There comes a stage in every man’s life where he reflects on what he has done with the billions of seconds he has spent on earth, and if he hasn’t been very useful to his generation in at least his own little way, he starts to have a mid-life crisis. This usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 50. And for highly ambitious people, it happens in their mid 30s. I had mine at 12.
Where am I going with this?
If Nigeria was a man, he probably had a mid-life crisis about a decade ago. Probably works for the civil service, has about 5 children, hates his job, and hates himself. He comes back home every night and demands for food that he didn’t supply the money for, can’t properly make love to his wife because he’s past his prime, can’t afford to give his children the finer things in life, and can’t even look in the mirror because his own reflection shakes its head in pity.
Let’s face it guys, considering its potential, Nigeria is a 51-year-old under-achiever going on 52 with no apparent goals or objectives in sight. Nigeria has given up on its future and has resigned to its fate. Frankly speaking, its citizens aren’t really bothered about what goes on in government and as long as the common man can find his daily Agege bread and beans, he is content. But what happens when the poor have nothing left to eat but the rich? Suya becomes a delicacy in some parts.
I would be stating the obvious by saying there are problems that need to be fixed. Problems that had they been taken care of long ago, the economy would be booming so badly, the neighbouring countries would not be able to stand the odour.
Our major resource in this country is Crude oil. The petroleum business is still a gold mine, and even with the illegal bunkering and smuggling going on, it’s still a multi-billion dollar organisation. But it is rapidly depleting. Isn’t it time we took a cue from a country like Dubai and focused our awareness on other sectors of the economy that would bring us income? In the next half century, the oil will be dwindled, and then what? Are we thinking of our future or our pockets?
There are so many other sectors to focus on. Government after government has made promise after promise and we have seen no more improvement in the economy other than an improvement in the budget that allows a single individual to feed on 1,000,000,000 naira in 365 days; a sum which amounts to about 2,740,000 daily.
But that’s cool. We can afford to buy rice and fish so we’re fine.
The power sector is a mess. A man cannot start a business that is run by electricity successfully without buying a backup generator for his main generator. There is hardly enough food to go round the economy, our locally made Ofada rice costs more than the imported rice yet we fold our arms and play ludo each evening like nothing is wrong. The roads leave your car looking like it was attacked by other disgruntled cars and left for dead and the goods transported on these roads leave home looking healthy and arrive looking like they’re in dire need of medical attention.
Yet our president has a feeding budget that could comfortably provide for a small village for 25 years? And nothing has been done about it? Is something not wrong with our psychology?
Let’s focus on the issue of agriculture. Now I’m not saying I have the solution for it, but I’m saying I have a solution for it. The solution, my dear readers is our very own National Youth Service Corps; NYSC.
Just hear me out.
I am a serving corps member and as much as I’d love the scheme to be scrapped so we can stop being exploited and under-utilised and under-paid for our services, I have come to the conclusion that the government is never going to scrap it. The simple reason behind this is the fact that they are making way too much money from it. A short example would be the uniform of the corps members which at a glimpse can be observed to be worth no more than 10,000 naira per head. (Some would say this is an overstatement). But the contract allocated provides the sum of 70,000 naira for each corps member’s apparel. Deduct and multiply and let your mind be blown at the amount of profit the contractors are making from this scheme. People, NYSC is here to stay.
Since we’re not going to scrap it, how about we put it into good use then? Send the corps members to the farms. Now I know how hard it is, and how difficult it appears to ask graduates of Computer Science or Accounting to take cutlasses and hoes to plough a strip of land, but what if it’s mechanised? They can apply their expertise to various areas of farming.
Think about it, there’s a one year compulsory service where corps members of each state are given acres of land dedicated to farming; mechanised farming. There’s a steady influx of labour, and please, you can’t afford to be paying them N19,800 and expecting them to skip around merrily working for you. Increase the minimum wage; provide tractors and farms for each state; and make it mandatory.
In less than two years, there will be a transformation in the agricultural sector. You will discover that every single course that is being studied in Nigerian universities will apply n one way or the other to the sector, because it’s on a factory scale.
Of course it’s easier said than done, but believe it or not, those who see profit in it (say 30%…let’s be realistic) will be willing to stay in the business and help make it improve. T’s not like there is an abundance of jobs available in today’s labour market in the first place.
Understand that this is simply a suggestion, and as feasible as it is, the same way generator retailers will do their best to make sure there is never 24 hours electricity supply in the country, those who are looking for cheap labour and those making money from various sectors of the NYSC scheme will work to make sure the status quo isn’t tampered with, but for how long are we going to play the sitting duck and not do anything about our depleting economy?
The time to do something about anything is yesterday. I suggest we start now.