Nigeria’s Definition of Democracy and Development

As a school child, I used to think Nigeria would not have any challenge of any kind, if democracy’s instituted. I was wrong. I grew up in the atmosphere of military dictatorship, when decisions were arbitrarily imposed on citizens. But has that mentality changed since 1999? Nigeria is a country blessed abundantly with natural and human resources. But in the last five decades of her independence, its potentials have been tapped (some are still saying, “it’s untapped”) and excessively mismanaged starting from 1967 leaders upwards. This present of leadership is the worst.

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With a population estimated at about 160 million, Nigeria is the largest country in Africa. In spite of her intimidating position on the ladder of oil-producing nations, there is still recurrent of fuel scarcity across the 36-state of the federation. More than 60% of its citizens still live in penury; as a result of large scale of embezzlement, corruption, and mismanagement on the part of its leaders.

With over 200 degree-awarding institutions producing more than 220, 000 graduates per year, and the leaders have deliberately found solace in uncultured rampant embezzlement and mismanagement.

Nigeria’s economy has stagnated since military takeover in 1967 up to 1999. The country’s poverty level reached an estimated 70% in 1999.

In 1999, the World stood on its feet to rejoice with Nigeria as she ushers in democracy (1979-1983 was the last time such happened), which the former President of the United States says, “is government of the people, by the people, and for the people”. The first question that comes to mind is: has the government really been to the life-changing of Nigerian people?

A challenging, and most sorry-state, illustration to explain the scope of Nigeria’s complicated confusions is comparing it with Malaysia or Indonesia. 1973 was the year Nigeria and Indonesia had oil boom. But the two oil-rich countries took different economic policies so that Indonesia’s total export is 40%, Nigeria, still below 5%.

It is no more news that Malaysia got its first oil palm seedlings from Nigeria in the early 1960s when oil palm produce was already a major export of Nigeria. Oil palm and other agricultural produce were relegated, focusing on petroleum. By the 1990s, it was estimated that Malaysia’s export of palm oil produce earned it more than Nigeria’s petroleum exports. The former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, described this situation as “tragedy”, but I will call it a shame, not on the part of the country, but on the part of leaders who have rolled out millions of unfulfilled promises in the past. Expect more of such promises in the incoming elections.

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Check out some of the multi-faceted problems of the country; less than 4, 000Megawatts of electricity for over 160 million people, unemployment, poverty; culture of impunity that some people have attributed to the military, but in the real sense the culture of the same impunity still pervades, even greater than the days of military. The former President Olusegun Obasanjo instituted two anti-graft agencies to fight the scourge of corruption. But they were later turned to political mercenary by the ruling party to hunt political opponents and critics, whose hands were as well not clean.

In 2011, a former Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was accused of not remitting N450 billion into the Federation Account. Nothing came out of the committee set up to investigate such financial ignominious act. The most revealing rot in the NNPC was the damming revelations by the former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi Lamido, over non-remittance of billions of dollars, before he was unceremoniously sacked on February 20, 2014.

Development spirit in a leader is his clear understanding of what rule of law is, and how to build a sustainable policies geared towards providing employment, security, independent judiciary and other indexes for measuring development.

More than 14 years after democracy, someone says, “Nigeria is evolving”. How comfortable would he be if his child of say 14years is yet to work?

Top on the news everyday is how the politicians jump-fencing one party to the other. A famous scholar and cleric, Bishop Matthew Kukah, has a better illustration of that scenario in his 2013 lecture entitled, Power without Authority: Leadership Crisis in Nigeria”; it’s a thought-provoking lecture.

And if you are yet to read, “Animal Farm”: Mr. Jones, Snowball, Napoleon and Co., you may not need to bother yourself about it again because a clear picture of what George Orwell paints is exactly the situation in Nigeria at the moment.

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