infrastructure to attract business owners into the state.
Of all businesses, the most thriving revenue generating business is the Micro Small Medium Enterprise business owners – they are found in Aba, Abia state but the irony is the city of Aba in Abia State is the least developed virtually in all index of development in South East Nigeria – this brings us back to what I call the ‘People’s Power’
For Nigeria to experience any meaningful economic development, at least 98% of the People shall remain a priority to the about 2% in government working as politicians or employees of government, representing political sponsors and patronage — The people creates the system, whether it is a thriving socio-economic system of trade, commerce and social life, they create the employment, they make the money those in government offices keep wasting on administrative rascality – Therefore Nigerians who feel cheated daily outside this circle of privileges by the 2% should stand to their responsibilities and engage some of us to address the challenge.

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