Nigeria Matters

If This Government Should Know The Anger Of Nigerians…

Nigerian rogues in high positions are responsible for the continuous deterioration of Nigeria. They siphon Nigeria’s money through frivolous contracts to self, bribes, and direct channeling of Nigerians masses blood rights to their own personal and friends accounts, and then build exotic houses for themselves abroad, while the masses whom they swore to serve, continue to live in abject poverty and disenfranchisement, without the basics of life, – water, power and security, how much less luxuries. People die in hospital systems that run without the needed security, insurance, manpower, incentives, equipment or funds. An unnecessary traffic accident due to a constantly deplorable road system occurs. The police force that would actually be edified if just called- lacking lag behind. And the insecurity of the entire nation rises to epic proportions, with broad day light robberies, while the ill equipped police look on.

It is almost impossible to know exactly how many of Nigeria‘s children live on the street, hustling, begging and working. A recent report by Human Rights Watch documents the experience of some of the tens of thousands of children, it says, that live on the streets of cities like “Kwashianu” Kaduna, Aba Rd; Port Harcourt, Broad Street, Lagos, as a bit snap. Like street children in other state and elsewhere in the world, they eke out a living in harsh conditions, sometimes turning to drugs and crime, and often becoming the victims of physical and sexual abuse. I feel like we are being duped. There is not a nickel worth of difference between our political parties as it affect us the people. A one-sided vote without flaw ultimately is a vote for the Democracy and a vote for the Democracy is a vote for the people. Our system is not a multi-party system. Instead it is like unto multiple heads on the body of one monster that has beguiled us. On the face of one head is a donkey and on the face of the other head is an elephant.

Nigeria is oil rich and yet most people live in poverty. Where is all the wealth going? Conventional wisdom is that Nigerians are being cheated out of their due by their leaders. Or to put it another way, Africans are corrupt and following from this we need to monitor them. Of course, this assumption smacks quite heavily of racism. Radical critics of the focus on African corruption point to corruption in the West: Italy is lower down Transparency International’s league table than many African states; our own Prime Minister may be implicated in selling peerages for cash. But as the western world views us, in Africa ‘corruption kills people’. Corruption may be an international phenomenon, but the consequences for the developing countries of Africa are too serious to be overlooked merely because the accusation sounds racist. And the charge of corruption is not leveled at ordinary Africans, who are the victims, but at African leaders.

Nigerians remain in the Diaspora cleaning toilets, working hard, remaining slaves to the foreign man and can not return home, because they are scared to go back and be killed by the freely operating robbers, unchecked by a selfish government system. They wish to return and share their learning, ability and skills gained from education and work in the larger world, but are bothered by the lack of water and power which still plagues Nigeria in the 20th century. A Nation of 1/5th of the worlds black people, and a Nation so endowed, that is in the first 10 of the worlds Oil exporters, supplying 1/5th the oil used/purchased by the entire United States of America. 1 in 4 American cars drive on Nigeria’s highest quality fuel, which is also used by the United States Air force, being of best quality, yet our masses continue to live in abject poverty, without any operating refinery in the entire Nation, whereas the government meddles with our naira.

The government meddling with money has not only brought untold tyranny into the world; it has also brought chaos and not order. It has fragmented the peaceful, productive world market and shattered it into a thousand pieces, with trade and investment hobbled and hampered by myriad restrictions, controls, artificial rates, currency breakdowns, etc. It has helped bring about wars by transforming a world of peaceful intercourse into a jungle of warring currency blocs. In short, we find that coercion, in money as in other matters, brings, not order, but conflict and chaos.

How can we deny the historic role of our politicians in giving us a free and independent country, a flag, a national anthem of our own, an identity for our future generation? How can we deny the immense sacrifice of our politicians in upholding the democratic and other basic rights of our people whenever the usurpers of power have threatened these rights?

Today we all say that for a true and meaningful democracy to take root, a free, fair and credible election is a must, and for that so many things need to be done by the caretaker government — a truly independent and competent election commission, a flawless voter list, if possible voter ID card, transparent ballot box, and reform of electoral laws so that black money and muscle can not influence the electoral process — before announcing the election schedule.

What did the majority of our political parties, mostly the ruling PDP to be specific, ask for? They also asked for almost the same things and took to the streets with tougher programs like blockade and hassle only when all other mild and peaceful programs failed. And we called them rogues, out there to subvert the electoral process and destabilize the country.

When one party was adamant to go ahead with a farce election as per their blueprint and recapture state power to protect the huge wealth illegally amassed in the past 5 years of their rule, more appropriately misrule, and another party was determined to resist it at any cost, how can we put all of them in the same bracket and brand them as power mongers, out to destroy our democracy?

There is no denying that most of the people we see in politics are corrupt, immoral, and devoid of any political ideology. They are there in politics only to earn money and wield power. But it is unfair to pass a sweeping comment or to say that there are no honest, dedicated, and patriotic people in politics.

The problem is that most of the people we see now in politics are not politicians. They are either businessmen or retired bureaucrats or military ex-service men who have turned politicians overnight by virtue of their muscle, money, or position in the society. It is probably high time that the political leadership took a close look at the matter and redeemed their strategy or else, they might soon see the bad ones driving out the few good ones and take the driving seat. To be frank, the process is already on.

It is heartening to see that the government or embattle Yar’Adua administration, by whatever name one may wish to call it, is making an effort to reverse the process. Wishing them all the success, we only hope that whatever they do they do it within the frame work of law — remaining absolutely neutral and impartial and without being distracted from their actual goal of handing over power to a truly representative elected government in the shortest possible time.

Having said that, the question is, how fair will it be for the civil society or government in power to singularly target the politicians and launch propaganda against them for all that is bad in this country, taking undue advantage of the emergency? The politicians are dishonest but are the other groups in our society all angels? The politicians are power hungry, but who isn’t?

Professor Maurice Iwu and Justice Legbon Kutigi were not politicians. As non-political persons, people expected them to play an absolutely neutral and impartial role in ensuring a free, fair and credible election and handing over power to a truly representative elected government. Instead, they played the role of a poodle and made a complete mess of the whole democratic process. Can anybody honestly say that they were less responsible for the situation?

We all want reform of the political parties. The business community seems to be more vocal than anybody else in this respect. But why don’t they ask for reform of their own world — trade, business, loan default, labour relations, tax policy, anti-adulteration law and so on — so that nobody can easily get away without repaying the bank loan, nobody can adulterate food, produce fake medicine, import animal feed for human consumption, evade tax or siphon money out of the country by under or over-invoicing, or exploit his employees. They won’t. Why would they if they can make the politicians the scapegoat?

We see some retired bureaucrats and police personnel also joining hands with others in condemning the politicians indiscriminately and wanting the Yar’Adua government to go for rigorous electoral reform. Why don’t they ask for reform of the administration also? Nobody will say that they are all clean. Not least those who had the misfortune of going to them empty-handed.

Bureaucracies are efficient because they are impersonal. They run on procedure and routine. The combination of inefficiency and impersonality requires those who use their services either to confront the causes of the problems of deficient procedure and routine, or to attempt to deal with officials as people; being nice to them or slipping them cash. While this is clearly a problem, especially as many Nigerians would be stretched to afford the necessary bribes, it is a leap of the imagination to describe this situation as merely another example of corruption, such as the possible corruption of government officials that may or may not be the cause of Nigeria‘s lack of oil refineries. This latter possibility hardly demonstrates ambivalence in the Nigerian national character. If bribes are commonplace and wages are sporadic, the fact that some may be left out of the bribes would annoy anyone in this situation. There is nothing particularly traditional or Nigerian about it. The view is that our input on this situation does not go far in explaining the real situation.

If the Federal government does cut interest rates and increases the money supply expect the value of the naira to decrease even further. Expanded money supplies fuel inflation so those commodities in great demand (food and energy) will see prices skyrocketing. As Nigerians are forced to spend ever higher percentages of their income on food and energy their demand for other goods and services will plummet, demand for housing, consumer goods, entertainment, durable goods, automobiles, and services may suspend.

From what is happening, the federal government cannot use tax cuts to stimulate the economy. With interest rates already low there is little room to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy. With the hopeless Nigerians already maxed out on poor policies don’t expect downtrodden Nigerians spending to bail out the economy. With the value of the naira in free fall don’t expect foreign investments to help (although foreigners may well cherry pick in the oil/gas market as a means of getting rid of their monies).

During other peace-keeping spending that tilted the economy, the thousands of tanks, airplanes, and helicopters and relate armouries purchased during IBB tyrannical era, Our Defence Industries kept factories humming and provided much economic stimulation. With much of the government’s spending in the Liberian civil war going to no-bid contracts and hi-tech gadgets the deficit spending has been far less of an economic stimulus than in the past. Instead of hundreds of thousands of well-paid labour workers reaping the benefits a few well-connected contractors have pocketed enormous profits from the Liberian and Dafur (Sudan) civil wars.

The combination of tax cuts and increased war funding has created massive federal deficits limiting both tax policy and monetary policy options to soften the coming depression. But wait; it gets worse, since 1980 much of the social order net has been dismantled. Fewer programs are available to help those in need. Homelessness, abject poverty, and malnutrition will increase to levels unseen since the military era. With the ruling party urged to shun double standard, this democracy will no doubt be blamed for this misery by the right and by nature’s law.

Unlike failed economic measures in the past, when everybody knew their neighbours and were willing to lend a hand when it was needed today the Nigerian society is much more selfish, greed is good, and a generation of youth has been raised on violent video games and political thuggery. I think crime; riots, religious strife, ethnic agitation and random violence will explode, as the economy gets worse. We will probably serve the nation better, if we look at our own face in the mirror first before we point fingers at others.

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