By Bayo Fasunwon
The civilization that has captured the world has affected many cultures and traditions thereby eroding many local generated ideas, templates, visions, and attainments. So occasionally, one needs to take the local means of critical thinking to address many issues that plague Nigeria, and the continent of Africa. A stroll into the warm embrace of nature, the harmony of the diverse birds, an occasional sighting of a snake gliding past, a startled doe, and an unperturbed squirrel in search of its daily ration brings a sense of peace and harmony that shuts the eyes from viewing obscenities, sniffing polluted air and or entanglements with life’s troubles.
Therefore, it is in this atmosphere of serenity that D.O. Fagunwa produced his epic novels that had remain unrivaled in the libraries of many Yoruba readers. To this environment, therefore yours truly became a recluse at the news that foreign investors rejected 28 States in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as destinations for their investment.
Generally, investments are short cuts to growth and development of any political system. They remain the attraction instrument of commerce, estates, and industries. Therefore, wherever investment is lacking, unemployment, stagnancy, filth, low education, subsistence living, ascetic lifestyles, religious fanaticism, and general backwardness are dominant. Investment attracts skilled labour, technology, machineries, markets, factories, societal transformation, education, higher per capita income, and interaction with the outside world. Therefore, when the news came that 28 States were rejected as hosts to foreign Direct Investments, the question therefore arises as to how the nation can develop holistically. If it is impossible to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result, then it is impossible for States in Nigeria to keep depending on handouts from the Centre and expect growth and development. Development actually occurs when interactions occur between buyers and sellers; and commercialization takes place between the possessors of wealth and the possessors of goods. Is it that 28 States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have no goods to display or sell?
The States that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria are each endowed with natural resources that are capable of turning the economic fortunes of the country around.
More than 50% of the nation’s land space is not only good for agriculture and the production of many exportable crops; there also still exists much outcropped lands that could be later utilized for industrial agriculture for wildlife preservation for tourist attraction. The landscape, the waters and historical monuments are also such that could house a wealth creating tourism enterprises. The beauty of it all is that these natural monuments, environment, stories, and structures can be found in many parts of the country. Now foreign investors are in different categories. There are actual expatriates who are willing to leave their country, sojourning Nigeria and establish their businesses, with equipment and all here. Another category is those who, being Nigerians are willing to return home with their capital and set up businesses in Nigeria. In addition, there are those who just wish to send capital to Nigeria and set up branches of their foreign firms here, and finally, there are those who just want to invest in the export sector of the economy. Therefore, only few States could attract any or all of these. In other words, there is no geo-political zone or States that are not well endowed to attract Foreign Direct Investments. So why is the statistics of rejection so alarming?
The blame has been largely placed on insecurity. Many had insisted, giving the spate of insurgence, kidnaps, banditry in some parts of the country, many foreign investors had taken to their heels. However, the truth be told, the spate of insecurity had reduced in recent times. Besides, peaceful States in the Federation are not limited to just seven, so why the boycott of twenty eight States. If insecurity is a valid reason for the boycott, then States have to tow the line of Katsina and South West States in developing and equipping their neighbourhood security forces to ensure that people, property, and places are much more secured. Beyond this, and within the ambits of constitutional changes, the Federal Government must also give in to the calls for State Police.
However, beyond heaping the blame on insecurity, how many States have what it takes to drive industrialization, and reduce cost of production. The most important commodity to achieve this is power. Most States of the Federation are living in utter darkness due to the absence of electricity. While it is good to hope that the situation improves, but natural circumstances are proving otherwise. Due to global warming, the rivers are drying up; sub regional crises are threatening Nigerians main source of electricity supply, and DISCOS are only reaping profits for unprovided services.
How do you expect foreign companies who depend on electricity to invest in any State of the Federation? Instead, what we would observe is an exodus of existing foreign countries in Nigeria to neighbouring countries that could guarantee uninterrupted power supply for their productions. Therefore, goods produced in neighbouring countries would need foreign currencies before being imported into our power deficient nation. Proactive, productive and investment attracting States should at this time seek for alternate power source to drive the existing and expected industries. It is therefore compulsory that solar energy, wind energy, gas, and uranium should be exploited to provide the necessary electrical power that would make them attractive to foreign investors and their companies.
In order to make this nation and the federating States attractive to all categories of foreign investors, and local entrepreneurs, it is high time the Federal Government of Nigeria declared a State of Emergency in the power sector. This imperative becomes non-negotiable given that every aspect of the nation depends on it for survival. In the absence of power, what can surveillance cameras do? How do traffic lights work? If criminality is on the increase in the dark, every household need electricity to light up their areas and inhibit the activities of the night crawlers. So also, is power needed on our streets, motorways, motor parks, and other places for security purposes? Researchers are expected to help increase the marketability of their environment. Their findings are expected on the international environment where various investors can access, interact, and seek for investment collaborations. However, apart from the various impediments placed before researchers and researches, do we realize that they need electric power to carry out their tasks? Do you want investors in our States? Let there be light.