Developing the rural sector and non-oil economy in Nigeria

Oil was discovered in Nigeria in 1956 at Oloibiri in the Niger-Delta by Shell-BP, which was at that time the sole concessionaire. Nigeria joined the ranks of oil producers in 1958 when its first oil field came on stream producing 5,100 bpd. After 1960, exploration rights in onshore and offshore areas adjoining the Niger Delta were extended to other foreign companies. In 1965 the EA field was discovered by Shell in shallow water southeast of Warri.

However, several recent studies have shown that oil and gas wealth is a paradoxical development ‘curse’ for many developing countries. Development problems such as poverty and inequality, low economic growth, conflict and high possibility of authoritarian rule has been associated with oil and gas dependent countries. In Nigeria, it is obvious that the benefits of the oil and gas wealth is been enjoyed by a few wealthy people, leaving those in the rural areas (including the areas where the where the oil is being extracted), very impoverished.

Prior to the discovery and commercialization of oil in Nigeria, the country was mainly wealthy through agricultural produce from each region of the country; the North was known mainly for groundnut and cotton, the south was known for cocoa and palm oil. The country was also producing other mineral resources such as tin and iron ore. But once oil was discovered, all attention shifted and people abandoned their farms for oil fields. Now agriculture has been left to mainly those in the rural areas and a few in the urban areas.

Given existing levels of poverty and the relatively low level of human development, it is vital that the non-oil economy and particularly the
agricultural sector be developed as a matter of urgency. Strategies to develop the non-oil economy should focus on specific areas: improving agricultural productivity; diversifying cultivation; facilitating rural markets; developing agricultural processing; enabling marketing for crops with export potential; facilitating the growth of the non-agricultural economy, with the government and donors addressing current constraints and supporting appropriate and sustainable investments in specific areas.

The rural development constraints that needs to be addressed includes repair and good maintenance of road for easy and faster movement of goods and persons, provision of good water within easy reach of every Nigerian, access to more sanitation facilities. Most importantly, there is  a need to improve the power supply in the country, this will encourage more investors, even from other countries. At present, the use of generators is adding more to the costs of entrepreneurs and this is a discouragement to potential investors.

One very important step that needs to be taken is that more investment needs to go into agriculture through the government and other stakeholders. In the area of education, the rural farmers need to be taught ways to improve their farming and also they should be provided with financial means of achieving this.

If these steps can be taken, Nigeria’s economy will improve and it will easier to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

 

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The Nigeria of my dreams

I am on my bed, in the darkness because the Power holding Company Nigeria has ‘held’ the power, mosquitoes are biting me, I hear a few gunshots not far away, I am planning to repair my car that has just been damaged by the bad roads tomorrow…

…BUT I HAVE A DREAM…that one day all these will be left in the history books because…

Nigeria will have 24hours power supply,

All the bad roads will be repaired and managed properly,

Every child will have access to free education, even up to tertiary level,

All the graduates will be employed with good and decent jobs,

thus there will be less criminals and hoodlums on the streets,

this means I will stop hearing those fearful gunshots at night,

there will be less-violence in our streets,

kidnapping will be something that our children will not believe use to happen in the old Nigeria,

Even boko-haram will only become something we remember and tell as stories to the generations to come,

Then, we will truly have leaders and not just rulers,

our politicians will become excellent examples to every other country, showing that positive change is possible,

anyone caught trying to bring back the old corruption stigma will be prosecuted without any delay,

Every single tribe will live together in peace, religious wars will not be heard of anywhere in our dear Nigeria,

We will not even elect leaders based on their tribe or states, but based on good qualities and integrity…

And then…

we will even have our very own visa lottery, because our passport will become the most-wanted in the world,

truly, Nigeria will become the safest country to visit,

our economy will speak for us, we will not have to beg any company to come and invest here, they will be begging us!

Suddenly…

I woke up only to find out it was all a dream!

But still…

I have a dream…they will all come to pass, and you will all remember I told you so…

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A key: the role of women in climate change by Iyinoluwa O. Aremu

There is a major key to solving the problem of climate change, and that key is with the women in every society.

Most times, we neglect the role that women play in activating the actors of climate change. We forget or ignore the fact that most of the causes of climate change are actually from the main activities of women in the home. For example, activities related to pollution, management of electricity,gas and heating in the home, using fuel (like coal and firewood) to cook, even in some areas of the world, agriculture is managed by mainly women. Therefore, to make the campaign for climate change effective, we must all concentrate on how to make sure that women are aware of climate change, and also introduce to them the ways in which they can change their lifestyle to contribute to reducing the effects of their activities on climate change.

This is especially true for rural area and developing economies. So many of the women in these places are uneducated, thus, it is very unlikely for them to have heard of climate change. There is a major need to break down the meaning of climate change, in its simplest form, to these women, because only by this are we going to be able to move fast in saving our planet and environment from destruction.

So, how do we go about this? We don’t need much of government action in raising awareness of climate change to women, we only need interested and motivated people or organisations, who are ready to go into the rural areas, meet the women and show them demonstrations of how they can save their environment.

One good thing about this is that, if a problem like pollution can be solved in these rural areas and slumps, the standard of living of the people will be greatly improved, thus contributing to sustainable development.

We can even have individuals or international organisations fund these types of projects and we can use some of the funds to donate materials to these women that can help in the action against climate change. An example can be buying them energy saving bulbs for those areas with electricity or constantly providing them with alternative cooking fuels that are not destructive to the environment like firewood and coal.

Overall, I believe that for the problem of climate change to be solved quickly and efficiently, women have a big role to play. The actions may seem little but they will go a long way in our work of saving our environment from destruction.

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The road to sustainable energy in Nigeria

One of the main differences between Nigeria and the western world generally, is the conscious efforts of these western countries to save energy. This is the topic that going to be briefly examined as one of the contributions of this blog to the on-going ‘African Voices on Climate Change’ (AVCC) week that has been organised by connect4climate

It is so easy to see the term ‘climate change’ as something so far away from the common man on the street. Sometimes, the terms used in relation to climate change might make it seem like a problem that can never be understood or solved. But this is not true. This is why when the issue of climate change comes up in a country like Nigeria, people can’t be bothered to listen or do anything about it, because they don’t understand. The truth is that the issue of climate change is something that every single person, old or young, educated or uneducated can be actively involved in solving.

When I went to the United Kingdom for my degree programme, one of the first things I noticed was that everyone was so concerned about how much they pay on their electricity bills, so they rarely switch on any electrical appliances, except it is very necessary for them to use it. Meanwhile, back home in Nigeria at that time, we even sometimes forget to put off the light bulbs when we travel for days. No one cared whether this type of non-chalant attitude was having adverse effects on our environment.

You may ask, what effect is it to the environment that electric appliances are used without limits, whether one actually needs it on or not? I am not going to be giving too many figures or facts but generally, most of the carbon emissions that causes global warming has been found to come from our homes. This is because electric current passes through closed circuit, from a higher potential to a lower potential, thus, producing heat that is released into the atmosphere and causes global warming. Also, when we leave electrical appliances like bulbs on, they will burn out quickly, meaning that we need to throw them away and buy new ones. However, disposing of these appliances can be hazardous because many of them contain heavy metals and toxic substances which will eventually be released into the atmosphere when they burn. This does not mean that are appliances are not meant to burn out, but it just means that the we can control the frequency at which we need to change them.

This is why the introduction of the new electric prepaid meter, few years back, is a good idea for sustainable energy in Nigeria. This meter, unlike the old one, requires customers to buy electric units on the meter, which will eventually be used up, depending on how many electric appliances are used or the frequency of the usage of the electric.

New prepaid electric meter

This meter has ensured that the people using it are now more conscious of how much electric they use; people now make conscious efforts to switch off their light bulbs and television sets when they are not in use. This is a great step forward in reducing the effects of excessive use of energy on the climate. However, many of these people still don’t know about climate change and there is still a great need of raising awareness about this in Nigeria. One of the drawbacks of this new implementation is that more than half of Nigerians have not been given this new meter, in fact, in some rural areas, they don’t even know that this exists. There is a need for the government and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to distribute these meters faster than they are doing now, and also to make it cheaper for even the lowest class of people to be able to afford it.

Overall, this idea is a commendable road to sustainable energy supply for Nigeria, and hopefully, more similar steps will be taken by the government in the nearest future to ensure that the country cooperates with the international community in reducing climate change.

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Wage Increase and Fuel Subsidy Removal

Few months ago, many of the civil servants in Nigeria were rejoicing about the increase in the national minimum wage, which became double of what it use to be; from about 9000 naira to 18000 naira. The federal government workers started getting their own share of the ‘boom’ almost immediately, while some of the state workers had to wait for their different states to implement this increase and adjust to it (many states have not done this).

However, what people failed to realise is that an increase in the wages of Government workers is not the solution to the economic crises facing the country. In fact, this increase has worsened the inflation in the country. Firstly, the prices of goods went up really high immediately this increase in the wages was implemented by the Federal Government. Even to the extent of the price of getting a car plate number increasing to 15000 naira. many market commodities went up; food prices went double of what they use to be, thus making the so called increase of no significance to the workers.

Now, there are talks to remove the fuel subsidy, which will mean that the price of fuel will be double of what it use to be. There have been different commentaries on this, but the main argument in favour of the removal is that it will help in using funds from the subsidy for the improvements of the lives of Nigerians. The question now is this: if there is no significant improvement in the lives of Nigerians after the removal of the fuel subsidy, are we just going to sit down and watch our leaders do things to please themselves or are people going to stand up for their rights to save their country? your opinions on this issue is appreciated, feel free to add your comments.

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What is sustainable development?

The term ‘sustainable development’ has become more widely used than it use to be few decades ago, but it isn’t really ‘common knowledge’. This article is going to give a brief introduction to the meaning and concept of sustainable development and how this is applicable to Nigeria.

So, what is meant by the phrase ‘sustainable development’? Although the idea can be traced back at least to 1972 and the United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, it still has various definitions. The most common definition is the one from the 1987 Brundtland Report; it is ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ (Report of the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development Our Common Future)

The first main global sustainable development conference was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; more than 100 head of states met at this conference to discuss the urgent problems of environmental protection and socio-economic problems. The assembled leaders signed the Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity, endorsed the Rio Declaration and the Forest Principles, and adopted Agenda 21, a 300 page plan for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century. The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created to monitor and report on implementation of the Earth Summit agreements. Followed by this was the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) that took place in Johannesburg in 2002.

Now, there is a lot of preparation for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development taking place from 4-6 of June 2012 at Brazil to mark 20 years of the first Earth Summit. The Rio+20 conference has two themes: firstly, a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; secondly, the institutional framework for sustainable development. You can check more information about this from this link: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=17

So, how is this connected or how will this impact Nigeria as a Nation? Sustain Nigeria as a group believes that the concept of sustainable development can help to focus on what needs to be done to make sure that Nigeria is able to meet up with all the international goals like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), World Bank goals for 2015 and others. We at Sustain Nigeria are really looking forward to the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference, and we believe that the policy results of the conference will help our work in the area of development for Nigeria.

Hopefully, you have been able to increase your knowledge about sustainable development, if you have any questions, suggestions or contributions on this topic or any other topic, please email us at youthsforsd@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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