Nigeria: How the Mighty Has Fallen!

Published on 28th August 2007

By 2014, Nigeria will have existed for 100 years as a corporeal entity (1914 amalgamation). However, with 7 years away from becoming a century old nation, Nigeria’s, politics, resource management, people, culture and attitude still remain ingrained in tertiary terms, primitive overtures and overly displeasing.

In 1865, Washington DC had no electricity. But in 1894, .Ijora Power Station - Lagos, one of the first in West Africa, was established. In more than 100 years, that electricity made its presence in Nigeria. The country's leadership cannot boast of 20 percent electricity to its more than 130 million folks.

In the 50s, Nigeria's Bank of America (now defunct Savannah Bank of Nigeria) was fashionable before it was a household name in the US, yet no Nigerian bank has an equity contribution of $1 billion; the threshold used to gauge the strength of a bank. During the early 90s, when some managing directors of Nigerian banks complained to the Head of State IBB about lack of representation on the funding and financing of LGN (Liquified Natural Gas plant), IBB agreed to set aside 10 percent of the plant cost to be financed by Nigerian banks. But lo and behold, a consortium of the banks could not come up with the $1.2 billion represented by the mere 10 percent set aside. Today, no Nigerian bank finances exploration of oil and gas, despite the fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria earns nearly a trillion dollars in oil/gas revenue. In fact, no Nigerian bank has an energy lending unit to help further the oil and gas sector. Most annoying, some banking laws in Nigeria preceded US banking laws: Nigeria got its banking footing from UK via Barclays and Standard, two of the world's leading financial institutions.

It was due to Nigeria’s attractiveness in the 50s that the Bank of America, then a mere neighborhood financial institution in California, sought a foothold in the country. In the 70s, the Indigenization Decree nationalized its existence, becoming Savannah Bank of Nigeria. The Bank of America still has unredeemed shares in Savannah Bank.

In 1985, I paid N768, an equivalent of nearly $1,280 to fly from Nigeria to Dallas. Naira was exchanging at 60 kobo to the Dollar. Today the Naira has lost both its luster and backing. Nothing backed it then. Today, Naira exchanges at N135 to the Dollar. If one were to calculate the percentage change, the resulting decimal points will be so huge that the calculator will spin out 'E-E-E-E-E-E-E' - an indication of extended error. If in less than 20 years Naira had a free fall and today's Nigeria government boasts of having more than $20 billion in foreign reserve, the Naira has not made any significant move against the Shilling and the Dollar.

The condition of South Korea after its war was worse than Nigeria after the civil war that ended in 1970. Today, South Korea and China, have more that a trillion dollars in foreign reserve (the first time in the history of the world financial trend that any nation[s] achieved such). Both countries in the 70s produced nothing and whatever they did produce, was laughed at.

While nothing backed the Naira in the 80s, the spirit of the people, their desire to be self sustaining and develop Nigeria as a true giant of Africa and an emerging developing nation, spurred foreign direct investment. In the late 70s to early 80s, most major auto-makers had an auto-assembly plant in Nigeria. Nigeria showed its technological prowess in the auto-making sector by launching Igalla; a Volkswagen partnership with VON - Volkswagen of Nigeria. The Ajaokuta Steel Plant, was the envy of the world, with many superpowers seeking contracts and stakes in the plant. Today, Ajaokuta lies dormant and the satellite town developed to support the staff, a well master planned community that was a prelude to Abuja, is instead inhabited by rats, rodents, and native vegetation.

If Nigeria had remained true to its self defined path and route, made the required sacrifice, committed to achieve what it set out to do then, by now, leaving Nigeria for any other place would have been an option not driven by deprivation, starvation, unruly conducts and practices of the leadership. Nigeria must prevail, and join the comity of nations as a credible, respected and admired member ready at any time to help enhance and restore the dignity of its people and mankind. As the most populous black nation in the world, nothing short of a successful nation to help restore, enhance and entrenched the image of the black person, will do Nigeria any good.

Lessons can be learned and improvements made. But longevity does not mean things will get better unless concrete and concerted efforts are made to improve things. A monkey does not go overseas and come home a dog: no matter the cloning. Until the likes that currently man the fort for Nigeria are replaced by a few good men and women, Nigeria may not in a million years see the sort of light and development a nation can enjoy by working hard and placing its men and women in positions to make positive difference.

Nigerians must espouse values and virtues that unleash the latent strength in Nigeria, consequently helping make Nigeria's collective existence a thing of pride and honor.

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