It’s hard to say what Nigeria’s biggest problem is, if really the problem is singular. Many believe they are many. Ask some, and they tell you it is corruption, ask another and you may hear something like illiteracy and hunger.
Of Course, in reality, the nature of the problems befalling Nigeria is multidimensional. More like a hydra-headed monster with multiple nervous systems. If you severe one head, the rest are able to continue performing their basic functions with very little obstruction since they’ve got enough heads to carry on as usual.
But if you ask me, I would say that one of our biggest,(if not the biggest) problems is our inability to follow through on anything. Or simply put, the inability to start and complete any project. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t pockets of completed projects here and there to counter my ‘unverified’ claims.
Around 1975, a Soviet survey team discovered iron ore deposits in minable quantities and a contract was signed between the Nigerian government and the Soviet state-owned company, Tiajpromexport (TPE).
The Government of the day sent many Nigerian engineers to Russia and Soviet states to train them in preparation for what was to come.
In 1979, Shagari’s government began work on Ajaokuta Steel Project. The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited was incorporated in 1979, and by 1994 the steel mill had reached 98% completion.
With different administrations coming with different policies and agenda, promising to do something different from what it’s predecessors had done, the place remains today a ghost of a once lofty idea waiting to be laid to rest and an experimental laboratory for anything but anything that works. Nothing substantial has been done and followed through to completion. A series of promises, vows,M.O.U’s and nothing more. Yes it remains nothing more than an idea till today.
Most of the Engineers who were trained in Russia for the specific purpose of running the place may have retired or will be retiring soon, with sadness in them knowing that they may never get to apply what they believe will greatly change their country.
At what cost?
$4.6 billion. Which should be around $14.5 billion today considering the annual inflation rates.
$14.5 billion , Millions of man hours, 40 years and counting, nothing ,absolutely nothing to show for it.
This sounds like the Mysterious Bermuda triangle where whatever crosses it’s part somehow manages to disappear. Forget the narratives from NASA and Stephen Hawking, this is the real Black Hole, located in the most populated black country in the world.
The story of Ajoakuta embodies the Nigerian problem. A drive across all the states in the country reveals to you the size and magnitude of abandoned projects and ideas and systems of doing things .
The irony of it all is that many believe the solution lies in finding the best method of doing something. But the reality points to the fact that identifying a path, and following it religiously to its logical end is actually what works. Communism for the Chinese, Capitalism for the Americans, Monarchy for the Gulf Arab states have been able to deliver on the economy and poverty alleviation.
From 6-5-4 educational system to the 6-3-3-4 and now to the 6-9-4 the illusion that what leads to results is WHAT and not HOW is clearly written all over the place.
In the Power sector for example, we have seen the transition from NEPA to PHCN and now to the regional distribution companies like IKEDC or EEDC as the case may be.Still, nothing much has changed. I know a particular power station where the turbines are started using electricity from the grid. Meaning that if the power goes off from the Distribution Company the turbine shuts down. A plant that is supposed to generate power to the distribution companies now needs electricity from the distribution company to function simply because the emergency diesel generator(BLACK START GENERATOR) which is supposed to kick start the turbine isn’t available.
Between 1999 and 2007, about $16billion was spent in the Power sector with very little to show for it.
I know you may ask, What need is there to keep highlighting these if there isn’t any solution? My answer is simple. Now you know what doesn’t work. If there are 1000 possible iterations to success and I successfully eliminate just two, then we have lesser things to work on and the picture of how it should be gradually becomes clearer.
Secondly, at least now you know what the problem is. Could a solution to sickle have been reached if we never realised it was genetic and still felt it was a spiritual curse from our ancestors? Could there have been a real malaria cure if we still like many of our forefathers believed that it was caused by palm oil consumption?
The first step in solving a problem is identifying what the problem is or is not. By the way who says you can’t provide the solution to all these problems? Yes you! I mean you the reader.