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LogoDaily Independent Online.         * Thursday, September 4, 2003.

Self-reliance, 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 development.

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.


Chukwuemeka Chimezie

Iju, Lagos




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