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It is axiomatic that every Nigerian youth that passed through the National Youth Service Corps, (NYSC) will have stories to tell of their experiences during the one year period. Service year offered me the opportunity to explore an entirely new region of the country. I learnt new custom, tradition and language. Being a gregarious fellow, I made friends easily within the circle of corps members and without. Amongst the friends I had, I gravitated the most towards three special personalities: Dayo, Emeka, and Musa, because of their rare intelligence on national issues.

Musa was loquacious in nature and pragmatic in action. Being a realist with a well-built physique, he had fulfilled his childhood dreams of studying agriculture at the prestigious Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. Although from a poor background, Musa never had any reason to put his back on the ground, in his work toward fulfilling his dreams. Emeka was the direct opposite of Musa. He speaks with few words and does not pander to the confusion of metaphors in communication with others. The opulence of his parents shielded him from the hardship of life. Emeka’s formative years was in Nigeria. He schooled in France for his first degree studies in Tourism. He then proceeded to China for his Masters degree in the same discipline. Dayo was the intersection of Emeka and Musa. Though an effeminate; he majored in Geology and Mineral Resources in one of the first generation universities in the country. I studied Sustainable Energy Systems in the UK for my first and second degrees respectively.

Undoubtedly, we were bunch of erudite, and envy to other corps members. Our bloods frothed daily in developmental concerns to our host community. Our humanitarian services to our host community, announced us. It never seemed to us that we will one day bow out of service or leave our host community because of the depth of our community services and the warm reception given to us. The smiles on faces motivated us to do more, but service period was limited.

For me, service year ended like the twinkling of an eye. The atmosphere was electrifying as corps members converged at the NYSC secretariat for issuance of the discharge certificate. We sang the NYSC anthem passionately for the last time in our fully kitted uniforms. Musa disrupted decorumon numerous occasions, in wild excitement.Emeka only expressed himself with selfies, and social media uploads. Dayo stole the show that day. Girls of well-endowed natural assets flaunted around him in celebrations. I participated in the musical gyrations before retiring to a still position tired: feeding my eyes on the unfolding events.

On our way back home, we threw banters at each other and took retrospection of our well spent service year. Dayo in exuberance quipped: “I wished service year was twice in a lifetime” Emeka quickly squinted at him in parry. I could read Emeka’s mind. He was actually jealous of Dayo’s fame at the event. Musa hackled in his usual baritone: “I hear the name quadruple. Who is calling us behind” We turned in curiosity. Dayo squealed: “that’s Treasure coming.” We waited for her in amazement until she caught up with us.

Treasure was actually interested in what we were discussing. There was silence in the air for seconds until Musa in jiggery-pokery exclaimed: “we were making contributions on how to effectively diversify Nigeria’s economy.” We nodded in affirmation, but Treasure grimaced in disappointment. She chuckled in ridicule and replied in asinine: “the nation is already drowning in a pestilential pool with no hope of survival. How will diversification of the economy offer a prima facie solution”Everyone became speechless for a while. I broke the silence and gave a charge: it is time for Nigerians to switch mental gear in the right direction as a major test of maturity and patriotism. They allcheered up. I knew I had gained approval by my words.

Challenged as Treasure was, she inquired to know the methods for diversifying the nation’s economy. Musa relied “using agriculture.” She looked at him flabbergasted. In excitement, he buttressed his point on the premise that Nigeria soil is a natural treasure that can support any agricultural activity. The Sahel savanna in the north to the fresh water swamp of the southern part of the country—are assurances of hope. Treasure at this point was intrigued—focusing on Musa.

Musa was on top gear. He further asserted that [1] before the discovery of oil in commercial quantity, Nigerian’s economy depended on the non-oil sector with over 97.30 percent of its Gross National Product (GNP) coming from agricultural activities. Crude oil accounted only about 2.7 percent of the GNP. Crude oil exports fetched Nigeria about 8.8 million Naira, while non-oil exports accounted for over 321 million Naira of the total export earnings. These statistics placed Nigeria’s economy as the fastest growing economy in Africa at the time.

I noticed goose bumps kindling on Treasure’s arms on hearing the statistics. Puzzled as she was, she asked why agriculture was no more prioritized in the country. Musa smiled and replied: “Nigerians embraced western cultures and left her ‘first love’ in jeopardy. I concurred that with the current global fall in demand for crude oil, Nigerians have understood that the odoriferous route the economy took, became the direct equivalence of licking the vomit of a tuberculous patient to assuage thirst or filling eggshells with sulphuric acid. However, Emeka opined that it is the collective responsibility of Nigerians to reimage agriculture, irrespective of societal status.We all smiled in agreement.

Again, Emeka in his contribution posed a question; “do you know tourism could be used to diversify the Nigerian economy if efficiently utilized” The response could be predicted. Emeka bemoaned neglect over tourism potentials across the nation, as responsible for the reliance of crude oil as the major source of foreign exchange earnings. In his remark, “there is practically no state in Nigeria without tourist site.” He attributed ignorance, deplorable state of tourist locations and taste for foreign attractions as bottlenecks of tourism to the economy. Emeka suggested that it is the collective responsibility of government at all levels to develop tourist base in the country to world standard, suitable to attract tourist both within and outside the country—for growth of the economy. He added that job creation was one benefit of developing tourism in any region

Solidifying his view, Emeka disclosed that in 2016 travel and tourism contributed a total of 198.3 billion euros to the GDP in France, while tourism employment created 2.8 billion jobs, both directly and indirectly. He also mentioned that tourism contributed about $1.45 trillion to the GDP of china in 2017 and created employment for 28.25 million people. He concluded that if Nigeria is bent on diversifying her economy, then the government needs to up the ante in the tourism sector. We all applauded in agreement but the stern looks to my face, was enough indication for my contribution to be heard.

 

 

[1] Samuel, O. (2019, November). 20th FMS Lecture UNIPORT News, 35(379), 4-5.

In my submission, I wondered why principles were sacrificed on profane alters of expediency in this period of economic quagmire in Nigeria.  It is appalling to say that Nigeria depends on an unsafe energy source which has finite sustenance, as the main hold of the economy. With increasing population in the country, crude oil reserve will not be sufficient to cater for the populace in the nearest future. As a credit, Nigeria has abundance of renewable energy deposits. These resources are either under exploited or untapped. The solar energy, the hydro energy, the wind energy reserves etc., all speaks volumes. I warned that for there to be effective transition in economic developments, energy dependence must be channeled towards renewable energy systems. Dayo who had a grip on Treasure, suddenly asked for the way forward. In my reply, I suggested that there must be effective policy transition by the government—favoring sustainable energies development

Secondly, I remarked that our tertiary institutions must compliment government efforts through progressive researches and innovations. To clear doubt, Musa asked if there are countries Nigeria could use as role models in utilization of sustainable energies. I then mentioned that Sweden is noted to have diversified her energy dependence to biomass and hydro energy. Scotland depends on wind energy while Costa-Rica uses a mix of hydro, wind, and geothermal energies to power homes of its populace. Treasure in epiphany submitted that energy diversification will favor the expansion of small and medium scale enterprises in the country, who play key roles in the economy. We were all surprised and impressed by her contribution.

Meanwhile, despite the tired expressions on our faces, Emeka personally insisted that Dayo made his contribution before we dispersed.Everyone understood that Dayo’s patience all the while was in an attempt to lure Treasure home. In other to clear the air, he said: “Nigeria is endowed with abundant mineral resources which were formed at different geological evolution. Despite the abundance, the mineral sector has failed as a conduit for economy diversification. He lamented that the mining sector contributed less than 1% of the nation’s annual GDP of over US $400 in 2012. Dayo attributed the challenges in the mineral sector to: policy instability, prevalence of illegal mining, and inefficient state owned corporations. He based his solutions on: effective transitional mining policies, strengthening geological data generation in the nation and 100% private ownership of mining sector. He won our commendation.

Generally, the final words of Musa will remain indelible in our minds. He remarked by saying: “it is in our collective interest to bring the looming Dark Age in Nigeria, to a speedy close with a view to turning the corner towards economy diversification. Soon after, we all pathed home happy and fulfilled as vanguards of economic diversification in Nigeria.