Daily Independent Online.
Thursday, September 4, 2003.
a tool for nation building
By C. Chimezie
Self-reliance being a state of not being
dependant on others for survival, subject to their direction or influences is a
thing desired by individuals and countries alike. A man who depended on another could never afford to be
disobedient for the fear of the consequences. It doesn’t matter if an action goes against him, he is
always an “O yes man.”
A person in this situation deserves to be pitied, how much more when a
country finds herself in it.
Dependency motive is a serious factor inhibiting self
reliance in developing countries of which Nigeria is one. This could be seen in
the belief and behaviour of the people and the frequent trip by the President
to other countries, making us appear as pathetic beggars who cannot do without their penny.
Development strategies should include efforts to
debunk this mentality and erode this hold on the peoples’ behaviour thereby creating innovative and
self-reliant mind. It was in
pursuance of this that the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and Mass
Mobilisation for Social Justice, Self-Reliance and Economic Recovery were
introduced sometimes ago.
The incessant reliance on foreign experts for
activities local initiatives can perform or solve,, the increasingly insulting
reliance of foreign advice and directives for solutions to purely domestic
issues, the craze for foreign consumption pattern, the lack of creativity in
indigenous products and constant replication of foreign partnership in every
facet of business, all these and more portray a hopeless lack of confidence on
ourselves, a desire to be sympathetically guided, advised and assisted, even
where these are not necessary.
Nigeria, as a nation is substantially endowed
with natural and human resources
that could transform her into a paradise on earth. This country is today called a developing country because
she has not adequately harnessed her potentials in the extractive,
manufacturing and other industrial sectors which have reached a high stage in
the advanced countries.
It obviously make absolute sense to say that Nigeria is developing
because her natural resources such as land, minerals, labour, water, animal,
fishing, power, and forest endowments are
not fully exploited to raise the productivity of the economy. In fact, it is rather regrettable
that close to forty-three years after our political emancipation, we can hardly
feed ourselves. All sorts of
foreign manufactured goods flood our various markets. We spend huge sums of money importing essential commodities
while food production has remained static. In most areas, food crops, such as yam, cassava, rice and
maize production has definitely decreased beyond description.
Having faith in our own products will stimulate self
reliance in technology, craft, commerce and industry. It will enable us to discover and encourage new talents in
these fields. It will awaken
peoples’ consciousness, awareness and unfold their creative, productive
and innovative abilities to transform the available natural resources into
goods and services. Relying in our
own strength will sensitise and equip Nigerians to fight against internal and
external domination of our resources by a few individuals or groups. It will promote pride in the
consumption of our domestic commodities.
The solution of the current economic malaise in
Nigeria lies in intensive and extensive revival of the agricultural sector of
the Nigerian economy. While oil
continues to serve as a pillar of the Nigerian economy, agriculture must remain
its very foundation on which to base our future economic growth and
In order to be self-reliant, we must therefore
encourage science and technology in its entirety. Science and technology anywhere in the world stimulates
industrial productivity. Thus, it
is undeniable that nations that unflinchingly invest in these oriented ventures
enjoy considerable levels of economic and military might, as well as improved
standard of living. We are living
witness to the giant strides of the likes of Japan, United States of America
and the former Soviet Union in the world of technology today. Nigeria’s present avowed interest
in the development of her internal resources in support of a self-reliant
economy underscores the need for a vibrant science and technology policy.
Since our struggle for self-reliance, there had been
some remarkable successes in this drive.
Principal among these is the popular Soyogi product, a high nutritious
weaning food. Recently, maize was
proffered near alternative to wheat for baking bread. Similarly, some machine spare-parts have been in
production. For example, through
local source, Ikelly Continental Electronic Network has produced TV colour
transmitter, FM Stereo transmitter and body contact microphone. Radio Labs (Nig.) Ltd. now manufacture
scientific and laboratory equipment.
Mr. Israel Egbufor has manufactured Solar Energy car and Solar
Generator. Mr. Emmanuel Franklin
Ajoku has produced Printing Machine
and General Steel Manufacturing Industry Ltd. Aba produces nails, bolts
and nuts, staplers, galvanised wires etc.
NICONNENG (Nig.) has produced traffic light system to mention but a few.
To be self-reliant, we must also boost industrialisation in its ramifications.
The Entrepreneurship Development Programme of the National Directorate of
Employment is the logical approach to a rapid industrialisation of our
country. The experiences of the
rapidly industrialised nations of South-East Asia provided strong and
convincing evidence that entrepreneurship and by extension, industrialisation
through job creation can be achieved and nurtured through planned efforts.
Our import and export sectors must be re-shaped. All the goods which can be produced in
this country must be banned and no pressure both internal and external should
reverse it. If eventually the
goods become scarce, then we should learn to live without them until we produce
and that means we should learn to discipline ourselves.