Nigeria leaders and policy makers have often looked outside for solution to the nation’s ever rising poverty. They have not engaged themselves in out of the box thinking. How to position themselves and members of their families is what concerns them the most. They engage Western trained Economists to examine the Nigeria situation with theories based on Western culture and find it difficult to explain the situation in the country. The IMF/World Bank have concluded that with the said level of annual growth in the Nigerian economy, poverty should have reduced significantly. Many have said that with the amount of human and natural resources available to the country, Nigerians have no reason to be poor
Western theories are essentially based on Western culture of one man one wife. The nuclear family is the center of their societies. In Nigeria and many other African countries, the nuclear family is not the basis of social relationship; it is the extended family system. A man has to care for his siblings from both side of the family. So, when the theory of formal savings (in a bank) and investment was propounded by Western economists, it was assumed that the individual will earn enough to feed his immediate family and have something left to save in a formal sense.
If Nigeria is to go by this concept, it will never be developed. Bulk of the nation’s population are poor; they earn less than a living wage, so they can not set money aside in a bank for them to lend to entrepreneurs. This explains the low saving culture in the country. But the African society has in it inherent developmental strategy that Nigeria academics, policy makers and Western economists have not been able to tap into and utilise to develop the nation.
Nigerians, no matter their state, are people who have developed a sense of development strategy and traditional saving culture. They can save for whatever cause they believe in. In every rural setting, there are individuals, who champion the cause of society. They may be successful farmers who through hard work have inspired others who look unto them as success story. They become employers of labour and through established communal efforts assist one another to grow.
In traditional African setting, communual development strategies were employed where community members engaged themselves to work in family farms in rotation. The practice worked so very well in assisting members to grow their incomes. There was no cheating as the system instilled hard work and discipline in youths. This form of communual labour is what in the West is termed as cooperative society. In the Nigeria traditional setting, the cooperative movement practiced by Nigerians was very successful. Many even today still make daily and weekly contributions, which are given to one person at a time for assistance in taking care of his or her financial needs. Many workers in offices do this in order to save enough money to pay their children school fees, house rents, buy property or start a business. They may even go hungry to meet this obligation on regular basis.
This is a form of banking where interest rates are not charged but the individuals who engage in it benefit from the financial arrangement. In several markets, in Nigeria this local banking practice is in place and traders take advantage of it. In the villages, men and women who have pressing financial needs group themselves together to make weekly or monthly contributions to assist one another in rotation. The system has brought about several successful business men and women. It is from this obscurity that men like M K O Abiola of blessed memories, Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, Wale Tinubu, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, amongst others emerged from. Every society, nation has a system that works for them. Nigeria has abandoned its traditional value to pursue that of others to its hurt. We have applied Western monetary and fiscal policies wholesale long enough, but they have failed because they were not adapted to suit the Nigerian environment. We have only succeeded in breeding corrupt officials through the system over the years.
The question is why is this government that is talking about transformation agenda not looking inward to find lasting solution to the economics of poverty in the country? Why is it not thinking out of the box solution? Why employ the same old antics that failed to deliver the needed solution to the nation’s problem?
What will it take this government to come off its high horse and reach out to the populace, and say “let us roll up our sleeves and work together to make Nigeria great again.” When President Barack Obama came into the American political scene that was characterised with failing companies and dying banks, he simply told the Americans “Yes we can make America great again.” Obama did not reinvent the America political wheel; he simply tapped into the inward feelings of the average American. Nigerian leaders, instead of thinking out of the box for solution to Nigeria’s problem, are busy fighting one another over who becomes the next chairman of the Governors Forum, governor, or president. Sad enough, 36 men of integrity who are entrusted with the destiny and welfare of the rest of us went into a room to vote.
They all agreed to cast their votes based on agreed procedure. After the voting, because the result did not favour the “oga at the top” who was busy monitoring and tele-guiding some of the puppet governors, they denied the result. In what way will the emergence of one of the governors as chairman of the forum add to the welfare of Nigerians? If the federal government does not have a hidden agenda, why is it so concerned about the governors’ forum? A governor or president who is performing to the satisfaction of the electorate has nothing to fear, but because of non performance, most officials are edgy when 2015 is mentioned. It is time to look for men who are inward looking to bail Nigeria out of its economic woes.