The country must mobilise all citizens for learning, writes Francis E. Ogbimi

Early in the 1980s I had reasons to ask myself whether the Blackman is the same modern man like the Caucasian and Asian. I commenced a curiosity-driven research in 1986 to establish the scientific basis of the present global distribution of wealth and power and how nations develop. The research has been blessed abundantly. I have summarized the highlights of the results in a seven-book series. The titles are: One, Solution to Mass Unemployment in Nigeria. Two, Understanding Why Capital Investments Cannot Promote Sustainable Economic Growth and Industrialization. Three, Understanding Why Learning Is the Primary Source of Growth, Industrialization and Development. Four, Understanding Why Education and Training Are Indispensable to Rapid Industrialisation and Development. Five, Causes and Remedies for Poverty in Africa. Six, Understanding Why Privatisation Is Promoting Unemployment and Poverty and Delaying Industrialisation in Africa. Seven, Understanding the Theory and Practice of Federalism and Democracy.

I believe that the results of my research constitute a special God’s gift-package to mankind.

Whereas economists and their friends for lack of the sense of history and lack of understanding of the science of development of societies, claim that capital investment is the primary source of sustainable economic growth and industrialisation (SEGI), our research revealed that learning (education, training, employment and research) is the primary source of SEGI. The history of the economic, social and political statuses of mankind is that of his learning history. All human beings are born as crying-babies. The baby soon begins to babble (to learn how to talk) and later talks. The baby who could not babble grows up to be a dumb adult. Just as the baby acquires the capabilities to talk through learning, so s/he acquires every other capability through learning. If a society possesses the capabilities to manufacture many scientific products, the people must have acquired the relevant knowledge, skills and capabilities.

The scientific knowledge possessed by the citizens of a nation and the extent to which the citizens apply science in solving problems are the most important factors that determine the economic and political statuses of a nation in the world today. The development of scientific skills and industrialization in the West reached a peak with the dawn of the scientific age there. The world was transformed more thoroughly in the 20th century alone than in the 70,000 years since mankind first learned to use tools and light fires. Scientists and technologists were responsible. There are more of them alive today than existed in those previous 70,000 years combined. What is more, the rate of progress is accelerating: the quantity of knowledge now available may have tripled at the end of the 20th century.

The rate of transformation of a society is determined by the learning rate. European and Asian nations neglected education and training, for thousands of years. They acquired science through learning-on-the-job. Britain did not have public educational systems when it achieved the first modern industrial revolution. Hence, the transformation from the pre-industrialized to the industrialized status was very slow and took them 2000-3000 years.

We developed a theory of employment which demonstrated that Employment (In Quantity and Quality) is the blood of the economy. We may therefore liken a well-managed economy to a well-inflated football; they both bounce. Whereas the well-managed economy is filled with many millions of experts – knowledgeable, skilled and competent people, the well-inflated football is filled with high-pressure gas. Again, how soon an economy is filled with the necessary experts is a matter of the rate of learning.

All industrialised nations are relatively rich; but all nations with agricultural/handcraft economies are poor, large endowment of natural resources notwithstanding. History shows that all the industrialised nations had agricultural-handcraft economies for many centuries before they were transformed into industrialised nations. Our research revealed that industrialization is achieved when a nation has learnt for a period and accumulated a critical quantity of experts, knowledge, skills and competences (KSCs). This suggests that a nation should not wait for job openings. Rather, a nation should mobilize all its citizens for learning, accumulate the necessary KSCs and achieve industrialization, speedily.

Certain observations are relevant to promoting accelerated industrialization as solution to mass unemployment and poverty.

First is the lesson of the spider’s web. Many of us know what the spider’s web is. It teaches a great lesson about the development process of a society. The single silk-thread which the spider spins apparently does not do much for the spider. It fails readily as a structural material when subjected to stress. But when the spider through instinct combines many of its silk-threads to make the web, it develops an economy that catches many small creatures on which the spider feeds. The spider’s silk thread and web relationship tells us that the development process is a group effort.

Second, in my experience as a young person in the village, I observed that farmers used to apply the principle that productivity increases with the number of the people working together. Five or higher number of farmers go to each person’s farm to work together in turn. They realized that five of them working together certainly do much more than one man would do going to his farm, alone, for five days or times. The Isoko-speaking people in Delta State of Nigeria call the practice, ufo. Some Yoruba-speaking Nigerians call it oya. Many other Nigerians know of it. It is a type of farming cooperative. Third, Adam Smith regarded as the father of economics, Smith (1776), observed that when one man made the straight pin with one head flat and the other pointed, he made 20 pins a day. He conducted an experiment which demonstrated that the higher the people who work together, the higher is the productivity (output/input). He observed that there were 18 operations in making the straight pin. He chose ten men to produce straight pins. They produced 48,000 pins in a day. Productivity went up 240 (48000/20) times.

Fourth, after many trials, the United States of America in 1854 through the threat of her naval fleet forced Japan to open her ports to American ships and trade. That led to the subtle change of government known as the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The Meiji government decided to learn from the West. Japan mobilized all the citizens for learning in the period 1886-1905, 20 years and achieved industrialization. Fifth, China after wallowing in poverty under kings for about 3000 years was lucky to have Mao Zedung as its leader in 1949. He mobilized the entire nation (over one billion) for learning (education, training, employment and research) and industrialization. The Chinese economy began to grow 17 per cent. Unemployment, poverty, high crime wave, etc., disappeared immediately from China. That was how China, after being called a sleeping giant for about 3000 years, accelerated its transformation to become a world power.

Nigeria should not be talking of 774, 000 petty jobs in agriculture after covid-19. We should all tell President Muhammadu Buhari we have found solutions to mass unemployment, poverty and insecurity in Nigeria. Nigeria will become industrialised in a few decades, if we mobilize all the citizens for learning like Japan and China did.