The Oasis Reporters
January 9, 2021
By Datong D.G
According to a study by the National Bureau of Statistics (2019), 8% and 16% of females and males, respectively, who are over 25 years of age have tertiary education. With a female population of 25+ placed at 41 Million and a male population of about 39 Million, this translates to about 10 Million Nigerians with tertiary education.
This population surpasses the population (each) of Hong Kong, Norway, Finland and Israel and about the population (each) of Sweden and Greece. Divided by the number of states in Nigeria, each state in Nigeria can boast of over 270 thousand people with tertiary education.
By any standard, this number can form at least 50 large scale companies of 5000 workers each in every state of the federation including the FCT. Hypothetically speaking, these companies would have a capacity to give employment to 10s of thousands more people in secondary employment.
So why has Nigeria not been able to develop?
The argument that Nigerian graduates are half-baked can not hold water based on the fact that once Nigerians escape from Nigeria to other organized economies like Britain, America and France, they excel beyond measure.
The answer to the question above lies in the way we organize the know-how so gathered in the tertiary education which we have garnered in the individual graduates. We (Government) always emphasize on how individuals should be self-reliant; tailors, carpenters, mechanical engineers, electronic engineers, civil engineers etc. This is the worst economic growth model ever practiced by any country on earth.
Let me explain.
Experiments have shown that as a person, there is a maximum amount of learning and skill that you can acquire. As a tailor, there is a maximum number of a certain cloth that you can make per unit time (day, week, month or year). This maximum amount of knowhow or skill that can be stuffed in one man is called a person byte. One person byte can only produce so much and whatever 1 person byte will produce would be too simple a product. It will lack the complexity that it would take 2, 3 or 10 person bytes of different skills as the case may be. A product such as a car will be made by a variety of person bytes. There is no way that 1 person-byte can create a car and make it move.
This is the detriment of self-reliance that most Governments preach. Corporations normally shop for various person-bytes that can be used to produce their desired products. The research referred above found that the same group of people working in Ford continuously improved the time taken to produce a Ford car. This is the direct opposite of the learning or skill acquisition of 1 person.
Have you ever wondered why Dangote became a Billionaire in a country that is “blessed” with the largest poverty stricken population in the world? Well, Dangote uses variety of person bytes irrespective of color, race, religion or creed to run his business. It is easier to make use of a person that has know-how than to train one. Training is very time consuming and also costly. Training also comes with experience; the more time you have in applying a certain skill, the better you are at it. One experienced person can easily train someone on the job, therefore, the first set of workers must have extreme experience to handhold the others.
In Nigeria, we try by all means to distinguish our states based on religious and ethnic divides; we will neither get the correct skill nor the correct combination. If Plateau state only uses Plateau indigenes working for its state Government, it will never get to that peak of its achievements because it must be foregoing a certain skill somewhere that may be existent in Lagos State. A cosmopolitan state like Lagos for example has a higher tendency to grow since it has a variety of person bytes working with it.
The quota system practiced in Nigeria is another spanner in the wheels of progress in this country. This will never (ever) get us the right combination of skills that will make us as productive as our collective capacity would ever give us. It is known that the quota normally does not even have an end, from region it goes to state, to LG, to village, to religion to denomination. It has no end; we keep skipping skills for primordial sentiments.
In conclusion, for Nigeria to attain the heights of its development, it must;
Harness the 10 million tertiary skills it has trained to achieve complex products that would fit in the international competitive space
2. Abhor upholding ethnicity, religion, state of origin in determining its workforce as it limits the capacity to achieve with best combination of skills
3. States should look at the possibility of using skills of other states to achieve heights in their states.
4. Learn not to sell simple products which are usually found in raw materials by using person-bytes to process them into more complex products before exporting.