By Bazee Uloh..
If used in a sociopolitical or economic sense, the word, “autarky”, has utterly no utilitarian value. That may sound arrogant, but it is irrefragable. No country, far less their sub-national components, can be politically and economically self-sufficient. There are practical reasons for this.
For starters, nation-states are endowed with different natural resources, gifts, technologies, and attributes. And since none of them, ipso facto, can exist as an island entirely independent of others, they oftentimes form alliances and blocs to enhance their mutually beneficent pursuits.
Such alliances could be military, as in the case of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); political-cum-economical, like European Union (EU) or Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), etc. The rationale for this is that countries are stronger when they work together.
Such assemblages aid tourism, as well as help in keeping law and order across international boundaries. Addedly, nationals and corporate citizens of member countries of such blocs, can, with relative ease, do businesses between and among one another.
Advantages derivable from such cooperation drive bilateral and multilateral agreements common among modern nations. For instance, a recent media report has it that the Akwa Ibom State government has gone into an agreement with British African Business Alliance Limited and PJ-IC International to provide affordable medium density housing scheme for civil servants, as well as enhance the fortune of farmers in the state with the establishment of processing lines as standby off-takers of farm produce.
Two major projects are loading here: houses for civil servants and processing lines for agricultural produce.
Back to the basics, food and shelter are two of the most critical needs of man. We all need food from birth to death; otherwise we would starve and die prematurely. We also need roofs over our heads to protect us from elements of rain and sun. Of course, both amounts to personal security, which are parts of national security.
To be historically factual, the need to provide affordable houses for Nigerians, especially civil servants, is an old matter. The setting up of the Federal Mortgage Bank was a response to that need: provide soft loans to them to build their own houses.
However, the success or failure of that bank and whatever it stood, or still stands for, is a story for another day. Then camethe National Housing Fund. Civil servants were made to contribute to the fund to help them own their own houses. But again, the success or failure of the fund is a story for another day.
Let’s face it. One of the worst experiences for a civil servant is to retire from service and still remain a tenant. The evidence is all over the landscape. It’s a point where, nunc dimitis becomes a must-sing hymn for those caught and trapped in this situation.
Sometimes, people blame such persons for staying on their jobs for decades and yet retiring without a roof over their heads. Well, without playing the devil’s advocate, the salaries of civil servants are fixed and they hardly have, except for the privileged ones, anything extra to make life a bit easier for them.
Most of them retire but are not paid their gratuities, and many have died without collecting what is rightly theirs. And so, the government’s initiative to get foreign partners to help procure houses for this set of Akwa Ibom people is a well-placed one.
The other leg of the partnership is equally important. In fact, it doesn’t need any emphasis that food is indispensable to man. But not all nations are blessed with the same quantum of land, see, or agro-processing skills.
For Akwa Ibom, while a large swathe of our land is arable, we do not have the necessary processing skills. This is why much of our food produce is not exported, nor are they exportable. They are not exportable because they are raw and cannot endure in that state without getting bad.
This is where the processing lines in the Akwa Ibom/British African Business Alliance Limited and PJ-IC International deal rightly earns a pat on the back, and deserves the encouragement of the people. Besides providing direct employment opportunities for the people, processing food within the state would create new skills for our people and elasticise the food production chain.
At a time when building materials have gone far beyond the reach of the masses, it would be a cold day in summer to help civil servants own personal houses.
So, what do we say now? We call on host communities to those projects not to place avoidable and unnecessary hurdles on the part of the expected foreign partners. A situation where young people block infrastructural development in their areas for pecuniary interests, all in the name of activism should be gone. It is in the interest of both government and the people to ensure that the necessary ambience is created and sustained for the planned investment to grow and take root.
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