THE ACCRA EXPERIENCE
An assessment on the economy and living conditions of different places.
Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana are all amongst the many countries that make up the ECOWAS group of countries. These countries have massive exchange of goods, services and other benefits. But as a Nigerian, how come I feel that my country is not doing so fantastic, while Ghana looks like a very promising country.
First, I would like to start with the major export commodity Oil, then I can go down to other aspects. The oil and gas sector accounts for about 35 per cent of gross domestic product, and petroleum exports revenue represents over 90 per cent of total exports revenue. And Nigeria has earned over 77 trillion naira on oil exports in the pasted 17 years, this is the revenue accounted for. Which if we do a clean analysis on these revenue, we could discover that it can be up to four or five times the amount reported. Nigeria is like a grown man in his late thirties or forties and is still living with his rich parents, who provides for him generously.
Also on the work ethics, a typical employed Nigerian thinks “how much am I been paid?” and not “what is my work schedule and how best can I fulfill these work responsibilities?” Salary and wages are reduced to a mere allowance given to us for been present at the office place. It is no longer a reward for actually performing the task presented to us, satisfactorily. This orientation have slipped into every corner and sector of the economy, even so that private employers of labor and company owners look to the rewards they gain. Only looking back to the results produced when they feel it is affecting the compensation.
Having touched these areas, let’s now do a critique on the economies and living conditions of the both countries (Ghana and Nigeria). In Ghana, it is expensive to live in. In the sense that it looks much like what we observe in the UK and other European countries. The citizens and immigrants actually spend majority of their money in Ghana. The regulations and tax paid to the government are extraordinary. These regulations makes the economy very stable and cancels unexpected pitfalls. Unlike in Nigeria, if anything happens to the oil revenue, the whole country plummets with it. These regulations and work ethics is clearly seen on the streets of Accra. Just on entering the Aflao border, the whole driving experience changes. They actually have speed limits and it’s strictly observed (this is first time I am seeing it observed), I can see my bus driver waving out to incoming vehicles to slow down and vice versa. All traffic signs and lights are at their peak performance, as was also observed in Benin republic and Togo. In Togo most especially, the police, immigration and other forces look astonishing in their uniforms. Dressed to the teeth, well ironed and clean uniforms, impeccable.
On the facilities and infrastructures present. In my country Nigeria, they have erected structures that its cost runs in the millions of Naira. Immaculate structures like the ones seen in Maitama, VI, Lekki, Port Harcourt and many eastern states. These structures are built with the leftovers of the wealth of the individual owners and government. But taking Benin republic as a case example, one would notice that the roads they built were squeezed out from their tax payers’ money or any natural resources they might have exported. It is conspicuous that the only road they constructed were the major highways and exiting these major highways one is left with the galloped and dusty minor roads. Plying through the roads, the vigor that was put to the minute details is very evident. Making sure that the road stands the taste of time. Just the road markings and signs are of the best quality.
So what is now the problem, Nigeria? I have lived in Nigeria for say 26 years and I have read quite a deal about the history of Nigeria and how it evolved into what it is at present. Usually, I don’t agree with those that put the blame on the government. In this case, as a wise man once said “My brother, travel and see” I think I would blame the government on one particular issue that is on regulation. NAFDAC as an example, the impact they had on the drug and food industry was cataclysmic. All a typical Nigeria is asking for is not so great, just the basic amenities; good roads, water and steady electricity, these three basics. Then on its shoulders will they bask and excel. Afterwards, let the government put the necessary regulation in check, strengthen the ones in the oil, banking, agriculture, education and the different sectors of the economy. When OBJ was establishing committees upon committees, it looked juvenile but to be frank Nigeria need the regulatory bodies. Bodies with sound and ethical directors who will do their work like Dora Akunyili (She was the best of them all, God bless her soul) of blessed memory did. Setting up these regulatory bodies are things beyond the grasp of an ordinary citizen, only the government can do such. long grey color bridesmaid dress
There would come a time, maybe in the next 100 years or less when our offspring would look back on us and basically would curse our generation. They would feel so terrible at the mistake we made and the misuse of the natural resources, God has given to us. At a time I spent in Calabar, we did had a project in the rubber plantation that was setup in the early 1900’s, before the independence, hectares upon hectares of land were used for the plantation. A Chinese man came to the plantation and started crying, shedding tears uncontrollably. He wept for our country, for our government, for our offspring. He looked at the vast expanse of land been used for rubber and how the rubber trees are discarded, something that never existed in his country and over here it is overlooked. In the plantation, one would see collector cups filled and overflowing, with 2 or 3 other filled collector cups laying at the base of the trees. Nothing is been harvested nor taking care of. A collector cup is about 0.5 liters and a tree can filled these cups in let’s say in 2 days. Now, do the math 0.5 times the time when this plantations were abandoned and the number of trees, then divided by 2 days. That is how many tons of rubber are been laid to waste.
I will conclude with this adage in my native language “Nwa Nza beere n’ala were mecha beere na okpu nkume, beere tu kwara nga o’beere” I hope I wrote it correctly, and it translates into “A small bird that was on the ground and later flew onto the termite hill is still on the ground”, meaning no progress has yet been made. Regulations is the key, let’s forget our enormous differences and focus on the goals we can achieve together, like they say two heads are better than one. I drop my pen here not because I have said all I have to say but so we can have something else to write tomorrow. Best of Regards.
A concerned citizen of the Federal republic of Nigeria