What a year so far! It’s being a year of addictions with the BB. I mean at first my blackberry and Buhari-Bakare ambition . I am always locked in an internal battle to stop talking, hawking or thinking our lame politics. I wish I really stopped being concerned on the streets. I wonder what’s this inner anger with me to put Nigeria in a proper place of nations? Am I crying more than the bereaved or being more catholic than the Pope? Am I bothered than the Nigerian who sees government as stage play and watches the actors do performance of intrigues. Never mind, It‘s just me passionate about Nigeria and considers how effective public policy puts this country in the right part. I will quickly show you two examples both led by the PDP government.
There was a time in this country when telephone was a prime luxury. I remembered how long I queued at NITEL Ibadan to make a call to my dad who works at Lagos. But we are witnesses of rapid change in our life as a result of boom in the telecomm sector. How in over ten years we have moved from an abysmal 400, 000 lines to 83 million lines? It is to the credit of Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Ndukwe that we have seen this boom but that they have left NITEL to stink is a matter for another day. Let takes a value chain analysis of the telecoms sector and the impact on jobs.
When the telecoms sector came in, there was massive boom in banking and structuring facilities for them (jobs), then you have to print recharge cards (jobs) . Someone has to distribute recharge cards along the retail and wholesale level (jobs). I have more than seven spots on my streets that sell recharge cards on my phone if we extrapolate that nationwide that will equal millions. Not neglecting that I can use my ATM, mobile or web because least some one sits the server end (jobs). Then the companies have to do advertising, network expansion through local contractors, cleaners , security agents to man offices and masts (jobs) , someone imports telecoms equipment, there is a clearing and forwarding agent, then someone starts a telecomm training center and employs an engineer. MTN thinks of Who wants to be a millionaire contracts it to an event manger (jobs), event manager guy looks for ushers, skilled cameraman, animation experts? Can you ever think of how many schools have been built, CSR projects and jobs such as customer service officer, tower riggers, mobile app developers, network engineer, phone retailers and much more. These were lost jobs of the past but a simple government policy backed by law made this happen.
Now let’s take the analysis of the oil that we have and don’t refine, the land we own that we don’t till or the iron that we have and can’t make steel. With facts I am sure of, It is estimated that, about US$910mn, on a monthly basis, was expended to import refined petroleum product in 2010. In the same year, the country earned an estimated average monthly income of US$3.5b, translating that about 26% of total oil earnings for the year goes out of the economy to settle the purchases of refined petroleum product! Why would our last refinery be built in the early 80s? Why would after the firesale of OBJ technically deficient refineries, Yaradua reversed it and we still have not moved an inch to building even cottage or modular refineries.
You extract oil and government takes full taxes on the oil its people would use. Then you pay a foreign shipping line to take it to Ivory Coast or anywhere and then the Gbagbo’s government takes all the taxes and duties for the import. The refineries get the oil refined but will surely do it with a profit (the cost to be borne by Nigerians). Rather than we profit from the residue of oil needed by plastics, petrochemical and other allied industries, we pay the shipping company back to bring only petrol, kerosene and diesel separately back to us. Then our customs and others take full import duties charges at our ports. When oil fluctuates due to the madness of Ghaddafi, the costs of subsidies rise as well for Nigerians. Rather than us build lasting structures for refining, we create a short circuit founded on patronage and about N785bn was estimated to have been spent on petroleum subsidy in 2010. At very export of the crude oil, we have also exported direct and indirect jobs. We sold the job of the fresh engineering graduate, the nimble accountant, the recharge card seller , the canteen woman, the technician with three kids in school. We export jobs when we export our natural resources or leave them to waste like gas and import them back as finished products.
The imported subsidized oil is used to fuel our imported generators on which Nigerians spend almost 2 trillion naira. What of impact on the environment and so on. We might have created jobs for the generators sellers in Oyingbo and Mikano might employ ten maintenance engineers but what is the multiplier effect on the general good of the economy. Nigeria really needs help. The same goes for rice and sugar importation when we have plains of fertile land. We have the tact strategy, clear roadmap and implantation plan to fix this anomaly. I have seen volumes of documents, so I am not a nerd presenting new ideas. There is just a system that benefits government stooges. They tap Nigeria like strings with efficient importation and collection of subsidy and you wonder why they would be happy to keep the system that way. The government that stands as a bridge for public good is of them and financed by them. When the infrastructure rots and government policy is in a somersault with no iota of transparency, the country becomes incompetitive it will be a buying and selling , import and export economy and only few foreign investors will erect a structure there.
Nigeria needs change and it’s that of transparent government that forgoes the import/export interests of few cronies to find the right policies that values competition and expand the economy. Our job agenda rather than distribute more motorcycles, make graduates traffic wardens, tree planters or cleaning officers, should be to first knit our education system with entrepreneurial skills, boost infrastructure, SME lending and explore our natural resource from first to last end of value chain, and in between jobs will arise.