The age old myth that the black race have the least IQ was shattered when a report released by several American think tank revealed that Nigerian immigrants are the most educated immigrant group in the United States, surpassing Caucasians and Asians by a considerable margin.
Nigerians are generally regarded as some of the smartest people one can find anywhere in the world. So what then is the problem? How can the country teeming with smart and industrious people with so much resources be synonymous with poverty on a staggering scale?
For answers we have to look at what Nigeria as an entity represents.
Nigeria is a demographic superpower by virtue if its size. With 200 million people and one of the most industrious and entrepreneurial people. By 2040 only China and India will have more people than Nigeria.
Nigeria is Africa’s first trillion dollar economy with a GDP of $1.06 trillion measured in purchasing power parity. Unbeknownst to many, oil actually accounts for less than %20 of Nigeria’s overall GDP.
With a proven oil reserve of 40 billion barrels valued at $4 trillion (in 2016 dollars), Nigeria is by far the wealthiest black nation in the history of the world. To put things into perspective, the GDP of Lagos, the smallest state in Nigeria by land area, stands at $136 billion. This makes Lagos Africa’s 5th biggest economy, with a GDP outstriping the combined GDP of East Africa’s three biggest economy, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
Generally synonymous with oil production, Nigeria is actually a gas producing country that stumbled upon oil. According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Nigeria has around 202 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves plus about 600 TCF unproven gas reserves. Thus Nigeria not only has the world’s 10th largest proven oil reserve, it also possesses the largest natural gas reserves on the continent. By global standards Nigeria is an energy superpower.
No where is Nigeria’s power more pronounced than its soft power. Nigeria is among a few countries in the world that profitably exports its culture. Its movie industry Nollywood is the 3rd biggest in the world. Its music industry is the most prolific and has grown to be the most dynamic and fastest growing music industry in the world outside the United States.
These attributes are the hallmarks of a superpower. No other country in AFRICA can boast of these attributes. Nigeria can best be described as the United States of Africa and represents the continent’s best hope of a global power. If Nigeria gets its right Africa will benefit immensely.
So what is the problem?
INTERNAL DIMENSION (WEAPONIZATION OF ILLITERACY)
People often wonder why Nigeria with over 200 million people considered among the most intelligent and industrious and its huge potential and wealth still struggles economically. The answer is the uncomfortable truth. A truth often swept under the carpet because of its inflamatry nature, and that is education.
The balance of power in Nigeria cannot support development on the long term. The economic power of Nigeria lies in the south and the political power of Nigeria is in the north.
So while on paper Nigeria has a 200 million strong industrous populace, a key driver for economic growth, the reality on ground is a paradox of epic proportions.
The truth is that 86 million Nigerians drive the Nigerian economy. They generate a GDP of $1 trillion annually. The manufacturing and commercial base of Nigeria is located in the South. The good attributes of Nigeria that Africans marvel at and envy, such as commerce, music and film industry, sports are all driven and sustained on the back of about 86 million Nigerians.
In the political sphere the Northerners hold sway. The political structure of the north has ruled the country for over 44 years, thats %80 of the time since independence, yet the region remains one the least developed in the world.
Northern politicians have had four decades to bring development to the region and revive its once thriving industries. In the 60s Kano’s economic output was twice that of Lagos. The famous groundnut pyramid of Sokoto and the great textile industry of Kano comes to mind. Northern Nigeria was so much more industrious thatin some quarters there were calls for the north to secede from the Nigerian Federation. It was only when oil was struck in Olobiri, present day Bayelsa that talks of secession stopped.
On the aesthetic side history has shown that an educated northerner generally make for better leaders. The are culturally less prone to corruption than the south because of their strict religious and moral code. Some of Nigeria’s finest leaders like Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Alhaju Shehu Shagari, the late Musa Yar’adua and Aliko Dangote bear testament to this fact. The first coup plot that paved road for the culture of coup in the military was carried out by Igbo officers
Military intervention in Nigerian politics precipitated Nigeria’s decline, a decline that persists till this day.
The core tennet of a democratic society is election by merit and not by force. Over the decades northern politicians have delibrately stifled the growth of education in the region. The premise is that they could not hope to compete for the ballot with the south based on merit. They saw modern education as a threat to not only their hold on power, but also their islamic culture. To maintain their hold on power. As the economic clout of Southern Nigeria waxed strong and development blossomed the north fell further behind. Unable to compete successive northern politicians have for decades chosen to weaponize mass illiteracy.
In under one generation northern politicians have managed to achieve mass illiteracy on an apocalyptic scale in arguable the most educated country in Africa, the same country that had Africa’s first noble laureate.
Illitetacy and dependency made 90 million Nigerian pemeable to manipulation and fear mongering. They have been brainwashed to view the South as the enemy. As a consequence northern youths vote only along ethnic and religious lines. 90 million northern Nigerians will NEVER vote for a southerner. It doesn’t matter if that person is competent or not, they dont care.
A foreign observer will have a hard time figuring out how a country with such a cultute that places premuim on education continue to churn out leaders that struggle with articulation. Hearing speeches from the Presidents of Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and virtually every country on the continent Nigerians cower their head in embarassmemt when their President takes the poduim.
The end result of the deliberate effort to stifle education in northern Nigeria has been devastating and has become a huge burden for the country with 80 million southern Nigerians bearing the economic burden and trying hard to move Nigeria forward in development, and 90 million northerners fighting twice as hard to take Nigeria back to the stone age, their chief weapon being violence and communal strife. As a consequence Nigeria finds itself stuck in a quagmire and finds itself in a one leg forward two step backward road to national development.
If 80 million Nigerians in the South can generate a GDP of $1.06 trillion can you imagine how far ahead and richer Nigeria will if northern Nigeria was half as developed and productive ? A %30 productivity from the north will shoot Nigeria’s GDP above the $2 trillion mark. More productivity mean more income generation, leading to less reliance on oil.
The premise that Nigeria is an oil rich nation only exacerbates the problem. Producing more oil than any other African country does not make Nigeria an oil rich country. A daily oil production of 2 million barrels looks impressive on paper, until you factor in the population. Angola produces 1.8 million barrels a day but has a populaion of 9 million people to take care of. Nigeria produces roughly 200,000 more barrels than Angola but with a population of 200 million its like a drop in the ocean.
Nigeria has no choice than to diversify it’s economy. This can only be achieved in a peaceful society with competent and qualified Nigerians at the helm of affairs.
Its one thing having half of the nations population bearing the economic burden of the nation and the other half of the nation doing its best to make sure that the peaceful and political enviroment crucial to national development is never allowed to happen and elect leaders along ethno-religious lines than merit.
To put things into perspective,in 2016 President Buhari handed over the affairs of the country to his Vice president Yemi Osibanjo and took a 3 months medical leave for treatment in London due to his deteriorating health condition.
The months Vice President Yemi Osibanjo handled Nigeria while Buhari was away was the best months this government ever produced.
Now regardless of ethnicity we all know Vice President Yemi Osibanjo has the pedigree to steer this country on a path to development, but will someone like Yemi Osibanjo or Wole Swore ever be elected and given a chance to govern without northern political support? Impossible. It doesnt matter if they have the pedigree or not. They dont care.
Regardless of the infrastructural and economic progress achieved in the south Nigeria is only as developed as the north.
The key to the ascension and respect of Africa and the black race lies in the land with the greatest concentration of black people anywhere in the world. NIGERIA.
The key to Nigeria’s rise and development lies in the education and productivity of the other half of the country.
Nigeria is a nation like no other. By virtue of its size and staggering resources Nigeria can never be an average nation. There can be no middle ground. Nigeria will either be a powerful and developed African country with the most prosperous black middle class in human history, the pride of Africa, or a quasi failed state with a mixture of good and bad, a laughing stock and respected, admired and hated.
Nigeria today is a nation on its knees. In the midst of Boko Haram, ethnic and political crises, corruption and income inequality Nigeria has managed to achieve economic primacy and has become the continent’s best entertainers. If a sick Nigeria on its knees can eclipse South Africa in power, imagine the level of development Nigeria can attain if peace is allowed to reign and the ills of the nation is fixed.