• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s resource curse: Breaking free from the chains of mismanagement

“Punish, shrink…,” Nigerians demand action on public mismanagement

Amid the blame game that some Nigerians perpetuate, pointing fingers at Lord Lugard for our contemporary woes—citing the forced amalgamation of regions as the genesis of our strife—others assert that fixating on historical grievances hinders our progress. They argue vehemently that Nigeria’s challenges stem from our own missteps and the avarice of our leaders.

It is unimaginable that a nation blessed with bountiful resources yet struggling to uplift its citizens and assert itself on the global stage—a striking paradox for Nigeria. Despite flaunting our wealth and potential, we are often ridiculed by neighbouring nations as a “generator country”—a stark reminder of our underachievement.

Read also: “Punish, shrink…,” Nigerians demand action on public mismanagement

Q: “A nation boasting mega steel mills and abundant crude oil reserves, yet still grapples with the shackles of colonialism. What an ignominy!”

Sadly, with each passing decade, Nigeria’s equilibrium shifts, plunging more of our populace below the poverty line. While we must acknowledge our internal shortcomings, whether it be amalgamation or not, the fact remains: Nigeria is here to stay, poised to mark 64 years come October 1st, all factors considered.

It’s high time Nigerians cast aside the blame game and focused on charting a path forward amidst the morass of corrupt leadership. A nation boasting mega steel mills and abundant crude oil reserves, yet still grapples with the shackles of colonialism. What an ignominy!

Consider the Ajaokuta steel mill, which has been dormant since its inception. Commissioned in 1979, it now stands as a dilapidated testament to failed industrial aspirations. Experts advocate for its outright sale to competent international investors to boost foreign direct investment, recoup government expenditure, and ensure sustainable operations of this multibillion-dollar asset, especially amidst our revenue challenges.

Shuaib Abubakar, the Minister of Steel Development, revealed that Nigeria annually imports steel worth $8 billion—a manifestation of the “Dutch Disease” that befell us in the 1970s, precipitated by the oil boom, which led to the neglect of other sectors, resulting in their decline—a ripple effect still felt today.

In 2023, the Federal Government paid $500 million to terminate a dubious concession agreement for Ajaokuta. To complete its revival, it requires at least $2 billion, according to Abubakar. A cyclical waste indeed!

Additionally, President Bola Tinubu directed the ministry to seek a concession partner to oversee the technical management of the mill. Yet, this approach has repeatedly failed. Tinubu should abandon concessions and privatise Ajaokuta for the sake of efficiency, productivity, and accountability.

And what of the refineries? Nigeria boasts four major oil refineries, yet none have operated for years—a glaring indictment of our mismanagement.

These issues surrounding our natural resources continue to impede our nation’s growth, exacerbate poverty, sow social discord, and leave us economically vulnerable. Instead of harnessing these resources for domestic consumption and exportation to drive revenue, we find ourselves stuck in the quagmire of exporting raw materials while yearning for growth.