F. E. Ogbimi writes that the country must mobilise all citizens for learning and industrialisation
What do you think Nigeria must do at the end of the covid-19 pandemic? National development may be likened to a journey. One travelling ought to have a destination and a route to travel through to it. But Nigeria as a nation did not have a destination, a route and a direction before the pandemic. Nigeria has been acting like a ship without a rudder, doing disjointed things, stagnating and confronted by the problems of inappropriate planning, increasing unemployment, poverty, indebtedness, insecurity, corruption, poor infrastructure, hopelessness, other undesirables, since political independence in 1960, the great increase in petro-dollars revenue, notwithstanding. That is why the efforts to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic through lockdown, probably the most effective approach, was practically impossible. Over 90 per cent of Nigerians must go out daily to struggle for what to eat and drink. The situation points to the fact that what Nigeria must do after the pandemic is not a return to the faulty thinking and activities of the 60 years since independence. It must be starting anew; initiating the rapid development of the nation, Nigeria.
History shows that all the rich nations in the world today were poor and had agricultural/handicraft economies for a long time before achieving industrialisation and becoming rich. The lesson from history therefore, is that as long as a nation is not industrialised, it remains a poor society assailed by myriad of problems, large quantity of natural wealth endowment notwithstanding. So, promoting rapid industrialisation is a must, for Nigeria to eliminate mass unemployment, poverty and high crime wave.
What does promoting rapid industrialisation involve? Industrialised nations are nations of experts. They are nations with many millions of knowledgeable, skilled and competent people. Rapid industrialisation involves intensive learning (education, training, employment and research) and acquiring knowledge, skills and competences, not mere education. Education, alone, co-exists with mass unemployment and poverty for a long time. Achieving industrialisation is the scientific transformation of an economy from its agricultural/handicrafts status into a highly productive one. A society must acquire scientific knowledge and develop technological capabilities in breadth and depth before it achieves industrialization. Science is the knowledge of nature. Technology is the application of the knowledge of nature in solving the problems that confront man and society. Science constitutes the building blocks of technology. Science is to technology what vocabulary and syntax are to a language. The learning-man appreciates in intrinsic value; he is an Appreciating Asset(AA). The learning society is the progressive one. The learning people increase in intrinsic values; they are Appreciating Assets (AAs). The learning society is the progressive one. It is increasingly able to solve its problems including production. As the people of a society learn and acquire knowledge, skills and capabilities (KSCs) in breadth and depth, a point is reached on the technological ladder where all the KSCs together form an invisible KSCs-network – a problem-attacking front. The society thence achieves a science and technology (S &T)-puberty – industrialisation. Thus industrialisation is a group activity; unity is strength, they say.
The achievement of industrialisation by a society may be likened to how the spider spins its silk-threads and builds its web. The single silk-thread which the spider spins is a relatively weak structural material which fails readily under any stress regime. But the web which the spider makes from many of its silk-threads is a potent tool which catches many small creatures on which the spider feeds. The web is the spider’s economy. Similarly, the single person, no matter how knowledgeable, skilled and competent cannot solve the problems of a society. But the combination of many millions of knowledgeable, skilled and competent people lead to the industrialisation of a society and confers a huge power that transforms all aspect of life in a society. In another sense, the development of technology may be likened to speaking a language. Speaking a particular language demands acquiring a minimum vocabulary and syntax of that language. It is about how much you know about the language. How soon a person speaks a language depends on the intensity of learning the language. Nigerians youths who go to France for postgraduate studies speak the French language in a few months because of the high intensity with which they learn the language there. In another sense developing technology may be likened to the development of a fruit; it takes a long time for the fruit to develop and mature; the mature fruit takes a much shorter time to ripen.
Nigeria has a mono-sectorial economy, how does Nigeria achieve diversification? Technological diversification follows industrialisation. Diversification is a technological status that may be likened to puberty in the life of human beings. It is a fruit or aftermath of industrialisation. It is not like the diversification of a man’s portfolio in the stock market as Nigerians have been assuming for about 60 years. Technological diversification, the fruit of industrialization, is the state of S & T development at which many sectors of an economy become distinct and perform productively, efficiently and effectively. In the context of S &T growth and industrialisation, the diversification process may be likened to the maturity of a flower. The flower plant has a root and shoot portions. The root portion is always established first before the shoot system. The beautiful bright red five-petal borne by the hibiscus flowering plant is enclosed in a single green sheath till the flower matures. The technological system of a nation has two types of frameworks. They are the invisible technological framework (INTF) and the physical technological framework (PHTF). The INTF is constituted by all the knowledge, skills and capabilities in the society. The PHTF is made up of all the structures in the society. The INTF is the essential one. The PHTF is a product of the INTF. A wise nation focuses on the development of the INTF. A nation can only achieve technological diversification after industrialisation just like no puberty no procreation. What this means is that there cannot be improvement in agricultural productivity beyond the petty-artisan productivity level till Nigeria acquires scientific knowledge and achieves industrialisation. An artisan economy cannot achieve food security. Similarly, there cannot be sustainable improvement in the quality of service in the so-called health sector through mere importation of infrastructure till Nigeria acquires scientific knowledge and achieves industrialisation. A nation remains a one- sector economy till industrialisation. Nigeria cannot erect adequate and reliable infrastructure by mere capital investment. Nigeria is a one-sector economy (agriculture/handicraft) with over 75 percent of the population involved in agriculture. The quality of structures in a society would always depend on the state of S & T development. The quality of Nigeria’s infrastructure especially roads and bridges, has always been shameful to live with because the level of S & T and industrialisation is very low. All structures are Depreciating Assets (DAs). An artisan-handcrafts nation cannot have the resources to restore the depreciated values of its structures. Hence an artisan nation erecting advance infrastructure may be likened to a man walking head-down or a person attempting to fill a profusely leaking water-tank with water.
How is progress in industrialisation measured? In our modeling of the learning and growth process, our foundation was the observation that the learning-person appreciates in intrinsic value so we can describe the learning process with a growth equation. Following the scaling of the foundation equation, we developed an equation which suggests that all citizens should be involved in the learning process to quicken the industrialisation process. Our research results also suggest that for a nation concerned with industrialisation, it is not GDP that should be measured as the indicator of progress. Rather, the nation should measure capability-building growth (CBG).
Prof Ogbimi is Coordinator, Society for Linking Education and Problems