Have you been bothered lately about the interest of foreign governments in Nigeria? Have thought about why some Telecoms companies have eventually shifted their Headquarters to Nigeria due to increasing demand and market?
By now, you probably are thinking about the popular ‘oil’ riches we are endowed with. You will be partly correct if you share that school of thought. However I am not alluding to oil cruise is this piece.
A Senate Committee after inspecting works at the millennium tower in CBD, Abuja discovered less than 10% of the construction work was given to Nigerian citizens. Most of the works were contracted to foreign firms. Even at the level of sub-contracting and local hires, the figures were extremely dismal. The idea is for a huge capital to emigrate from Nigeria in the name of consultancies and expatriate involvements at the expense of the growth and development of local content. Thus, you have an expatriate taking up to 80% of project costs in the name of consultancies, and then does local hires for extremely cheap labour, the kind of work he would never let his children with same level of education do.
The idea of capital flight in exchange for expertise and consultancy engagements is not new. If you check the budget of most ministries, you will discover most of the consultancy works have little local involvements. These guys take our money in knowledge world to use against us in the power world. So you want to ask how this works?
They(foreign countries) reserve their fuel deposits and import our own fuel (as a cheap raw material) and then give us back cars and technologies at the price of a finished product.
Again, Nigeria has become the home (some people call –“dumping ground”) of many products because of our huge population(projected as 160 million). The more we buy these imported products, the more we give some under-aged boy or girl in china a job; at least something to keep up body and soul. The more we continue these importations, the more we drive their economy and de-energise ours. Simply put, we disengage more workers by more imports, and that justifies the high rate of unemployment we have in our country.
Still on the capital flight and local content deliberate extinction by government, we have senior officials travel for all manners of medical ‘tourism’ in the name of treating an ailment that either never existed, or that could be treated by our own facilities in Nigeria. Of course some treatments are out of reach, but you cannot contribute to a system you do not draw or derive ownership from. If you are going for a yellow fever test and sundry travel medical requirements, it will be clearly stated that it must be from a government hospital (depending on your destination). Why then can’t we have all political or elective office holders present an evidence of local treatment in Nigeria for them to have access to the ‘uncapped’, open-ended medical claims and allowances. Of course, you might want to say that will be worse owing to pervading corruption and power influence. However, It would be a case of a better devil if the stolen or manipulated medical claims are distributed at mean within Nigerian medical officers, not a foreign. Having realized the awareness of how huge the medical tourism industry is, you get calls from marketers from india, lobbying you to refer cases to their hospitals abroad. Of course, that is unethical in the medical profession. Of course, Nigerian doctors too have not helped. There are bits of compromised doctors who do that with a percentage ‘referral fee’ attached. I am not against that, provided most of the medical cases referred are done with true intents of treatment, which the patients have not been able to access in Nigeria. However, most referrals are done not based on integrity but marketing models.
Some of these hospitals are aware of an imminent clampdown on their activities so they have decided to shift base. “If mountain does not go to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to mountain”
Suffice to say that some of them have shifted base to Nigeria and have collaborated with these foreign telecoms operating in Nigeria to send bulk-messaging of their presence in Nigeria directly to our phone numbers without our permission. I find such messaging very offensive as you have no option of unsubscribing. This again is a sham or shame to the regulatory agencies in charge of consumer’s telecoms right.
While all of this is going on, my fellow Nigerians are perhaps not thinking deeper as to why most foreign countries are interested in us apart from the oil surge. The most veritable of them being our population growth which skyrockets by the day. My population dynamics study revealed that Nigeria’s population (50 million) was almost at par with UK (55 million) at independence. The question I ask myself is; where did we get this high baby-giving race? It is as though we have baby factories.
While I understand that the surge in population contributes a huge burden on our little facilities, resources and economy, the overall impact would have been mitigated if we have increasing creative economy to correspond with our increasing population. In other words, we have a more dependent population than a productive or creative one. Because the population of unproductive dependants increases, there is apparently more consumer markets for products from china, india and the US. My fellow youths are obviously oblivious of this when they become crazy about schooling in the US or UK. While those guys population have saturated their economy, they are looking for power broking and bilateral agreements that will expand their direct investments in populous countries like Nigeria. For the records, Nigeria’s population is about the size of UK, France and Netherlands put together.
So we keep producing the babies, and spending on them(not to educate but spoil them to rot), creating a more dependent population altogether. If the UK has enough money coming in locally, they wouldn’t have a thorough 4-6hrs call following up on their prospective masters student from Nigeria.
So how does all of this connect to leadership gaps?
I recall a friend of mine narrating how a popular construction company bargained the construction of Abuja roads in exchange for crude oil (very cheap and less profitable for Nigeria) and our leaders agreed. That’s smartness. Few years into the construction, they had exhausted their running expense and needed to downsize – so it was Nigerian hustlers with them that had to bear the brunt. Consequently, they resorted to shoddy construction which was grossly rejected by the Senate Committee in charge. So they needed a serious ‘contract ‘ to compensate for the cash-down. They approached the then president and proposed to construct a railway line from the north down south via the River Niger. They proposed to construct this free (service only) but with another condition; that any resource found on the River Niger waterways while constructing the railway will be theirs. That’s bargaining for you. Interestingly, the president turned that down. That is real leadership; when you cannot trade your local content for immediate gratification; when you cannot trade an unestimated resources for a quantifiable product or service. There has to be balance, and effective leaders know how to create this. It happened sometime ago when the South African Government raised a discriminatory move against Nigerian citizens and we ‘threatened’ to return suit. They withdrew because their core investments in Nigeria would be affected, especially in the telecoms sector. The balance of trade and power exchange is the responsibility of true leaders.
Let me end by saying this; if subserve your people and territory in the name of global recognition and acceptance you will return with nothing!
Nigeria is evolving, and she seeks the change in you first, by your faulty paradigms, personal leadership and then corporate leadership.
Have a productive weekend.