Posted by Wale Babalakin on
My area of intervention is on some areas. The first one is sharing. If you try to extract most of the debate here, the substantial contribution has been on how to share revenue.
My area of intervention is on some areas. The first one is sharing. If you try to extract most of the debate here, the substantial contribution has been on how to share revenue. I must say that I am completely puzzled because of what we earn as a nation per annum. This is less than the turn over of most substantial companies. Assuming the President is right, we have 150 million people in Nigeria, that is $133 per head. What are we sharing? For me, $133 epitomises poverty and we have spent so much time debating sharing. All we have done is to come here to talk about sharing poverty, which I reject completely. My generation will not be a party to sharing poverty.
Fellow delegates, I don’t know if we know how poor we are as a nation. Currently, we generate under 4,000 megawatts of electricity. Assuming there are 40 million Nigerians in urban centres, your total entitlement as a Nigerian is 100 bulbs of what you have. So, for your family, maybe it will be 10 bulbs. Now with 10 bulbs, what can you do? Anytime, you have full electricity in your house, you are depriving a lot of people of their share of the national cake.
Mr. Chairman, we have to raise this from four megawatts to 40 megawatts. Conservatively, this will cost about $30 billion. Assuming we spend all our reserve on this, we will not get there. Assuming also, you decide every year you are going to allocate $2 billion to do this, it will take 15 years. So, if all we are able to propose is how to share revenue, all we are saying is that for a long time to come, Nigeria will be impoverished and there is no hope ahead.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to assure you that the situation is not that hopeless. I gave this statistics for only one reason and that reason is that we must concentrate on how to create revenue. We must concentrate on how to generate revenue. Nigeria has natural and human resources.
So, what is missing? What is missing is that we have decided very, very positively in our midst for a long time to kill ideas, to kill genius, to dehumanise brains and to ensure those who have the thinking process will never find themselves in a place to transform it for the betterment of Nigeria. That is what we must beware.
If you don’t know, today, Nigeria is one country that has in-built mechanism for destroying itself. If you ever take a census of all those men of great ideas in Nigeria, and trace their history, you will find out how they ended up in frustration. They ended up nowhere because the system is such that only mediocre can prosper. We have to put an end to the triumph of mediocrity.
I will only give two or three examples of things I have witnessed to let you know why we are here. Sometimes in the 70’s, a man in his middle age sought to build a satellite town in Lagos called Agbara. He put in a lot of efforts and I became aware as the solicitor that he borrowed extensively. In 1978, the military confiscated the land. Things went tumbling because the financiers were after him. Agbara failed as a satellite. Having failed, it made the creation of other satellite towns in Lagos very slow. Of course, we all know that we need satellite towns in Lagos. But somebody who realised it in the 70’s had to be ruined in the process because of mediocrity.
Similarly, as a young man, somebody discovered marble in Igbeti and he decided he was going to mine it. I watched on television as the government took it over, saying that no individual should own it. What happened? Igbeti marble never took place. The community never benefited, the state never benefited, the people never benefited.
•Excerpts of a speech delivered by Dr. Wale Babalakin, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, during the debate on the reports of the 19 committees of the National Political Reform Conference in Abuja.
The Punch, Friday June 24, 2005
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