IN the words of Charles R. Swindoll, we cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. A positive attitude therefore causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results. (Wade Boggs). We started this series two weeks ago and so far we have x-rayed some salient sub topics such as Nigerian; an artificial creation; Nigeria’s independence and dialogue, Nigeria as a funny country with misplaced priority; The spectacular failure of the Buhari government; How societal values disappeared; Nigeria has since borrowed her future; etc. today, we shall take a look at what the economy of Nigeria has been before the sudden and sporadic decline. Please come with me.
HAVE WE ALWAYS BEEN DOOMED? NO!
NOTABLE ACHIEVMENTS BY NIGERIANS
BRITISH Nobel laureate Dorothy Hodgkin once notes that the University of Lagos was one of the world centres of expertise in her specialist field of chemical crystallography. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, had the first world class computer centre in Africa. The University of Ife had a notable pool of expertise in nuclear physics. Our premier University of Ibadan had an international reputation as a leading centre of excellence in tropical medicine, development economics and historical sciences. The Saudi Royal family used to frequent UCH for medical treatment in the sixties. The engineering scientist Ayodele Awojobi, a graduate of ABU Zaria, was a rather troubled genius. He tragically dies of frustration because our environment could not contain, let alone utilize his talents. Ishaya Shuaibu Audu, pioneer Nigeria Vice-Chancellor of ABU Zaria, collected all the prizes at St. Mary’s University Medical School London. His successor in Zaria, Iya Abubakar, was a highly talented Cambridge mathematician who became a professor at 28 and was a notable consultant to NASA. Alexander Animalu was a gifted MIT physicist who did work of original importance in superconductivity. His book, intermediate Quantum Theory of Crystalline Solids, has been translated into several languages, including Russians.
Renowned mathematician Chike Obi solved Fermat’s 200-year old conjecture with pencil and paper while the Cambridge mathematician John Wiles achieved same with the help of a computer working over a decade. After the harsh environment of the 1980s IMF/WB structural adjustment programmes, the Babangida military dictatorship undertook massive budgetary cutbacks in higher education.
Our brightest and best fled abroad. Today, Nigerian doctors, scientists and engineers are making massive contributions in Europe and North America. Prof Philip Emeagwali won the 1989 Gordon Bell Award for his work in super-computing. Jelani Aliyu designed the first electric car for American automobile giant General Motors. Olufunmilayo Olopede, Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, won a MacArthur Genius Award for her work on cancer. Winston Soboyejo, who earned a Cambridge doctorate at 23, is a Princeton engineering professors laurelled for his contributions to materials research. He is Chairman of the scientific Advisory Board to the Secretary-General of the UN. Washington University biomedical engineering professor Samuel Achilefu received the St. Louis Award for his invention of cancer-seeing glasses that is a major advance in radiology.
Kunle Olukotun of Stanford did work of original importance on multi-processors. National Merit laureate Omowunmi Sadik of State University of Binghamton owns patents for biosensors technology. Young Nigerians are also recording stellar performances at home and abroad. A Nigerian family, the Imafidons, were voted “the smartest family in Britain” in 2015. Anne Marie Imafidon earned her Oxford Masters’ in Mathematics and Computer Science when she was only 19. Today, she sits on several corporate boards and was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to science. Recently, Benue State University mathematician Atovigba Michael Vershima is believed to have solved the two centuries old Riemann Conjecture that has defied giants such as Gauss, Minkowski and Polya.
Another young man, Hallowed Olaoluwa, was one of a dozen “future Einstein” awarded postdoctoral fellowship by Harvard University. He completed a remarkable doctorate in mathematical physics at the University of Lagos age 21. While at Harvard he aims to focus on solving problems relating to “quantum ergodicity and quantum chaos”, with applications to medical imaging and robotics. Another Unilag alumnus, Ayodele Dada, graduated with a perfect 5.0 GPA, an unprecedented feat in a Nigerian University. Victor Olalusi recently graduated with such stellar performance at the Russian Medical Research University, Moscow, and was feted the best graduate throughout the Russian Federation. Habiba Daggash, daughter of my friend Senator Sanusi Daggash recently graduated with a starred rust in Engineering at Oxford University.
Emmanuel Ohuabunwa earned a CPA of 3,98 out of a possible 4.0 as the best overall graduate of the Ivy-League Johns Hopkins University. Stewart Hendry, Johns Hopkins Professor of Neuroscience, described the young man as having “an intellect so rare that it touches on the unique…a personality that is once-in-a-life-time”. There is also young Yemi Adesokan, postdoctoral fellow of Harvard Medical School who patented procedures for tracking spread of viral epidemics in developing countries. Ufot Ekong recently solved a 50-year mathematical riddle at Tokai – University in Japan and was voted the most outstanding graduate of the institution. He currently works as an engineer for Nissan, having pocketed two patent in his discipline. This is only the tip of the iceberg. If our system were not so inclement to talent, we would be celebrating a bountiful harvest of geniuses in all the fields of human endeavour. This is why the correlates between our gene-pool and national development are so diametrically opposed. Unfortunately, the success stories are the exception rather than the rule. This is because, we are becoming a failed state.
NIGERIA AS A FAILED STATE
Has Nigeria really become a failed State? What is a failed state, anyway? A failed state is one whose political or economic fabric has become so weak that the government loses control. In such a state, basic responsibilities of government that make the state sovereign are absent, as they no longer function properly. Such a state is so fragile that it can collapse anytime, because it becomes incapable of exercising authority over its peoples and territory, nor protect its national boundaries. Such a state merely provides minimal public services, since it lacks organizational and administrative capacity to control its people, territory and resources. Suffering from crumbling infrastructures, poor utility, educational and health facilities, a failed state loses legitimacy both in the eyes of its citizens and the comity of Nations. State institutions collapse; control over internal security deteriorates. Indeed, such a state is divested of a monopoly of the legitimate use of violence; whilst it loses capacity to protect its citizens, fundamental rights, and defend civil, political and economic rights of its populace. It manifests in lack of observance of rule of law.
Most failed states are in Africa; a handful in the Middle East and Asia. An example of a failed state at some point in time was Somalia (now one of the fastest developing nations in Africa), when rival warlords ravaged the land. Another is Afghanistan, which harboured the deadly terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, under the Taliban. Thus, a failed state can be determined by all or some of the following indices: her weak economy, porous defence capability, lack of transparency and poverty-stricken workforce; high infant/maternal morbidity and mortality rate; high level of illiteracy; malnourishment, orphanage, child labour, congestion; where organized crime and black market control reign supreme; where a country is largely dependent on imported food; where it cannot respond to natural disasters; and where there is no clear order of business and commerce, with a weak currency dominating.
In the case of Nigeria, we punch miserably below our weight in the hierarchy of world economics and politics. None of our institutions come. near the top 500 in the World Universities League Table. An estimated 50% of our people live in extreme poverty, with Nigeria besting India Youth unemployment hovers around 45 percent (70% for the far North). The poverty is heartbreaking; our per capita GDP is less than $3,000 as compared to Singapore’s $55,252. We have the worst road carnage record in the world, with more than 20,000 lost to road accidents annually. We wasted over $18 billion on the power sector and our people still live in darkness. The state governments are virtually bankrupt. (To be continued).
“Driver: Lagos to Calabar is 20k.
Me: How much come be waybill nah?
Me: Oya waybill me to Calabar”
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“A restructuring of an organization and or society is always a difficult time and delicate”. (Toto Wolff).
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