By Olanrewaju Oyedeji
Over the years, the clamour for better leadership has been in the front burner in Nigeria. A nation of almost 200million people and about 450 ethnic group has been grappling with the effects of dwindling economic fortunes with very little or no practical leaders to see her through her crisis moment. In the 1970s and 1980s, Nigeria used to be a major force in terms of economic standards in the continent and beyond but Nigeria as at 2015 is struggling to reach 5% per annum growth.
Fundamentally, Nigeria is blessed with immense human resources and many natural resources to boot. A former American President once marveled at the quality of soils in Nigeria. In the 1950s-1970s, Nigeria’s mainstay was agriculture and the nation exported products like cocoa and palm kernel. The reality then was that even SSCE holders got jobs and many companies were active and functional in the country.
Looking at the present day situation with the mainstay of our economy being crude oil, our life now seemingly depends on what happens to the world powers’ purchase of our crude oil. From 1999 till date, Nigeria has continuously fallen from one problem to another. It got to a stage that one would wonder if we have lost the touch that will take us to the top. With the advent of a new government, are Nigerians ready for change? Can we get it right?
For Nigeria to get it right, experts have argued that we have to diversify our economy, but just like my argument and the outcome of surveys, Nigerians prefer office work to agriculture. In a survey of university graduates, they generally responded that ‘no reasonable graduate will want to venture into agriculture.’ ‘Will I hold hoe and cutlass?’ one enquired. Everybody seems to be disillusioned with the unemployment situation yet they don’t want anything but white collar jobs. The question to ask then is, if we truly want to change our country, can Nigeria survive without the tilling of the soil?
Once oil prices fall today, Nigeria is in a doom situation. We have forgotten that we can package our agricultural products and create millions of jobs. Our graduates need to diversify their thinking to diversify Nigeria. The disturbing factor again is that in the quest for change can we suffer the little hardships? It is just important that in the process of change, there will be many casualties.
Take Lagos state for example. In 2011, Governor Fashola almost suffered the wrath of the people because the citizens were grappling under effect of the change of that era. Go to Oshodi then, it used to be a rough place though some people were making their living from there then but Government sent away all traders and rendered some people hungry. There were shouts here and there but everybody liked the multiplier effect. It was just small suffering for better gain. If the government should come out with a policy that will make people suffer a year and enjoy for many years, can Nigerians accommodate the pains?
Also taking a look at Osun state, it is fearful that the programme of the Governor to ensure state development led to unpaid salaries. The governor borrowed money to build roads and ran into debts. Will the government in the name of change run the country into debts and fiscal crisis? For change to happen we have to get major things right, our legislators have to stop the boxing matches we do not need and we must be ready to take risks too. We clamor for change, looking at the dollar to naira rating; it is now at N235.
At this point we may be wondering; can things get better? Change is a factor of collectivism, there can be change if we change.