Monday, 6 February 2017

Industrialization and the politics of second term

Industrialization and the politics of second termIndustrialization and the politics of second term


Even before the advent of the current incarnation of democracy, industrialization and job creation has always been the centrepiece of electioneering campaigns. This is so because, upon gaining independence in 1960, the new state of Nigeria was confronted with the problems of development. The political leaders who took over from the colonial masters, found out that the country grossly lacked basic infrastructures and social amenities.

Therefore, there was a shift in the political philosophy from that of maintaining law and order and exploitation of primary products, exploited to lubricate the economy of Britain, to that of making the country strong, developing a burning sense of patriotism and promoting a comprehensive programme of socio- economic and INDUSTRIAL development.

It was hoped that these lofty ideals were to be achieved through the mobilization of resources for the material improvement of the standard of living of the people of Nigeria. Little did it occured to our heroes past that their  labour for the emancipation of Nigeria from colonial rule will be in vain [God Forbid !]They did know that some Nigerian leaders will step squarely into the shoes of the colonial masters!

In line with the realities then, you will agree with me that post colonial government in Nigeria should be nothing than development administration, which involves the use of state bureaucracy to administer industrialization, provision of social amenities such as roads, electricity, decent and affordable housing, access to good healthcare facilities ,respect for the rule of law and strict adherence to democratic ethos and so on. But alas!  power seekers take undue advantage of this perpetual state of chronic need, hypnotize and manipulate public support and grab power by force!

Available records have shown that at independence, colonial administration bequeathed to Nigeria, an economy that was thorouly underdeveloped and a social service sector that was virtually non existent. Research by this writer shows that there was no delibrate policy or programme to develop Nigeria industrially or technologically or to provide the necessary , needed, basic , infrastructures, except where and when they enhanced the exploitation and   exportation of primary products to the sea, enroute  Britain. This assertion is further buttressed by the rail map of colonial Nigeria.

Again, the provision of basic social amenities and infrastructures, under colonial administration was restricted to certain areas . Thus electricity, pipe borne water, good roads and decent houses, were only found within the European quatres, otherwise known as Government residential areas [GRAs].

Away from political history, let us carry out an intellectual surgery of why developing states like ours, can hardly make headways towards real industrial development. Permit me to lay bare, without prejudice, the complexities which are inextricably entangled in the much publicized and off course, much desired industrialization of the less developed states like ours.

Industrial revolution of any  developing state should be considered in relation to internal as well as external influences. Under internal influence, we should consider the political will of those in power, steady power supply, the raw materials ,the state resources and the political environment. And by  external factors, we mean the expertise, the market forces and off course, we should learn from the Nigerian experience. Therefore, if we talk about industrialization without properly addressing those prerequisites above, it amounts to self deciet and we are simply taking a trip to nowhere!

 But before we proceed in this literary communion, let us dust the intellectual cobwebs and have a grab of what INDUSTRIALIZATION and INDUSTRIES mean. It is however not fortunate that when some people hear the term industry, the quickly conceptualize the building of factories. According to macro - economic literature, industrialization is the building up of a country’s capasity to process raw materials for consumption of goods and services, that is for consumption now, for future consumption and for export. So when we know what industrialization means, we can then talk of industries, job creation and can properly appreciate the governments sincere efforts towards job creation.

From the above  polemics, we can authoritatively decipher that raw materials is the in thing in the whole process. Akwa Ibom is a state blessed with marketable raw materials in aboundant. We fall within the tropical zone with a dominant vegitation of green foilage of trees, shrubs and oil palm trees belt which holds the highest density of the cash crops in the world, including rubber, cocoa and rice. Other dominant crops are coconut, citrus, cassava, yam, maize, cowpeas, plantain, bannana, pinapple and colanut. These are some of our rich and aboundant raw materials, but how far has the government, which credits  itself in industrial revolution, gone in encouraging or facilitating the building up of the capasities to process these aboundant raw materials for consumption of Akwa Ibom people and for export to boost our economy.

  You will agree with me that the bulk of these raw materials are found in the rural areas. You will also agree with me that the farmers in these rural communities are victims of gross neglect in terms of the provision of basic social amenities especially electricity which can facilitate and boost mass production and encourage local industries and technology. It is no more news that the rural communities are surviving at the mercy of corrupt and failed power sector. It is therefore not illogical to assert that, based on survey and the principles of precision journalism, that the government is not very sensitive to the wellbeing and welfare of those who produce the food that is consumed in the urban centres.

 Apart from their strategic role in food security, a large chunk of the electorate grope in the dungeon of our remote villages. Many thanks to the immidiate  past commissioner for rural development and the present Special Adviser to the state Governor on political And legislative affairs, Barrister Ekong Sampson. A man who, without any fear of contradiction, possess enviable experience in every area of governance.

For the first time in the history of the state, he designed a workable master plan for the development of the rural communities and personally toured Akwa Ibom villages to  have a feel of what they need, and not what the government wants to do for them. May be because he is a politician that is constantly in touch with the grassroots, may be out of his long superlative credentials in public service. The fact remains that he broke an age-long record in the ministry of rural development!

In 2015, Senator Godswill Akpabio , during his electioneering campaign for a second as the state governor, promised that the state government will build at least one cottage industry in each of the thirty one local government areas of the state . The promise , as intended, provoked thunderous and endless ovation, the excited and ignorant electorates, especially the jobless, rolled out  drums,  women in politics rang their bell for the good talk and in effect, it wiped up   a network of fanatical support across the state, and his second term election, apart from the culture of carry-go, was a work-over. Today,  six years after, not  a building, not a structure, no light at the end of the tunel , even the morribond industries which were built without rhetorical promises, decades ago, suffered heartless neglect in spite of public opinion and massive outcry.

It is instructive to note at this juncture that even government officials are not exempted in this  semantic  accident. Sometimes, they refer to building of local factories when the say the word ,INDUSTRIALIZATION. This misfortune is even enhanced by the new political order where expertise, professionalism and intellectualism are sacrificed on the altar of political equation and interests and a system run by  Machiavellian marshal tunes and its 16th century medieval philosophies.

So, taking undue advantage of this accident of semantics, the wise ones   exploit our common wealth in the name of industrialization, without addressing the prerequisites for the process. Industrialization without considering those factors enumerated above, amounts to self deciet or going fishing without the net, the hook and the boat!

Without any fear of contradiction, we are growing but we are not developing economically. It should be stated here that economic growth does not mean the same thing as economic development. Economists postulates that while economic growth expresses itself in increase revenue base and resources, economic development on the other hand concerns itself with the distribution of these increased output into the different facets of the society. According to this school of thought, it centers on sustaining increase in per capita income of citizens over a period of time. Economic development expresses itself in the quality of life of the common man on the street. Based on this analysis, you will agree with me that our celebrated increased growth rates are not translating into concrete economic development.

 Our noisy growth status have failed to answer questions like; what is happening to employment/unemployment and even underemployment? what is happening to the quality of education? what is happening to healthcare delivery? housing scheme? what is happening to the quality of governance particularly the participation of citizens in governance , even in the so-called political parties, how many members participate in the selection of party candidates? to what extent does the rule of law work in Nigeria and AKWA ABASI IBOM STATE? Does the government respect public opinion or do they even hear them? how constant is our power supply? does the government respond to public outcry about exploitation and inefficiency in power sector? how does the government feel when they enjoy un interupted power supplyin government residential areas, while the electorate languish in melancholy and grope in the dark only to vote for them during the next election?  

 Industrialization, as an economic process is not a picnic, nor an article of political jingoism and therefore should not be treated with levity or be used as a bait for either election or re- election. If the state government wants to convince right thinking people that they are serious about industrialization, they should first address the issue of power supply as the process cannot thrive without it; the culture of respect for the rule of law and public opinion should be encouraged; there should be sincerity of purpose on their side; the citizens too, should support provide conducive environment; the state government should prioritize development above political interest; appointments in governments should be based on merit and not only compensation and political arithmatics ;the right people with the right attitudes towards public service should be involved in the process, the government should appreciate constructive criticism, else, like others their industrial revolution will crash-land or suffer either stillbirth or abortion on their way to delivery.

Apart from the above factors, another virus that has aggressive capasity to crush the industrial revolution to a halt is what literary experts will describe as ‘’Macbethan  ambission’’ for second term. The dream will not only distract the governor dangerously, but attract many meanings to whatever he does. His body language will be read and interpreted in so many languages. My Governor should not base his leadership ideals on the musings of political minstrels, else like  Macbeth in William Shakespeare, he will behold Birnam Woods moving towards Dunsinane hill and he will say ‘’... be not these juggling fiends no more believed....’’   What do you think?

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