In bygone days before it's perils were understood, Western physicians prescribed heroin as a cure for addiction to morphine or codeine. Today, we have negro acolytes of predatory economic systems developed in the West proselytising about how best we can get through this short life while the living under the fangs of foreign neo liberal/conservative vampires and their domestic acolytes. Satisfied with a status quo that has nigeria fulfilling the function of raw materials emporium and dumping ground for substandard goods, services, and ideas, these modern day askari see their primary role as being guard dogs that ensure no entry for any other ideas aside from the poisoned orthodoxies that have served nigeria ill all through its short existence. Therefore, a majority of the sterile arguments and discussions about ways forward for the economy always reserve positions of prominence for the subject of what to do with dollars (when we can get them) and what to do if we want dollars (when we cannot get them).

In truth, any analysis of nigeria's economic dysfunctions that is cantered on the way oil dollars have been misused misses the point. The tragedy of nigeria has been (and continues to be) not the wastage of oil dollars but, the wastage of potential that manifests in the way the energies of the country's huge labour force and markets have never been utilised in a focused and consistent manner for the long-term benefits of its peoples. Oil (like timber, limestone, palm, rubber, and other natural resources) is given economic value by human inputs. In other words, the crucial role that we play in the cause of development is not searching for new oil fields, growing more palm or rubber trees, or opening up more land for quarrying, it is growing our capacity to add value to our natural resources. And we do not just add value for the sake of foreign exchange, we add value to enhance our own ability to build better lives for ourselves in our own communities through sustainable usage of our own resources and labour.

In fact, though a major earner of foreign exchange (that is then mostly consumed by home-grown locusts) oil has always been a minor part of nigeria's real gdp. Therefore, a fixation upon the adventures of the 'almighty' forex prevents some commentators from seeing that the majority of money created in the real economy (i.e. the economy that shapes and is shaped by the day to day living of a majority of nigerians) is created through products and services that are either wholly sourced or, given additional value through the labour of nigerians. In short, nigeria does not need dollars to pay for labour or raw materials that are obtained in nigeria. What is needed is the strength of mind to begin from basics and build up our industrial and economic infrastructure from the ground up.

Fixation with oil dollars is a chain that binds. You cannot prescribe solutions that are based on how you will redeploy manacles whose locks you do not control. The sensible path to economic prosperity starts with the establishment of complete and undiluted economic autonomy. That not only means that the naira no longer plays second (or third) fiddle to foreign currencies in its own domain, it also means that the geographical mass of nigeria becomes the basis of all plans to grow the nigerian economy.

In other words, the health of the domestic market, from producer to consumer, must be first established before any thought is given to foreign markets because it is the domestic market that will keep the economy ticking along when foreign entanglements become non-productive. The fact that we have been utilising models that were designed for countries with small internal markets and little to zero natural resources is the conceptual root of our economic woes.

While it is right that we learn from others, after all, this is how human civilization has always developed - communities learning from and adapting innovations created by other communities - we do not have to go through the same process as others; we can learn from their mistakes, as such, we can avoid, amongst other things, practices that degrade the environment. For example, instead of looking at coal, oil, or gas as fuels for our generating plants, we can go straight into renewables. For manufacturing, instead of putting everything into growing an indigenous steel industry, resources can also be allocated into developing production of reinforced plastics.

However, to build (and to advance as you build) will be meaningless if you cannot protect what you build. All leaps in technology leaves gaps wherein vulnerabilities exist. The best strategy for late developers therefore is not to try and catch up but, to build with the intent of exploiting these vulnerability gaps. In other words, in all areas where the foundations of a specific technological industry are not yet laid or, not too deeply entrenched, we can start clean and not only can we (within a relatively short period) transform our society into one that is completely self-sufficient (tech wise), we can actually be in a position to hold our own against all potential adversaries. For example, thanks to the pervasive dependence on electronics, use of disruptive tools that are based on electromagnetism are a way to affect the balance of power between nations who have built up massive conventional air and sea forces and those who have not. Research into and production of such tools have the same difficulty quotient as do R and D for conventional tools of defence, however, the cost, in terms of raw materials, will be a lot less since what it will take to build an aircraft carrier with the full trimmings is many times what it will cost to equip a smaller ship that has the capability to disrupt the electronics that the carrier relies upon for everything from steering to missile control.

Further examples of things that can be looked into are:

  • Programs to plant more trees for shade and heat reduction as well as for aesthetic reasons (environment can affect states of mind).
  • Programs to extend usage of solar panels extensively in all building projects through provision of incentives.
  • Conversion from heat retaining cement to cooler building components like compressed earth blocks
  • Investments in cutting edge/progressive foreign tech companies that will lead to technology transfer.

Because most of the degrading and ultimately destructive systems that exist in the 'developed' world are not yet entrenched in our part of the world, it is still possible that we can take a different route to development. However, this is not an advantage that will wait forever until we have no other choice but to come to our senses. As we breathe in, the same entities that implemented ruinous agricultural policies in India through the corrupt promotion of genetically modified crops and seeds are seeking footholds in our communities. And as we breathe out, the same clueless and unfathomably greedy individuals that are currently promoting policies that are intended to impose a new form of serfdom on the populations of most G20 countries also have local functionaries whispering their poisons in the ears of our political leaders. Many say things are bad but, the truth is, the shape of hell that is modern-day slavery is not yet fully determined for us - mainly due, paradoxically, to our 'under-development'. But if we allow predators to define the paths we take to development, then we (or perhaps our descendants) will eventually realise what it truly means to be under-developed.

Finally, it is worth noting that today, the frontiers of science are to be found in the fields of biotech and Nano technology and, if the slavish and self-denigrating adherence to obsolete/ half-baked Semitic ideologies can be curbed, it will become possible to formally acknowledge correspondences between our traditional natural philosophy and many of the precepts that biophysics (as well as other branches of modern science that look into unseen worlds and their components) are based upon. As a consequence, it will become possible to integrate into our educational systems, the vast schools of knowledge that our traditional sciences represent.