Nigeria is making giant economic  strides, says Chidoka

Chidoka-Aviation

NIGERIA is seen as a country that holds great opportunities for her citizens with projections that its economy would continue to grow at the rate of over six to eight per cent for the next 20 years. This was the way the Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, put it last weekend when he delivered the 44th Convocation Lecture of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka titled: “Rebuilding the Nigerian Dream: Mapping the Building Blocks.”

The Minister said that Nigeria has highly skilled, hardworking people with huge natural resources and large population that make the country a big market for goods and services which are key areas that would serve as stimulant to her economic growth.

Chidoka said that Nigerians are fastidious and therefore have the tendency to criticise their country even when it is unnecessary, adding that although that attitude is seemingly wrong but it spurs the citizens and government to do things better.

“The most virulent critics of Nigeria are Nigerians. When two or three Nigerians are gathered, their topic is usually Nigeria: Its missed opportunities, its poor outcomes and, particularly, the giant strides of other countries. A few years ago Nigerians celebrated one year of no blackouts in Ghana. Even though no such celebration took place in Ghana.

“They talked about how the Ghana Cedi was equivalent to the US Dollar even though it was just a decimalisation. Now that  Cedi has turned out to be one of the world’s worst-performing currencies, losing nearly 300% of its value within a couple of months, and blackouts have become a common feature in Ghana as its budget deficit balloons, the Nigerian media have curiously kept silent. I don’t see any media commentaries on the fact that Ghana has fallen back to the International Monetary Fund 

(Talley, 2014), and indeed to Nigeria, for assistance,” Chidoka said.

He remarked that Nigeria has great opportunities that ensure a better future for its citizens, noting that these opportunities should be harnessed by young Nigerians who should be creative and make use of any chance that comes their way, adding that the country has huge potential to be great.

“Nigeria has many things going in its favour. We are regarded as Africa’s largest economy, with an annual growth rate of 6 to 8%. As Cosmo pointed out, we have one of the largest mobile phone markets on the continent. And nearly 40% of our population has access to the internet. That is almost as much as South Africa at almost 47% and far higher than Indonesia at only 16%. Even Brazil has only managed to connect 53% of its population online 

(CIA, 2015),” the Minister said.

He noted that Nigerians have inherent elements to succeed in every endeavour and those elements include superiority complex, hard work and the readiness to sacrifice today for better tomorrow.

Chidoka said although the Nigerian education system is severely criticised by her citizens but Nigerians who studied in Nigerian schools have distinguished themselves outside the country that in the United States Nigerians remain the most successful professionals among the black population.

“The criticism of our education system and the lamentations about the so-called Nigerian Factor notwithstanding, the Nigerian Diaspora has been singled out as one of the most successful black Diasporas in the world. In the United States, Nigerian-Americans dramatically outperform Americans in terms of income. In their book 

The Triple Package, Professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld explain that Nigerians are over-represented in the field of medicine, higher education, law and investment banking 

(Chua & Rubenfeld, 2014).

“Why are Nigerians so successful? Because of the way we raise our children. According to the authors, we Nigerians possess the three traits that breed success: a superiority complex – an idea that we are special in some way; insecurity – the fear that if we don’t work hard we will fail; and impulse control – the ability to delay gratification in the short term for better outcomes in the future. Even if you had never attended this august institution, by virtue of being raised Nigerian, you already have the tools for success,” the Minister said.

Part of the lecture reads: “Nigeria today is a nation punching below its weight. As of 2013, our population stood at 173.6 million and our GDP at N80 trillion or US $521.8 billion. Our nearest competitor, South Africa, has a population of 54 million and a GDP of US $350.6 billion (CIA, 2015). However, though Nigeria’s population is more than three times that of South Africa’s, its GDP is only 1.4 times greater. Brazil, which at 202 million people has a more comparable population to Nigeria, has a GDP of US $2.246 trillion. More significantly, as of 2012 Brazil’s poverty rate was 3.8% while Nigeria’s was 33.1%  (Emejo, 2014).

We are well behind in many other areas as well. With only 180,549 km2 of roadway, we have fewer roads than we should. South Africa, by comparison has 362,099 km2, Indonesia has 437,759 km2 and Brazil has a whopping 1,751,868 km2. As you well know, we generate far less power than we should. In 2011, Nigeria only generated 27 billion KWh. In the same year South Africa generated nearly 260 billion KWh while Indonesia generated more than 182 billion and Brazil generated nearly 532 billion (CIA, 2015).

However, side-by-side with comparable nations, Nigeria looks like a country of missed opportunities. A country on a trajectory that is not promising. But like the Bata story, there’s a huge market for the products of our great Alma Mater and that is the opportunity. 

A Financial Times of London article earlier this month announced that fashion and lifestyle magazine, Cosmopolitan, will be launching Cosmopolitan Nigeria, its first online-only edition in Africa. According to the company:

“Nigeria was chosen for the “digital first” debut for several reasons, including its young, English-speaking population, the lack of competition and increasing consumption fuelled by economic growth. [Parent company] Hearst [Magazines International] said nearly three-quarters of the population has a mobile phone, more than a third of Nigerians are mobile internet users and mobile commerce is widespread. 

The country was also considered to appeal to advertisers looking to reach a new pool of consumers. The site will begin running adverts “in a number of weeks”, [Duncan] Edwards [Chief Executive of Hearst Magazines International] said.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is of great interest to our advertising customers,” he said, particularly to personal goods groups such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble, whose product ads are omnipresent in women’s magazines.

Last year Heineken NV, the world’s third-biggest brewer, announced that it was increasing its investments in Nigeria. Heineken, which is the majority owner of Nigerian Breweries, is confident that our market, based on our population growth and rising urbanisation will increase its beer consumption and ultimately boost profits (Atuanya, 2014). 

Nigeria has many things going in its favour. We are regarded as Africa’s largest economy, with an annual growth rate of 6 to 8%. As Cosmo pointed out, we have one of the largest mobile phone markets on the continent. And nearly 40% of our population has access to the internet. That is almost as much as South Africa at almost 47% and far higher than Indonesia at only 16%. Even Brazil has only managed to connect 53% of its population online (CIA, 2015).  

The most virulent critics of Nigeria are Nigerians. When two or three Nigerians are gathered, their topic is usually Nigeria: Its missed opportunities, its poor outcomes and, particularly, the giant strides of other countries. A few years ago Nigerians celebrated one year of no blackouts in Ghana. Even though no such celebration took place in Ghana. They talked about how the Ghana Cedi was equivalent to the US Dollar even though it was just a decimalisation. Now that the Cedi has turned out to be one of the world’s worst-performing currencies, losing nearly 300% of its value within a couple of months, and blackouts have become a common feature in Ghana as its budget deficit balloons, the Nigerian media has curiously kept silent. I don’t see any media commentaries on the fact that Ghana has fallen back to the International Monetary Fund (Talley, 2014), and indeed to Nigeria, for assistance. 

The criticism of our education system and the lamentations about the so-called Nigerian Factor notwithstanding, the Nigerian Diaspora has been singled out as one of the most successful black Diasporas in the world. In the United States, Nigerian-Americans dramatically outperform Americans in terms of income. In their book The Triple Package, Professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld explain that Nigerians are over-represented in the field of medicine, higher education, law and investment banking (Chua & Rubenfeld, 2014). 

Almost 25% of Nigerian households make over $100,000 a year; only 10.6 percent of black American households overall do. Five percent of Nigerian American households earn over $200,000 a year; the figure is only about 1.3 percent for black America overall. The median Nigerian American household income is $58,000 a year; the national median is $51,000. In 2010, Nigerian men working full-time earned a median income of $50,000, while the figure for all U.S.-born men was $46,000.

Why are Nigerians so successful? Because of the way we raise our children. According to the authors, we Nigerians possess the three traits that breed success: a superiority complex – an idea that we are special in some way; insecurity – the fear that if we don’t work hard we will fail; and impulse control – the ability to delay gratification in the short term for better outcomes in the future. Even if you had never attended this august institution, by virtue of being raised Nigerian, you already have the tools for success. 

Dear graduates, I’m happy to announce that you have won the African lottery. The lottery you have won is the fact that you are born in Nigeria, a country with demographic dividends, natural resources and the most progressive human resource base on the continent. Nigeria offers unlimited opportunities for growth and advancement.

Our resilience and resourcefulness as a nation has pulled us back from the brink of disaster when many other nations would have crumbled. We survived a civil war and several military dictatorships each time returning with lessons learned that we incorporated into new iterations of our Constitution. After the civil war we gave the world the phrase: “No victor, no vanquished” and The Three Rs – Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation. And nine years after the war Dr. Alex Ekwueme from the Biafra side became the Vice-President and Edwin Ume-Ezeoke became the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, an example of the Nigerian spirit. 



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