The poverty of bourgeoisie mentality is like a canker-worm that has eaten deep into the Nigerian development concept. How do we explain a 6 billion naira specialist hospital built in Yenogua almost a decade ago, never used, today the building is said to be sinking?
We have not addressed basic primary health care, yet we are building specialist hospitals to prove political points. We have failed to fund our universities, producing half baked Doctors and nurses, some of whom have never seen modern medical equipment, yet we are building high tech specialist hospitals.
Billions spent on a Utopia Tinapa project, that may never come to fruition in my lifetime.Billions spent on a studio and never used a single day as a studio, yet we sing praises of the project developer.
Billions spent to build Convention centers and 5 star hotels in a city that existing hotels cannot pay their staff because there’s literally no business, Billions spent to build first class technology Institutes in a state were existing tertiary institutions have literally been abandoned with failed infrastructure comparable to primary schools in the 80s. We produce graduates who are unemployable, yet instead of fixing existing schools, improving funding and paying living wages, we are building new ones.
If we cannot maintain existing schools, whats the guarantee that our first class Institutes would stand the test of time? As a child in the 80s, I visited Unical, it was a first University with wonderful infrastructure, today it is a shadow of itself. Great Polycal, as we call Crutech then, has been reduced to rubble.
Our latest first class Institutes ready to spew out diplomas, how are we sure it will not be a shadow of itself in a few years, in a country were the best diploma is still considered inferior to a university degree.
We want to be tourism capital of the world, good idea, what will tourist see if they visit our state? Is a cattle ranch that is slowly eroding away? or a Tinapa that has failed? or a Canaan city so unkempt with trash scattered literally in every street?
What will tourist see? a Canaan city with homelessness a common place among her children so much so that it has become a national embarrassment as recently portrayed by Channels TV?
The Poverty of bourgeoisie mentality! A mentality that believes that developing modern infrastructure is more important than investing directly in the lives of the people.
While scholars who hold dearly to bourgeoisie development mentality are entitled to their views, I strongly believe they are wrong. Building an airport in a village where the people cannot afford plane tickets is shear ignorance. Most bourgeoisie projects have little or no effect on the common man.
Rather, I would advocate investing directly in the lives of the people. If all the Billions we owe today as a state was used to invest in Micro Credit programs enabling our mothers in the village to improve their local trade, then they would have money to pay school fees in our first class institutes.
If part of the huge debts we owe today was used to provide loans to unemployed youths forming cooperatives to engage in mineral stone mining, fishing and other agriculture projects, then our local economy would boom, hotels will be occupied, traders will sell, landlords will get their rents timely, and you would see that our people prosperous and can then think of visiting a tinapa maybe to take a monorail ride. How would you expect a man who has not eaten or pay his fees, think of tourism?
We failed because all our huge loans and debts are in cement structures, elites only projects as against investing in the lives of our people.
The sad part about all of these is that the youths who should advocate for real change are busy endorsing bourgeoisie development projects and singing the praise of Political leaders. This is my biggest disappointment, not so much the political leadership as to the youths who defend the caprices of their oppressors with a smile.
As we welcome a new Governor in a few days, we pray he uses a development focal lenses that believes that the right form of development is human development as against piling debts on cement structures and elitist projects in a state were an average person cannot afford a balanced diet.
Finally a message to our incoming Governor Ben Ayade. Sixteen years of investing in Cement structures and elitist capital projects has reduced our people to tenants in their own homeland, please, adopt a new development strategy.
Try investing in the lives of ordinary people. Instead of building new schools, fix existing schools, instead of building new hotels, create programs that will attract guest to calabar or Obudu so existing hotels can be sustainable and they can at least pay their staff.
If possible, privatize refuse collection or attract renewable energy investors who will convert all these refuse to energy. Come out clear on water supply, is CRS water board a government Parastatal or is it a limited liability company?
How can our civil service be productive again? How can the local woman in my village feel the effects of government? How can students and unemployed youths know there is a new boss in town? What exactly is your economic plan? and what are those projects that will inscribe your name on tablets rather than on newspapers front pages? Always remember, the difference between success and failure is a thin line.
Be wise Governor Elect, choose a people oriented economic development plan, don’t be deceived by hawks around you who have ran the state aground past sixteen years, be wise and abandon the so called 16 years master plan to nowhere, be your own man from day one, failure to get it right from day one, will be bad, because four years fly so easily.
Odidi is a Project Consultant, writing from the United States
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