WHAT IS NIGERIA? (CHAPTER I6 PARAGRAPH 1)

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Nigeria is suffering from DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder. We are a country in perpetual crisis of identity, searching for meaning of who we truly are and who we could possibly be. We were born as a bald, harpy eagle, the most powerful bird on earth that symbolizes strength, freedom and immortality. But we are behaving like a fowl, having lost our wings and talons.

-Tim Akano

 

‘’Chugga, chugga, chugga, choo, choo, choo’’: the sound of Nigeria’s 16th train wheels bumping over the tracks as it departed the station on 29 May 2023 at exactly 10:28am. The travel time is 35,040 hours. But with newspaper headlines like the following: ‘’government wasted $19 Billion on refineries’ TAM in 8 years’’, ‘’$25Billion oil contract awarded without proper authorization’’, ‘’N200 Billion wasted on Census 2023,’’N85 Billion wasted on Air Nigeria scam etc., one is bound to ask: What is Nigeria?

A country or a company?

Unarguably, any enterprise that is managed the way Nigeria is governed can neither thrive nor endure for long. Nature doesn’t allow mismanagement ad infinitum. Since all the past 15 Train Captains fell into track buckling that resulted in catastrophic derailments of the train under their watch, what can we do differently in order to prevent the derailment of the 16th train is our focus today.

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare probably had Nigeria in mind when he said, “Men at some time were masters of their fates. / The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. / But in ourselves, that we are underlings”  (1.ii. 140-142).

History is not linear neither is it built on repetition but on mutation. The heights by smart nations reached and sustained were not attained by wishful thinking but they, while other nations slept, were toiling northward through deliberate diligence and accurate thinking.

There are ten bad habits (Track-Buckling) of the political elites that don’t make common sense. We shall x-ray one in the paragraphs below.

Track Buckling 1: Shoot first, aim later.
Whereas smart nations aim before shooting. Nigeria political elites shoot first and aim later. Which is the reason for the sundry policy somersaults and abandoned public projects like the Ajaokuta Steel Mill where over $10 Billion was wasted. Before a policy is announced, a Think Tank of about seven members needs to have dispassionately x-rayed these three questions.
(1) What problem are we solving?
(2) What are the alternatives vis-à-vis the opportunity cost?
(3) What can go wrong and how do we mitigate that?

Case Study: Fuel subsidy removal
Fuel subsidy is to the masses, what oxygen mask is to the Covid-19 patients in ICU or what overseas medical tourism is to the elites. Before removing the masses oxygen mask, which is capable of eroding the standard of living of regular Nigerians by as much as 300%, necessary sweeteners should have been provided. By shooting before aiming, Nigeria might end up wasting the first 30 days of chapter 16, paragraph one in a needless crisis.

National wasted years (NWY) are calculated as the number of years it takes a country to wake up from her slumber, multiplied by the total population. For instance, Nigeria has wasted about 13 Billion years, i.e. 220 million people multiplied by 63 years! There is no winner in a failed marriage.

Ditto for a failed country.

Pathway to 60% Reduction in Transportation cost
It is possible to change the transportation dynamics between 90-180 days of this administration through a policy that would make 60% savings possible on transportation for the masses. Two win-win solutions are the immediate injection of Electric Vehicles (EVs) into the mass transit mix plus engine swap. Partnering China’s BYD (the world’s largest EVs manufacturer), Yutong, the world’s largest ebuses manufacturer, CATL (world’s largest EVs battery manufacturers) and TGood (Telaidian), the company with the highest number of electric battery charging points.

The average price of an EV bus in China today is about $45k, while that of a car is $35k. A recent Consumer Reports study found that the average EVs owner will spend 60% less to power the vehicle and half as much on repairs and maintenance- no oil changes needed. Besides, EVs are projected to last up to 20 years and the battery will outlast the car. EVs can now travel up to 400 miles (Lagos- Warri) on a single charge.

The most interesting thing in all this is that by leapfrogging to EVs, Nigeria is positioned for, like Manchester City, a treble win in 2023. One, the mineral resources required to build EVs manufacturing factories, electric batteries and charging accessories are all available in Nigeria in commercial quantities, such as: Lithium, Manganese oxide, Cobalt, Graphite, Steel, and Nickel.

Two, there will be more PMS for export as consumption drops drastically in Nigeria.

Three, a considerable reduction in pollution, enhancing the quality of lives of Nigerians.

As part of the intervention policy, the federal government can import 12,000 electric buses within 90 days to be shared among the 36 states, and the 370 higher institutions in Nigeria through NANS, mandate all the existing petroleum filling stations to install EVs charging points immediately.

With an investment of about $500million in EV buses and charging points taken from the $800million fuel subsidy palliative fund, the transportation system will get stabilized as inflation goes southward. Consequently, all the aged, 65+, retirees, physically challenged, and students would be able to enjoy free public transportation.

That was the road not taken which would have led to a renewed hope, instead of ‘’renewed pains’ from Day One. Increasing workers’ salaries is necessary but not sufficient: it is 10% of the solution. What about students, retirees, the physically challenged, unemployed and the aged? The proposed mass EVs transportation system is a better comprehensive solution: achievable, effective and inexpensive.

Recently, the Chinese BYD company established an ebus factory in Europe tagged ‘’Made in Europe for Europe’’. This can be replicated in the Middle Belt: ‘’Made in Africa for Africa’’. Putting 250,000 Middle Belt youths on gainful direct and indirect EVs employments within the next 18 months is a stronger ‘’Panadol’’ to cure the triple headaches of youth unemployment, insecurity and multidimensional poverty than transferring N5k to their accounts under the cash transfer policy, which is barely enough to buy 3 loaves of bread

Furthermore, the 4th Generation-farming is like a ‘’Panadol Extra’’ to cure PBAT’s revenue headache. For instance, the yearly global fish revenue is $610 billion. Meanwhile, of the 923, 770km Nigeria’s landmass, the coastline is 853 km. Empowering fish farmers from the Niger Delta axis with modern fish farming skills and technology from Vietnam, will make Nigeria become a net exporter of fish in 12 months, thereby saving the yearly $1.27billion spent in fish importation.

Similarly, to reflate the economy of Edo, Cross rivers axis, modern technology for banana cultivation and logistics can be borrowed from Ecuador, the world’s largest banana exporter with a yearly revenue in excess $3.5 billion. For the people of Osun, Oyo axis to recapture the lost ground in cassava farming, Thailand innovations would help with a yield of100:1 better than Nigeria. The size of global tomato and vegetables markets in revenue is in excess of $400 billion. In 2021, America made $85 billion exporting vegetables, Brazil, $53 billion, China $27 billion, Canada $26 billion.

Why is Nigeria not at the party?

No know-how.

Again, revenue in the global fresh fruits market is projected to reach $672Billion in 2023. Meanwhile, Benue, Plateau and Edo states have better soil and temperature for fruits and vegetables than Turkey and Brazil, but we lack modern technology which we can borrow. The Fulani nation can build a $60Billion economy from the cattle business by converting Sambisa forest (518Km2, which is half the size of Lagos state) to a cattle ranch with modern technology from America.

In 2022, the global cattle revenue was $415Billion, projected to $604 Billion in 2029. America revenue from just cattle business in 2021 was $195.8Billion. Unarguably, Nigeria is the architect, engineer, manufacturer, tailor, and even fashion designer of her own problems: acute poverty in the midst of unspeakable abundance.

What a paradox!

Going forward: 5 Revenue Pain Killers

(1) Exit direct involvement in business. Kill Air Nigeria: if it looks like a scam, smells like a scam, then chances are nine to ten that it an ‘’A Level’’ scam. The Nigerian government cannot manage any business profitably. Regarding oil, there are too many known unknowns and several unknown unknown’s variables. Nigeria should be making an average of $32Billion yearly net profit (i.e.20% of ARAMCO), which is not happening.

Only people who are well versed in BLACK MAGIC will understand how the oil business runs in Nigeria. The Nigerian government should simply and squarely focus on regulation, tax and royalty collections. After all, when the British people got lost in the wilderness of financial fiasco, they outsourced the country’s Premiership position to an Indian man.

There is no shame in it.

This is one instance when Nigeria should disobey motivational speakers who tell us: winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win. Nigeria should quit direct business, we can’t win! However you slice it, vertically or horizontally, Nigeria cannot outwit the oil cabal. NNPCL should be handed over to new ‘’FOSTER PARENTS’’. If petro dollars are the motivation for politicians for going into politics and the reason behind all the past military coups, then we should cut that umbilical cord.

(2) A novel roadmap for re-industrialization. Strategic partnership with China, building six Industrial Parks, one per geopolitical zone, hosting at least 50 factories in each park, utilising local raw materials in each region in a backward and forward integration. America has 8 Industrial Parks, UK has 7 while South Africa has 6. Lagos is 75% of Nigeria, which is strategically unwise.

The same way China leveraged Japanese superior technology and skill to leapfrog, and America re-industrialized Japan, China can, and indeed, should officially be appointed as our strategic partner for re-industrialization, in a new win-win relationship, unlike what obtains currently. The illegal mining and carting away of Nigeria mineral resources must stop. Those companies in China that badly need Nigeria’s raw materials should come and build their factories in Nigeria.

The same way crude oil overthrew Palm oil, lithium (for EVs) is the new crude oil, lithium is the in-coming class captain of Prosperity. Because of its importance and urgency, government would need a coordinator for Global Partnerships whose target will be to attract 300 companies to Nigeria within 24 months.

(3) PBAT must do what President Deng did in China. Deng got Chinese farmers specially and massively trained in modern farming techniques borrowing from Japan, America and Europe. Against that background, government should adopt PROJECT: 12:10:100 (identify 12 agricultural products- 2 per region, where Nigeria has (or can build) comparative or competitive advantages, then target 10% of the global market share and provide world class overseas training for 100 educated, technology-oriented farmers in each of the 12 core categories.

With the CBN single-digit loans, the 1200 4th generation farmers will be more productive than 100 million traditional farmers. In the next 3 years, Nigeria should target a $50 billion revenue from agriculture exports. The Netherlands with only 17.5 million people and just 5% of Nigeria’s landmass, earned 50 Billion euros from agricultural exports in 2022. By 2026, Nigerians can declare: ‘’who needs the petrol dollars’’?

4 Diaspora Wealth: There are about 200 million Africans in the diaspora. Some of them want to relocate to the Motherland, especially the African-Americans. They have resources to invest in Nigeria but Nigeria has no ‘’structure’’ to attract and sustain them.

One, they need a faster pathway to citizenship (within 90 days maximum).

Two, they need a dedicated Diaspora city which they will build by themselves but government needs to provide the land and basic infrastructure, the size of land which Dangote refinery is sitting on- either in Badagry or Ogun state at the border town between Nigeria and Benin Republic, the land overlooking the ocean.

Three, they need security and ease of business engagement. With those things in place, when Nigeria launches the $100Billion Africa Re-Industrialisation Diaspora Fund (ARDF), it will be oversubscribed.

This is a ‘’food-is-ready’’ revenue formula. They are not coming for vacation, they are coming with HOLY RAGE to help re-industrialize Africa, in a return home match with the ex-colonisers.

5 Belt tightening from the Top: the platinum lifestyles of the political elites have reached a cancerous stage! Canada and most of the developed countries have only two aircrafts each (Royal Canada Air Force 1&2) in the Royal/presidential fleet. Some presidents (the Dutch and Italian Presidents) ride bicycles.

What is Nigeria doing with double digits aircrafts in the presidential fleet costing over $45 million yearly to maintain? The British Prime Minister’s car is escorted by just three security cars, which is less than the number of cars that escort a local government chairman in Nigeria! The law enforcement agencies raided a governor’s house and recovered over 40 cars in his house. MSc. Madness!

The list is endless and scandalous.

If the ”oxygen mask’’ (oil subsidy) of the masses must go, the elite must lead by example by tightening their belt, too. The elites should scale-down drastically their lifestyles to reflect the mood of the nation.

Nigeria: The Next Frontier: China has been growing her economy at an average rate of 10% yearly for the past decade and half. Since C-19, China has slowed down: which country is the next miracle?

If Nigeria crosses all her ‘’t’s’’ and dot all the ‘’I’s’’, just as UAE created a Platform Economy for Trading, Tourism and Hospitality (TTH) and the whole world responded positively with FDIs, Nigeria should target 12% growth rate effective 2025-2035 by creating an unbeatable platform for Manufacturing, Food and Technology (MFT) because the raw materials- youths, arable land and mineral resources are here in abundance.

Keep the grass green, the cattle will come.

*Conclusion:
As the 16th Train sluggishly departed the station, trying to negotiate a dangerous fuel subsidy bend, ‘’what problem is Mr. President trying to solve” I ask. Revenue problem? That is the easiest code to crack: every street in Nigeria is paved with gold. But mind the GAPS! The real challenge is not revenue but the vision, Know-How and willpower gaps, vis-à-vis Nigeria’s structural deformity. Nigeria is the most balanced, blessed country on earth.

All other countries have retail blessings (e.g. Saudis have oil but tiny arable land, Russia has gas but only 35% of the landmass is reasonably habitable due to extreme cold, the Jews have vision but no land for mega expansion). But Nigeria has wholesale blessings , i.e. ‘’all-in, proportionally’’. No tornado, no earthquake, no locust, no Tsunami, talented individuals, calm water, but collectively, Nigerians seem confused!

If PBAT desires to make Nigeria a first world country, he has to do what UAE’s Sheik Mohammed al- Maktoum did: RESTRUCTURE! No President can pass in flying colours the way Nigeria is presently configured.

No road!!!

Only one Train captain has managed to come out with a 2:2 in Nigeria’s 63 years of existence, the rest are either 3rd class or Ordinary Pass. One captain got OPC! (Share your rating)
For instance, the 10th Class Captain, (brilliant, bold, boisterous) trusted the IMF and the World Bank to a fault and implemented SAP. He came out with a 3rd Class. He has been sitting at home since 1993, his certificate denied him the opportunity of a second coming.

The 15th Class Captain, on the other hand, scored F9 in 16 out of the 17 subjects, with a Credit (C4) in Infrastructure. He was awarded an OPC. What is OPC? (Ordinary Pass, without a Certificate). ‘‘Does that mean he was certificate- less both at the point of admission and graduation”?

Are you asking me?

Hmmm….

Was Nigeria’s clock programmed to work counter-clockwise?

YES!

Nigeria is suffering from DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder. We are a country in perpetual crisis of identity, searching for meaning of who we truly are and who we could possibly be. We were born as a bald, harpy eagle, the most powerful bird on earth that symbolizes strength, freedom and immortality. But we are behaving like a fowl, having lost our wings and talons.

Eagles have unspeakable SPIRIT, they don’t run from storms, rather they use stormy wind to SOAR to higher altitude. Sadly, while it takes 10-12 weeks for eaglets to hone their flight skills and do their own flight out of the nest, Nigeria is still inside the nest 63 years after! At 40s, the eagle voluntarily chooses a painful molting rebirth process (death process) to live up to 70s. Nigeria, too, needs the Molting season for rebirth to survive.

Except and until we write a superior code to vanquish the original code and re-program Nigeria, the hope and aspiration and even the prayers of getting Nigeria’s eaglet transit to a full super eagle will remain elusive, ad infinitum.

Mind the GAP, Mr. President!

Tim Akano

(Timakano1@gmail.com) (www.timakano.com)

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