Sunday, January 23, 2011

Africa's HERBAL Therapies

Some days ago, a Nigerian scientist cried out over the inability of his group to secure government support for the commercialization of a drug that cures sickle cell anaemia! Over the last two decades, we have had numerous such cases, including possible cure for HIV/AIDS and total eradication of malaria through herb-based extermination of mosquitoes. Of course, this is in sync with our public policy which proclaims one thing and practises another - usually the direct opposite!

What baffles and should rankle us is the kind of people who populate our governments at all levels who allow such contempt to persist. You wonder whose interest they are protecting by blatantly denying Nigerians so many Nigerian solutions to critical problems, and stopping brilliant Nigerian inventors, scientists, creators and investors from contributing our quota to humanity. Yet you hear of our failed annual multi-trillion budgets, of failed projects, of humonguous overhead costs, of worthless foreign trips, of regular overseas treatments for the ruling elite, and our world-famous multi-billions in loot! Sad.

Do not think this phenomenon is peculiar to my country. It is a “Third World Disease” much exacerbated and exhibited by African leaders. Here in Nigeria, we lament because it is unwarranted and now very worrisome. As the, em, Giant of Africa, we expect that between Presidents Yar’Adua and Jonathan - two postgraduate scientists! - this rot ought be stopped. It hasn’t. Yet they had/have several professors in their cabinets! Sad.

Africa has huge, proven and sustainable herbal resources and natural therapies for the good of the world. Many of these have been certified by WHO and other credible bodies/agencies over the years. We should bring them all to our common humanity and make them economic assets as the Chinese and Indians have so patently, proudly, professionally and patriotically done - despite previous derision and western disregard! Yes.

Let’s call on Nigeria’s President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan to ACT now! He should also, as Chairman, lead ECOWAS leaders to do same. And, then, jointly take the crusade to the African Union.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Give WINGS to our BEST, please!

Never before did we need the kind of citizen-action that today’s world demands, and that is absolutely crucial to The NIGERIAN Project - creating and keeping the country of our dream. Before we can have a nation we must have nationals and vice versa. To ask for patriotism the country must provide the pillars - a platform worth running on, a flag worth flying, a land worth dying for. This is what the great nations we so admire are!

For anyone to succeed in helping Nigeria through private enterprise or scholarship is Herculean. You will hit your head against so many rocks and surmount forbidding government-erected obstacles! Numerous quality reports and recommendations have been presented and accepted over the years but the situation keeps getting worse. It is difficult for anyone (except our civil servants and their masters) to understand this.

If you enjoy and celebrate the contributions of Aliko Dangote(Dangote Group), Mike Adenuga(Globacom), Wale Tinubu(Oando), Femi Otedola(Zenon), Ms Opeke(Main One) as well as our Artistes in Music, Comedy, Arts, Fashion and Nollywood (Entertainment & Culture) to Nigeria’s development go find out what they have and still go through! Go ask Jimoh Ibrahim, the mercurial owner of Global Fleet, NICON Group and Air Nigeria, Stan Ekeh (Zinox) and Florence Seriki (Omatek). Just a few examples.

If you lament the failed businesses, both public and private, that have ruined so many lives and livelihoods, do some quick investigations: you will be depressed and disgusted. Take Ajaokuta Steel, Railways, Media (led by Daily Times), Shipping, Defence Industries, Textile Mills, Paper Mills, Airlines (led by Nigeria Airways), Local Contractors, Consultants & Suppliers, and Nigerian Farmers to mention a few. This country simply kills its own - whether public or private! It is scary and scandalous. Hard to believe.

Now that we are singing Vision 20-20-20, I hope the government people know what they’re getting themselves into - considering the outrageous cost of running our largely unproductive federal MDAs and various under-performing governments nationwide. As we speak, the vision document remains a mystery to most Nigerians - hoarded and guarded by the system!
If we are serious, it should be common place by now, including in schools, churches, mosques, libraries, the media, palaces, NGO offices, political parties, entertainment facilities, and diplomatic missions. We should be unable to avoid its ambush anywhere we turn, with its numerous translations.

The OAU failed because of hoarding public information and distrusting Africans as stakeholders and owners of Africa. NEPAD is in the same quagmire. ECOWAS has been tottering for the same reason. Nigeria is so painfully underdeveloped because of this same “Them vs Us” mentality. Clearest evidence: The Budget. People sit in Abuja and write whatever catches their fancy, and facilitates looting, without true stakeholders input or ownership! Same at state and LGA levels. In the end, they chop the bloated overheads 100% while the capital(i.e. development projects) votes remain underutilized, leaving The PEOPLE wondering where all the trillions went! It’s been happening for decades.

Solution: We must reduce both the size of government and the cost of governance by 50%. Downsize and rightsize vertically (Three Tiers) and horizontally (Three Arms). Only the Judiciary needs expansion as we all have since been advocating - to include specialization and strategic expansion, reduce the high cost of litigation, embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), deploy modern technology and guarantee speedy dispensation of justice. This should also cover the Police, Civil Defence and Prison Services for both federal and states - let’s amend the constitution and revenue allocation formula accordingly.

From this year, after the general elections, things MUST change. We all have a duty to put people in office who WILL serve Nigeria rather than starve Nigerians. Let’s give wings to our best and brightest TODAY! No more excuses.

First step? Dear Nigerians, go out and register. Your VOTE is Your POWER!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Agriculture On My Mind

A note to Whom Will Be or Will Remain President and Governors in 2011:

Here is what I will do on AGRICULTURE...

I will use it to create millions of jobs - permanent and high quality jobs. I will use it to anchor the health of Nigerians. I will use it to guarantee food security in the whole of West Africa. I will use it to revive, sustain and transform Nigeria's industrial revolution. I will use it to earn foreign exchange big time. I will use it to displace oil & gas as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.

Here is how I will PROCEED...

I will create rural infrastructure and power supply - to retain and attract quality manpower upcountry and in the wetlands. I will produce local fertilizers - organic and inorganic. I will bring in equipment manufacturers cum assembly plants and fund local fabricators. I will create millennium farm settlements and marketing boards. I will deploy 60% of NYSC members to the Agricultural Sector every year. I will equip, fund and deploy the armed forces to unity farms; and Army Engineers to help construct rural infrastructure and housing. I will fund and utilize R&D. I will join the CBN in providing long term and accessible credit to all genuine farmers and agribusinesses. I will bring in Chinese, Israeli, Indian, Thai, Malaysian and Brazilian experts and investors to counterpart our own well-resourced operators. I will gun for 80% homeland utilization of all our produce within 5 years. Finally, I will protect Nigerian AGRICULTURE, whatever it takes!

Who will be president? Will you do this for us, please?

Who will be governors? Can you folks rise up to the plate, please?

The twist in all this is how long these low-hanging fruits have been begging to be plucked!

We wait and watch.

Friday, November 26, 2010

More Bridges for Rivers Niger and Benue, please!.....(1)

Let's be far-sighted and strategic: We need more bridges across River Niger and River Benue! Does this sound alarmist? Let it be.

If you were on the present bridge at Asaba-Onitsha recently, you would see/feel how short-sighted we've been all these years. If anything happens to that bridge today, it will be hell for travellers up and down the country. To have waited this long for its replacement is truly absurd. I will not join the political permutations that are making the rounds on this (deliberate?) neglect. What is clear is that we've short-changed ourselves.

For economic and socio-cultural imperatives/benefits, we need to weld this big country together with futuristic multi-modal transportation infrastructure : roads, rail, air, water. Bridges across these two rivers - strategically spaced from south to north - are a critical link in this matrix.

We shall discuss possible locations in the next installment. Let no one tell us about costs or funding. We found money to dredge the rivers, we'll find money to build the bridges. Once we reduce the obscene cost of running government and stop the criminal looting in government, Nigeria will fly. We can find money for huge airports projects that benefit mostly the elite/ruling class (not that airports are unwelcome!), we must also find money to link our people up nationwide with roads & bridges as well as rail. 

Let's add it to the election agenda. States and communities along the rivers should lead the charge. All smart presidential and gubernatorial aspirants better wave this carrot! And political parties? Can't they see!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Solar Freedom!......... (1)

I was just thinking the other day: What do money-people and government-people think about? If we have energy/electricity problem across Africa why not simply list the various terrains, the options/solutions and tackle the darned thing multi-dimensionally? Take the solar, take the wind, take the hydro, take the thermal and run around the globe for local and foreign operators - i.e. inventors, fabricators, manufacturers, researchers, financiers, investors, marketers, etc? Why not create industrial zones, commercial zones, security zones, services zones, and give them dedicated supply? What is rocket science about that?

In my native Nigeria, there are too many dams that could carry small turbines for rural and urban electric power. Guess what we did: we pretended they don't exist or can't do it! Now, at higher cost and decades after, we are returning to them for power-generation! No one is asking any soul-searching, pointed and conscience-laden questions! Of course not: dis na naija, biko.

Today is about the solar revolution sweeping the globe. Like everything else, Africa is sleeping! We have the unmatched comparative advantage but, no, we must wait for others to research, invent, manufacture and market solar energy for us! Just like anti-malarials, anti-retrovirials, fertilizers, furniture, toothpicks, tyres, cement, sugar, fish, beverages, fruits, livestock, medicines and textiles! And all them state funds and looted cash we stash in foreign banks are traditionally and routinely recycled by those countries as foreign loans to us! We be Africans, jare!

So I ask again: What are the business people and power-holders (power-mongers?) of Africa, especially Nigeria, thinking? Why is the African Sun not giving Solar Freedom to Mother Africa? What are our foreign currency reserves doing abroad? And Oh Ye Looters, why stash our kudi in foreign lands when it can profit your fatherland? Are we exceedingly proud to be dis African?

Solar power/energy is huge profitable business with limitless potentials; why are we its enemy?
Take all villages and urban homes off the national grid with solar generators/panels, and see how much surge you'll give to industrial and commercial operations! What is nuclear science in that? Why aren't we producing solar-anything in Nigeria, in Africa; instead, we are importing solar-everything? This is 2010, knocking on 2011, isn't it? Haba!

Friday, November 12, 2010


The WEST is wooing The EAST! SOON, it will be AFRICA!!

Most of their think tanks didn't see it coming. The few that saw hardly believed it. So, the West was caught unawares by the ultimate rise of the East - especially India and China! The oil & gas boom of the last 12 years and the rebound of Russia under Vladimir Putin, as well as the slow recovery of the Japanese economy (the West's key ally out there!) completed the tripod of new reality.

The rise, fall, and rise of the "Asian Tigers" made the East a new commercial and economic zone sooner than forecast, and lessened the gravity of the recent world economic meltdown. Now we are having big multinationals and several billionaires coming from the East, and petro-dollars from the Middle-East finding home in Asian countries.

This better investment climate has attracted western manufacturers and services, many of which do most of their production and delivery in the East. Western countries are protesting this "export of domestic jobs”, politicians are proposing all sorts of diplomatic, legislative, and retaliatory measures, including possible rejigs of WTO codes. Well, the prime lesson from the world economic crisis/credit crunch is that nothing is sacrosanct or beyond rewrite. There is no "one-size-fits-all" anywhere - a lesson the World Bank/IMF oligarchs learnt too late, at grave cost to Africa!

Brazil, under President Lula DaSilva, beat the western think-tank radar. The South American giant joined Russia, India and China - the BRIC countries - as a counterpose to western hegemony. Add to that the emerging assertiveness of the global force called Non-Aligned Movement, and you have a world reinventing itself.

Triggered by 9/11, the Republican years under President George W Bush saw America in its most brazen show of force, and acts of expansionism - including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, heightened face-offs with Iran, North Korea, Hamas, Cuba, Venezuela, China and Russia. The US fell out with most of Europe over Iraq, repudiated the Kyoto Agreement and held up WTO and other protocols in very unusual self-adulation. As the natural leader of the so-called free world, these tensions and sustained discordance have inevitably weakened the west. The Obama Administration is now trying to pick up the pieces.

In the meantime, things have changed rapidly and inexorably on the global turf. Not much is the same anymore! The world economic crisis, triggered by failed subprime loans and other financial services infractions, the failure of regulatory agencies, the near-colluding political authorities, and the horrendous costs of remedies (the so-called packages) brought the age-long reputation of western capitalism to its knees. The US must rely on foreign capital (especially China, India, Russia and the Gulf/Arab States) to finance its huge deficits. Troubled European countries are now dealing with the IMF/World Bank. It is quite surreal.

Recently, David Cameron, the new British Prime Minister, went in search of Indian investors - India, its former colony! Well, we shall see more! And, why not? Most former colonies are the resource belts and strategic zones of the world. They provided the hunting grounds for the Slave Trade in Africa, and for modern day Cheap/Child Labour for western multinationals. Just like America, Canada, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, India is now a favourite destination for British FDI quests. No matter. More delegations from the West will follow. Let the East play and enjoy its role, its turn. We need each other!

The next destination is Africa. No question. Who knowest not? If you insist, let's share a few "whys": Raw materials and huge mineral and human resources, including a diverse and well-endowed Diaspora. 52 nations of a soon-One-Billion-souls market. By 2010, submarine broadband cables will surround Africa; by 2012, all of Africa will be “wired up” with the latest Internet Technology - bye to the sinful digital divide! In the next 5 years, ICT will explode in Africa; in the following 5 years, Africa will be a new frontier - it will create, re-create, generate and service its own unique needs. The GSM Revolution in Africa is on the home stretch, dovetailing into its Data successor.

With the global agitation and heightened crusading against corruption, including some tough actions and heart-warming repudiations from the West - traditional safe-havens for Third World looting - African leaders are sitting up. This is freeing its resources for its development. More importantly, the West is helping Africa hunt down its looters - rightly so! If the East follows suit - we're sure China/India/Russia will bond on this - soon, there'll be no hiding space for these betrayers. ASEAN must join the EU in this regard. As the new Obama initiative brings in NAFTA, the noose tightens. With the help of the UN and Brazil, as well as the new Africa-South America Summit & Treaty, that region will soon be hostile to Africa's looters and plunderers.

When Africa begins concerted value-added industrial, agro-allied and mineral production, and the emerging leadership and governance transformation takes inexorable hold, it will deal as it is dealt - building on the Eastern example. It will not be long.

The moral: Repair past damages! Be partners, not plunderers! Court, not cut, Africa - it will hurt both ways! Have the past ways changed yet? Are old habits hibernating? Are global think tanks reading the real radars? We wonder.

As the next Frontier, maybe the Final Frontier, for global geopolitical positioning, may world leaders read their maps right, and each country cast their every vote right. The facts have spoken.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

This Infrastructure Matter

Over the decades we have worried and wondered why our peoples in Africa are "so near yet so far apart!". Why, the question or poser persists. We are to call on foreigners all the time to ferry us to our own brethren "next door"! It matters alright but not to those "who matter"!

Can somebody tell "them" to LINK UP our dear continent, please? If they need any lessons, any model, any conscience, let them look in the Europe they so visit - and cherish.