Wednesday 6 September 2023

The paramount issue concerning Nigeria is not electoral integrity but on having a political & intellectual leadership capable of plotting a path to creating a national industrial base.

. The SIDE issue

So today I believe is the day the Nigerian Supreme Court decides on whether Bola "Chicago" Tinubu was validly elected to serve as President of Nigeria. The 3rd Republic, which began in 1999 after the last era of military rule, is replete with court-settling of election disputes. One or two disputed gubernatorial results come to mind. It means that theoretically, Tinubu could be stripped of the presidency and a re-run ordered or another of the candidates would be installed in his place.

I think the most likely result would be to throw out the claims. While such a verdict would be seen by the supporters of Peter Obi as evidence of judicial corruption, it would be based on the sound logic of preventing a disruptive procedure.

Obviously, a strong counter-argument would materialise if the cost of keeping Tinubu in power would be to make the country ungovernable. 

I don't see that happening.

The country is, as always, disunited and its long-suffering citizens are incapable of employing an effective version of "People Power".

. The REAL issue

The realist in me sees all of the commotion as a total distraction; a continuum of Nigerians, especially those well-meaning ones who as concerned citizens, activists or legal experts insist on what they deem to be "electoral transparency" and "constitutional propriety".

You see, Nigerians and the populations in post-independence Black Africa, have set the bar low.

The true quest of Nigeria is to create a post-colonial system of government and institutions which do not merely ape the hand-me-down systems of Western Europe and North America, this quest to evolve an indigenised, modern and practical system of governance being a natural corollary of a national programme aimed at creating for the country an industrial base which ineluctably would serve as the guarantor of economic independence because it would transform the country from a consumer-oriented economy to a productive one and one which is no longer an appendage to the global economic order.

What would such a programme look like?

Well, it would involve building up production in steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, textiles, cement, modernising infrastructure (roads, railroads, harbours, communication networks, water processing and power plants) and mechanising the agricultural sector. Specific industrial centres would need to be created around the country. Focusing on heavy industry would be the natural prerequisite to the production of consumer goods. It would also provide the basis for financing the effort of industrialisation. 

Naturally, such a plan would involve investment in technology.

A necessary concomitant of such a national project would be to embark on a programme of mass education which covers basic, vocational and university and postgraduate levels. Most programmes on the African continent have focused on trying to educate their population to basic literacy. 

Creating a manufacturing base would enable Nigeria to be solely responsible for extracting its mineral and other resources and converting them into goods which would be exported under a single currency regime.

Running a "rental" state in which others extract your minerals and where you sell mining rights lasting decades to foreign corporations whether Chinese or Western is demeaning.

The question is whether Nigerian and other African people can get beyond the thinking that economic prosperity can come from some form of evolution.That  people who consider themselves to be educated continue to think like that is sad beyond measure.

Beginning the process of securing an industrial base will involve planning and implementing by visionaries who can unite the people in a common cause. True leaders would find a means of transcending the barriers of tribal, ethnic and religious affiliation and building up a minimum level of cultural homogeneity.

It would also necessarily involve the strong hand of the state to direct the stages of development and to a greater or lesser degree, the "regimentation" of society. The leaders of such an endeavour inherently cannot be in the mould of the lazy, corrupt, sell-out despots of the still existing neo colonial era. It is important to note that the route to economic development in nations such as the USSR, Singapore and South Korea was not achieved through fixations on copying so-called democratic systems.

Nigerians have to demand this kind of vision from their leaders. The motivation for Nigerians and other Black African nations should be image of desperate Africans fleeing from their countries and embarking on perilous journeys across the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea during which they are prepared to risk the degrading circumstances of hunger, kidnap, rape, incarceration, enslavement and a pitiless death. And even if successful in reaching their destinations, the stigma of second or third class status awaits them as will the limitations imposed by racial and nationality-based discrimination.

Again, Nigerians and other Africans have for far too long set the bar low.

They need to ask themselves which of their leaders has presented a plan of several decades duration which is geared to plotting a path to achieving an industrial base.

It is time that they demand more from those who hold themselves out to be the political and intellectual leadership of their country.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde writes about global security, military history and a wider range of issues.

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