The governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, has said he wishes that Nigeria’s main source of revenue, crude oil, dries up as its availability has hindered the country’s ability to think and innovate.
Speaking on “Public Poliy Research should promote national consensus”, El-Rufai argued that the earlier the oil dries up, the better for our national ability to think, be innovative and respect intellect and academic achievement.
“Because Nigeria gets easy money from oil, the nation has lost its thinking initiative on how to develop other sources of revenue and diversify the economy,” the governor said in Ibadan, Oyo State, where he spoke at the 2017 Town Hall Meeting/Founder’s Day Celebration of the Development Policy Centre in honour of the late economist, Professor Ojetunji Aboyade.
“We get easy money, we do not collect taxes and our taxes are six per cent of Gross Domestic Product; that is an average of 21 per cent. We stop respecting the intellectuals that we have in our universities because we get easy money. This is very sad, I wish the oil will dry up so that we can begin to use our brains because we have stopped using our brains and we have stopped respecting intellects because of easy money.”
It is unlikely that a lot of Nigerian states or the federal government will be joining him in the prayers and wishes. The last time Nigerian crude oil production plummeted (not dried up), the nation fell into a recession it has only just clawed out from due to increased production.
Other highlights of the Kaduna governor’s speech include:
- An argument for state policing: He said Nigeria is severely under-policed and will require more personnel, intelligence assets, better training, technology and equipment for security agencies to be a credible guarantor of security. He said that even if all the aforementioned things were readily available, “it is also debatable whether a single centralised policing system, structure and staffing for 200 million citizens is viable in a diverse, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria.”
- A case for meritocracy over federal character: He said the country needs to have a discourse around the urgency of a project that will give equal opportunity irrespective of the circumstances of the citizen’s birth. “How can we promote a national subscription to meritocracy? How can we ensure that the imperative of reflecting federal character does not become the enemy of merit and quality of appointments?” he said.
- The absence of planning: “Today, we don’t plan. We don’t have national plan and if we don’t plan, we are planning to fail.” Interesting argument, considering that the APC federal government has a whole ministry dedicated to national planning.