Oodua Group—Going Forward
A major milestone in the evolutionary process of rebuilding Yoruba/South West political economy was reached with the admission of Lagos State into the Oodua Group. This is not just a manifestation of economic necessity but a recovery of the essence of Regional development already embarked upon during the Region’s Golden years.
Oodua Group was created as a holding company to protect the interests of the Region having been arbitrarily split up by Nigeria’s military which ended up removing the original areas of what became Lagos State from the Western Region. We recall that the Region included such areas as Ikorodu, Epe, Ikeja, Mushin, Ebute Metta, Badagry etc so, it will be on course to refer to this development as the reclamation of what was taken from us.
Having achieved this feat, it is incumbent on the Group to redefine itself as the harbinger of not only the economic aspect of our Regional economic needs but also the grandfather of the political reconfiguration of the country, at least from the Western part. As the saying goes and which Nigeria is now experiencing, economic development cannot take place within political uncertainty or animosity.
While it is true that the APC is in control of the center and will naturally be expected to directly influence what goes on its States, it is also true that such political control is not permanent as Nigeria’s history has always been predicated on shifting political alliances which may become detrimental to our future goals hence turning us back to square one.
Thus, when “diversification” is proposed as the solution to Nigeria’s economic conundrum as a result of her over-reliance on crude oil exports whose prices have taken a significant down turn, it is necessary that we not only address the purely economic issues but also the political conditions that led us to get into that mess in the first place.
We do recognize that Oodua Group is an economic proposition in the first instance; but the fact that our Governors constitute its board places a political burden on them as it is through their political consciousness that this level of completion was arrived at; hence the Group cannot isolate itself nor should it be isolated from our quest for True Federalism as its success depends on it just as its own history has shown, where the previous military-induced political leadership of the Institution almost rendered it comatose. So then, as Nigeria intends to diversify, so do our State Governments and Oodua Group will need to create a veritable platform for it.
What then is “Diversification”? It is not just about shifting away from dependence on oil, being an extractive enterprise, onto other extractive enterprises; it is about shifting away from any form of dependence on any extractive industry and the only way such a shift could be maintained is by transforming such natural resources into manufactured products, a process we believe should now be addressed.
We need to take a look at Nigeria’s experience where the Obasanjo administration tried to emulate the Asian Tigers through the Korean/Transcorp model which failed terribly, not because of a lack of will but because of a deficiency in its motive. Whereas profit, as a motive, is already a given in any enterprise, our situation calls for a new thinking transcending existing assumptions in order to ensure socio-cultural self-sufficiency within the context of globalization where motive becomes creating the necessary work force as well as a means of strategic industrialization.
Now that the Group is looking towards increasing its revenue base, and considering the reality of Nigeria’s and global economic conditions, it will be necessary for the Group to embark on assisting in the complete overhaul of our economic paradigms necessitating a redefinition of the entire concept of Labor, employment and wealth creation, where equity sharing, including those related to land, will entail workers and landowners being made part owners of enterprises thus not only reducing labor costs but also increasing possibilities for profitability and productivity ultimately reducing start up costs all of which will create another avenue to wealth, increase productivity and lowers the burden on the state.
This will be a means of working round Nigeria’s economic paradigm especially when crude oil sales can no longer support the Nigerian enterprise. Exploring alternative models that will at once resolve capital formation, locally and internationally, where a combination of sensible taxation as well as some fiscal consolidation in our politics may be necessary while also devising a program that will establish the foundational basis for industrialization becomes the driving force.
This will free us from the vagaries of the “national” economy even while being subjected to its own limitations by virtue of our being part of Nigeria. Since Yorubaland does not control the rate of foreign exchange fluctuations, ways and means also have to be devised in order to make our products cheaper for consumption at home and export abroad which will mean deliberately lowering costs of production while enabling labor welfare in terms of easier accessibility to their workplaces as well as home entertainment for relaxation etc all of which depends on their attachment to the purpose for industrialization-- having a stake in the progress of their society.
This can be achieved through our engagement with global environmental consciousness through our pursuit of having solar power for at least 70% of all of our rural areas in order to reserve as much as possible from national production of power and energy for industrial purposes; solar energy for rural consumption will be virtually free and will attract a labor force away from the urban areas and with a strategic industrial plan, many of our agricultural products can be processed both for local consumption as well as for export.
Alongside this is the necessity for political “Restructuring” of Nigeria and this impending economic necessity should be our wake –up call; for the existing states, as currently structured, are inimical to industrialization hence a drastic realignment will be in order. We are not advocating going it alone as a Region, but we can set the stage for this change. Considerable reduction of our spending on political functions will go a long way in addressing capital formation—from a reduction in the number of State Assemblies(unless they can support themselves financially) to the number of political appointees and ministries with a single legislative chamber for the Region, of course with sub-regional chambers, mostly as Local governments etc. Our consciousness will therefore necessarily shift away from an over-reliance on so-called Direct Foreign Investment with all of the contradictions that flow with it, reconfigure our methodologies for capital accumulation and generate a nexus between our political and economic climates. We should aspire to no less.
Shenge Rahman Akanbi, Femi Odedeyi
For and on behalf of Egbe Omo Oduduwa