A few weeks ago, I watched the drama in the hallowed chambers, involving a Senator and his colleagues.
Ben Murray-Bruce, Senator, representing Bayelsa East, was forced to withdraw his bill, meant to promote the introduction of electric cars into the Nigerian transportation system and at the same time, fizzle out petrol-powered vehicles by 2035.
It honestly made me chuckle because in as much as I felt it was not a necessary bill considering Nigeria’s situation today, I was glad because, a policy maker is looking ahead into the future.
Sometimes, an uncommon common sense might not eventually be popular with the majority. A laudable idea might just be dumped in the trash can either as result of the leadership, lacking a common foresight, or just a case of being purposely selfish.
“In no distant time, combustible vehicles would get phased out; and the earlier Nigeria buys into the change, the better. I own an electric car that I have been using for the past five years. It is cheaper to maintain and durable,” Bruce stated, while presenting his case.
This laudable and progressive thought was however, not welcomed by the house as a major reaction came from the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who firmly noted that Nigeria is an-oil producing country and all hands should be on deck to frustrate the introduction and sale of an electric-powered car in the country. Interestingly, this is because we want to keep selling oil.
Maybe our lawmakers are not aware but one reality that will confront us as a nation is that in the nearest future, we may not be selling our oil as much as we do today. We may sell other by-products derived from it more but let it be noted that times are changing fast. This is one reason I have repeatedly mentioned on this column that our greatest assets as a nation is not oil and gas reserves but the people.
We must take human capital development seriously starting with revamping our educational curriculum; bring our public schools back to life; making interning a part of experiential learning for young people; and generally ensuring that opportunities are created for citizens to thrive.
Thankfully, the above statement is no longer the imagination of a writer. Rather, it is now backed by data as released by PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria a few weeks ago.
In the words of the Chief Economist of PwC, Prof. Andrew Nevin, “Nigeria’s biggest export is not oil; it is actually people, because of the remittances coming in.”
This is based on the fact that Nigerians in the Diaspora remitted an estimated $25bn in 2018. What is there to prove? All efforts should be geared towards ensuring that our human capital potential become plan A while our natural resources is moved to plan B.
Recently, I had a long meeting with George Ebube Ebusike, who is championing the cause of vehicular movement not powered by oil. Beyond the electricity deal, he is moving towards the direction of the sun! In other to enhance solar-powered vehicles, he initiated the Nigeria EcoRacing Team in 2014 in Lagos, with the aim of pursuing the development and advancement of Do-It-Yourself educational activities, scientific, extreme learning and heighten the citizen science movement initially across Nigeria. This team has designed what he referred as the Intelligent Eagle mobile 9Jabolt solar car, meant to take part in — Finish Reading on the Punch