By Ayo Akinfe
(1) On a daily basis, Nigerians lambast the crop of poor rulers that have governed the country since independence but they fail to realise that government is only one of the levers that makes a nation work. Even if we had a wonderful federal government today, would we really feel its impact when the bulk of the citizenry are only interested in amassing personal wealth? If we had the most dynamic and forward-thinking president the world has ever seen, would we not just frustrate all his or her efforts?
(2) Nigerians naively think that a president has a magic wand he can wave that will banish poverty from the land. My people still fail to realise that even if the government provides the most enabling environment for commerce to thrive, we still need people to take advantage of this opportunity. I am not convinced we are ready as a people to seize such opportunities if they were handed to us on a platter of gold
(3) When I look at the history of this gentleman here, I see what the human spirit can do when a people want to progress. Henry Kaiser was the legendary American shipbuilder. He had no formal education but went on to become the pioneer of merchant ships. During World War Two, he was asked by President Roosevelt to provide merchant cargo ships. He built a dedicated shipyard in Richmond, California that was churning out one ship a week at one stage
(4) Just to give you a comparative analysis, President Goodluck Jonathan paid a certain Hope Uzodinma $10m to dredge the port of Calabar. Up until today, one bag of cement has not been delivered to the site. Now, if a country wants to prosper, these are the kind of opportunities it seizes with both hands. Hope Uzodinma thinks like your typical Nigerian, always looking for personal enrichment, seeing that as success
(5) In industrialised nations, people like Henry Kaiser are what made the difference between average and affluent. On the back of the Great Depression, he revolutionised shipbuilding, manufacturing merchant ships and submarines at his Richmond shipyard. At one stage, they were producing one every four days. Other industrial conglomerates like Ford and General Motors were doing likewise
(6) When I look at the role people like Mr Kaiser and Henry Ford played during World War Two, it is easy to see how they turned the mainly agrarian US economy into an industrial giant within five years. In Nigeria, we simply lack this spirit as if President Buhari were to award a shipbuilding contract to our so-called enterprueners today, be rest assured, the money would disappear, we would see no ships and even if we did, the quality would be so poor, they would not be usable
(7) As a people, do we actually take pride in production? No matter how much you paid a man like Henry Kaiser or Henry Ford, they would never import industrial goods from elsewhere. They saw themselves as the best and moved heaven and earth to churn out the best products, at reasonable prices in the shortest possible times. How many Nigerians wake up every morning with that kind of burning passion?
(8) I ask myself where is the pride in all these so-called businessmen who import cheap generators from China and distribute them all over Nigeria. They are actually doing more harm to the Nigerian economy than the public servant who steals $1m because they are stifling local production and making us import-dependent. How can you import generators for five years, make millions from the venture and not for one second think about manufacturing them yourself? Haba!
(9) You know, it was Henry Kaiser who introduced welding into ship-making to replace the labour-intensive and time-consuming riveting. It took three weeks to train a welder and six weeks to train a riveter, while two welders could do the work of four riveters, so common sense prevailed. How many Nigerians actually think this way? Our mentality is to look for a quick buck, even if it means the products will not work
(10) Maybe if we started manufacturing goods that simply cannot fail like aircraft, submarines, merchant ships, cancer scanners, etc, it would spur us to excellence. For now, the lure of quick, cheap money is too engrained in the mind of the average Nigerian for the nation to excel