Between 2015 and 2016, Nigerians dismissed a political party which had won every Presidential election since 1998 and at one time controlled 31 out of the 36 states. There may never be a party as strong as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is currently trying to pick itself up with the new slogan – “Change the change” – in reference to the slogan “Change” by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
For a nation which lost over $400bn since its independence, this promise of draining the corrupt swamps, fighting illicit capital flight, and massively cutting on unnecessary expenses was attractive. In that sense, the change occurred, and in 2015 the APC opposition took back the country, with the unique aim of defeating corruption.
New Challenges Ahead
Unfortunately for the new political party, the long-awaited economic shock occurred when it took power in 2015: a terrible fall in the oil price. For an oil-dependent nation, the drop has a profound impact. With no alternative to supporting its exports, the value of the Nigerian currency fell.
Further economic strains from suddenly going broke, trying to source revenue by increasing fuel prices by 66%, and a more than cautious exchange rate reaction led the nation into recession. It came with a weird mix of inflation as prices of food and household items increased.
A Bright Future?
Despite the current economic hardship, it is still believed that Nigeria’s future is very bright. But in order to secure the future, the government must create a sort of Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), reverse the brain drain and adopt hydroponic farming.
Export diversification and Made in Nigeria (MiG) goods had been given little consideration by previous governments. Since the recent recession, the country has woken up to this in numerous ways.
Manufacturing Advisory Service
The MAS would advise manufacturing companies in Nigeria by providing information on the production process in order to improve productivity and inventory turnover, reduce waste and promote future expansion into other countries. The MAS would help in assisting home-businesses to develop business links, supply chains, and adopt the forward-looking business strategy.
The MAS could serve as a key in advancing Nigeria’s SMEs and the development of a strong middle-class, which is the root of any great economy.
Bypassing the Recession
To avoid creating another office, MAS could be drafted into either the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) or the Bank of Industry (BOI), to be overseen/kept accountable by the Ministry of Industry or the Ministry of Finance.
The Nigerian government could also attach the responsibilities to one or more principal officers as a new responsibility, rather than create another position of responsibility. Furthermore, MAS offices could be limited to the Political and Business Capitals, to cut down on administrative costs.
How Will It Be Funded?
As anticipated, establishing such a service requires capital. However, raising capital would not be the responsibility of the MAS as the NEXIM already handles the provision of grants and long-term funding. The MAS, on the other hand, will be focused on linking the information gap in the Nigerian economy.
It could also collaborate with trade associations, research councils and University departments to help ensure that Nigeria’s home-grown companies are provided with the best information. No matter how much it costs, the long-term returns make the expense worthwhile.
What It Means
Economies are ranked on their ease of doing business, from 1–189. A high ease of doing business ranking means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operating a local firm. Currently, Nigeria ranks 169th. By reducing the existing information gap, the MAS could make the Nigerian economy more attractive to present and future entrepreneurs.
Establishing the MAS will help Nigeria realise the £1.6trn projection and become a top-20 economy by 2030. This is something Nigeria can achieve if it maintains its 7.1% annual GDP growth. Establishing the MAS will not only ensure that Nigeria reaches this goal but also goes beyond it.
Stopping the Brain Drain
Nigeria is experiencing a continuing brain drain. As of 2000, Nigeria was ranked 4th of the top 8 countries experiencing emigration of skilled professionals. That year, Nigeria exported about 148,780 professionals to OECD countries. As of 2011, the nation has about 20,000 doctors and 10,000 academics living in the US.
With 64% of foreign-born Nigerians aged 25 and older holding a bachelor degree in the US, it is the most educated migrant ethnic group in the country.
However, Nigeria spends millions importing foreign services. The brain drain has also led to a loss of potential future entrepreneurs, a shortage of important skilled workers, a loss of innovative ideas, an outflow of money on education ($2bn on foreign schools), and also a loss of critical health and education services.
Reversing the Drain?
Nigeria can create a favourable environment that ensures employment opportunities and reduces investment flight, it can fight nepotism in the civil service.
It can also develop the infrastructure for a good health care system, functional water supply, stable energy that makes life essentially worth living. Plus, it can establish an employment system solely based on merit.
Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Hydroponic farming will help farmers with unfavourable farming conditions.
By spreading these methods to poor subsistence farmers, Nigeria can reduce its reliance on foreign food aid.
It also uses less water than traditional (soil based) gardening, and it does not require pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals, as there is no chance of damage due to soil-borne diseases or pests. It also needs 20% less space in comparison to soil based gardens, as plants with small roots can be grown closer to each other.