PROFESSOR OGBONNAYA OFOR
DEAN, COLLEGE OF NATURAL & APPLIED SCIENCES,
VERITAS UNIVERSITY, ABUJA.
Political independence is only the first phase of a people’s struggle for national independence. The second and final phase is the struggle for economic independence.
Political independence raises high hopes and expectations among the citizens of a former colonial territory for a better life. It is economic independence that meets these expectations and consolidates that country’s political independence. It is thus incumbent on a former colony like Nigeria, after attaining political independence, to direct and pattern her economic development to attain economic independence in order to make her national independence full, meaningful and real.
Economic independence consists in
The achievement of an independent and
self-reliant economy through the
application of science and technology.
These terms require elaboration:
1. In anindependent economy the commanding heights of the national economy are controlled by the indigenes of the country. This is where the selling off of state owned industries to foreign businessmen and the near total reliance on foreign investors to industrialize the country do not and cannot lead to economic independence for Nigeria. It leaves the commanding heights of the nation’s economy in the hands of foreigners.
2. A self-reliant economy is self-sustaining and self-propelling. This requires that an industry in Nigeria is fed by agricultural raw materials preferably from local farms and plantations, or by minerals from mines located ‘within the country; the machinery and equipment as well as spare parts are manufactured locally; and the universities are adequately staffed and equipped to produce the high level manpower to man the industries and research institutes.
3. The only pathway to the realization of meaningful industrialization is the application of science and technology. Indigenous scientific Research and Development (R&D) is essential and indispensable to the industrialization of the country, more so as foreign entrepreneurs in Nigeria tend to carry out their research in their home countries and bring the research findings into the country for application.
Industrialization is the conversion, on a large scale, of raw materials to finished products ready for public consumption or for further use in
industry. It involves not only the processing of raw materials into finished products but also the preservation, packaging and storage of the finished products. Industrialization ensures that the finished products are in a quality acceptable to the consuming public. Raw materials for industry basically are agricultural produce or mined ore.
Industrial products derive from the interaction of matter and energy:
energy acting on matter converts it to product. Thus, mechanization and
the provision of abundant and cheap electric power are essential and
basic to industrialproduction.
The principal actor in the industrialization effort is the scientist. The task of industrialization is two-fold, first to create wealth, and next to invest wealth wisely to create more wealth. Science creates wealth. Through research, science develops the technical processes to produce goods; it fabricates the machinery and equipment and the spare parts needed for industrial production; it builds and operates the factory for the manufacture of goods; and develops control mechanisms for effective production and quality assurance. The matter of the profitable investment of wealth is the purview of the economist. Technology is science in practice. Through practice processes the scientist develops and advances home-grown technology, and increases the productive capacity of the population.
In consequence, any leadership that ignores or rejects the direct involvement of the nation’s scientific manpower in the process of industrialization, has rejected technological advancement and economic independence for the nation. Courting foreign investors as a primary
policy for economic development is not the answer. This is the plight of Nigeria today.
Industrialization has advantages. Because it produces goods on a large, commercial scale, the goods are readily available and relatively cheap to the consuming public. It drives the development of mechanization, leading to the development of advanced technology which raises the productive capacity of the nation. It creates massive wealth through large scale production and sale of goods, and hence raises the standard of living of the population. It keeps the people gainfully employed and the urge toward social crime is reduced and may be ultimately eliminated. The country can speak with confidence and pride among the advanced nations of the world.
In essence therefore, Nigeria’s overall economic development must be aimed to achieve economic independence. For the country’s industrialization to achieve the desired goal of economic independence, it must be structured and patterned to achieve two objectives, namely,
1. To create industrial wealth in the form of company taxes or profits from direct sales, that will be used to finance the provision of infrastructures and social services, and provide gainful employment for the citizens of the country. In this regard, Nigeria’s oil revenue must be treated as finance capital to industrialize the country.
2. To challenge and tap the creative powers of the country’s scientists, engineers and technologists who will be required to design, fabricate and operate the factories. That is, the country develops home-grown
technology through scientific Research and Development (R&D) as the only way to achieve technological advancement.
III CONSTRAINTS AGAINST INDUSTRIALIZATION
AND ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE IN NIGERIA
(A) The Ideology of Economic Development through Foreign Investment.
Nigeria’s raw materials producing status and the neglect of local manufacturing industries had gingered the national struggle for independence, in the belief that only a government formed by Nigerians could be trusted to develop the country industrially. Nigeria’s prevailing industrial and technological backwardness derives directly and squarely from the fact that successive Nigerian governments from independence in 1960 to date have followed the colonial policy that relegates the country to producer of raw materials and consumer of foreign industrial goods. The governments reason that the industrialization of the country can best come from foreign investors who possess the requisite capital and technical know-how. This reasoning, erroneous as it is, has matured into belief, and belief into policy. The policy climaxed in the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the Babangida military era, and the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy
(NEEDS) of the Obasanjo government (1999 - 2007).
Promulgated in 1988, SAP rejected and terminated the indigenization policy in Nigeria that tended to promote and protect indigenous ownership and control of the economy, and threw the country wide open to foreign investors with highly juicy incentives.
NEEDS was, in more severe respects, a continuation of General Babangida’s SAP. NEEDS not only deregulated the economy and threw it wide open to foreign control, it went further than SAP by selling off state owned industries to foreign entrepreneurs and by government withdrawing from industrial production and the generation of industrial wealth. The foreign entrepreneurs often hide behind Nigerian bidders who front for them.
In privatizing state-owned industries, it is argued that these industries are bedecked with corruption and mismanagement and are unprofitable. This argument is false. These industries were properly managed and profitable in the first and second republics of civil rule. In any case, even if they are corrupt, why doesn’t the government, if it believes in state enterprise, turn the EFCC and ICPC on them to clean them up? Or is it a matter of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it?
Reliance on foreign investment as the pathway to the industrialization of the country leads to three tragic consequences:
1. Foreign investment to industrialize a developing country like Nigeria is amirage; it recedes as one approaches it. The country continues to hope and never industrializes:
2. It stultifies and paralyses the nations urge, through government leadershipinitiative and example, to industrialize the country through organized self-effort.
3. It amounts to the recolonization of Nigeria by superior economic powers. It is retrogressive and destroys the hopes and aspirations for economic independence and a better life political independence engendered in the Nigerian people.
The ideology of industrialization through foreign investment has failed. The foreign investors have not come from independence in 1960 to date, and Nigeria has not industrialized. Investment in the Nigerian oil and gas sector by the foreign oil companies is intended not to industrialize the country but to increase the output of crude petroleum and natural gas which are exported as raw materials for the petrochemical and other industries of the advanced nations. It is in keeping with Nigeria’s assigned status, from colonial times to date,as producer of raw materials and indiscriminate consumer of finished products from the industries of the advanced nations
B.Globalization And Nigeria’s StatusIn The Global Economy
Globalization is the integration of the ‘peoples and nations of the world into one large economic village.
- For Africa, globalization started in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade
era (15thto19thcenturies) when an estimated 15 million Africans in the productive ages of 25to 40 years were carted away as slaves by European slave dealers, to the New World of America and the Carribean Islands to work the European agricultural plantations there, principally cotton and sugar.Free, forced African labour laid the agricultural foundation for America’s industrial take-off. And it was from profits from trade in
African slaves that Europe accumulated the primitive capital that financed the indutria1 revolution of the 17thcentury in that continent.
In this era, the global economy was the agricultural plantation economy in the New World, owned, operated and controlled by European conquerors and settlers there. Africa played the subservient role of forcefully supplying free, slave labour.
- Then came the era of the Industrial Revolution, which started in the
17thcentury in Great Britain and later spread to other countries of Europe. The factories of Europe needed tropical agricultural produce like palm oil and kernel, cotton and groundnut, cocoa and rubber, as raw materials. Slave labour had become wasteful and unreliable; slave rebellions had become rampant; wage labour replaced slave labour in industrial production and the slave trade was no longer an economic necessity.
In addition to the need for tropical agricultural raw materials, industrial Europe needed foreign markets for her goods. Europe abolished slavery. In its place, Europe substituted direct colonial rule whereby African labour instead of being transported overseas as slave labour with attendant problems, was utilized in its natural African habitat to grow and process raw materials for export to Europe. Money paid to African farmers for their agricultural produce, and as wages to African colonial civil servants, enabled Africans to purchase industrial goods exported to them from Europe. This way Europe opened up markets in Africa for her industrial goods. The emergence of Africa as a producer of raw materials for the factories of Europe and a dumping ground for the industrial products ofEurope had started.
Globalization for Africa continued in this era of direct colonial rule. The global economy became the industrial economy of Europe who continued to control the world and the global economy. Africa played the subservient, subordinate, peripheral role of producer of raw materials for the industries of Europe. In addition, Africa became a dumping ground for Europe’s industrial goods: she became a consumer race!
What is grossly diabolical about this raw materials producing and indiscriminate foreign goods consuming status assigned to Africa in the global economy, is three-fold, namely,
i. Both the raw materials exported from the African colonies and the
finished industrial goods exported into Africa from Europe were at prices determined, dictated and imposed by the colonizing European powers. This placed Africa at a gross economic disadvantage.
ii. Europe, by this arrangement, shielded and screened Africa from
participating in the Industrial Revolution that swept through Europe in that era. In consequence, Africa remained technologically backward and hence economically undeveloped.
iii. Africa got integrated into the global economy not by her own volition but by the force of colonial conquest, and was suppressed into an appendage position to the industrial world of Europe as a mere producer of raw materials and an indiscriminate consumer of foreign goods.
- The end of World War II in 1945 saw Europe militarily weakened and economically devastated, and thus lacked the military and financial muscle to continue to impose direct rule on its colonies. Faced with agitations for independence from the colonial territories, Europe was compelled to grant political independence to its colonies. But this independence was nominal. The colonies could fly their own flags and elect their own Heads of State or Government, but imperialist domination which now comprised Europe and the United States, collectively called the West, ensured that the erstwhile colonies continued to operate on the colonial pattern of producer of raw materials to service the factories of the West and of indiscriminate consumption of the industrial goods of the West. By thus controlling the economies of these seemingly independent countries the West controls their politics and their destiny as well. This is neocolonialism. This is the present status and fate of Nigeria in the global family.
The global economy in this post-independence era remains the industrial economy of the West who continue to control the world and the global economy. Africa’s participation in the global economy in this era has remained as sources of raw materials and consumers of foreign goods. For Nigeria, her current principal raw material supply is crude oil that is produced in the country by foreign oil companies.
Progressive leaders in the 3rdWorld have seen through the deceit and trickery in the Western concepts of Globalization and vehemently resist it. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia had warned that the developed countries would use the doctrine to impoverish and control the developi.ag nations. He said:
“We are urged to remove tariffs and our local products have to compete with tax-free imports from developed countries that are cheaper due to economies of scale. Globalization will eventually result in local industries being forced to close shop and be taken over by foreign companies. We will return to being producers of raw materials like rubber, tin and palm oil and prices will once again be forced down. We will become poor and poor countries are easily controlled by foreigners.”
(PUNCH Newspaper of May 1, 2000, page 13).
The neocolonial status can be overcome. China and India, both former colonies, have escaped the raw materials supplier and foreign goods consumer status originally meant for them, and emerged industrial powers. Nigeria can also pull herself out of this syndrome. This she will achieve by looking inward and going massively into industrial manufacturing through home-grown technology. Only the governments can lead this crusade.
C. The Doctrine of Small and Limited Government.
Nigeria operates on the principle that the country needs small and limited government. This doctrine stipulates that it is not the duty of government to build industries; it is the duty of the private business sector. Government only creates the enabling environment for private sector investment. In the Nigerian situation, this argument is untenable. The indigenous component of the Nigerian private business sector is weak and wobbly as it suffers from severe constraints that stunt its growth and retard its progress. These
constraints include inadequate finance capital, lack of technological know- how, mutual distrust that inhibits the entrepreneurs from pulling their resources together to form large and more profitable concerns, and high cost of production arising from resort to the use of electric generators as a result of the grossly inadequate and epileptic power supply from the national grid. Obviously therefore the indigenous private business sector cannot industrialize Nigeria.
The other component, the foreign component, is the foreign investors that have been vigorously wooed by successive Nigerian governments from independence in 1960 to date and have not come to industrialize the country. It becomes imperative that for Nigeria to industrialize, the governments, Federal and State, must take the lead by financing scientific research and development, and building and running industries directly or in partnership with the indigenous private sector. The logic of this case derives from the fact that
(i) the Nigerian governments collect and disburse the national
revenue from oil and other sources that runs into trillions of Naira per annum, and therefore can most conveniently afford the finance capital required for industrialization
(ii) As a developing country it is foolhardy to imitate the advanced countries with a highly developed indigenous private business sector and advanced technology who, therefore, can afford the luxury of small and limited government.
(IV) THE STRATEGIC AGENDA:- THE WAY FORWARD
1. Looking Inward
Nigeria is rich in scientific and technological manpower who have appropriately organized themselves into learned societies like the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the Chemical Society of Nigeria, the Nigerian Economic Society, etc. Nigerian scientists and technologists can build iron and steel industries, oil refineries, food processing industries, etc for the country if the Government of the country will mobilize, empower and commission them. Nigerian governments must look inward and use what they have to develop the country instead of looking outward to elusive and illusive foreign investors, for only Nigerians can develop Nigeria, foreigners will not; technology transfer is a hoax.
2. State Participation in Industrial Production
Because the indigenous private business sector is too weak and wobbly to initiate and carry through the onerous task of industrializing the country, it is imperative, at this level of the country’s economic development which is a non-starter, that Nigerian governments at the federal, state and local levels build industries directly or in partnership with indigenous entrepreneurs in order to provide gainful employment for Nigerian citizens and create wealth to tackle the problems of broken down infrastructures, mass poverty and social services.
Government’s capability in building industries is assured by its
constitutional control of the national revenue and therefore can afford the necessary capital to finance research and development (R&D) and industry building. R&D is sine qua non to industrialization and is the only pathway to Nigeria developing home-grown technology to overcome technological backwardness.
To aid Government in the effective mobilization and utilization of scientific manpower, it is proposed that:
- The federal government should constitute a National Research and Development Council.
To do this Government is advised to consult the Executives of the already organized Nigerian scientific societies such as the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the Chemical Society of Nigeria, the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, the Nigerian Agricultural Society, the Nigerian Institute of Science Technologists, etc, etc, who could supply the needed scientists and technologists from their groups.
- Government should build and equip a Science Village to keep the R&D workers as much as possible in one place for effective, coordinated and collaborative research.
- Government and the private sector should be prepared and willing to utilize the R&D findings to establish industries. It is frustrating in scientific research when findings are not utilized.
- To ensure speedy utilization of R&D findings Government should produce on a regular basis Development plans in which it defines its industrial targets, articulates plans and strategies for attaining those industrial objectives, and articulates its overall economic development heights and infrastructural goals. R&D work without properly articulated national economic goals to which the R&D work is tied becomes a blind alley and an undue drain on the nation’s purse.
Nigerian nationalist leaders sensitized, inspired and mobilized Nigerians to wage the struggle against colonial rule to win political independence for the country. In the same token Nigerian governments that collect and disburse the national revenue that runs into trillions of Naira per annum, are looked upon to sensitize, inspire and mobilize Nigerians to wage the war against economic and technological backwardness; they must be at the vanguard of the struggle to industrialize the country to attain economic independence. If they abandon the industrialization of the country to the whims and caprices of “foreign friends,” the country will never develop technologically and will never achieve economic independence.
3. Application of Science and Technology to Industrialization
The only pathway to meaningful industrialization and economic independence is the application of science and technology. The establishment of the technical feasibility of the industrial project; the fabrication of the necessary machines and equipment, including spare parts, for the factory; the preservation and storage processes for the industrial products; all derive from scientific research and development. Thus, science and technology constitute the intellectual tool for the creation of industrial wealth, and scientists
and technologists are the human agentsfor the attainment of that objective.
Without sounding unduly pessimistic, I opine that the future of Nigeria is bleak and short. Nigeria may not survive the21st century except as objects of curiosity for white tourists, if she continues in her present state of monumental poverty, ignorance and disease, aggravated by wars. It is estimated that Nigeria’s oil deposits will be exhausted by the 3rd quarter of this century. The 4th quarter of the century and beyond will be cataclysmic if the country does not industrialise before then. Only the governments of Nigeria, looking inward, can successfully lead the struggle for the country’s rapid industrialization through the application of science and technology, for the attainment of economic independence and the conquest of poverty.
4. Decolonizing the Nigerian Mind
For Nigeria to make progress in economic development and nation building it is imperative that her ruling elite decolonize their minds, that is, liberate their minds from foreign control, so they can see and appreciate clearly the country’s problems, and mobilize her potentials for effective development. If they fail to do this, and time isrunning out, the Nigerian masses would of necessity, pull themselves out of their cage of docility and fight and dethrone the bad, insensitive, ineffective, stooge governments whose misrule is responsible for the nations backwardness. Even this alternative will fail if it is not based
on the ideology of ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE which is:
The achievement of an independent and
self reliant economy through the
application of science and technology.