A French banker, business consultant and an executive adviser to the Bank of Beirut, Mr Antoine G. Bassila last week reacted to a post about Nigeria as a failed state. The post which went viral after it was made public by the Umuaka Times publisher drew the attention of Mr Antoine G. Bassila. Below is his reaction from the Frenchman who has a lot of friends in Nigeria as well as business interest.
Thanks for this. I’m not an expert on Africa or Nigeria but fundamentally I am against partition and secession (the failed attempt by Biafra to secede is a proof). Nigeria is already a federal state and each state is supposed to run its own internal/local affairs. For an oil-rich country like that, Nigerians in general should be much more “well off” and the federal or local states a lot more generous to the population. I don’t think South Africa is an example to admire; they too have enormous poverty problems.
I think CORRUPTION and impunity (from prosecution) must be seriously tackled, to see any social or economic improvement. Apart from very special cases like Gabon (small population = no demographic pressures, considerable oil revenues) every African country has its problems. Nigeria is no exception. Additionally, witchcraft and other dodgy ancestral customs need to be phased out and the only way to do that is EDUCATION, free primary education (at least) to everyone. This would certainly also reduce the level of desperation by young men who find nothing better than joining terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram. If youngsters could afford it, especially those educated ones, they would have fled, emigrated and the country emptied of its most educated people.
At a much smaller scale, Lebanon is plagued with such problems: impoverishment, no jobs, massive emigration, corrupt political class, nepotism and cronyism. Iraq is another example of an OPEC nation that needs to import fuel, mainly due to a lack of local refining capacity. Libya is another example but the reason is primarily because of the ongoing civil war there rather than mismanagement as in Iraq.
Nigeria like other oil producing countries needs to diversify its economy. In 20 years or so, fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, gas) will no longer be the main sources of power worldwide. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have already understood that, but they don’t have the same demographic pressures and high poverty levels that other oil producers (Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Venezuela…) suffer from. Look at other “failed states” in Africa: Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea (despite its oil wealth), South Sudan, Burundi or Mali.