The nation with the largest reserves of crude oil in the world is Venezuela. If crude oil could save any nation, then certainly Venezuela would be that nation.
However, the desperate economic decline in Venezuela, the nation with the world's largest oil wealth under her ground is a warning to Nigeria. We must look beyond oil or we are at risk of experiencing the same fate.
My people consider that nations like the US and UK who used to buy Nigeria's oil no longer buy our oil. As a matter of fact, America now plans to sell her own oil. In other words our buyers are now our competitors.
Currently, royalties from oil accounts for 90% of our total government spending. Many people have said that this means without oil Nigeria could not function.
Perhaps this thinking is itself the problem.
Let us take the case of Anambra state and make it a test state for how we could possibly get out from the oil boom and bust cycle.
Anambra is not an oil producing state in that it does not have oil in commercial quantities yet it does not take loans or owe workers salary.
According to the United Nations, Anambra has one of the lowest poverty rates in Nigeria at 11.2% which places her ahead of 33 states.
Twenty years ago Anambra and other Southeast states lagged in education and had poor boy child school enrollment, but today Anambra leads the nation in WASSCE results.
For the past three years Anambra has had over 60% pass rates in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.
They have made the best improvements in education in the whole nation and the state government even supports private schools financially.
But look at those states that thrive by depending solely on federal allocation. They are broke, cannot pay salaries and are so debt ridden, banks will not lend to them any more. Worst of all is that these states are performing woefully in education.
There is something to be learned from Anambra. Is it their policy? Is it their budgeting practice? Is it their sense of community? Whatever it is, it is working!
The Federal Government and other states should study what Anambra state has been doing right and replicate it nationally
Anambra proves that Nigeria does not need oil to thrive. What Nigeria needs to thrive is education. What is under the ground of this nation is chicken change compared to what is between the ears of our people.
My name is Ben Murray-Bruce and I just want to make Commonsense!