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On Audu Ogbe’s Pizza Speech

That speech was not a speech about Pizza. It was a full speech with a lot of interesting and mind-blowing statistics.

I made a joke about the pizza comment but I know deep down that whilst we can drag this government for their penchant to tell people to live according to reality, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to pay attention to Minister Ogbe’s assertions.

If you watch longer clips of the video and not only the Pizza part, you’d realize that he is a man saying the truth and putting in great work to solve real issues.

Let’s talk a little about South Africa. Most of the Agricultural land in SA are not as fertile as Nigeria’s yet the country is well known for commercial farming. Most of SA’s food is grown in SA. It protects foreign exchange. SA also perfected animal farming and the cows are a wonder to behold. They don’t walk thousands of kilometers annually looking for water and grass. SA also takes manufacturing very seriously. I bet crude oil importation is the real clog in the wheel of SA’s Foreign Exchange debacle. The day Karoo oil can be extracted in commercial quantities, things will change. SA is also a proud country and you will not likely see any foreign company selling things within SA submitting USD invoices.

Audu Ogbe took us back to the ignominious Babangida reign and how with the aid of foreign bodies, instituted the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) on which platform we were advised to keep devaluing the Naira. In the early 80s, the Naira was stronger than the USD. He further commented on how SAP eventually destroyed our factories and caused a high affinity for importations. He decried the practice of wasting FX on certain products like Champagne. Nigeria is known as the country that consumes the drink the most in the world. He expressed the shame of a country that imports toothpick and tomato paste.

He believes that we have both local and international saboteurs that will never want us to be self sufficient. I told friends that a country like Holland will never want Nigeria to be self-sufficient in milk production. Same goes for most of Europe and America for one thing or the other. The USA wanted to sanction Rwanda for stopping second hand cloth importation. Imagine. We must decide on our own to make changes.

A country that lives only for today is not serious. A people that cannot also sit down and understand financial propriety is also in trouble. A club in Lagos closed down because its patrons owed it 120M Naira. He said an individual owed 6M. This same set of people will blame Buhari for the economy but will buy a bottle of Champagne for 269K Naira on credit to impress people. What a shame.

I like the fact that the country has made some progress in certain Agricultural areas like rice, cashew nuts, cassava etc. I also like the plan to invest 12B Naira from 2019 to build ranches for the herdsmen. I am happy that he called out the governors for not doing their part to develop Agriculture. Once again, our people must know that we have a federation and States/LGs must step up in many areas to do their parts.

The day we realize that Nigeria is a very poor country and that if we divide our revenue as a country by the population, we will get the reality. It’s a country that can’t afford to pay an elite political class the scam of emoluments they get today. It is a country that has to take industrialization very seriously starting from electricity and investment in primary things like tomato paste factories, cocoa farms including processing, and the processing of other goods.

It’s a country that must create jobs by any means outside of government work. We need to manufacture. We need to add value to our raw materials. We need to help people who are already exporting things. News is that tons of cashews are rotting away at the port in Lagos due to issues that we should be ashamed about.

Our population is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing if we can be self sufficient in many ways producing our own food and other things, educating our people to be world class citizens, etc. It is a curse if we keep our short term mentality and continue acting like ostriches destroying the economy. And I know that it is not only left to government to make an impact.

Nigeria and Africa will be great, even in my lifetime. Amen.

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Editor’s note:
This post which Ayobami first shared on his facebook wall is generating some buzz. Feel free to join the conversation here.