By Oni Gbolabo
This year’s edition is titled: A thrust for all stakeholders to industrialise Osun state
The above well-timed annual lecture triggered my interest as it extends a rare opportunity for everyone who is purpose driven towards the development in Ijeshaland and Osun State in general. It is another chance to drived investments impact on Osun State’s indigenes through association with goal oriented, vision driven focused eminent personalities that organised this lofty initiative.
In my optimism, I strongly believe the cadre of people that gathered for this annual lecture are poised to impact on people, looking at their enviable records, credentials, achievements and their individual attainments in their respective careers and callings.
Why do I believe so much in these people?
My speculative belief is premised on the words of Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) who said “a man is known by the company he organises”, with this company, Ijeshaland and Osun State have a lot to benefit if actually the state is committed to poverty reduction through industrialisation as mentioned during election campaigns. The purpose of the this article is to sensitise Osun State government on the benefit of working with private initiatives like this annual lecture, to reduce unemployment among youths and increase Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) against the state’s dependence on monthly allocations from Abuja.
In order to establish my position, I will be both academic and theoretical, though, it is pathetic that Africans rarely necessarily consider baseline underpinning theories before undertaking developmental thrust, the more reason we fail in all developmental economics attempts. Conversely, we need to appeal to two relevant and applicable theories.
There are two theories any state that wants to be economically viable must consider: first is Rostow’s Economic Growth Model/Theory (1960) and second, Lewis Dual Sector Model (1954).
Rostow’s developmental theory stated that for any economy to develop there are five stages it must experience:
The first stage is Crude Traditional Society, this is the stage when nobody is aware of anything other than engaging in basic peasantry/crude farming to live. Food consumption is the major focus at this stage, there is little or no trade benefit involved, maybe, trade by barter goods, and Nigeria passed through the stage successfully.
The second is the stage of Precondition for Take-Off. This is the stage where all countries that passed through the first stage successfully and begins to plan for the take-off of their economy by advancing from crude farming to semi-mechanized farming to have surplus production because the surplus will aid trade, which in turn becomes wealth for individual and national income for states. As crucial as this stage is, Nigeria clumsily and partially moved to this stage, thereafter began to wobble. It is supposed to be the foundation of industrialisation but just few people like Chief Obafemi Awolowo was conscious of this stage by trying to adopt mechanised agriculture. As at today most of his agriculture product processing initiatives rot away without further build-up.
The third stage is Take-off Stage, where political and social institutions are further developed and consolidated to improve on what was gained in the second stage. The stage usually leads to heavy investment and expansion of industries that process agricultural products to earn revenues and to develop social infrastructure. Many nations that have crossed this stage enjoy well being today; Nigeria could not because she did not cross distinctly the second stage which ought to be our preconditions for vibrant economy take-off.
Since we failed to cross the stage the next stage, it is no longer applicable to us because it is the stage of Economic Maturity in which all areas of economy are strengthened with indigenous innovations, banking and capital trading and well being for all.
Stage five is the stage of High Mass Consumption where citizens enjoy high social luxuries, able to invest and live big from their incomes, buy big cars and venture into vacations, play golf, talk of ecology, human and animal rights etc like USA and other developed economies.
The error of not getting the stage two right haunts our economy till date; the stage where agricultural products can be processed to produce raw materials and surplus food. Hence, we have an imbalanced society where poverty and affluence are at the extreme, where over 200 million people depend on food importation.
However, there is remedy if we apply the second theory known as Lewis theory.
Lewis theory stated that there is always excess labour wasting away in developing economy and this excess labour are found in unproductive sector apart from the agricultural sector (or other low income jobs (such as riding okada) and these workers are attracted to the growing manufacturing sector where “higher” wages are offered; although majority will not be employed in that sector because they are usually unskilled and not educated.
Because they are surplus, entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector take advantage of them to make more profit. Despite the fact that they charge prices above the fixed wage rate, they are still being cheated as labourers. Examples are the youths leaving Osun to look for greener pastures in Lagos and often end up involved in crimes and other vices.
Therefore, Lewis theory stated that those youths could be “re-invested” back into the business in form of fixed human capital. Although, the theorist believed that excess labour can be used to shore-up manufacturing sector but I disagreed with him because it is when you have vibrant raw materials from agricultural sector that you can manufacture.
Therefore, I propose that we engage this excess labour in same agriculture through mechanized farming, agricultural produce processing, packaging and distribution instead of allowing them to go to cities where they are not needed. They have the potentials to take farming from crude stage to initiate industrialization-based economy where state can develop independently.
In other words, I am suggesting we go back to Rostow’s theory and start from stage two we missed. If not, I doubt if any magic will lift Ijeshaland or Osun State out of this fixity.
The first theory explains why we are here today while the second theory proffers plausible solution to the problem. Nigeria and her component states are economically trapped today and the situation is made worse by our model of democracy where winner takes all and the winner may have lackluster performance. However, in order to apply the theoretical analysis presented above, the conveners of this annual lecture need to consider the synthesis from these two theories. First industrialization of the state must be designed towards expansion of agriculture in the area of crops utilisation, fishery, snail farming, livestock and husbandry, processing and packaging in industrialised scale to target local and international markets. In economics, there is what is called backward linkage, forward linkage and peer or equilibrium linkage of policy. That is, whatever the economic policy (ies) is (are), it must promote what is on ground, promote future initiatives and promote similar initiatives that spring up concomitantly. This means entrepreneurs should look at those crops, fruits and other agricultural products that are readily available in Osun state that can be processed for further value and use.
For exapmle,mangoes, cassava are seasonal crops that waste away in its seasons. It has become our culture that when crops seasons comes, farmers will harvest and price will fall due to basic law of demand and supply. At the peak of the seasons research showed that almost 60% of total harvest end up as waste due to lack of storage and processing facilities. This vicious cycles of waste that promotes poverty exist year in year out.
Why can’t we invest in juice making industry using excess mangoes, why not ethanol processing industry using excess cassava, and industrial gum using excess yam?. We make use of animal feeds from cassava. We don’t need to capture the entire nation with impact in southwest we are good to expand.
Another synthesis from the second theory is we can engage our graduates that studied animal sciences, husbandry, agricultural economics, veterinary medicine will be involved in industrialisation.
For example, goat rearing in husbandry can be explored. Our local goat is one of the neatest, nutritious, easy to maintain, disease resistant, low cholesterol with high fecundity. They are sought after and being exported to other nations. Each goat delivers twice in 12 months! Lets us invest on 500 goats for five graduates in well designed field with accommodation and amenities. It means all things being equal, in the next six months 500 goats will deliver 500×2=1000+ initial 500 mothers = 1500 in the first seven months. Another seven months adds 1000. This means in 12 to 14 months we shall have additional 2000 goats plus 500 initial mothers. Thereafter, geometric progression applies as the first sets of 1000 goats are grown to deliver. Even if we don’t have exportation opportunities local demand is here as almost all occasions demand “Asun” (a popular delicacy).
What of recycling of scrap irons and plastics? What of entering into negotiation with some moribund companies such as Adeniran Steel Rolling Companies to process scrap metals?
What of having plastic factory or vegetable oil factory? What of reviving textiles that sew under-wears, children socks such as Ile-Ani? Other business ideas can still be thought-out on demand.
Here is my narrow view and I believe the intervention of the experts can address emergent issues professionally to make impact, thanks.
ONI Gbolabo (Ph.D) can be reached on 08136112922 or 08028299304