Many believe that our continued underdevelopment is a leadership issue, while others say when the followership is ready, a true leader will emerge.
In other words, our leadership is a reflection of our wider society, the quality of followers and their collective intelligence to understand our real collective aspirations. Collective intelligence being the percentage of the people that know and understand the link from common origins to collective aspirations.
The greatest impediment to our economic and political freedom and development has been externally inspired moralist propaganda. Even when we have an exceptional leader, his followers are easily disoriented with corruption propaganda since they are not educated to know their cultural identity and aspirations in concrete terms. Those who fail to stand for something fall for any cheap propaganda. The leaders end up being judged by unproven moralist parameters instead of his policy direction and implementation.
On at least three occasions, Nigeria’s industrial takeoff had been derailed with propaganda, and as we speak are being swayed by propaganda.
The question is what do we really want? A functioning economy that’s able to provide fulfilling employment, law and order, and working services. We want to be like USA, UK, China and the rest of Europe. In short to be industrialized with sufficient food but probably 90% of us can’t point to the exact projects or government system that can uplift us.
Majority don’t know that the Lagos-Calabar railway line tied to the Shagamu steel is the single most important project in Nigeria, complemented with another West to East line across the Middlebelt.
The two North to South lines were the British colonists most significant investment that kicked off our role as a colony, to empty our raw materials and dump their manufactures at the ports where the railways terminated. The East West railway lines are the most important investment signaling us an integrated economy to serve and exploit our own markets for ourselves. The effect will be like that of the 1830 USA railroad boom that increased both agriculture and manufacturing exponentially.
Like the USA and China, we must build a bottoms up system with decision making brought to the local level instead of a faraway capital like Abuja at the heart of a unitary system
For a general economic overview, we need to understand that each region has its own comparative advantage that makes it suitable to particular industries. Not that the region will be 100% devoted to a specific industry, but it will attract the most investment and give the best profit..
Apart from regions that are mostly politically demarcated, we have natural economic spheres known as citystates. The citystate is the natural coming together of people that starts with the Kings palace, central market and naturally spreads in a concentric pattern sometimes for hundreds of miles. This evolved into the modern city states like New York, Lagos, London with a central manufacturing business district that sells to its surrounding areas, which also supply its raw materials, especially labour.
The New York citystate economy extends across three states – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, like the Lagos citystate is encircled by Abeokuta, Ibadan, Oshgbo, Akure and Ado Ekiti. The Port Harcourt citystate is surrounded by Warri, Owerri, Aba, Umuahia, Onitsha. Kano is surrounded by Kaduna Zaria, Katsina, Gasau and Zinder.
According to the national economic plan, Southwest is the heavy manufacturing center, due to a large consumer and Labour market, with over 60% manufacturing concentrated around the Lagos-Ibadan-Benin axis. Historically, the most successful citystates have been Port cities which is why Lagos grew as a manufacturing and commercial center under the British. Southeast and South South are earmarked for petrochemical, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The North central region is conducive to mechanized agriculture and agro-allied industries, and is the food basket of the nation. Northwest and North Central arid areas, in the absence of irrigation and encroaching desert, would be best served with solar energy.
Unfortunately, instead of the Northern powerbrokers focusing on solar energy, their conquering-to-exploit Abrahamic orientation coupled with the backing of the British, made them focus on Niger Delta crude oil ready money. Their followers indoctrinated with Abrahamic expansionist dogma rallied behind those who promised them other people’s lands and resources, in the name of Allah and spread of Islam.
Southerners were no better having been cultural disorientated with Abrahamic religion and Eurocentric education. Theirs was to sell at the Port to the Whiteman, starting with slavery whereby they exchanged slaves for guns to get political power. As slavery turned to colonization, they turned to selling cash crops at the ports.
Even after the colonial master left, they stayed at the ports expectantly until the petrol boom. It wasn’t about what to produce or refine, value added for themselves, but to take sell it as God made it and then scramble for what the colonial masters sent back. Those who didn’t have access to the White colonial master, became separatists wanting to have their own direct link with the Man himself.
If it was about building our own industrialized utopia, it would have become obvious to Odua/Biafra agitators that their tiny tribal enclaves of about 5hrs driving across would neither have the land, population or resources to become industrialized, especially without a huge black market like USA is to the many small European nations. This is why no other Black nation is prosperous.
Without a huge Labour and consumer market, it is impossible to produce enough to lower cost per unit and cover overheads. The aircraft industry is an example whereby it was only USA that could profitably run the massive infrastructure required. This made France, Germany, Holland and other European nations come together to create the Airbus company before they could build their own aircrafts.
Even the car industry needs a large local consumer market to produce enough to cover its overheads, which is why Western car makers also make war armored tanks paid for by the government to purse war objectives and sell to other nations. Without Nigeria’s huge Black African market, no African nation will ever be able to develop these industries, especially since they would be barred in other huge racial biased trade blocs – USA and EU for Whites, China for Asians.
So how do we spread the right perspectives among the masses to raise their collective intelligence to enable them demand the right things from their politicians? The right projects and structure.
The problem started at the beginning of Black liberation politics when the focus was to get the White master out and be like him. We didn’t particularly have our own vision nor a true recollection of our own civilizations apart from what was passed down by our cultural imperialists. Our own Black leaders accepted to negotiate with the White colonists were those who conformed to the ways of the White master being chased away. Like them, our leaders were masters to whip us into order but without the vision of where they leading us.
Like the White colonists, our new Black leaders were interested in cash crops, White goods and markets and like ‘dem crazy baldheads chased out of the town, their replacements stole our resources to also save and invest in our Whitemaster banks and nations. The followers wanted a leader that could get them an unfair share of the cake, and not to bake fresh cakes. One that could enrich them individually or at best along their Pan-tribalist or Abrahamic lines.
Following the wasted generations since 1960, a new generation of elites must endeavor to teach the masses of their civilizational identity and collective aspirations.
It’s not enough for the leader to know and try to do what it is right. He must ensure an epistemic democracy, the wisdom of the multitude, or the people will be turned against him. The politicians might not be able to convey the messages without raising undue suspicions of playing politics. Instead, the cultural elite must create think tanks to influence public discourse, opinions and policy. The masses must know the road map from the origin to destination and if sufficiently agitated will know which leader to back and rise in defense of their collective aspirations.
Otherwise the best laid logical development plans will be sabotaged by the ignorant.