By Qansy Salako
The Nigerian leadership crop most assuredly knows it too. Apart from being vacuous, the only other reason they are in the business of solo investor hunting is because it feeds their individual vanities and maximizes their capability for looting and laundering their loot.
Methinks the least a country purportedly on industrialization overdrive should have ready is electricity, for crying out loud. As it is, most of the country is in the dark at night and during the day, every day. Out of about 35,000 MW energy that we need to light our homes and power our industry, Nigeria generated less than 10 percent at 3,463MW up till 20Mar14 when it dropped to the previous abysmal level of 2,500MW or 7 percent. According to our shameless government, this worsening of a dismal situation was due to “a significant drop in gas supply and a number of fire accidents along the Benin-Sapele highway.” What is the sense in pulling foreign investors by their lapel to come and industrialize us when we do not have electricity? This is of course why the 36 state governments each awards and re-awards power generating contracts in billions of Naira annually but without a kilowatt increase on our national grid.
Availability of raw materials in-house is another ingredient you think we might have given much thought to in our FDI stunt. I would be surprised if up to 10% of the raw materials needed for the current volume of business in the showroom of our airhead leaderships are being sourced in Nigeria as of today. Iron and steel for the machinery and automobile sector, petrochemicals for the pharmaceutical and construction sectors, mining and research and development activities that sustain operations and feed innovations in other sectors; how much of any of these do we currently have within our shores? Somebody tell them, divesting our country to investors on a freehold arrangement that allows foreigners to repatriate enormous revenues that we could have earned on their raw materials is a slow and painful way to grow any economy.
What about technology transfer? I thought it was a given that we would have a rigorous technology transfer program on hand before bringing in foreign investors to enslave our citizens on minimum wage jobs that pay neither for health care nor retirement benefits. Nigeria had nothing to show for the thousands of cars churned out of the assembly plants of Volkswagen and Peugeot for decades between the 70s and 90s. It is time for our economic development blueprint to be all about rapid IP acquisition, stupid! We cannot continue to play professional suckers to loveless foreign interests at the expense of our own future. We ought to be able to accomplish technology transfer of whatever business is brought in by any FDI arrangement within 5 years. Does Nigeria have a national technology transfer roadmap for use with the incoming Nissan, Lenovo, GE, Monsanto and the mixed bag of Chinese businesses already running loose in our nation? If we do, is any of our delusional wannabe hero governors aware of this?
What about the current deplorable state of the rule of law in our country? Do we have the right industrial laws for managing the new Nigeria that is rapidly becoming full of foreign overlords? Is our current law enforcement infrastructure adequate for the new age that we are entering? How capable is our Police institution? Have we thought about creating a special Police Unit to manage the new dispensation? As non-black foreigners come in with economic and entrepreneurial superiority, have we thought about readying ourselves for a new wave of racism that we have not experienced since the departure of the imperialists some 50 years ago? Already, sexual harassments and brutalization of Nigerians in new FDI companies are breaking out; at least two Nigerians have reportedly been killed with indignity by their FDI bosses. As we speak, neighborhood blocs are being bought out by foreigners and pretty soon, these will become no-go areas for Nigerians.
Nigerians, I am not saying we should wait until we get all our ducks in a row before we begin developing Nigeria with willing FDI vendors. That logic ought not to be a justification for why we should have nothing ready at all. It would be costly or downright inefficient for one puny state to float its own silicon valley, alright? Governors from a group of like-minded states (even from different zones) could join together and develop a single blueprint for bringing in serious foreign investments into a mutually defined business protectorate where many currently unfavorable factors such as security, infrastructures, water, electricity, etc could be locked down.
Nor should we overlook our culture of corruption. If anyone thinks we can go anywhere without tethering our outlandish lifestyle of unparalleled barefaced looting and official incompetence, such a fellow must be an idiot, enemy of the Nigerian people or both. Most of the 36 states are not any more fiscally viable than our overworked one commodity economy has shock absorbers. Many of the states are in debt up to their chins, some up to their eyeballs. Governors come and go and the states resort to selling their debts in bonds to raise more funds for looting. In November 2013, Lagos state issued a whopping N87.5b bond with a 13.5 percent coupon. Only the future inheritors of Nigeria would buy such junk bonds.
A state of catastrophe is what you would likely get if you turn any economy into a free for all market where players fly out more capitals than they fly in. Operating a disoriented national economic program side by side national stupidity, avarice, incompetence and Boko Haram is not the way to go. Future Nigerians will not lay on a bed of roses tomorrow, if we are thoughtlessly manufacturing mattresses of thorns today. Just saying.Concuded