Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vision 20-2020 Indeed!

It was recently reported in the media that some Directors of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) were arrested by the EFCC over the alleged award of N1.7 billion for importation of plastic chairs. According to the Tribune Newspaper, the contract was awarded without regard for due process, and the contractor was paid a total of N61.7million for expenses which were already covered in the contract price.

Apart from the allegation of corruption, there is one issue in this story that I find really depressing. I can’t believe that 49 years after independence, the government is still awarding a contract for importation of plastic chairs (!). There are serious questions we need to ask ourselves here, does it mean that there is no company in Nigeria that manufactures plastic chairs? Is technology behind plastics so advanced that they have to be imported from the US? Let’s be frank, if we can’t produce plastic chairs in 2009, then what’s all the rhetoric about Vision 2020 all about? President Yar’Adua better get his thinking hat on. This is a national disgrace! When I was growing up there were thriving plastic manufacturing industries in Nigeria. I can still remember Eleganza and Metalloplastica. So what happened to these industries?

According to the report, the cost of the contract was N1.7billion. For goodness sake, can anyone imagine how many jobs will be created if those chairs were manufactured in Nigeria? What is the government actually doing to develop the manufacturing sector? We have failed to utilise our human capacity, and we have become a ‘big for nothing’ nation. When Third world nations were going through massive industrial revolution, our leaders have been busy looting the state treasury. Malaysia has been successful in manufacturing its own car. Indonesia has been successful in manufacturing plane engines. We are still importing plastic chairs!

Someone needs to advise President Yar’Adua that none of G-20 nations imports plastic chairs.

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