Nigeria in the last couple of years has been bedevilled with myriads of issues ranging from insecurity, unemployment, and economic downturn, among others. Experts, economists, and Individuals from all walks of life have proffered solutions to the lingering issues in the country. Obafemi Awolowo was a statesman politician and nationalist, his imprints in Nigerian history from pre-independence up to independence, civil war and post-dependence is indelible.
After the ban on politics was lifted in 1978, Awolowo founded the United Party of Nigeria (UPN), which was an assemblage of loyalist groups to him. The party through Awolowo highlighted its four cardinal points in improving Nigeria which are Free Education, Free Healthcare, Jobs Creation, and Rural Development. Can these cardinal points help solve Nigeria’s issues?
Education is a fundamental human right and it is an inalienable right to ensure that every citizen of a country is educated. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “Education is the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.” In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), education is Goal 4, which aims to ensure education for all starting from basic education. The concept of free education started with the introduction of western formal education in Nigeria and was officially introduced on 17 January 1955.
According to the World Bank, Nigeria has 11 million out-of-school children (age 6-15). This figure means that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children and that 1 out of 12 out-of-school children is in Nigeria. The concept of free education will no doubt help reduce the number of out-of-school children, also considering the income of most families in Nigeria. The Universal Basic Education Act 2004 and Child’s Right Act makes schooling up to Junior Secondary School compulsory and free for children. Free education will help close the gap between the rich and poor, also children from disadvantaged homes will have access to education. Also, it will help in strengthening the security of the country. There are reports of children as child soldiers and suicide bombers by terrorists, education will help in taking them off the street.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Access to healthcare is crucial to solving one of Nigeria’s issues. According to the World Bank, the number of poor people is estimated to reach 95 million at the end of 2022 in the country. The figures imply that most Nigerians cannot afford to get basic healthcare. The United Nations in 2015 posited that countries should have a minimum of 1 doctor per 1,000 people. However, Nigeria has 3.8 doctors per 10,000 people with the numbers reducing daily with the emigration of doctors to developed countries.
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The number of avoidable deaths continues to increase in the country, with the country losing its bright minds in avoidable situations. Access to healthcare, coupled with adequate funding for the health sector, and reasonable remuneration for doctors, will help improve access to healthcare services. Also, it will reduce medical tourism, which continues to cost the country N500bn annually, thereby affecting the economy.
Unemployment has continued to be a bane to Nigeria. It is one of the socioeconomic challenges Nigeria is faced with. Nigeria’s unemployment rate stands at 33%. The rate increased following the 2016 economic recession in the country. It was further worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, leading to many SMEs folding up and many companies downsizing. The high unemployment rate has led to increases in poverty, crime rate, and a decrease in national output.
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The impact of job creation on the economy is enormous. One of such benefits is that it stimulates economic growth by improving the standard of living. Citizens who are gainfully employed earn wages or salaries, which helps them afford basic things and things they want. It also helps with creating businesses and increasing entrepreneurs as people have to come up with different businesses to meet the demands of the people. It also helps the government with taxes and the country’s GDP.
Over the years, Nigeria has been faced with rural-urban migration. This has led to urban areas being overpopulated, increasing crime rate, a rise in violence, and stretching of the infrastructures available. The Implication in a developing country like Nigeria tells on the economy, the rural areas are the major source and producer of raw materials, and rural dwellers also engage in economic activities while helping stimulates the economy. The vast array of lands in rural areas would help in the diversification of the economy, and also help improve agriculture. Rural Development will also solve the problem of rural-urban migration, and help with economic activities as the rural areas would be as developed as urban areas.
Awolowo’s cardinal points will no doubt help in fixing Nigeria’s issues because it bothers on crucial areas which help improve a country’s economy and standard of living.
Human Development Index
Interestingly, Awo’s approach approximates the new paradigm used by modern day economists to measure development as an alternative to the more traditional, GDP approach. Called the Human Development Index (HDI), it is a summary measure of human development defined by three basic aspects of human development including health, knowledge and standard of living.
Unfortunately, Nigeria ranked 161 out of 189 countries in the 2020 HDI, making the country one of the least developed economies. Indeed, if the country had paid attention to Awo’s 4 cardinal points as a development paradigm, the situation would have been different.