By Ben Nanaghan
It is no longer in dispute that Nigeria is in the group of countries referred to as Banana Republics.
The term banana republic is a pejorative and derogative cognomen for countries that are politically unstable, agrarian dependent and ruled by a small self-elected, bourgeoisie and a highly corrupt cabal.
It was used to describe those countries in the Carribeans, Central and South America whose governmentâ€™s were primarily concerned with the economic benefits to a colonial or corporate power rather than the countryâ€™s values of democracy, socio-political and economic advancement.
In such pseudo-democracies like Nigeria, elections are rigged in favour of a pre-selected candidate. Other methods of sustaining Banana Republics is by instituting compliant governments including the staging of political coups.
Countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Argentina, most Carribean countries and many African countries have now become Banana Republics mainly because of a rising level of high profile corruption, political instability, and the breeding of systems rife with bribery and black market politics.
For instance Argentina has spent the past 50 years manically see-sawing from bust to boom and bust again, from elected governments to military coups and banana republic dictatorships.
The incidence of kleptocracy which enables leaders to plunder the nationâ€™s wealth to maximize personal gains ensuring a short fall that heaps misery on the unfortunate majority of the people, is very common.
There is no doubt that Nigeria has become one of the worst examples of Banana Republics the world over. The characteristics are so enduring and prevalent.
A Nigerian, singlehandedly decided that he preferred Alhaji Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua to become Nigeriaâ€™s next president because of the latterâ€™s broadmindedness, intellectual ability and high personal integrity. And so Alhaji Umaru Yarâ€™Adua became president of the Federal Banana Republic of Nigeria on 29th May 2007 in spite of his very grave health conditions.
Even in modern day Banana Republics the ballot box which expresses the general will of the people has become sacrosanct. Not here in Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo is not the only guilty one. All the state Governors planted their proxies and in some states where the proxies stand firm that plundering the Nationâ€™s resources must stop, chaos and executive gun-boat diplomacy has set in.
Here in Nigeria, the law has its colours and hues, it is a respecter of man. For instance there was the case of a criminal former South South Governor who chose his judge, jury and court and pronto the former governor was discharged and acquitted.
Innumerable corruption cases have been swept under the rug and these cases will be heard of no more.
Today South Korea generates 3.68mn megawatts of electricity for its 48.6mnÂ people with over 100,000mw unallocated or surplus but Nigeria dangles between 2000-1700mw for its about 155mn people. The world fact book estimated in 2005 that Nigeriaâ€™s electricity consumption was 16.8mn megawatts and a 14.6 average power per capital (watts per person) while South Korea with its massive consumption of 3.52mn had an average per capital of 879 per person.
Nigeria is a nation weighted down by so many traditional and feudalistic factors and it will be a divine miracleÂ if this nation finally emerges as a developing nation.
President Goodluck Jonathan has inherited so many problems. Power generation and distribution, petroleum products importation, pricing and distribution, building smaller refineries and maintenance, building vibrant democratic institutions, unexecuted contracts especially in the social utility sector, building trust and confidence in the economy, government and people of Nigeria. And of course, confronting the hydra-headed octopus called corruption.
But if there is anyone who has spited and impugned the integrity of this great country in recent times up to the point of holding her to ransom and ridicule that person is Hajia Turai Yarâ€™Adua.
With the fullest backing of the Nigerian Army, and all the paraphernalia of state power, Hajia Turai Yarâ€™Adua has used the opportunity of the Presidentâ€™s indisposition to etch for herself a slice of the Nigerian National cake.
Hajia Turai Yarâ€™Adua is part of the nationâ€™s dilemma. She is part of President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s predicament.
Turaiâ€™s obdurate tenacity to hold onto a comatose Umaru Yarâ€™Adua as shield and ransom to negotiate her political future has not only baffled all and sundry but has also ranged the North against the South, Christians against Moslems and woven indelible cleavages within the military and the polity.
That is why all Nigerians must heed President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s clarion call and shake off this traditional Nigerian lethargy and with the President, set the foundations of a greater tomorrow in this transitory interregnum.
As an impetus I will narrate how Malaysia from an economically disadvantaged nation became one of the greatest economies in the Asiay block and the world as a whole.
Malaysia gained her independence from Britain on 13th August 1957. In Aug 31st 1963 Malaya along with Singapore, Sarawak and the colonies of Sabah merged to form the Malaysian Federation. The federation suffered a major blow with exit of Singapore in 1965. Malaysiaâ€™s early independent was marred by conflicts with Indonesia which felt threatened by her neighbouring statesâ€™ merging into a bigger block. The Kualar Lumpur race riot of 13th May 1969 also unsettled the young independent Malaysia.
Unlike Singapore that did not have any natural resource, Malaysia had its fair share of natural resources including tin, timber, bauxite, iron-ore, coal, industrial minerals like clay, kaolin, silica, limestone, barite, phosphates and dimension stones such as granite and marble blocks and slabs. Also small quantity of gold is produced.
Malaysia was once the worldâ€™s largest producer of tin until the crash of the tin market in the 1980s. In the 19th and 20th centuries Malaysia was the worldâ€™s tin centre. It was only in 1972 that petroleum and natural gas took over from tin as the mainstay of the mineral extract sector of the Malaysian economy.
In terms of agriculture, Malaysia is one of the worldâ€™s top exporters of natural rubber and palm oil. Also they export sawn logs and timber. But palm oil tops the list. Malaysia borrowed its palm oil seedlings from Nigeria which today has abandoned its agricultural sector to concentrate only on its crude oil production.
Unlike Nigeria, the Malaysian government only collects royalties from oil explorers and producers and passes 5% of these royalties to the states.
In the 1970s, Malaysia began to imitate the four Asia Tiger economies (of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) from a mining and agricultural economy to manufacturing and investment in heavy industrialization. With incoming Japanese investment, heavy industries flourished and in a matter of years Malaysian exports became the countrys primary growth engine.
Nnaghan wrote in from Lagos