WILL WE EVER GET THERE?

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That was the question I asked myself after a meeting with some Chinese businessmen, and a tour of some hi-tech companies in Chengdu today. Will we ever get to this point in Nigeria? Will the resources of the country be harnessed and deployed in a way that the life of almost every citizen is touched? Will we leverage on technology to drive almost all sectors of national life? Do we have what it takes as a people? It requires trillions of naira, which we don’t seem to have now. But we can get it, can’t we? Yes, if we curtail corruption, curb waste, and redirect our priorities. Happily, we now have a government that is showing the way.
A number of us attending the Seminar on National Governance in China were picked to meet with the executives of some top Chinese companies. Hosted by Dr Lu Peng, President of The Belt and Road Branch of China Association of Labour Economics, the event was coordinated by Professor Wao Xiaoming (MAMA), President of International Education College, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
If I say Chinese companies and corporations are awash with money, it’s no joke. They virtually swim in the stuff. The way they mention billions of dollars and yuan, which they are ready to invest in different parts of the world, make it seem as if money is going out of fashion. One chief executive told us that his company, which is into rail transport and aviation, has an idle $500 million, which it is seeking where to deploy. Jumping Jehoshaphat! Five hundred million dollars! And idle! Some others do have them! And all they want is a place where the funds could generate returns, and be a blessing to the receiving country or conglomerate. A win-win situation.
Those at the business parley included executives of CITIC Construction Company Ltd, Shanxi Sino Capital Industrial Company Limited, National Transportation Equipment &Engineering Company Ltd, China ENFI Engineering Corporation, Xuzhen Railway Company, Overseas Business Department of Chengdu Transportation Investment Group, and China Sky Railway Group Company Ltd.
These are companies worth several billion of dollars, in fact, some of them belong to the world’s top 500 companies, and best 100 enterprises in China. And they have investible funds, and are looking for fertile soil in interested countries of the world. As long as their investment will yield returns, and have positive impact on their partners. Can anyone then fault the Muhammadu Buhari administration for partnering with China? All we need to do is enter into agreements, pay the counterpart funding, and action starts. Most of the agreements signed by previous governments have had to be renegotiated, simply because Nigeria was not forthcoming with her own part of the deal. And that was at a time our country was awash with money. Some people say we should not talk about it again. Why shouldn’t we? So that we make the same mistake all over again?
Everything in China is technology driven. Agriculture, mining, transportation, manufacturing, services, indeed, everything. And that is why I ask myself: will we ever get there? When? China got to where it is today within 40 years. But not by flippancy or levity. It first got its politics right. Got planning right. Got national vision right. Got discipline right. Fought corruption and enthroned probity and accountability. Engendered national fervour and patriotism. The government would not be pulling in one direction, while those who simply don’t want the country to work would pull in another, so that they can exult that an administration has failed. Cutting the nose to spite the face, if you ask me. Swallowing poison, and expecting it to kill your enemy.
As we rode through Chengdu, we passed by an area where all the buildings seemed to touch the sky. In fact, if you had on a cap, and you looked too far into the sky to see the top of the structures, your cap would have fallen off before you knew it. And then, the news: Twenty years ago, the area was a sugarcane plantation. How did these people do it? How was China taken from zero to hero, all within four decades? Can we do it?
Very fundamental is to first curb corruption. Nigeria has earned trillions of dollars from oil over the decades. As President Buhari asked recently; where is the power? Where is it?
Where is infrastructure? Rail, road, housing? Where is education, health care, social services, technological development? Where is the money? Big question. China has answers in her own case, and Nigeria must also find the answers. Otherwise, we will only see the rest of the world making progress, and remain mere spectators.
Bongos Ikwue sang: “Will he ever get there? Will he ever make it? Will he ever hear the sound, of the cockcrow at dawn?”
For us as Nigerians, economic emancipation is cockcrow at dawn. A diversified economy is. Making the resources of the country work for the people is. Increasing the per capita income of the citizens is. Launching into the world of technology is. But first, fight corruption to a standstill. Generate a new national ethos. And we are on the right road now. Nirvana awaits.

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