In every economy, the policy makers use economic indices to analyze and assess the key sectors to put in place, economic plan that will be religiously implemented to meet the target, which in most cases is to improve the well-being of its citizens. Unfortunately, these economic considerations in most cases are always sacrificed for political patronage, therefore widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots. This is the main reason why Nigeria is moving around a vicious circle without making progress despite our numerous natural endowments.
Our economy is driven by the forces of demand and supply of oil in the international market which of course, is the major foreign exchange earner of our economy. Our appetite for foreign goods has made Nigeria a dumping ground for all sorts of things because in this era of Globalization, our products cannot compete with foreign goods that are more durable and cheaper. Consequently, most of the local companies have either closed shops or are not producing at optimum capacities because of lack of infrastructure that will increase their cost of production. Even some foreign companies that located their factories in Nigeria have relocated to neighboring African countries like Ghana that has infrastructures that will support utmost cost efficiency in production.
It is therefore very surprising that against all hope , the government of Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 chose to spend 56 billion Naira in building national stadium instead of building refineries that will give the country comparative advantage in the petroleum industry and increase our foreign exchange earnings as we will even export to other countries. The effect of this on the overall economy would have been wonderful as the government will plough back the gains in providing infrastructure. One would expect a serious surgical operation in this critical sector because at this time, our crude is taken to refineries in foreign Counties, imported back to the country for local consumption. The successive government to Musa Yar’Adua’s actually did nothing to address this problem that would have helped to improve the macro and micro economy of the country. In 2015, the country massively voted president Mohammadu Buhari because he promised to stop the fraudulent oil subsidy, fix the refineries, and encourage modular refineries so that Nigeria would stop the importation of fuel and use the saved foreign reserve to provide infrastructure. After the first tenure, the government apparently could not make good its promises.
The same problem is also experienced in the power sector. Obasanjo spent $16bn on power project without providing power. Good Luck Jonathan privatized NEPA to a series of 18 companies with the aim of improving the distribution of Electric power. Unfortunately, this important project was used to ‘settle the boys’ instead of giving to people that have the technical skills or the financial resources to see the project through. This has even worsened the epileptic power supply. Buhari has also not done anything significant to improve the sector. The whole electricity value chains have been under funded in his first term.
Despite the huge money budgeted from 1999 till date to improve the health sector, our hospitals remain mere consulting centres with inadequate equipment. Our political elites waste our foreign exchange in medical tourism abroad. Stella Obasanjo, our former first lady, died in Spain while receiving treatment, Musa Yar’Adua our president was constantly in and out of hospital in Saudi Arabia before his demise, our first lady during Good Luck Jonathan’s regime, Patience Jonathan, was having her regular medical treatment in Germany while our current president Mohammadu Buhari practically spent greater time of his first term in hospital in Uk even when a budget of 3 billion Naira was made for Aso Rock Clinic. This money was always not used to procure drugs to the hospital as can be attested to by the disappointment of president’s daughter who pushed for the management to give account of the money following the poor service she received from the hospital. Hapless Nigerians die every day from preventable illnesses because of lack of medical facilities. Nigeria, according the WHO mortality ranking, is 24th amongst countries that have highest death rate in the world. Yet the government has no blueprint or vision on how to improve this sector. Even our medical doctors are leaving the country in droves to work outside Nigeria and the current government saw nothing wrong with it.
Education is the bed rock of a nation because the level of any nation’s development will largely depend on the quality of education it provides for it citizens. Regrettably, this sector has suffered serious neglect from the successive administrations that have starved the sector of funds. Universities are supposed to provide research and development centers for innovations. This will encourage organizations to partner with them in various fields. The lecturers are not well paid. The universal primary education has not been well implemented to increase literacy rate in the country. So many children are out of school and the government continues to pay lip service to this sector.
For the country to make progress economically, there is a dire need to prioritize our problems and proffer solutions that will favourably improve the lives of the citizens by minimizing wastage.