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62nd Independence: Industrial Development In Nigeria Since Independence
Published Oct 01, 2022 IN Column, SATURDAY COVER,
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THE INDUSTRIAL sector has grown at the weakest rate under the present administration than any other government since 1999.

Nigeria’s road to independence was tough and tortuous, however, after several political moves by nationalists, the British Union Jack was lowered and was replaced by Nigeria’s Coat of Arms and Nigeria became an independence country.

With the acquisition of political independence, Nigeria began to govern herself and borrowed the West Minister British parliamentary system of government. Dr Nnamdi­Azikiwe became the President, while Alhaji Tafawa Belewa was elected as Prime Minister.

At the end of the civil war, the military ruled for over 30 years.

Since civilians took over the realms of power given the fact that the military has no business in politics and democratic governance, the quest for Nigeria to be an industrialized economy with high sustainable growth rates has been the preoccupation of every administration that has piloted the affairs of the nation since after independence.

But amidst of these struggles for sustainable growth the level of industrialization remains very low even with the oil boom that comes intermittently; especially when countries like Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and other African states that had heavily depended on Nigeria for her industrial growth has surpassed the country in virtually all sectors.

No doubt, lack of sincerity of purpose on the part of our leaders at all levels of government is responsible for this industrial decay.

Moreover, existing agencies of government created to ad­dress the collapse of our industries and value system have failed to achieve the objective.

And yet you hear that government has allocated huge amount of money and you wonder what they do with the money.

This was not the case of the pro-independence era when civilians of the likes of Zik, Balewa, Awo and Ahmadu Bello were in power. Those national leaders laid a solid foundation for this great country.

In the early 60s, Nigeria’s economy was one of the most vibrantone in the world.

In those days, the country depended mainly on agriculture as a major source of income and food with produce such as groundnut, found in the North, Cocoa in the West, Rubber in the Midwest and Oil Pam in theEast. There was no oil then. As a result of the favourable economy climate prevailing in the country, Nigeria’s currency, as of that time which was the Nigeria “pounds” was strong and equal to the British Pound Sterling. The value of dollar to the Nigeria’s pounds was 0.75.

At that period, Nigeria witnessed the highest rate of eco­nomic and industrial development. There was enough to eat, drink, invest and export. People were proud to be Nigerians. The leaders were responsible, reliable and patriotic.

But today, the reverse has become the case. The Nigeria currency which was transformed to Naira has depreciated exceedingly and the economy has gone down.

In spite of our huge solid and mineral potentials, the coun­try has nothing to show for it in terms of industrial develop­ment and improving the standard of living of the people.

Several bogus economic and agricultural reforms that had been introduced in the country by succeeding governments have failed to provide the desired results as the harvest was a little more than a trickle of the iceberg.

Hunger has persistently become an albatross hanging on the nation, while prices of foodstuff and other food items have escalated beyond the reach of the common man and food has become gold in the country as most Nigerians cannot predict for sure when to take the next meal, even as the quality of food and its balanced nature have been thrown overboard.

The Buhari administration may have recorded relative success especially in infrastructure and social safety provi­sion; it has not really performed in the management of the economy, security, education, and health.

Asides insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and secessionist violence are pushing Nigeria towards the brink of collapse with many calling for the resignation of the president for “failing” to secure the country.

The resultant effects have been evident in the prices of all classes of food, as prices continue to skyrocket almost on a daily basis, leaving Nigeria’s large population of poor citizens struggling to get food and key ingredients for survival.

Nigeria’s food inflation reached 27 per cent in February 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, making it the highest since at least, since 2005.

While inflationary pressures subsists, efforts to spur local food production by the Buhari-led administration in the bid to cut down on importation bills, and as well achieve food sufficiency have been majorly truncated by attacks on farms and farmers, forex scarcity, naira devaluation, and extreme climatic events. Covid-19 disruption, and challenges with im­portation due to border closure policy, hasfurther increased the prices of food stuff.

Despite its efforts in developing the agricultural sector, agriculture has grown at the weakest rate under the Bu­hari administration than any other government since the return of democracy in 1999.

The slow growth in the industrial sector implies the government’s interven­tion has not been effective enough to yield positive re­sults.

In their efforts to transform the economy, the Obasanjo administration brought GSM, while Yar’Adua launched his amnesty programme to bring peace and economic recov­ery to the Niger-Delta region.

Nigeria, under Jonathan administration, saw huge foreign direct investment, FDI, and infrastructural de­velopments due to his eco­nomic liberalism and friendly disposition. He approved N18, 000 as minimum wage for workers from the initial N7, 500 and implemented the amnesty programme.

President Buhari vows to crush Boko Haram within three months and recover all the territories it had seized. But seven years after and less than one year to the end of his final second term, insecurity has worsened beyond the Boko Haram insurgency.

To crown it all, the scenario in Nigeria is aptly captured by a titleof World Bank Report on Nigeria “Poverty in the midst of plenty.”

Indeed, Nigeria has been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. To attain nationhood is an uphill task that has defied all possibilities because of our own collec­tive handiwork. To rescue and put her on the right track; all hands must be on deck to facilitate the evolution of a na­tion, a true nation of equality, justice and achievable vision.

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