How We Are Doing Our Economic Development Push Wrongly

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"We will replace oil with other solid minerals"
"BOI will set-up a special fund for agriculture and commodity export based businesses"

One critical problem with the way we handle our economic decisions as a nation is that they are too short-term focused. I call it the security man approach. The most common way security men try to increase their financial well being is by doing many shifts at once. I have come across many security men who do both day and night shifts to increase their monthly income. I am yet to come across one who schools in the day/night to better his earning power and move up from the security man job to a much significantly higher job role. And that is what I see Nigeria doing.

Whenever oil price goes up, the government parties (centenary celebration) and squanders the money, and whenever the oil price comes down we try to juggle more jobs at the same time. Never has it gotten serious enough attention that we need to build capacity for the future, increase our earning power. We are in love with quick results schemes but the longer lasting more effective  route that requires lot of initial investment and hard work we constantly ignore.

When Singapore was a poor country like we are now, it focused a lot more on human capital development, preparing its people for the jobs of the future -- knowledge based jobs -- and inviting high technology firms to set-up in the country. They took the hard, more time and resources consuming option that led to the results we now see and envy.

Yes, we are much more bigger that Singapore and have a lot more natural resources. But the rules of economics are same for everyone. Afterall, land is cheaper in the villages and all the natural resources there are better quality -- river, forest, breathable air -- yet we all come to Lagos to seek knowledge based work. Earning from natural resource extraction is like selling your land and house and properties to raise money. Earning from innovation and skills and knowledge is like building a company on your land and producing goods and services that are of value. You will earn more and for longer from those same natural resources. 

As long as we keep ignoring compulsory (and subsidized/free) education till end of secondary school for all. As long as we don't have proper public libraries modernized with internet and e-books. As long as we don't have national research institutes that are more than just their labels. As long as we don't have government initiatives to support high- tech and entice high-tech companies. As long as we don't have 24/7 electricity (or genuine plan to achieve it). As long as we don't have the social amenities governments are meant to provide from the huge revenue they collect from the citizens (tax) and royalties and all. As long as we keep voting in rogues to power. As long as we keep acting like the unstrategic security man. We are going to have an eternal journey to sustainable development.


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