By Ayo Akinfe
Today is June 7. On this very day in 1776, Richard Lee from Virginia moved the US Declaration of Independence in Congress. In Nigeria, June 12 is our Democracy Day, how about someone moves our Declaration of Economic Independence in the National Assembly today and it gets adopted into law on June 12.
Here are the kind of things I would like to see in this document:
(1) Nigeria will have an annual budget ratio of $1bn to every 1m citizens. In 2020 for instance, with a population of 200m, our national budget shall not be less than $200bn
(2) Every one of Nigeria’s 36 states shall generate at least twice the amount of its running costs. Any state that fails to do this over two successive quarters shall be dissolved and incorporated into one of its neighbours
(3) It will from henceforth be illegal to export primary products or raw materials from Nigeria. Value of some sort must be added to any agricultural product or mineral resource before it is sold outside Nigeria
(4) Any multinational that makes in excess of $1m from Nigeria annually will be compelled by law to open a local facility in the country
(5) International suppliers of industrial goods to the government must train all local staff up to the same standards as workers in their home countries
(6) At no point in time must the local workforce of any multinational operating within the country be less than 90% of the total staff strength
(7) Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) must at every time be at least 1000 times the size of the population. For instance, with the current population of 200m, the country’s GDP must be $2trn at the very minimum
(8) Nigeria will be twinned with several similar developing nations like Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines and Turkey for infrastructural purposes. At no point in time will infrastructure like kilometres of rail track, number of hospital beds, ratio of university graduates, kilometres of tarred road, number of airports, amount of electricity supplied, number of social houses built, etc be allowed to drop below 10% of the average of these other nations
(9) At no point in time will unemployment be allowed to grow beyond 5% of the adult working population. Whenever this happens, special government schemes will be launched to provide emergency jobs
(10) At least 95% of all healthcare requirements must be provided locally. To facilitate this, internationally renown hospitals will be brought to Nigeria to open units and train local medical staff
Like the US Declaration of Independence, this will be signed by 53 individuals, arguably at the National Theatre, Iganmu, simply because it is Nigeria’s most iconic building. Signing it there will be making a statement that we are ready to stand toe-to-toe with the rest of the world that has the Statue of Liberty, The Sydney Opera House, Big Ben, Eiffel Tower, the Kremlin, Brandenburg Gate, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, etc.
Do you know that it was on this same day in 1893 that Mahatma Gandhi carried out his first act of civil disobedience? Also, on this day in 1929, Margaret Bondfield became the first British female cabinet minister. We have to start now or we will just keep postponing our development perpetually!