This post is an attempt to continue the discussion generated by my "Who Will Develop Nigeria?" article from September. There, I posited that Nigeria must do a couple strategic things - take advantage of Nigerian skill and experience by ensuring that Nigerians are an integral part of the plans and policies to develop Nigerian infrastructure. I also opined that the government must require that any foreign companies that get large development contracts be headed by Nigerians/Africans.
The responses to these and other suggestions were varied, and some of them illustrated a genuine concern about the possible consequences of my arguments. Femme and Dami correctly pointed out that it is more important that the job (infrastructural development) be done well the first time, regardless of what company or persons spearheaded the task. Ijebuman addressed the strategy I sought to highlight by stating, "we allow multinationals to operate in our country without enforcing any quota on the number of expatriates they can employ despite having a large pool of qualified Nigerians who can do the job."
I thank everyone for taking the time to share their thoughts but will use this post to address a thread of thought that was pervasive in the comments of most of the other responders. A majority of the responses focused on a significant problem facing development in Nigeria - the Nigerian Factor. The Nigerian Factor in this case is a confluence of varied factors such as corruption and a lack of accountability. My sister from Abonema, Nyemoni, expressed the issue succinctly by stating, "we (Nigerians) have had so many issues of accountablity [sic] from our own so I believe that should not be the key element towards awarding contracts." Bro. Tee went further and argued that many Nigerian businesses "... believe that once they "settle" the government officials who are expected to inspect and certify such jobs, then they can get away with any shoddy job."
I agree with these comments and, like Ayo Adene and Beauty, I understand that Nigerians have been let down by their fellow country men in the past thus heightening the concern that a repeat is possible. However, I like to think that those contracts involved corrupt government officials giving plum jobs to their corrupt buddies, with the understanding that the work WILL BE SHODDY. Unfortunately, I, like most of the commenters, must acknowledge that although Yardy presents himself as an anti-corruption champion, I believe that the Nigerian factor is so entrenched in Nigeria so that the concerns posited by readers that a Nigerian company would fail to 'deliver' are reasonable and quite likely. See "Political Boxing Match: Round One!"
I am not trying paint the U.S. as the bad guy, they have their own problems to deal with, Nigeria is sometimes not one of them. I am, however, simply trying to highlight the reality. In this day and age, as has been since independence, there are enough countries, institutions, individuals and interests desperate to court us - we must use that fact as a bargaining tool. This bargaining tool and its possibilities, is what I want all readers to take away from the post.
- Who Will Develop Nigeria?
- Who Will Fight For Nigeria? (AFRICOM PT 1)
- AFRICOM: The Dotted Line Has Been Signed
- A Bush In Africa
- A Liberian's Thoughts on AFRICOM
- Nigerian Presidential Elections Back In The Spotlight