By Isiaka Habeeb
Nigeria has always been referred to as the giant of Africa. The country is not only giant because of its large landmass, populations and abundant human and material resources but also for the love and support it renders to other African countries during the times of need. The African continent is the major beneficiary of Nigeria’s benevolence. Africa is the major priority of its foreign policy, especially on international affairs.
Nigeria gained its independence from British colonial masters after intense struggles for liberation from our leaders and student activists from various ethnic, religious, social and cultural backgrounds. Some of the leaders that fought for the country’s emancipation include Nnamdi Azikwe, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello among others. Indeed that was the first victory of Nigeria as a country.
At the period of the independence, Nigeria depended largely on its agricultural produce for sustenance and foreign revenues. Sooner, the country discovered oil in commercial quantity and opened the door for massive wealth.
With increased revenues from crude oil, which should have been surplus for the growth and development of the country, it beclouded the sense of reasoning of our political leaders away from thinking on the economic diversification and improving the agricultural sector.
The mismanagement of oil resources creates rate of unemployment that every administration continues to initiate poverty alleviation programs to address youths unemployment. The incentives could not check the level of poverty which keeps on growing. Probably the best solution is simply to look inward.
Looking inwards simply means Nigerians should think about ways and means of building Nigeria. Every year Nigeria universities churn out large population of graduates to the job market, the government should encourage and promote local contents where contracts for the building of bridges, schools, hospitals should be giving to Nigerian owned firms, with Nigerian engineers and Nigerian suppliers providing most of the required services. Our indigenous engineers can only succeed when they are encouraged with patronage.
Similarly, the government should find ways of discouraging medical tourisms where Nigerian top functionaries and those in the private sectors derived joy for medical treatments abroad when we have qualified and competent medical professionals at home. We may just need to improve the quality of our medical facilities with qualified Nigerian health workers and medical personnel to attract even foreigners to come here for treatment.
We are living witnesses to the fact that some countries that were also colonised and got their independence are doing well in various sectors. We should emulate them and ensure the rapid development of our economy.
We can only grow and reduce the unemployment rate if our graduate engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, administrators, communicators among others are giving the opportunity to contribute to national development through conducive enabling environment.
I also strongly believe that improving the standard of our educational facilities at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary institutions would ensure that our youths are well educated and qualified for the jobs. Meanwhile, it is only through education and job placements that we can reduce the rate of criminalities including: armed robbery, militancy, kidnapping, prostitution among other vices.
Isiaka Habeeb is a Public Affairs Analyst.