Nigeria’s Economic Predicament: Fate Or A Fault?

Being in Nigeria is a wonderful experience, being a Nigerian is a wondrous experiment. How? It remains crystal clear that a Nigerian has no protection home and abroad. Again, bad leaders in this country, are advantaged to rule against deprived right of all of us. They come to power by being fraud-voted against other genuine and potentially good rivals out of fake promises which cannot be followed up since the INEC is desperate enough to reap or risk from their ill-wind. I’ve been nursing this grudges for so long now. I’ve traveled wide; I’ve mingle with other citizens of foreign nations, from Mbabane to Zanzibar, from Las Palmas to Durban, and from Nairobi to Tripoli just to mention few Africans, Nigerians were subjected to torture in most of these lands, maim and brutalize daily. Owing to drained and dried economic situation in this land of opportunities, Nigerians make effort everyday to escape a predicament God has not ordained. They look for where to make life somewhat bearable; pay for whatsoever cost; borrowed or laboured to process visa

Everybody talks about running out of Nigeria like they are running out of Zimbabwe or Somalia. Nigeria in the last census I think had 140,000,000 million people. How many people travel out of the country yearly, say to the UK and the US, 20 million, 30 Million or 5 million? What percentage of the population does that make? And the remaining left in Nigeria, are they suffering? How do you define Suffering? It is like some people are waiting for the day when NEPA will not take light again or when Nigerian schools are top 10 in the world before they realize change is happening and Nigeria will be better-Silly.

Farmers are not well organized, labour is fragmented, and business groups see little advantage to becoming active in politics. Even under the best of circumstances, these divisions make it hard to mobilize broad popular support. Political activity has been effectively high-jacked by the ruling party-PDP. The Obasanjo regime went further than any previous regime in abrogating civil rights, repressing civil society, and giving virtual carte blanche to security forces. While the EFCC was directed at selected opponents of the regime, they also determine the general sociopolitical climate. Opposition parties have been passive, disorganized, and self-interested. As a result, they have lacked a clear focus or target for their activities. There is not a corresponding political party through which civil society can advance a coherent agenda and channel its demands. Rather, opposition parties are atomized, offering opportunities for individual gains through clientelism and cooptation.

This is an issue that I have harbored for quite a while. Our governments are only as good as we demand them to be. So, while we Nigerians complain tirelessly about our ineffective leadership and the resounding lack of accountability that has been the norm, we have to accept responsibility for allowing things to get to that point. We can no longer simply blame the government for the country’s problems. We all play a part in Nigeria’s issues and can play a part in Nigeria’s solutions. Until the majority of Nigerians understand that they not only have a personal stake, but a personal responsibility in the handling of the nation’s affairs – we will continue to suffer. Or, of course, God can send a ’savior’ that will ‘deliver’ the nation. But, I posit that no amount of deliverance will help a nation where people do not apply themselves to the betterment of the country. We all have a stake in our country and must hold each other accountable.

The Nigerian youth is currently passing through a phase of tremendous hardship. Right from his cradle to adulthood, he is being nurtured by foster parents. The housemaid prepares his meals, trains him to crawl, walk, and talk. The maid takes him to school, brings him back, stays the rest of the day with him and most often puts him into bed for the night. The mother is very busy working during the weekdays and too busy socializing over the weekends; keeping the housemaid busy taking care of the child seven days a week. There was a time, when both at the primary and secondary education levels, the school supplemented the home in the upbringing of the child. The curricular as well as the teachers diligently provided instruction on civic duties, personal hygiene, physical training and gardening in addition to core academics. That was then. Since he is still young, youth feels happy, free, and spontaneous and generally acts instinctively. He does not know he is missing anything.

Rightly said, a lot of things depend on the attitude of the governed. Nigerians are good at managing hardship and suffering in near silence. Worse still a lot of Nigerians from the grassroots level up are so accustomed to sycophantic praises if they are given handouts, contracts and have a chance to cash in on what I would call our national misfortune. If these don’t change their mindset, well we could be talking of a lost cause. Our citizens suffer extreme hardship because of the difficulty in finding employment due to government illusion and discrimination as well as the unstable political climate. The questions, however, are: For how long shall we continue to live like this? For how long will this insanity continue to reign? For how long should we continue to ridicule Nigeria? If we leave it in the hands of the police, it will continue. So, I have a suggestion: Let the Presidency discuss with state governors and set up a monitoring team in every state. Their job will be to patrol the highways, the cities and the villages and halt any unauthorized use of siren. The culprit should be ordered out of his car, and all the cars in that convoy impounded. What is more, the driver of any car in a convoy who kills anybody because of recklessness and show of power should be tried for murder. Perhaps, only then will they learn to be careful.

Nigeria should be taking its rightful place as the giant of Africa. Instead, the giant was brought to its knees by 20 years of brutal and corrupt military rule, which left a legacy of executive dominance and political corruption in the hands of Nigeria‘s so-called godfathers – powerful political bosses sitting atop vast patronage networks who view the government primarily through the lens of their own personal enrichment.

The Nigerian government has remained distant from serving the interests of its people for so long now. Politics at the federal, state, and local levels of the Nigerian federation are dominated by the powerful mandarins who built vast patronage networks during the military days and who now use political office to expand these networks and their personal fortunes. Moreover, many of these so-called godfathers have been cultivating personal militias to secure their positions, prompting a local arms race in some regions, particularly in the oil-producing Niger Delta. Even though several governors are under indictment for money laundering abroad and others are being investigated at home, the bonanza continues at public coffers for these power holders, while basic public infrastructure in many parts of the country remains as dilapidated as it was under military rule. Electricity, for instance, is available to less than half of the population and is on for as little as two hours per day in some areas, while many major roads are nearly impassable, and health clinics face a severe shortage of trained staff and supplies.

The government’s Poverty Alleviation Program has the stated goal of bringing food to hungry, poor Nigerians. So far, they have failed to do that. In the past five years government officials have lined their pockets and swelled their bank accounts with money that could have been used to feed hungry Nigerians. This year, the government had a budget running into trillions, more money than ever before. But not a dime will find its way into the pockets of the poor toiling masses.

Yet these people are not invisible. If you have the political will, signs of growing poverty are not hard to come by on the streets of 21st century Nigeria. They strike you in the face. One must possess, however, the will to look beyond the deceptive patina of modern sky-rise buildings that lines the highways of the Federal Capital Territory to the shanties and dirt roads that are the inevitable consequences of callous governance. Thousands of peoples face a life of hunger and misery in the sinkhole of the world’s second most corrupt country. Many commercial areas of Nigeria, contains some of the most shocking testimony of poverty existing alongside reckless affluence. Let us not forget that the system (whether it is in Nigeria or in America or in Germany) needs follow-follow to function. Democracy and dictatorships depend on people who will act unthinkingly and unquestioningly. That is what makes the world go round. Sorry to say it but if any of you think about it, you will realize it is true.

The only difference between countries like Nigeria and America is the issue of perception. Nigerian rulers are not worried about perception and so do not fret over the need to create equitable systems. They care not for the importance of legacy because our culture allows the wealthy to buy everything including a good name and a place in the history books. So, whether it is follow-follow bad rulership is secondary to the need to demand working institutions and systems. Education is key.

The major streets of this city – as indeed most Nigerian cities – are littered with broken dreams and destroyed lives. A short drive from the wealthy few the highway begins to cede place to the dirt road. The sprawling shanty towns are a world apart from the neon lights and glass and marble houses where the rich are ensconced, hidden from the sight of those the ‘affluent society’ left behind.

Our so call leaders can not predict the next hour. We are in big trouble in Nigeria because we are being led to our supposed destination by selfish and greedy leaders. Life does not seem to wait for us to be done with one challenge before throwing another one at us; whether we like it or not, prepared or not.Truth is always bitter and people would do anything to avoid it, but in the end, it usually prevails. Those who say tribe or ethnicity is not a major problem in Nigeria is not being prudent enough. They are comfortable with the status quo; they do not want to confront our problems head-on. They consider such issues extremely delicate and dangerous to our existence as a Nation. They failed to look back at the history of this Nation. They have continued to play lip service to the real cause of our woes, but in its stead have concentrated their efforts on its effects.

The issues of tribes and sentiments have lay back the physical and social growth of Nigeria. I am bemused by the problem of tribalism and ethnicities that has been embossed in the hearts of all Nigerians as there seems to be no end in sight at all. We are behaving like a child when we continue to give unnecessary credence to our tribes at the expense of one Nigeria. The continuous confrontation of who has what and who hasn’t got that in Nigeria has not done us any good since the last 47years instead, it has ignited war, hatred, disunity, rancour, lack of team work and double trouble for all Nigerians.

Those who are using tribal sentiments to destabilize us are throwing great opportunity at the laps of traitors and unscrupulous leaders to suck us dry. Nigeria is greater than any tribe or individual. Dwelling on tribal chauvinism is an element of immaturity. At this stage of our National history, the issues of tribalism should have been cast aside with a wave of hand. If we are not planning to secede from Nigeria; we should not be worried of tracing the beacon of our tribal land. I will begin to give my people some food for thoughts, and hopefully help them learn more about themselves and how vulnerable they are as humans. It is important that each man learns his nature and comes to terms with it. Embrace what you find as positive attributes and be more aware of flaws to at least control if they cannot be changed. Nigerians keeps underestimating Northerners. Unlike in the South where everyone struggles and fights for leadership, we believe that Leaders are anointed by God. We therefore trust that our leaders will protect our welfare. There are people who make statements to belittle others intellectually, but what kind of intellects are you if we are always controlling power?

Though fighting corruption should have no boundaries, and we can’t pick and choose between “Small Thieves and Big Thieves”. All ill-acts involving grafts or dipping into the government coffer or “cookie jar” should be deemed unacceptable by any magnitude at which the infraction is committed. Ironically, most of these bandits stealing us blind started at local government levels and continued to sharpen their thievery skills to where they found themselves at national levels.

Why is Nigeria taking loans from China when we have foreign reserves? How much interest are we getting from our reserves and what are the interest rate charges by China? Is China becoming the new Colonial masters? BBC did a report on the increasing influence of China in Africa. We all know about Darfur, but very few people know about Chinese influence in DR Congo. China has just signed a contract with DR Congo to provide it with infrastructure worth about US$10b in return for its mineral resources estimated at about US$40b (with interest rates factored in). Is this a good deal for DR Congo? DR Congo has one of the largest reserves of Copper and Cobalt (used in mobile phones) which China is interested in for the ever increasing demand by its factories. Why are our businessmen not interested in investing in refineries? One argument is the subsidy of refined petroleum. How do we remove the subsidy without backlash from the Nigerian public and Trade Unions? Is NIPP the best option for Nigeria Energy crisis? With the increasing cost of Hydrocarbon based resources such as crude oil, what has the government done in terms of alternative renewal energy sources (and also eco friendly) in terms of Solar, Wind and Wave Energy? Wind Energy is highly efficient in the Megawatt range. A country such as Denmark generates about 16 per-cent of its Electricity through Wind Power for the betterment of her citizens.

We face, of course, another obstacle to Nigeria‘s economic development, the burden of corruption that past governments left on our shoulders. The challenge is to make ensure that any foreign involvement in our economy promotes equitable development, lift people and communities that have given much for Nigeria‘s economic progress, but so far have gained too little from it. If Corruption, an immoral illness that has infested and eaten through the moral fabric of our society could be pandemic in our society, is responsible, politicians and those in leadership positions are the carriers of this gaunt illness. While unfortunate as it is, many of these wicked and weak minded have an absolute addiction for looting our commonwealth without conscious or guilt for doing so…..We cannot understand how anybody can defend the type of governments we’ve had in our country Nigeria for the past 20 years. And if anti-graft agencies work, economic policies passed, government reforms give positive input, and then what problem has the Nigerian government actually?

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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