Since the discovery of oil in the South-South region of Nigeria in 1957, the country has remained a mono-cultural member of Oil producing Economic Countries [OPEC]. Past Military and present Civilian governments’ revenues have been dependent on oil taxes with 65% of the country revenues of the Federal government and 95% of Foreign exchange earnings coming from oil. Apart from Lagos state, situated in the South West region of the country that has the highest incomes with high concentration of manufacturing activities, the rest states in the country are highly dependent on Federal Government allocations for survival. [Abbey et al. 1987: 157].
Today, majority of states in Nigeria are hugely indebted to international organizations like the World Bank and Nigerians do not know how much these states owe, the terms of payment and duration of payments and most capital projects carried out by states are done in shrewd secrecy. Presently, some states in Nigeria have not been able to pay workers and have once been bailed out by the present government under president Mohammadu Buhari APC government. Nigerians are yet to enjoy the true dividends of democracy under the presidential system of government practised by the country. Today, poverty remains the biggest challenge facing the country.
The situation in the country as a result of the dwindling foreign reserves is making lives unbearable for the Nigerian people, as millions of people have no food ,no water, poor quality public education, no health care facilities but there is one thing common to most Nigerians ,Religion. The teeming impoverished Nigerian citizens of the North and South harboured a quite rage over more mundane matters ,such as their falling living standards ,their lack of clean water to drink, decent public schools, Health clinics and Jobs. Unfortunately, local Nigerian politicians ,benefit of serious political programs, latched on to religion as an easy tool to win support from a population desperate for an end of years of frustration, corruption ,and more than anything, hopelessness.
As the late Bala Usman noted, sharia became “A cover because the upper class in the North has come to the end of line.” The Northern elite had Found itself in a position where it has to use Sharia as a cover to re-established its class interest – Sharia as a law is meant to keep the poor in line by reminding them of the dictates of the Islamic religion and how religion and politics mix [Bagudu, 2003 : 295]. Similarly, the same picture could be attributed to southern politicians where some politicians use Christian religion to manipulate and deceive Nigerians. As Abba Kyari clearly stated “We have millions of Nigerian people who have no food, no water, no education, no health care but there is one thing common to them, religion”. A politician does this as a political calculation but to the people ,it is politics. People are just fed up and Sharia and Christian religion fills the vacuum. [Maier,2000: 148].
Shown,2014 in his article titled : People, Poverty and Party politics in Northern Nigeria argues that poverty remain the biggest challenge facing nations and has engulfed more than two thirds of humanity despite rapid globalization of trade and finance. It could be argued that while developed countries like USA, Britain, Germany, France, Sweden just to mention a few, have a well grounded economic structure ,process and compassionate governments to address and reduce poverty in their countries ,same could not be said of developing countries like Nigeria. Today, there is a wide gap between the rich and poor in developing countries like Nigeria. According to United Nations Reports , Nigerians Human poverty index [HP] was only 41.6% in that year . That placed Nigeria among the 25 poorest Nations in the world. One could then ask why Nigeria should be in this terrible situation ,considering the abundance human and Natural resources that abounds in the country. How long will it take Nigeria to develop? While Developed countries are breaking barriers ,investing in research , advancing in Technology and improving the living standards of their people , developing countries like Nigeria is still finding it difficult to solving its power [electricity] problem. What an irony!!!
According to the data from the Federal office of statistics ,in 1999,life expectancy for Nigeria was 51 years ,while literacy rate was 5% and 70% of the rural population did not have access to portable water, health care facilities and electricity [Kpakol : 2004 : 115-116]. A closer look at the situation in all the six geo-political zones of the country reveals a sorry human development concern . It is suffice to say that Nigerians leaders are only patriotic by what they say and not what they do. How do one explain a situation whereby a country like Nigeria in its over fifty years as a nation, is still grappling on how to address among, major problems, the issue of power which is the backbone of industrialization.
Well –meaning Nigerians ,political Analysts , Historians, economists and academicians knows that the issue of underdevelopment in the country is leadership deficit. A country where its elitist ,myopic and corrupt leaders siphon the wealth of the nation abroad rather than invest these monies in the country to create jobs but prefer the country and its people to wallow in poverty and remain underdeveloped. No wonder recently, the UK prime Minister describe Nigerian leaders to be fantastically corrupt and USA, Donald Trump, The Republican presidential flagbearer, sharing the same view and mocking Nigerian Leaders and country.
Today, Nigerians leaders have become regional leaders fighting to take power at all cost to control the country’s oil for their selfish and ego centric reasons rather than for national development. Ironically, it could be argued that in the fifty five years of Nigeria’s journey as a nation, the North had ruled the country for thirty –eight years with virtually every state of the North having a shot at the governance of the country. Example, Balewa [Bauchi/Adamawa], Gowon [Kaduna/Plateau] Late Muritala Muhammed [Kano/ Borno], Babaginda/Abdusalm [Niger], Late Yar’Adua [Katsina] and now President Muhammad Buhari [Katsina]. The question then is, with the endemic poverty in the North and infrastructural decay in the country, what positive impact has Northern leadership have on the people of the North and country?
Even with Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, Ex-president late Yar Adua and Ex-president Goodluck Jonathan People’s Democratic party [PDP] philosophy of reducing and eradicating poverty in the country, poverty was prevalent when the trio were in power and the party failed to solve the issue of power in-spite of billions, if not trillions of dollars invested on power project in the country. Yes, PDP brought sanity and consolidate the nation’s embryonic democracy but the once ruling party for sixteen years, now in opposition was complacent, could not solve the security issues in the country and was riddled with corruption. The party took Nigerians for granted and was voted out of power in the may 2015 presidential election to the current All progressive congress party [APC] which most Nigerians believe is slow and directionless.
Development in Nigeria has become elusive under the military and civilian governments in the country as a result of corruption and lack of political will on the part of Nigerian leaders. Intrigues have steadily unfolded with intent to cause instability and bring down one regime after another with daring consequences on governance and growth and these have made previous governments not to fulfil the legitimate expectations of Nigerian people.
During the oil boom of 1979-85 ,the surge in oil revenue elicited such profligacy that real income began to decline rapidly , as much as 60% .Between 1980-1988 ,when Nigeria recorded a negative growth rate of 6.7 % and a budget deficit rising to 13% of the country’s GDP .Austerity measures instituted in 1982 and 1984 failed to address the macro- economic problems and infrastructural decadence in the country but rather shoot up corruption and legalise it. This crises deepened ,especially with the sharp fall of real oil in 1986, the worsening of the terms trade, debt service obligations, and a sharp fall in imports and exports as presently witness by Nigerian economy. Thus by June 1986, a structural Adjustment Programme [SAP] was in place that have little impact in the country’s economy. Today, similar circumstances has prop up and president Buhari’s APC is now asking Nigerians to be patient without any clear cut National economic plan to take the country out of recession.
Nigeria and wasted opportunities
The opportunities for developing Agriculture by previous governments, diversifying Nigerian economy as report shows that Nigeria still has untapped Gas that could last Europe another fifty Years but government allow this gas to flare, causing environmental damage and posing health risk to Nigerian people . Also, previous governments could not raise the public educational standards, failed to invest in technology, come up with a comprehensive health care delivery system for the country but Nigerian politicians could travel out, even for ear infectious treatment abroad which could have been treated, if the country has 21st century modern ,equipped , trained health care facilities in the country. Previous governments have failed to holistically address the issue of corruption in the country and agencies like EFCC, ICPC established under ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo [PDP] government has to an extent, help to sanitise Nigerian people on the issue of corruption in the country but another school of thought argues, that these agencies are not independent and were being used to settle scores by the ruling government in power against their political opponents. The general view among Nigerians are that, these bodies are cosmetic , selective in nature and operation .The lip service to the issue of corruption by Nigerian Leaders is now making world leaders to make mockery of Nigeria and her people .Today, in Nigeria , oil has now become the national cake ,control by corrupt elites who mean no well for the country ,hence corruption become harder to fight. The law of equity says :” He who must come to equity, must come with clean hands”. How many Nigerian elites politicians are incorruptible?
CONSEQUENTS OF TODAY’S GLOBAL RECESSION AND BAD LEADERSHIP
It could be argued that the previous PDP administration under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan ,for sixteen years in power brought sanity and consolidate the country’s democracy. Yes, some landmark achievements were made with the transformational agenda of the previous PDP government in the areas of solid financial institutions, Agriculture, transportation like Railway, Technology, investment in energy sector with an improved level of power generation, transmission and distribution of more than 2,500 mega watts and not good enough to having a stable electricity in the country. According to energy experts, Nigeria needs 35,000 mega watts as found in South Africa, to make headway in the country’s quest for industrialization . However, PDP, now in opposition became big headed, took Nigerians for granted , faced with its inability to address the issue of insecurity ,Examples, Boko Haram and the Chibok girls, which some Nigerians believe was instigated by some sectional regional leaders, agitating for power shift .
The current ,All Progressive Congress [APC] under president Mohammad Buhari leadership won the may 2015 presidential election on the mantra of “ change” but today ,with the global recession couple with past mismanagement of Nigeria’s economy ,the country is facing the following economic challenges: A collapsing poorly structured industrial sector.  A stagnant Agricultural sector and increasing food deficit.  A regulatory environment which hinders productive investment, local and foreign. Example, the recent somersaulted Forex policy by the government.  A dominant public sector which is inefficient, wasteful, suspicious ,arrogant and which is effectively impeding growth and development.  Energy crises with appalling generation, transmission and distribution of electricity power supply that have to be paid for by Nigerian consumers who are being exploited by power holding companies. There is need for the government to declare state of emergency in the energy sector.  The handicap of increasing inefficiency ,incompetence, demoralization and corruption in many sectors of the bureaucracy in the context of increasing governmental regulation and intervention in the economy.
The terrible state of infrastructural decadence did not happen overnight .It is the culmination of neglect, bad leadership and lack of political will on the part of Nigerian ruling elites in the last fifty years of Nigeria existence as a country. The abysmal failure of leadership in Nigeria to implement the key productive revenue earning projects [ on time] in the national development plans of 1970-74,1975-1980. 1980-1985, lack of continuity, sectionalism but not patriotism and corruption, makes infrastructural development not feasible. Those plans mentioned ,discussed the need for the past governments to use the trillions of petro-dollars Nigerian oil foreign reserves , to restructure and diversify Nigerian economy before the past and present global economic recession.
The aforementioned plans had progress in the Agro-allied sector, petrochemicals sector, LNG projects, PULP and paper, export petroleum Refining ,iron and steel projects, Alumna production in joint ventures with private investors and more importantly, the infrastructural projects of national road transportation, railways, harbours and power. President Buhari may mean well for the country but Nigerians are presently , facing difficult and painful period as a result of past governments actions and inaction, couple with the current global economic recession. President Buhari [APC] and other Nigerian elected leaders, need to seriously ,pragmatically analyse the country’s present economic situations and effectively come up with a national economic plan to address the above shortcomings. Nigerians and Nigeria deserves a modern technological driven and 21st century developed Nigeria. Nigeria as a nation is blessed with both natural and human resources but requires patriotic and visionary leadership to harness these resources for the development of the country.