Nigeria presents one of the world’s strangest paradoxes: It is a nation rich in mineral resources with a population of over a 100 million, a market economy, and generous arable land.
We are considered as one of the hardest working people in the world. The ambitions of Nigerians as individuals are indeed boundless; our countrymen excel in their chosen fields abroad where the right environment has been provided, often times leaving in their trails records of achievements that are an inspiration to others. We see this situation in the United States where Nigerians have been adjudged the group with the highest academic achievements. We see it back home in the lives of regular citizens who surmount the most tortuous of obstacles to eke a living, to contribute to society, through talent and innovation built against great odds.
Yet most Nigerians live in extreme poverty. In fact, according to a recent report by the Brookings Institute, we have now replaced India as the nation with the highest number of poor people in the world. This new tag as the world’s ‘poverty capital’ becomes starker when one considers that India has a population of over 1 billion while Nigeria has under 200 million people. To replace India as the world’s poverty capital, it means that Nigeria has ‘worked’ doubly harder than India to create more poor people while India has done same to reduce the number of poor people in the period under review.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 18.9% of the Nigerian labour force is unemployed and an extra 20% is underemployed. That leaves about half of Nigerians with gainful jobs, either working under an employee or self-employed. Efforts to create jobs to keep the number of unemployed people down have not yielded expected results. There seems to be a disconnect between
Nigerians are enterprising enough to create their own jobs and contribute to the economy through wealth creation. Indeed, much of Nigeria’s economy is informal and run by ordinary Nigerians without support from the government. Since Nigeria’s informal sector survives solely by creating value from talent and from raw materials, we can infer that Nigerians are great creators of wealth.
At The Alternative party, we believe Wealth creation is first of all a culture, a practice that can be learned and passed down from one generation to the next; it can be honed through repeated practice, and improved upon. Wealth creation involves creating value which can be converted to money or which can support the creation of value.
Wealth is the opposite of poverty. According to the World Bank, poverty goes beyond inability to earn a decent income. In its definition; poverty includes “powerlessness, voicelessness, vulnerability and fear”. It also includes the deprivation of basic capabilities and lack of access to education, health, national resources, employment, land and credit, political participation, services and infrastructure. In a broader definition, poverty is seen as being deprived of the information needed to participate in wider society at local, national and global levels. In essence, wealth creation is a means of reversing poverty by creating value and opportunity. For wealth creation to happen, people must have the right skills to support it. And governments must create the enabling environment for such skills to be acquired and to thrive, and for businesses to flourish. Basic economic infrastructure such as functional road and rail transport, electricity, as well as adequate financing, will be required to support businesses to make them productive and competitive in today’s global economy.
Nigeria is rich in manpower and natural resources. She has a young and able bodied population demographic with data showing an even more favourable age balance in the coming years. Her problem has stemmed mostly from ineffective deployment of such endowments. We are particularly blessed with first rate human capital resources, capable of creating wealth competitively. Indeed, we have seen our young people excel in such things as music, technology, academia, sports, and just about anything that calls for individual commitment to excellence. There are enough Nigerians who have left their mark in every field across the globe, often times in the most unlikely of places, to confirm the greatness of the individual Nigerian. But taken as a group, we have fallen short of our potentials for too long. Our achievements as a people seem hampered when the concern calls for a significant role of government as the organizers and enablers of resources. We haven’t become industrialized enough, for example, not because our businessmen lack the drive, but due to inappropriate policy formulation and execution: the electricity supply is inadequate, road and rail infrastructures are dilapidated, draconian tax administration, and general poor governance and regulatory framework.
Yet, to reduce poverty, drive innovation and create wealth in a sustainable way, Nigeria needs to support the ambitions of her innovators, creatives, sportspeople, and business people by making and enforcing appropriate laws. Such laws could involve tweaking the budget to guarantee significantly improved spending on education and health, which constitute key ingredients of Human Capital Development. We intend to build Incubation hubs to support technology and skill acquisition for start-ups and support them to reach venture capital financing stage. Incubation hubs complete with basic requisite infrastructure will provide some shelter to infant enterprises from the acute infrastructure deficit.
Join our great party to achieve this dream