• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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BusinessDay

Culture: A necessity to overcome underdevelopment (2)

underdevelopment

Development cannot take place in an environment where citizens do not have a culture that is compatible with ethics of an industrial society. For us not to be spectators in an age characterized by the fourth industrial revolution, we must urgently begin to examine our values. We must dream technology, think technology and speak technology. If we truly have a desire to be an industrialized nation, our policymakers must master the art and science of transforming our economy to one based on manufacturing. Nigerians like to dress well, and I see no reason why we cannot have a vibrant textile industry in the country. For how long do we want to export crude oil, yam, and pepper, cocoa and so on, when other serious nations are exporting capital goods to our country?

There cannot be industrialization without a thriving capital goods sector.
Nigeria cannot be an industrialized country in an unstable polity. For the past 20 years of democracy, Nigeria has not been able to conduct free and fair elections. This has exacerbated political conflict in our country which is in sharp contrast to the general trend in other parts of the world where democratic governance and industrial advancement are defining characteristics of developed countries. What we have seen on display are different brands of civilian governments, not democracy per se. We agitated for democracy 20 years ago as a possible answer to the persisting bad governance, instability, , economic stagnation, and insecurity which were recurring features of the country at the time.

What we got in return is a nation whose current democratic environment is charged with inter-ethnic and religious hostilities that have unfortunately more violent than what we had during military rule.

So what we have in our hands today is a culture of insecurity:insecurity at individual, state and national levels. At the individual level, citizens are contending with threats daily that prevent them from living well and living a good life. There is no work for 23 percent of our people, while youth unemployment is 36 percent, according to statistics. Nigeria currently leads the world in the number of abjectly poor people living within her borders.

Even the extended family system which is a form of social arrangement representing an innovative anti-poverty strategy for a traditional society like Nigeria has not helped matters in recent times. It is because the middle-class consisting of affluent members of the society which hitherto tookthe financial burden off the less privileged in the society has weakened. So the ability of the poor to save and invest which are necessary conditions for economic development has diminished drastically.

I make bold to state that unless Nigerian citizens are treated fairly, equally and assessed by their expertise and knowledge, Nigeria cannot exist as a cohesive and single corporate entity.

One can only imagine a situation where a worker with a minimum wage of N30, 000 would have to support an unemployed graduate or cater to the needs of two or more children. As a way of ameliorating poverty the federal government has been paying N5,000 to the poor in some states. Will this stipend to poor Nigerians tackle poverty? Negative! That is why corruption is inevitable in our society. Perhaps, more damaging is the fact that dependence creates a syndicate of ever dependent citizens that may neither fend for themselves effectively nor make positive contributions to the larger society.

At the state level, most people’s lives and properties are not safe because of states’ inability to provide security for their citizens.If we examine human development indicators across states and local government areas, one can see that Nigeria has two countries, according to El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna state. According to him, there is the backward, less-educated and unhealthy Northern Nigeria and a developing, largely educated and healthy Southern Nigeria. These regions of the country have their positives and negatives though. However, there is the cry for state police or state policing because the centralised policing system has not worked effectively. This is one of the reasons why vigilantism to control crimes is flourishing in Nigeria.
The extent of of our failure to build a Nigerian nation is most manifest at the national level. Some tribes have now emerged, without election, as the masters who control the economy and polity. This is nothing but another variant of colonialism. Lamentably, thesenew colonial masters are more inept than the colonised: they have attained a position in the polity for which they are ill-prepared. Without anything worthwhile and commendable to offer almost 200 million people, they have over the years reduced the entire society to their own abysmally low level of incompetence and ignorance.

I make bold to state that unless Nigerian citizens are treated fairly, equally and assessed by their expertise and knowledge, Nigeria cannot exist as a cohesive and single corporate entity.As a result,technological and economic developments cannot be achieved rapidly.

Another issue that is responsible for the country’s backwardness is the culture of impunity. A situation where the rich and the poor in the country believe that they can do whatever they want without having to face any consequences for their ugly actions. Murder, kidnapping, banditry, embezzlement and other crimes in the financial and corporate worlds with devastating economic impacts have been met with slaps on the wrist or swept under the carpet.

The Police have barely been held to account for unjustified killings in some parts of the country. From churches, mosques, to university campuses, sexual assaults have been muted in most cases. What about disregard for the rule of law? Some scholars believe that disregard for the rule of law aggravates Nigeria’s security challenges and “it is more damning a form of corruption than stealing of public funds.” One can attribute all this to a failure of leadership in all spheres of our national life.

Nigerians should not have the impression or pretend that we can retain our negative social traits and anti-industry national characteristics and yet build a viable industrial economy.Development is not served on a platter of gold; we have to consistently work to achieve it. The country cannot succeed in overcoming underdevelopment without adapting its culture to modern realities and borrowing broadly from the cultures of the West and Asia that are at the forefront of economic and technological development. The National Orientation Agency, a body tasked among other responsibilities to promote patriotism, national unity and development of the Nigerian society should wake up from its slumber. Thank you!

 

MA Johnson