By Ojorumi J. Okoka
By 2100, Nigeria is set to become the world’s 3rd biggest country, with estimates ranging from 790 million to 1 billion people living within its borders. This means that roughly 1 in every 4 Africans would be Nigerian, even more, 1 in every 11 people would be Nigerian, on a global stage. For any other country on earth, if they had these kinds of figures, they would have already been proclaimed a superpower, with corporations lining up to put factories and set up shop there.
Nigeria’s security situation is downright abysmal, the economy has experienced two recessions in the last 5 years;exploitation of financial structures for political and personal aggrandizement, military equipment and infrastructure in dire need of repair and reform. But this nation can still turn this dreadful circumstance around. But it will take more than just empty promises to bring about such change.
For example, the economic strife Nigeria faces is in large part due to Buhari’s (the current President of the country) economic nationalism. During the People’s Democratic Party’s 16 years of power from 1999-2015, the economy boomed, hitting growth rates of a peak of 15.3% in 2002 during this period, with an average of around 6% GDP growth, but when the All-Progressive’s Party’s Economic Nationalism came into play, the economy went into recession, twice. Now, one could say that the instability of oil prices (coupled with Nigeria’s dependence on it) stirred the recession, I would agree, but after the recession, Nigeria’s GDP growth rate did not recover, with the highest peak being around 2.65% growth.
Now, GDP growth is not everything, so let us check some other metrics. The poverty rates had also gone down from 70% in 1999 to 53.5 in 2004, that is a 16.5% reduction of poverty in 5 years. A reduction that came after the transition to democracy and Obasanjo (a PDP president, whose focus was on economic liberalization) came to power.
Economic Liberalization with low taxes and low tariffs is the way to go for all Nations. It lifted the Chinese out of decades of poverty, it established America as the sole superpower in the world, and it will authenticate Nigeria as a Powerhouse in Africa and the rest of the world once again.
An example of where economic liberalization would come in handy is in the mining sector. In 2007, the Nigerian Government passed one of the most consequential bills in Nigeria’s 4th republic, with the support of other Economic Nationalist, they passed the Mining and Minerals Act. The bill states that all minerals found in Nigeria belong to the state, which puts the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in the exclusive list that has hindered the state from developing mineral deposits in their jurisdiction. If we were to get rid of this law, it would open us up to 130 billion dollars (50 trillion naira) a yearWe would be able to coast over any oil-related recession within the coming decades and get rid ourselves of the exploitation of financial structures that do not account for remuneration from natural resources.
And when it comes to security within the Country (a policy Buhari had campaigned on fixing), Buhari has been below average at best, and abysmal at worst (in which we are currently in). Take for example the situation in the Delta region, a region where most of the oil Nigeria is found, Delta Militants rose up in arms after protests for Job opportunities, along with their environmental concerns. Under Jonathan—the previous president—Nigeria took a more compensative policy, a policy that, in exchange for laying down arms, the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) would provide jobs for said militants. But under the Buhari Administration, that policy came to an abrupt end, leading to a sharp uptick in Militant related crime, which forced the Government to reinstate the policy. Needless to say, the whole ordeal left the military scattered in their efforts to contain militants in the south (along with piracy in the West African coast, Boko Haram in the North, and Herdsmen in the North West), making them waste resources based on a failed attempt to repeal a policy that reduced the number of Militants within the country; not coherent in the slightest.
And that is not saying anything about Boko Haram, which in comparison to the treatment of Militants have gotten better treatment. Not only are the repentant fighters allowed to simply re-institute themselves back into normal society, the whole phrase “Don’t negotiate with terrorists” seems to have been lost in translation with the Buhari Administration, as just recently, they negotiated again with Boko Haram to release 344 schoolboys captured by Boko Haram (which made them rich enough to do the same thing again), and while this operation proved successful, other attempts haven’t worked nearly as well, like the Chibok Girls talks from 2015, or the ceasefire from 2017 that ended with Boko Haram coming back with better maneuvers and tactics. It’s clear that the main appeal to Buhari—his militarism—has been a mirage.
And this is not to mention the lack of Indigenous Weapons Manufacturing, Human Rights Abuses, and overall lack of foreign involvement that has taken place within his two terms as president.
What the Nigerian Government needs to do is craft coherent policy proposals not only within the military but for poverty reduction. Northern Nigeria (especially in the area in which Boko Haram operates) holds one of the Highest rates of Poverty within the country, economic liberalization within that region could boost the development of the populace, strangling the potential members of Boko Haram.
And finally, ambition.
Nigerians are known for being patriotic in the face of a Lack-Luster government, but even that has been waning. It is clear to all why though, but the reason is incredibly unpopular with the current establishment.
Patriotism in Nigeria was a product of many things, but the biggest cause is a shift in control. Each time Nigeria sees a boost in patriotism is when change occurs in the country, you saw it with our independence in 1960 or Murtala Muhammed’s rise to power and the subsequent shift to Democracy in the 70s, and Obasanjo’s election in 1999. However, it seems as if the average age of a Nigerian politician has risen as of late.
What Nigeria can do to keep faith in this Great African Experiment, an experiment that represents the effectiveness of diversity, unity, and brotherhood in the face of Colonialism, we must relinquish power unto the youth of Nigeria, the generation that still cares, that holds out hope for a better future, we must give to them the keys to create that future and improve the country once and for all.
 The source for this specific data has unfortunately been lost.
Ojorumi J. Okoka is a Nigerian American writer and aspiring statesman. Born in the State of Georgia to two African Parents, Ojorumi Okoka knows the value of hard work and dedication.