Adeoye Lambo and the Nigerian condition
In my moments of contemplation, I usually reflect on Nigeria. To be candid, I do not know what to make of our situation as regards the way we are. For this much is clear, such are the absurdities and anomy which continues to characterize Nigeria that, one is always tempted to say that the country remains a puzzle that does not lend itself to easy understanding. However and in spite of the immediate foregoing, one individual whose insight and contentions have shed much light on the Nigerian State is none other than, the father of psychiatry in Nigeria – Professor Thomas Adeoye Lambo. According to him, when outsiders look at the political animal called Nigeria and the way it has turned out, they are tempted to say that our leaders should be sent to the psychiatric ward for certification. For instance, how else can one explain the way in which we run what passes for our oil industry. Readers may wish to recall here that oil was discovered in commercial quantities way back in the middle of the last century ie the fifties. Yet and till date our refineries are not working. What to do? Over time therefore, we have fallen back on the expediency of importation. It is instructive to note here that what is being imported is from the self-same crude which originally belonged to us. The absurd situation can be likened to a farmer who is so lazy that he cannot add value to his yam tubers with a view to producing pounded yams. Foolishly, therefore, the tubers are taken to his neighbour next door who gives him a pittance for the tubers. Subsequently, the neighbour having turned the tuber into pounded yam sells the finished product to the self-same farmer at an exorbitant cost. This is a contrast to the pittance which he received earlier. This seemingly simplistic rendition ofthe Nigerian oil industry certainly goes a long way to validate Lambo’s contention about the state of mind of our leadership.
Even then, and beyond much of the foregoing is another tragedy playing itself out at the moment as regards the naira. A free-fall is on and you wonder what is happening. Over time, this has beenthe dismal trend-all the way from the era of Babangida till date. The engineers of the economy at the apex bank continue to try their best – but it seems, to no avail. Whereas the problem is a simple one or it appears so. A non-productive economy like ours that is perpetually hooked to the external world cannot but have this kind of problem as regards its currency. Walk into any supermarket, what obtains is that, virtually all the goods on offer are imported. Again, take a look at our roads. What one sees, are Japanese cars of various descriptions which litter the roads. The consequence is further pressure on our besieged naira. Meanwhile, what is being said here also goes for the pharmaceutical industry. In the authentic sense, there are no pharmaceutical industries in Nigeria. What we have are firms that merely mix processed raw materials (galenicals) together and then the so-called drugs are produced. Again this is a drain on the naira. The point to note here is that with the authentic oil industry, properly run and managed all those imports to this beleaguered country would be avoided. To this extent, the deposition of Adeoye Lambo becomes relevant again.
Again a look at our educational sector brings out visibly, the validity of Lambo’s contention. All over the world, on virtually every campus in the world, are Nigerian students with the concomitant drain on our forex reserves. Even Ghana next door, continues to host our students. In this way, millions of dollars are sunk into that country. By now and in seeking to arrest this trend we should have done something about our educational system with a view to stemming this trend. As if to worsen matters, tertiary institutions in Ghana on a consistently perverse basis, continue to advertise in our newspapers seeking for Nigerian students. Even the managers of our educational system indulge in the habit of sending their children abroad for education. While this can be excused at the post-graduate level, nothing can justify this at the undergraduate level or even below this. The consequence is that, as the forex flows out to service education in other parts of the world; something negative continues to haunt our Naira.
In the authentic sense, there are no pharmaceutical industries in Nigeria. What we have are firms that merely mix processed raw materials (galenicals) together and then the so-called drugs are produced.
What has been sketched above also goes for the health sector. Medical tourism is the name of the game. This is as obnoxious as it is and repulsive.. Huge sums of money are sucked away through this needless avenue and yet we have hospitals all over the various places in this country. And to boot, these are being manned by qualified specialists. Yet, the managers of the Nigerian state are veritable customers of this shameless enterprise – medical tourism. Little wonder and possibly for the umpteenth time, wehave to look in the direction of Adeoye Lambo for possible comfort for his usual explanation about the way we are. Indeed, if we are to follow up Lambo’s thesis all the way, what seems clear is that for us to get out of this persisting rut there must be a re-setting of the minds and mentality of our leadership. Incidentally, and at risk of blaming the victim, the followership also has a lot to answer for. How and why do our people tolerate so much such that in an unthinking way, we deify characters with clayey feet. In the process, we dress them in borrowed robes with references like Honourable and Excellency. But No! Something has to give. We cannot continue like this. We need to pause and take to heart the implicit and explicit admonitions in Lambo’s contentions on the Nigerian condition or better still-non-condition.