Agenda for Delegates to National Conference.
By Mohammed Zayyad
Politics will definitely dominate proceedings at the National Conference. But discussions on new development models that will focus on promoting economic growth, structural changes and improving the potential of Nigeria's human capital should be the best thing. Delegate should discuss development models that would help Nigeria to simultaneously develop her agricultural sector, small scale industries and human capital. That is, putting in place a process through which the country's economy are transformed over define period, by the reinvigoration of the agricultural sector, propelling small scale industrialization, systemically and systematically reduce cost of governance, as well as placing the country in a position so that her citizens can take advantage of the vast opportunities the world economy offers.
Everyone in Nigeria believes that agriculture is very important for the country's progress as well as being a vital tool for the liberation of Nigerians from the prison of poverty. Nigeria have a total area of 923,768 km² of which 910,768 km² is arable land, and 13,000 km² water; in addition to 140 million people. Delegates should discuss on how to redefine the implementation strategies of Nigeria's agricultural programmes and policies, in such a way that youths are made the central focus. This is because for Nigeria to remain economically viable, it is imperative that the country's agricultural sector is developed. The new agricultural approach should not deviate from government's agricultural goals of alleviating poverty and hunger, promoting sustainable agricultural development, improved nutrition and food security, but the programme should also imbibe an all inclusive participatory techniques- where youth, communities, local councils, states, the federal government and the private sector (financial institute and private inventors) will be active and major participants.
Nigeria's education sector is witnessing systems deterioration. It requires urgent, systematic and systemic attention. Though, Nigeria has for the several years formulated quite a number of education policies. The country has organized so many seminars and conferences, collected voluminous proposals and blueprints from both local and international experts, on how to salvage the education sector. Public schools been bewildered by perpetual labour disputes, government incessant revision of the education curriculum, constant amending of schools calendar, and the seeming joy in altering and introducing new policies in the education system. This is a big challenge to the delegates to discuss reforms that will cover primary, secondary and tertiary schools, at the same give emphasis to prioritization of need.
Delegate should put in their minds that the average Nigerian is a poor man. Indeed, Nigeria is a country of riches and poverty- splendid wealth in few hands and extreme abject poverty at most people's doorsteps. The problem of poverty is colossal and pervasive in the country and it has many causes. The number of people living in poverty has increased due to rising disparities in the distribution of resources in the country. However, the basic cause of poverty in Nigeria is the absence of an enabling environment that will free the people from the prison of poverty; uplift their living standard and provide ways to assist them turn their dreams into reality. The hallmark of poverty in Nigeria is the high level of unemployment. If Nigeria can tackle the high rate of unemployment in the country; then one of the most important ways to smoothen the path for prosperity in the land has been found.
Oil and Gas
Nigeria's oil sectors (the refineries and pipelines) needs special attention by delegates –Nigeria has a good infrastructure for the transportation of refined petroleum products- a 5,120km pipelines network connecting 21 oil depots and 19 pump stations. Regrettably, the pipelines are not in maximum economic utilization. This is due to mainly three factors- incessant illegal tapping by oil thieves, sabotage and the method of managing the pipelines. Delegate should discuss ways to remodel the management system of the Nigeria's refined petroleum pipelines. Which can be achieved in two ways- lease or concession the pipelines to private companies or create independent firms out of the PPMC solely for pipelines business. For example, Russia has what it calls “Pipeline Troops”, who are trained to build and maintain pipelines.
Delegate should also know the four state-owned refineries in Nigeria are on their knees. Though refineries in Nigeria should be consistently out-performing the average utilization rates of refineries across the globe, their performance is characterized by very low utilization and incessant downtime. This owes to the fact that they are caught within the 'crossfire' of corruption, persistent attacks on pipelines by oil thieves as well as the slow progress in the full-liberalization of the refining sector of the petroleum industry. Delegates should brainstorm on: granting full autonomy to the refineries, but they still remain government-owned; lease the refineries to oil investors or outright privatization of the refineries with highly attractive incentives.
Thinking Beyond Oil
Delegates to the national conference should know that, Nigeria's sole dependence on oil has promoted poverty of new ideas on governance and general life. So, they should design or invent new ways for Nigeria to get more revenue from other sources. The new ways has to be original and one which will well suit the peculiarity of the Nigerian state and its people. Though, it may contain some little elements of successful initiatives of other nations, including, synchronizing it with believable models that will create an enabling environment and uplift citizens' living standard as well as provide ways to assist them turn their dreams into reality.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State.08036070980, [email protected] He blogs at www.zayyaddp.blogspot.com