The news going round is that Nigeria is broke. I, for one, do not believe that fallacy. However, if the treasury is indeed empty or nearing emptiness, then what it means is that this happened because the government, this government and past governments had not exercised good fiscal, economic responsibility and management. I am not an economist, but I do know when money and other resources are being mismanaged. And as we will all agree, including the whole world, Nigerian governments have never been held in high esteem for fiscal management, unless we want to deceive ourselves, which is another additional path to impending disaster.
What it also means is that despite the massive oil revenue (and other incomes from other sources) earned over the decades, these have not been managed to serve the people of the country, as we have not really seen so much what the revenue has done to better the lives, security and comfort of the majority of Nigerians, only a few highly placed thieves.
If indeed this the case – that the country is broke – we saw it coming, but we ran smacked with eyes wide open into a waiting disaster. We have been cautioning our rulers for decades that no country can sustain the massive corruption that go on in Nigeria. All entreaties for our rulers (and sometimes, followers) to change have fallen on deaf ears.
Some do not even entertain the thought that oil, being a fossil fuel formed over millions of years, will be exhausted one day, or that developed countries have been frantically looking for and perfecting alternative sources of energy, so as to reduce, and eventually stop their dependence on their energy/petroleum sources coming mostly from unstable and irresponsible Third World republics like Nigeria.
Oil has been God’s (or if you like, Nature’s) gift to Nigeria; we have failed miserably to make the most of it to ameliorate our own lives, caused mostly as a result of selfishness, nepotism, greed and insensitivity to our brother’s plight. It has been “only for me and my family” as against the communal spirit and morality for which many African societies were noted before the white man came. It is “grab what I can while I am there” and “I don’t care what happens to others as long as I get mine”. Very sad what we have descended into. It is now always “Me or Myself or I”, not “We or for them or for all of us”.
We now seem to be at a loss what to do. Deep, brilliant and great minds of the society are even confounded and in despair, and about to give up. Even our rulers, who are the causes of the problems, are flailing about, secretly taking their family out of the country and relocating them to “better and safer” countries, with the intention that when the shit hits the fan, they will join their families abroad. Meanwhile the ordinary Nigerians are being blitzed with poverty, bombs and insecurity, poor healthcare, etc. on a daily basis, and also being fed with lies and unfulfillable political promises, because the failed rulers still want to hang on to to power and drain every single last drop of oil and money from the country, as well as drain the peoples’ blood and sweat in the process.
The other day, we were told we have $38 billion in the Foreign Reserve; but what the government did not tell us is what they did with the over $68 billion in foreign reserve that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo claimed he left for his successor, the late Umar Yar ‘Adua, and which was passed on, albeit less a few billions, to Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
As I said, I don’t believe we are broke, but then, the people of Nigeria have always been broke and broken anyway, so it makes no difference to us, if the government of Nigeria his broke or not. When we were practically swimming in oil and massive wealth did this filter down to the majority, to ease the poverty of their lives and be proud to call Nigeria and its various governments their own that they believe in? The answer has always been No.
The fact is we have been short-changed by our rulers, and we continue to be short-changed, with apparently no end in sight. Even a beam of hope for better things to come, for better rulers to come in 2015 is looking highly impossible now and is fading fast, because, one, it is looking more and more likely that we may have the same set, cabal, the same crooked and obtuse politicians back in power to continue the looting spree, and, two, it is even bleaker that some unscrupulous, blood-tainted and criminal elements who have illegally acquired some big money (aided by those already in power) may also join those of their ilk who are already at the driving seat. All kinds of worms are crawling out of the woodwork to feed on our common wealth.
Let me quote Mamora Victor in The National Mirror of Nov 17, 2014. “One of the reasons that many Africa nations’ economy is in bad shape and poverty is common among the people is because the society promotes people who have no history of productivity in both social and economic entrepreneurship to public leadership. There are armies of people who are unfaithful and unproductive as employees taking over public leadership assignment in many nations of Africa. The implication is that the culture of irresponsibility and mediocrity are been promoted. Hence, corruption thrives. Corruption, among other meaning in English dictionary, means to abound in errors. When a society promotes incompetent people into public office, then they abound in errors and corruption thrives. Corruption is not only as a result of lack of character but also lack of competence. People can be of good character and abound in errors too or corrupt the economy. Two common attributes of public leaders who abound in errors are lack of vision and irresponsibility”.
If the above is not the Truth about Nigeria, as an African country, please tell me what it is. Look at our rulers (I never call them Leaders; Leadership is a quality, it cannot be bad, it can ONLY be good) and tell me what you see or feel about them and their qualifications and suitability for the leadership role we elected or appointed them to do. Even the most highly educated of them fall victim of the corruption disease eventually. It is an African disease, those you entrust with your lives, your welfare, wellbeing and money, eventually betray you, once they get to power, or maybe, the disease had been latent, only waiting to rear its ugly head out, once they grab power, and at your expense. This unexplainable phenomenon never fails to materialize.
Compatriots, we are at a crossroad (we always seem to be nearer elections). The future is not looking rosy for those of us alive or for many generations to come, if we continue to let things go the way of the devil. Nigeria is on the brink now more that it was before, even in the days of a certain military dictatorship. In fact despite the noise and false assurances by our politicians, who are pleading for a second chance to make lives better for us, we know deep inside ourselves that we are gradually turning this nascent democracy on its head and abusing it. Democracy can only be government of the people, for the people and by the people. Do we really practice that or are even trying to practice that age old definition, that has made other countries into great countries, imperfect as they may be, only because Man is imperfect.
Where are citizen participation; openness and accountability in government; free and fair elections; political inclusion of marginalised groups and peoples; women’s participation; good governance; political debates, ideologically-based political parties, dividends of democracy for ALL and NOT for SOME, etc.?
No wonder the rumour is that the country is broke. In fact, with the stupendous profligacy, corruption, mismanagement and lack of foresight of the past 54 years, it is a miracle the country has not broken down into a Somalia-like political terrain or economically impoverished Haiti; and this is only because the country is gushing with oil.
In the Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Unfortunately, I cannot get a definitive quotation from the Holy Quran, because Islamic law is absolutely incompatible with democracy. It is a theocratic system with Allah alone at its head. Allah’s law is interpreted by a ruling body of clerics. There is no room for a secular political system in which all people are treated as equals. Nevertheless, I am sure it does not advocate the corruption of any system that deals with the welfare of Man.
So, broke or no broke, Nigerians, well-meaning and responsible Nigerians, must go for broke in 2015 and drive these criminals out for good. The hard truth is that we cannot and must not allow the present crop of politicians (including the children they are grooming in their own image), and even civil servants to continue running and ruining this beautiful country of ours.
I have to tell the Truth as I know it always. I get my inspiration and encouragement from my people.