Opinion: The Bible already gave solutions to Nigeria’s economic problems

by David Temitope

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, with an estimated population of 182 million (National population commission, 2016). According to the National Bureau of Statistics, over 112 million of the nation’s population lives below the poverty line. This is 61.5 percent of the people. The World Bank in 2015, pegged the new poverty line at $1.90 per person per day, in Nigeria, this is 684 Naira per person per day, with the exchange rate of 360 Naira/$. It would be somewhat correct to call Nigeria a poor country. The challenge with Nigeria is neither a lack of mineral resources nor human resources needed to improve the country’s fortunes. To examine the real causes and not just the symptoms such as hunger and unemployment one needs to do a bit of history, so as to channel the panacea properly.  Nigeria gained independence from the British Government in 1960, and though the sojourn in the desert has some similarities to that of the Israelites from Egypt; Nigeria has spent seventeen years more without sight of the promised land in view.

A look at the Bible, Deuteronomy 8:7-9, in the  New International Version (NIV)

  1. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills;
  2. a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing;
  3. a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

This describes Nigeria, a beautiful land with Ocean, sea, and several water bodies in the South, hills and valleys, in the north. Copper is present in Nassarawa, Plateau,  Zamfara, Bauchi and Gombe state. Iron is also available in Kogi, Enugu, Niger, Zamfara, and Kaduna state. To extract and produce the iron and copper required work and time, which was same for cultivation of food. To survive this national investments phase, some palliative were needed. Like the Israelites, Nigeria needed some form of Manna and miraculous quails for bread and meat. This came in form of grants, loans, and aids, from developed nations which had interest in ensuring Nigeria gets to Canaan. However, there was a challenge in this, one which is highlighted in the Bible verses below.

Exodus 16:13-16 New International Version (NIV)

  1. That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.
  2. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
  3. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.
  4. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.”

Like some Israelites, some Nigerian elites, civil servants, and opportune citizens; who are a small fraction of the population, took way more than the Manna they needed, leaving very little for the masses.  Hence, the aids, grants, and donors did not get to the populace who needed it. The product of this is a maggot infested and foul smelling economy. A good present example of this situation is the diversion of donor relief food and materials for the displaced persons in the North Eastern part of the country. This has been spoken against by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, but no one is being brought to book.

Another challenge is productivity. No nation, has been able to create wealth by living off aids and donors; even the Israelites did not.

Leviticus 19:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

  1. “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.
  2. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

The Israelites cultivated their lands, mined their copper and iron, and provided jobs for themselves. But even the perfect society will have the vulnerable by their standards. This resulted in them having to leave the edges and gleaning for the less privileged and foreigners who came into the country in search of greener pastures. Nigeria on the other hand, barely produces its food, its manufacturing sector is challenged with lack of consumables and high production cost sales cost. More so, Nigeria under the democratic leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, in 1983, enforced the Ghana Must Go, which saw about a million people from its West African neighbor, Ghana repatriated.

The end to the provision of Manna to the Israelites came thus; Joshua 5:11-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

11.And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.

  1. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

It can be concluded that Nigeria will not stop being a  begging nation until we produce our own food and manufacture our own goods. The worrying thing about this, is given the precedents and history of how aids, grants, loans, and loan cancellations, were utilized, Nigeria is sinking more. When people can divert foods and relief materials meant for poor, terrorism survivals, in a recession; one can deduced that nothing has changed. Change will not come,  until the country operates a genuine free market, relegating its somewhat false welfare state of socialism, and punish crimes at all levels. This systemic transformation can be put in place with the help of honest and disciplined leadership and an enlightened followership, who can discern genuine motives. This implies education is key at all levels, both formal and informal education in the schools, homes, mosques, churches, and shrines. Legal and moral values need to be thought while there is still Manna because a hungry person cannot be properly educated. The country needs to genuinely work for earnest transition from receiving Manna to eating the fruits of Canaan.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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