May 29th: Where Next Nigeria
Now, Nigeria is without form and void. Darkness covers the face of the deep and the unquiet Spirit is hovering over the land. Africa’s most populous country is at a fresh dangerous crossroads. At the beginning when darkness covered the earth, God said: ‘’Let there be Light,’’ and there was light. Now, Nigeria needs a leader who will command light to outshine the country’s darkness and exorcise the unquiet spirit. Once a country returns to factory-reset mode or Hobbes’s state of nature: Optimism, Peace and Hope disappear, none of our important human needs is reliably realizable in such a milieu.
Indeed, the perfect storm is already gathering, killer herdsmen have since cut short their vacation, they visited an IDP camp in Benue state and massacred over 128 internally displaced people mostly pregnant women and children recently, before zooming off to Sokoto, they had a stopover in Kaduna where reckless kidnapping and killings took place. The DSS came out publicly to declare that the State of the Union is fragile as some VIPs are scheming for something strange to the constitution, threatening that the price of holding the May 29th change of baton event amounts to the death of democracy! Those calling for an interim government seem to be suffering from amnesia, I believe. How productive and stable was Nigeria in 1993 under Chief Ernest Shonekan as Head of ING? Even though protest is part of democracy but due to our peculiarities, unbridled protests at this perilous time can snowball into an uncontrollable disaster. Political protests in a nation-state can bring about a positive change or in some cases, revolution: France, Russia, and Sri Lanka as case studies. However, in a fragile heterogeneous society like Nigeria, political protests often lead to civil war: Ivory Coast, Syria, Rwanda and Fiji as case studies. The youths are fragmented along the nation’s fault lines, which is why the elites must be circumspect in their utterances. Somalia began like this before it became a failed state bereft of a central authority. The court remains the last hope of all aggrieved politicians.
No doubt, Nigerians are hurting for various reasons, how long can we run away from discussing the Nigeria Question? To achieve a peaceful, prosperous and stable Nigeria (PPSN), we need to balance the national equation by either allowing: (a) credible, free and fair elections, or (b) equitable sharing of power among the nationalities, regions and religions in an unadulterated federation, (America model) or (C) considerable autonomy for each nationality in a loose confederation, (Switzerland spec) or (d) self-determination through a referendum for nationalities that desire to exit the union (Czechoslovakia option). Therefore, PPSN= A or B. But where A & B are unavailable or impossible, C or D may become inevitable.
Nigeria faces four possibilities today: Breakout, Breakeven, Bronze or Breakdown. Differently put, Nigeria can become a Gold Medallist (i.e. become Great) or a Silver Medallist (i.e. Good) or Bronze Medallist (3rd world) or Grounded (failed State, CKD- Completely Knocked Down) depending on the choices we make today. To achieve a breakout requires abundant decentralization with a new people’s constitution that contains a referendum clause. This will put an end to the do-or-die struggle for power at the Centre, reduce corruption and wastage, and enthrone accountability and healthy competition among the federating regions. There is no heterogeneous society anywhere or at any time in history that is governed centrally the way Nigeria is, that escaped circular crises, retrogression and eventual disintegration. The lifespan of severely mismanaged countries is about 70 years! The early bird civilization, Europe, fought themselves to a standstill for 100 years before they embraced restructuring, which begot relative peace and unprecedented prosperity. China, South Korea, Singapore, Norway, UAE etc. are new gold medalists.
The second possibility is breakeven (Silver medal). Through a comprehensive reconstruction of the economy’s architecture, running a lean government (e.g. sales of all government assets starting with NNPC, etc. This will reduce corruption by 80% as governance would depend solely on an effective taxation regime. Square pegs would go inside square holes when the government exits the business. Businesses in Scandinavian countries pay up to 50% tax on net profit which enables them to build an egalitarian society with the lowest crime rate in the world. Thailand, India, Turkey etc. are silver medalists.
To win the bronze medal, Nigeria needs to strengthen her institutions, deepen the rule of law, modernize her infrastructure and build harmonious bridges across various nationalities and boost productivity, tame corruption. Rwanda, Bulgaria, and Indonesia are some examples of bronze medalists.
The fourth possibility is CKDN – Completely Knocked Down Nigeria, i.e. Breakdown/ Grounded, enmeshed in unwinnable, forever war. Failed states like Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela (with the world’s highest oil reserves of over 300 billion barrels) Somalia, Afghanistan etc. behaved like an ostrich for too long, ignoring the signals, sound and odour of disintegration. America’s CIA had strongly warned Nigeria in 2015 about CKDN! The incoming administration should, instead of continuing to administer “pain-killer drugs”, go for a “pain-remover surgical operation”! Nigeria’s vital organs (liver, kidney, eyes, lung and heart) are all too weak and failing, pumping Nigeria with more ‘’Panadol’’ or ‘Panadol Extra’ will ultimately lead to stroke. Nigeria should be wheeled immediately to the emergency theatre for a ‘’pain-remover surgical operation’’.
*Lessons from Breakout Nations*!
All breakout nations got four variables right simultaneously: workable structure, sound strategy, competent leadership, and ethically ‘’born-again’’ population. Nigeria’s emphasis has been largely on strategy: visions 2000, 2010, and 2020, the 7-point agenda of YarAdua, the Transformation agenda of Jonathan and the 63-point agenda of the Buhari administration- ignoring the other three variables. The result has been repeated failures and frustrations. There is also the Leadership illusion, i.e. that all Nigeria needs to become a gold medallist is just one ‘Messiah’. No. For any country to win a gold medal, those four variables must be present.
Nigeria cannot be great without a Cultural Revolution, i.e. national rebirth coupled with structural reforms. Everyone seems unhappy about Nigeria’s stunted growth, pointing accusing fingers. The university dons who practice sex for marks, the media empire who built their wealth on blackmail and cash-for-awards, the spare parts importers who import substandard spare parts from China that cause road accidents and deaths, the Pharmacists that import fake drugs from India leading to an outbreak of diabetes and kidney failures, the businessmen who became rich on fraudulent fuel subsidy and kick back on tax weavers, the Pastors and Imams who use offerings and tithes and gifts meant for the general wellbeing of their members and the society to buy private jets and marry 4 wives, the Yahoo Yahoo! Youths, the corrupt civil servants who pocket 80% of the contract sum as kick-backs, the artisans and market women who abuse customers trust, the disabled people on the road who help criminals hide their guns and the terrorists among us are all complaining about the sorry situation Nigeria without first removing the log in their own eyes. Before their respective cultural revolutions, life was short, brutish and nasty in both China and South Korea. We urgently need to have a conversation on national rebirth as a people.
*10 +1 Commandments for the President-elect*
1 Thou shall not remove the remaining fuel subsidy until you have substantially removed the youth’s pains.
2 There is an urgent need to embark on the following 7Rs: reconciliation, recalibration, rebirth, re-education, re-industrialization, re-construction and rebranding.
Remember that Czar Nicholas 11 (1868- 1918) crowned in 1894 was the last Russian emperor. He was stubborn and underestimated the hunger and anger of the Russians after WW1, he ignored the signals and sounds of the hopelessness of Russians by refusing to carry out necessary and quick economic reforms that would bring abundance and hope to his people. Thus Nicholas 11 was forced to abdicate on March 15th, 1817, through popular uprising and on July 17th, 1918, Emperor Nicholas and his entire family and their closest associates were gruesomely murdered, and their remains soaked with acid and burnt, thus ending the 300-year-old Romanov’s dynasty rule.
3 Thou shall not fill your Cabinet with recycled, corrupt political jobbers.
Allow those ‘’flying CVs’’ to remain in the air forever. Those who can make Nigeria a peak performer and Gold medalist are already too busy to be flying their CVs around. Getting them would only be through headhunting and serious persuasion. Those corrupt, recycled characters lobbying to serve have little or nothing to offer since Nigeria became the world’s poverty capital under their watch, they don’t deserve a second chance.
4 Thou shall prioritize meritocracy. Nothing is wrong in advertising certain critical cabinet positions such as Ministers of Finance, Education, ICT, Solid Minerals and Petroleum
5 Thou shall not appoint yourself as Petroleum Minister. Presidents OBJ and PMB did it, they both failed.
Of all the OPEC countries, Nigeria is the only one that does oil business at a loss. Nigeria has the lowest per capita income and weakest national currency among the major oil exporting countries. Prosperity is a rule among OPEC countries except Nigeria. In 45 years, Nigeria recorded profits only in two years but it was *rat profits* For instance, Saudi Arabia posted a whopping profit of $161 billion in 2022.Norway (average sales of 1.2mbd) has in her Sovereign Wealth a gargantuan sum of $1.3Trillion, and in 2020 during C-19 when Nigerians were severely hurting and hungry, Norway realised the sum of $180billion profit from her oil investments dividends in technology companies. Here is a simple example of national insanity: Nigeria’s total profits from her sales of oil in 45 years were N287 billion in 2020 and N674 billion in 2021 i.e. N961 billion or $1.2billion (@N750:$1) gross. The total money in the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is about N1.02 Trillion (i.e. $1.2 billion vs Norway’s $1.3 trillion, less than 1% of Norway’s Sovereign wealth.
The advertisement for the position of Petroleum Minister should read: *Nigeria needs a person who can bring the cost of sales and profit per barrel of crude oil exploration and processing to be at par or close to that of Norway, Saudi Arabia or UAE, plus or minus 20% environmental exigencies* What is wrong with headhunting Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy (Terje Aasland) as the next Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum, under a management contract of 90:10 profit sharing in favour of Nigeria? He made about $90 billion selling 1.2mbd for Norway in 2022. After all, we have people from the Niger Republic holding sensitive public offices in Nigeria. Conversely, we have had Nigerians as Ministers of Economy in Togo and Justice in the Gambia. And Nigerians are holding sensitive cabinet positions in America and the UK.
6 Thou shall create two new Ministries: Ministry of Future to be headed by a Nigeria prodigy, likely under 30 years of age. Two, the Ministry of Renewable Energy. The future would be dominated by Space innovations and Artificial Intelligence (Ai). The bus is already moving, our youths cannot afford to be bus conductors, they should be in the front seat of the 4.0 revolution. Furthermore, the market value of the renewable energy business is forecast to be more than $ 2 trillion by 2030, whereas oil has less than 40 years before it becomes sachet water.
7 Thou shall abolish the office of *Aso Rock CABAL* because it is unconstitutional and anti people.The ‘’cabal’’ engineered the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election according to IBB. GEJ’s Cabal made him clueless. PMB’s Cabal held him hostage, in the Villa according to PMB’s wife, Aisha Buhari. Allowing your closest political and business associates, the Vice President or your wife or son or daughter to form a new cabal is like signing an irrevocable MoU with failure, because the ‘’Cabal’’ is not on record for positive contributions.
8 Foreign Policy: thou shall not drag Nigeria into the China-America-Russia supremacy battle. There is a window of commercial opportunity worth $250 billion in the energy sector that has opened up in Europe as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war which the incoming administration can harvest. The geopolitics sands are shifting but smart nations like Israel are playing it safe: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is smartly cutting deals with Russia’ Putin, China Xi and America’s Biden simultaneously without dropping any of the 3 balls for the overall benefits of his people.
9 Thou shall not waste the Globalization crisis: There is a gradual sunset on globalization: Japan is relocating most of its factories from China to Japan. America is building a new semiconductor factory in Arizona, as I write, to reduce its vulnerability in Asia which controls 70% of the global semiconductor output, Germany is looking inward for its energy needs etc. Today, Regionalization and nationalism are coming back as valedictory services are being held for Globalisation, even in her home country, America. Nigeria should optimize the AfCFTA opportunities, as most of what Nigeria needs to succeed can be found inside her ‘’Sokoto’’, why travel to Sokoto?
10 Global hunger crisis is real: thou shall prioritize food security from day one: an empty sack cannot stand. Globally, 10% of the population has little or nothing to eat and 70% of them are in Africa. About 133 million Nigerians are living below the poverty line. However, there is zero chance of solving the food crisis in Nigeria without first addressing the security challenges posed by the Fulani herdsmen. The Vice President’s (Shettima) first task should be to head the ANTI-TERRORISM TASK FORCE (ATTF) that will end terrorism in Nigeria within your first 100 days in office.
10+1: Thou shall not complain: likely, you would soon lose two vital things: sleep and smiles! As you peruse Aso Rock’s ‘’top secret’’ books, which would most likely be like a horror movie with stomach-churning violence. Every country has ‘’classified information’’ meant for the C-in-C eyes only. My intellectual guess is that the horror movie would contain scary graphic details of Nigeria’s deplorable basket of trouble, e.g. the high debt profile, NNPC woes and possible bankruptcy of Nigeria within months, not years, the implication of a 40% youth unemployment rate, list of untouchable VIPS behind oil bunkering and political terrorism. The reason behind the dubious CBN complicated naira exchange rates and those profiteering from it, details of irrevocable agreements to service with China and the West. There will also be pressure from the World Bank and America on the removal of the remaining fuel subsidy, caustic antagonism from different quarters for different reasons and how to fulfil the election IoUs which you gave to different power blocks, etc., etc.
Poverty and pain have no equilibrium, therefore, the situation can even get worse with the possibility of a cascading crisis within the first 100 days, as it happened in 1999 when OBJ took over and in 2011 with GEJ. Nonetheless, be strong, courageous, and audacious. Thou shall not complain, for thou waited, toiled and prayed for 30 years, now is your hour, seize the moment.
To fix Nigeria is like cooking stones for dinner, the water and the fire dry up quickly, yet the stones remain uncooked and squeezing water out of the stone becomes impracticable! The statistics is scary but true: 30% of the past ‘’Nigeria’s chef’’ expired suddenly or got violently killed on duty, another 30% were forcefully and unceremoniously disgraced out of the kitchen while the remaining 40% are still baffled (some incapacitated) till today asking ‘’what went wrong, how and why did I fail’’. It is like a zero-sum game for Nigeria’s chef. Worse still, the outgoing administration has used all the ‘’LIFELINES’’, including 50:50. etc The youths are tired of the Aso-Rock sermon of *dinner-not-ready, they want DINNER NOW*!
In all this, there is hope, transforming a complex country is not rocket science, it is doable. In recent world history, three outstanding leaders found themselves in similar situations and seized the moment, and against all odds, squeezed the water out of stones. However, the three didn’t loot the treasury and didn’t allow their associates and family members to loot. Indeed, they killed their kleptomaniac associates. They practiced meritocracy. My favourite books in my library are Ben Gurion, the man who created Israel, The Story of Singapore by Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping and The Transformation of China. Unarguably, Gurion, LKY and Deng were nothing short of miracle workers. Can we replicate what happened in China, Singapore and Israel in Nigeria? Yes.
*Pathway to Silver or Bronze Medals*
Smart nations are run the way Apple or Google run their businesses. There are five questions which smart transformative CEOs ask when trying to make an Elephant dance. Nigeria needs to ask those five questions as well. One, what is left on the table that Nigeria can grab quickly and use as a stepping stone, or make better- X+1?
Two, what is coming next on the horizon that we can enjoy the “first-mover advantage”? Three, what capability as a nation do we have?
Four, what capabilities do we need?
Five, how do we get there from here? All smart nations (South Korea, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE, Sweden, Norway, Germany etc. without exception built their respective successes on those five pillars.
Indian elites took a bet on software as a business (the first India Institute of Technology- IIT, was established in 1951, in Kharagpur). Today, Indians in the diaspora remit over $100 billion yearly back home and most of the global technology companies are run by Indians. Taiwan bet on chip making and established the world’s first semiconductor foundry, TSMC in 1987. Today, no Taiwan, no civilization! South Korea’s economy runs on five legs: electronics, telecommunications, automobile manufacturing, shipbuilding and steel. Today, Samsung Electronics alone contributes about 17% to the GDP of South Korea, realizing $246 billion in 2022, i.e. more than five times Nigeria’s yearly oil revenue. China zeroed in on building competence in the Global Supply Chain. Within 30 years, China went from zero to hero. Of the 100 countries I have studied in the last 10 years, the Thailand model fascinated me greatly. Thailand with about 70,000 villages, set up what is called ‘’ONE TOMBON, ONE PRODUCT’’, with a beautiful slogan- ‘Local Wisdom, Goes Global’. Each village (Tombon) has a product (based on their cultural and environmental competitive advantage) that they focus on and each village builds an ecosystem for backward and forward integration around it. Nigeria can start with the 774 local government councils: *One Council, One Product*- *OCOP*. For instance, the Benin people are the world’s best of all time in Bronze making, we need to build a Bronze making industry ecosystem there, for export. This can fetch over $1billon yearly income.
*Questions & Answers for Nigeria*
1 What is left?
Answer: There are four major revolutions going on as I write: Electric Vehicles Revolution, (EVR), Space innovations, 4.0 skills, and Global Food crisis affecting 800 million hungry people worldwide. Those four problems constitute the new opportunities.
2 What’s next?
Answer: Space commercialization, Defence innovations, Artificial intelligence solutions, Medical breakthrough in incurable diseases, Climate change solutions, currencies innovations.
3 What capabilities does Nigeria have: robust population of 220million with 52% youths, 40% arable land, a huge diaspora population, Dangote, and about 270 types of mineral and natural resources (only Chinese know the exact numbers, locations, and quantities and quality- I am not exaggerating!), Atlantic Ocean, Sambisa Forest, Entertainment, especially Music and Movies, Lagos, AfCFTA, abundant sun and favorable climate, Diverse nationalities, untapped Africa market, etc.
4 What capabilities do we need?
Answer: rebirth, recalibration, elite consensus, re-industrialization, youth employment, infrastructural modernization, technology solutions to combat desert encroachment in the North and purposeful leadership, etc.
5 How do we get there from here?
Answer: Electrical vehicles are the future, by 2030, Europe will stop the production of vehicles using gasoline. By 2032, 75% of American vehicles will be EVs. Interestingly,Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that has all the eight mineral resources required to build a complete ecosystem for EV manufacturing plants: Cobalt in Kano, Lithium, Nickel, Cooper, Graphite, Zinc, Manganese and Rare Earths. They are all available in Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau, Benue, Borno, Adamawa, Kebbi, Cross Rivers Katsina and Ekiti.
There will be an unusual quantum leap in EVs businesses.
Nigeria should build a new ‘’renewable energy hub’’ that will employ over a million youths within the next two years through private initiatives. The leading global battery supplier, CATL which controls 34% of the world’s EV batteries should be invited to site its factory in Nigeria for the European market fulfilment. Nigeria is closer to Europe than China. And instead of the crude ways Chinese employ currently to steal some of these mineral resources that is the source of unending communal crisis in some part of Nigeria, let us sit down with the Chinese and instruct them to stop the *Monkey Business* and let us do a clean and proper win- win EVs related businesses, going forward.
The global electric car market was valued at $229b in 2021 and is projected to reach $700 billion in 2030 growing at 17.30% yearly.
Another one million youths can be absorbed and become gainfully employed through innovative and customized JAPA INITIATIVES plus the New Business Process Outsourcing package (NBPO), using the instrumentality of 4.0 industrial revolutions solutions and skills. From NBPO, Nigeria can begin to earn up to $ 50 billion in inflows from June 2024 I.e. *delicious food is ready within 12 months* The Philippines is number two globally in BPO, and India is number one. Nigeria can be number three: *the youths are ready when the government is ready* There is no better sector to invest in the $800 million World Bank grant than NBPO (RoI is massive and fast, with no competition). Concomitantly, Nigeria would need to create two new banks: Nigeria Start-Ups Bank (NSB) and Nigeria Diaspora Bank (NDB). The existing banking solutions are not enough to harvest the emerging massive opportunities in the ongoing professional demographics shifts.
To fix another one million unemployed youths, the 800 million hungry population worldwide need food, food, and food. Using the latest precision agricultural technology, Nigeria’s Middle Belt can feed half of the world’s hungry people profitably, when and if the herdsmen killings stop.
We also need to get Dangote Refinery up and running since yesterday to conserve 70% of dollars spent on fuel importation.
Even if the federal government has to take additional 20% equity (but transparently valued this time around), the risk is worth taking. The Dangote ecosystem would take about 500,000 Nigerians out of poverty including market women selling table water and nuts to the staff of the refinery. Dangote must work and walk, NOW!
All said Nigeria can fix 5 million youths in quality, high-paying jobs within the next 24 months, generate a fresh $50 billion revenue inflow from innovative programs aiming at assisting the naira gain a full erection and reflate the economy. Before the C-19 pandemic, one company in Taiwan had about 0ne million employees (5% of the population) on its payroll. Just one company! In 2022, Walmart had about 2.3 million employees and realized a revenue of $ 600 billion. Nigeria’s environment should be made fertile for mega businesses to germinate and thrive, where the likes of Foxconn and Walmart would be replicated.
Africa has been anxiously waiting for the Elephant (Nigeria) in the room to arise and dance, likewise the entire black race. Nigeria cannot afford to continue to move in circles like the Barber’s chair. Nations perish for lack of three things: knowledge, vision and political will. Everything is possible, including winning a GOLD, Silver, Bronze or CKD medals, depending on the choices we make today!
Going forward, let us reason, talk and choose wisely, for all we have is this tiny but fantastically blessed 923,768 sq. km piece of land in the Cosmos filled with milk and honey, sugar, chess and butter plus! Paradoxically, Nigerians scarcely cherish their own country. While globally, Nigerians are viewed pitiably, secretly, however, our land is the envy of all- no competition. None. Honest!