Monday, May 10, 2010

Vision 20 20 20, Will We Ever Get There?

There is a process to building a house. It is methodical, scientific, and planned.Any deviation from the process could lead to disaster. The same logic can be extended to nation building. I have spoken at different fora on our 'fire brigade' ways, and means, of development. 

Late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, tried to end this chaotic habit of ours, with the Vision Twenty Twenty Twenty. The idea was that by the Year 2020, Nigeria would have displaced one of the Group of twenty most advanced nations. I hear some people snickering ,and even, laughing !

For this to happen, we would have to undergo what would definitely be regarded as the greatest feat of development, greater than Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward, greater than the Asian Tigers, in short we would rewrite the book on rapid development. I will now stop holding brief for the government and address the issues at hand.

Many are not aware that Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, PAN, the last remaining automobile assembly plant in Nigeria, has just announced that it would no longer assemble vehicles in Nigeria, it can no longer compete with the available cheap second hand cars in the Nigerian market. They have now decided to start importing second hand cars too! 

PAN's problems are directly linked to another fraudulent shame that sits like an elephant in our national 'room'; the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex. 

Other nations, have probably  built three similar complexes, from the one we have had on life support from it's commissioning. Ajaokuta was designed to fail from inception. It was designed as an iron rods complex, there was no provision for flat sheets. 

Do you get the picture? You require flat sheets,more than rods, for industrialization. About seventy percent of a car's components are flat sheet based.

I suspect that the Nigerians who supervised the complex were either bribed, or deceived, into overlooking this oversight. 

We built a complex that would only give us steel rods for building houses. The West did not want us to develop, that was their masterstroke. Imagine if we had flat sheets right now, we probably would have been like Korea, exporting cars all over the world and creating jobs at home. 

Some days ago, the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, suffered a power outage for about three hours. One prayer I hear the Yorubas of Nigeria pray a lot is, that your enemy would not know your secret; we chose to expose ourselves to those coming and going, in the worst place possible, and at a very sensitive period in the aviation industry.  Sensitivity to security, and losses from low patronage is the issue of the moment, we showed how tactless we can be. What happened to the generator(s) ?
No one has resigned yet! And no one ever does! 

But that was a symptom of a bigger problem, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria,PHCN. My venerated friend,Tomi Davies, after being becalmed by the volcanic ash saga in Europe, came home and met the outage, I can imagine his outrage.   

The company's name has changed several times, but it's inefficiencies have multiplied; and even given birth to newer, deadlier children.

I am sure Nigeria is the only country in the world where the power utility company uses generators for their administrative business. PHCN has become a financial blackhole,( according to the general theory of relativity, a blackhole is a region of space in which nothing, including light, can escape)  The company has swallowed billions of dollars in investments, nothing resembling efficiency has come out of it.

I have seen people die because of power outages. I have run my business continuously for thirty days out of thirty, on generators for eight hours straight, almost every month of the year. I have seen an absurdity, welders welding at three am in the morning because that was the only time power was available.

Our nation has been enslaved by a cartel of generator importers, and career quislings masquerading as engineers in PHCN, their mission, the inefficiency of PHCN.

I have recently traveled from Lagos to Abuja, I counted over twenty articulated lorries,(petrol tankers) ,that had upturned and caught fire. Reason, we do not have a viable rail system that ordinarily would transport such highly volatile cargo, our rail system died, and was buried, more than twenty years ago. It did because a cartel of articulated lorry owners, sabotaged it to grow their own business.

I could bore,and hence loose you, with a litany of inefficiencies that we have become, as a nation. 

This, then bothers the question, which of the current members of the elite twenty most developed economies in the world are we going to supplant?

Is one of them going to embark on an aggressive exercise of national 'dedevelopment' , and retrogression, to open the door to us to sneak in ? 

Is it possible that by some fluke,or miracle, or quirk of development, that we would, in ten years, develop and overtake one of them: bearing in mind that none of them is waiting for us right now, and no quarters would be given,or asked.

As a pragmatic optimist, I do not see any of the two coming to pass with the arrangement on ground at the moment. What we may aspire to, may be the second tier of developed nations; attainment of this would be nothing short of the miraculous.

Until this happens,


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