Whoever becomes Nigeria's next president has no choice but to launch a miracle workers brigade to address our chronic infrastructural crisis


Ayo Akinfe

[1] Whenever you get a group of four or five Nigerians together, they simply cannot help themselves. They must lament about the plight of the nation, moaning about corruption, inadequate power supply, a lack of infrastructure, armed robbery, kidnapping, ethnic intolerance, nepotism, religious fundamentalism, poor services, etc. I think this is actually a very positive step as it shows we care

[2] Complaining about our plethora of socio-economic woes is only the first step in a cumbersome process. The next phase is organising yourself into groups, putting pressure on the powers-that-be and above all coming up with policies that can reverse the situation. We need practical and workable solutions that can take us from the present where we want to be

[3] I have repeatedly said that our biggest problem as a nation is that we are not productive enough. It is this that makes us cling on to crude oil for survival, it is this that makes everyone run after government largess fuelling corruption and it is also this that makes government an enterprueneral activity. What I am proposing today is the setting up of a Stakhanovite unit in Nigeria that will double industrial production over the next three years. If we did this and had a thriving private sector where people could make a decent and honest living through toil, the state treasury would not be so attractive

[4] In 1935, the Soviet Union established the Stakhanovite Movement. These Stakhanovites were also known as “miracle workers” who took pride in their ability to produce more than was required by working harder and more efficiently than anybody else. Thanks to their efforts, the Soviet Union enjoyed 28% gross domestic product (GDP) growth during its second five year plan

[5] This Stakhanovite movement took its name from Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov, who had mined 102 tonnes of coal in less than six hours on August 31 1935. This was 14 times his quota. Other Stakhanovite followers would soon break his record as on February 1, 1936, it was reported that Nikita Izotov had mined 640 tonnes of coal in a single shift

[6] Thanks to the efforts of these Stakhanovites, during the first five-year plan (1929–1932) industrial productivity increased by 41% and during the second five-year plan (1933–1937) it rose by 82%. During World War Two, the Stakhanovites used different methods to increase productivity, such as working several machine tools at a time and combining professions

[7] Now, here is what I have in mind for Nigeria. We create a Miracle Workers Brigade in Abuja, which reports to the Office of the Vice President. This brigade, made of if dedicated, passionate, patriotic and zealous Nigerians filled with nationalistic fervour is set impossible targets. We give them targets of boosting production of a whole range of industrial goods and raw materials and they achieve it. They task will be to achieve the impossible. Maybe their motto will be Achieving the Unachievable

[8] For instance, if we want to boost cocoa production to 1m tonnes, we send them to Ondo State, if we want to boost groundnut production to 10,000 tonnes we send them to Kano State, if we want to boost steel production to 10m tonnes we send them to Ajaokuta, if we want to complete the Lagos-Calabar Railway Line within a year, we despatch them there and if we want to build 10 ships a year we send them to a boatyard at Bonny. These guys will be people dedicated to the idea of Nigeria becoming an economic super power. Recruits will be drawn from all spheres of life, they will be highly paid and would have no qualms about laying down their lives for the fatherland

[9] We see this sort of fervour in other areas of our national life, so it is not a case of Nigeria not producing passionate people. When it comes to money, religion or ethnicity, etc, I see our people prepared to do anything to achieve their goals. We just need to transfer this passionate into national development. When I see the suicide bomber prepared to blow himself up in the name of Islam, or the evangelical Christian prepared to sleep on a church bench for three nights in a row observing a vigil, that represents commitment. Likewise the migrant who walks across the Sahara Desert in search of European riches really has guts

[10] If we started off with a small Miracle Workers Brigade of 10,000 and then built it up as we go along, I can see our GDP topping $1trn by 2025. Should we open an office and start calling for volunteers? If we have such a brigade in place, I believe it will force the hand of the government. They will have no choice but to engage these patriots