OFTEN, one wonders what sustains Nigeria. The more that thought comes, the more one is baffled at the seemingly non-corroboration of cause and effect in things that happen in the country and their results. What always emerges after contemplating Nigeria is that the country is a miracle or something akin to a phoenix. Nigeria’s story tends to remind one of the fabled cat with nine lives.
Nigeria should have long been history, if she were to be other countries. War, anomy, terror tarnish and all other things that have finished other nations have rattled Nigeria yet she stands.
105 years as a collective entity hosting almost 500 ethnicities; 59 years as an independent country; 56 years as a republic, Nigeria remains like it evolved yesterday. This is despite the many demons and rivetting touturous upheavals that have marked those decades.
Civil war, terrorism, a flury of communual crises, gales of wild-wild tension, killings of immense magnitude and all that can scare any society or drawn nations have rocked the country severally. Yet she holds together. Even when things tend towards falling and the centre quakes with cracks, the bond retains.
The story of Nigeria has defied anarchiests, skeptics and prophets of doom. It has beaten Hobesian narratives. Hence when it comes to periods like this when the nation’s Independence Day anniversary is around the corner, one pauses to appreciate God’s favour to the land that keeps spurring big headache but never yeilds to migrane or heart attack.
Though when Tuesday, October 1 comes and it will be the 59th anniversary of Nigeria’s indepence from United Kingdom’s colonial rule, the real matter to celebrate may neither be bouyant economy nor robust unity there is a chance that there are people who would look beyond such things to find reasons to be very happy.
Viewed from the prism of current times with insecurity, religious differences, corruption, political parties’ banter and the unending yell over nativities, ethnicities and appointments as the overwhelming issues not many would subscribe to the reasons to cheer up and thank God for our favours because most of the country have numbed their faculties for such introspection.
Comb for reasons, you would find many countrymen who would quickly remind you that Nigeria is now cited as the global capital of poverty. Some will tell you that human life is worth nothing now in Nigeria because in frequent crisis and havoc across country, death tolls come in dozens and scores whilst elswhere, one death sets a whole country in frenzy. Others would add that the astronomical rise in the population of the country projects doom in near future. But how real are those generally held fears and widely spread perssimism?
Notwithstanding the present gloomy cloud, all made worse by social communication of the situation, Nigeria’s wealth is in the fact that the several stabs she has recieved over time has not killed her. The fact that Nigeria remains big, richly endowed and growing in population is a big plus-factor not a minus.
Nations with huge population like China, India and Turkey have proved it in recent time, the way the United States of America (U.S.A.) and Russia had, earlier. More so, the oft-expressed possibilities in talents, skills and enterprise in Nigeria’s teeming population is a big source of hope. Again, her wealth in youth and the prospect that her politics would some day, soon, throw up the desired leadership lends to any progressive foreseeing the future with positive mindset.
More citizens mean more hands for labour and more labour leads to more profits for enterprises and increased employment in homes and societies. This is the view of the Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith, in his 1776 evergreen book, ‘The Wealth of Nations. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.’ That is the thrust of current Chinese revolution – reaping from the labour and enterprise of a large population.
According to the acknowledged fore father of modern economics, Mr. Smith, even in societies where the amount of labour exceeds the amount of revenue available for waged labour, firms gain as competition among workers is great. This competition among workers leads to more enterprises and in contemporary times such a development encourage the growth of more firms.
Smith writes: “the demand for men, like that for any other commodity, necessarily regulates the production of men; quickens it when it goes on too slowly, and stops it when it advances too fast. It is this demand which regulates and determines the state of propagation in all the different countries of the world, in North America, in Europe, and in China; which renders it rapidly progressive ….”
Smith therein addresses the problems of poverty as one that is damning and condemnable but should not prevent the full manifestation of a society and a generation. The book states thusly: “poverty, though it does not prevent the generation, is extremely unfavourable to the rearing of children.”
He however hints that nations work themselves out of poverty through labour and productivity. The only way to determine whether a man is rich or poor is to examine the amount of labour he can muster or afford to purchase. “Labour is the real exchange for commodities,” Smith wrote. So, should the cry be that we are poverty-striken, which we are. The solution is here. We have to work harder, and in more creative ways than we currently do.
Writing in a United Nations’ Population Division Technical Paper of 2017, Andrew Mason, Ronald Lee, Michael Abrigo and Sang-Hyop Lee in the work entitled ‘Support Ratios and Demographic Dividends: Estimates for the World’ reason that huge or rising population are actually, big prospects of gain not things to brood about. The experts note that “changes in the population age structure have profound implications for national, regional and global economies.
First, they bring “the demographic dividend — the possibility that, in the developing world, the rise in the share of the working ages and related changes can provide a strong impetus to economic development” which earlier works, such as Bloom and Williamson, 1998; Mason, 2001; Bloom, and others, 2002; Mason, 2005; Lee and Mason, 2006; Mason and Lee, 2007; Mason and Kinugasa, 2008 among others support.
The second is their finding that it is actually population ageing and slowing population growth that could lead to economic stagnation not population explosion. Earlier scholars such as John Keynes, 1937; Hansen, 1939; Eggertsson and Mehrotra, 2014; Teulings and Baldwin, 2014 among others have reasoned that way.
Noting that that Nigeria survives her odds shows not just the resillence of the nation but her inherent treasures even if untapped or squandered. Calling to mind memories of wasted years of agro or oil wealth may wake butterflies in our stomach or sway youngsters’ interests away from the land but what cannot be achieved through the little that curreently remain?
Truth is that the most relevant thing Nigeria lacks is inclusive leadership. This is not limited to political leadership. Genuinely concerned, visionary leaders with fecund knowledge – the ‘philosopher king’ as Plato articulated – are needed in all vital strata and sector. With just that, Nigeria will hit the sky soon.
In their 2012 book, ‘Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,’ the duo of Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, both professors of political science tried to examine factors responsible for the political and economical success or failure of states, considering the general notions of society’s prosperity and poverty, geography, climate, culture, religion, or the ignorance of political leaders. They did country case studies, identifying countries that are similar in many factors such as same faith and same culture.
They concluded that economic prosperity depends largely on inclusiveness in economic and political institutions. Their explanation of institutional inclusiveness is “when many people have a say in political decision-making, as opposed to cases where a small group of people control political institutions and are unwilling to change.
They argued that a functioning democratic and pluralistic state guarantees the rule of law while inclusive institutions promote economic prosperity because they provide incentive for talents and creative ideas to be rewarded.
Philosopher kings and inclusive society are what Nigeria needs that why I have hope and join every right-thinking thinker to condemn the silly failed attempt at democracy in Ghana earlier this week.