By Ben Nanaghan
To say that Nigeria has descended to the abyss of nations referred to as banana republics is a very obvious fact. To also say that Nigeria is threading a path of very dangerous and disintegrative precipice is another obvious fact.
For how can one explain the humiliating insult heaped on this great country by the First Lady, Hajia Turai Yarâ€™Adua and her kitchen cabinet who have held us hostage in the most vexatious and ignominious manner.
How can this modern day â€œJoan of Arcâ€ deceive this prodigiously blessed country so voluminously in pursuit of personal and selfish agenda.
If this cabal perfected the forgery of the presidentâ€™s signature on the 2010 appropriation bill, then it is anybodyâ€™s guess how this clique would have bled the nationâ€™s finances and reserves by the same process of forgery.
President Goodluck Jonathan should take a firm stand on this shameful comedy where we have two Presidents in one country â€“ Hajia Turai Yarâ€™Adua and Ag President Goodluck Jonathan. This nauseating Banan Republic politics has created some security problems not only in the army but has also aligned the north against the south.
It is the greatest insult on the intelligence of Nigerians for Turai to bring in a comatose President Yar Adua, wheel him into a waiting ambulance at 2am in the thick of the night and put off all lights from the Airport to Aso Rock and expect us to believe that all is well.
We were told President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua spoke to Nigerians through the BBC in what I refer to as a perfectly packaged ventriloquist stunt that deceived most Nigerians. We are told the President has improved in health and we would appreciate a televised thank you speech from our PresidentÂ to Nigerians and not through his media adviser Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi or is Turai saying Nigerians cannot see their President on Nigerian soil.
Surely these are diversionary abstractions for the Herculean task of restoring confidence into the polity and economy of this unfairly ravaged nation.
Nigerians must rise above petty and unpatriotic personal agenda and pursue those attributes and qualities that will place us in the front raw of first world countries rather than back benchers in undevelopable 4th world countries.
I will use the South Korean example to illustrate how a nation can take a quantum leap even within 20-30 years to become one of the ten greatest economies in the world.
The South Korean Republic was established on 15th August 1948 after Japanese occupation forces left in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. The first President, Syngman Rhee was accused of autocratic leadership and was forced to resign in 1960 following a student uprising. President Chang Myon of the second Republic was toppled in a military coup by Major Gen Park Chung-hee in 1961. President Park Chung-hee was assassinated in 1979 by a powerful military group led by Lt. General Chun Doo-hwan.
South Korea has had decades of unstable governments with military coups and military-civilian Presidents interwined until Kim Young-sam became Koreaâ€™s first civilian president in 32 years.
The political instability rubbed off enormously on the economic growth of the troubled nation. The Korean war of 1950-1953 did not help matters too. Also too were the Asian financial crises that started in Thailand in 1999.
But of all early leaders, President Park Chung-heeâ€™s regime (1961-1979), was the most economically challenging and rewarding. The major issue facing Park then was national grinding poverty. Park therefore embarked on a bold economic irredentism. He encouraged domestic savings to shore up domestic capital. He also introduced foreign loans to finance domestic production.
South Korea also invested in large scale Government Public Enterprises and by 1985 the Public Enterprises sector consisted of 90 enterprises employing over 305000workers or 2.7 percent of total employment in the non-agricultural sector. Public Corporations like Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and the Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO), represents the core of new enterprises established during Parks regime.
South Korea was only modestly endowed with natural resources like lead, coal, graphite etc but the South Korean success story cannot be written without its workaholic, never say-die population of 48.6Mn (2008) who together uplifted their country from per capital GNP of $100 in 1963 to $20,000 in 2008 and as 2008, was the 13th largest economy in the world.
South Korean economy recorded steady growth up to 10% in 1999 but due to various factors including rising house hold debts, the growth rate dropped to 3% in 2003 and as low as 2.2% in 2008 due to worsening global economic crises.
South Korea is famous for its auto industry despite the cash of Daewoo in 1999. South Koreaâ€™s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by an average of more than 8.7% per annum from US$30.3bn IN 1960 to US$340.7Bn in 1989. GDP per capital grew from US$1,226 in 1960 to US$8,027 in 1987 and to US$19.115 in 2009.
South Korea has recorded over fifty firsts in all areas of human endeavour. And so what has happened to the geographical contraption called Nigeria, struggling with a dwindling per capital income of just over $1089 compared to South Koreaâ€™s $19,115. Nigeriaâ€™s economy cannot pick until the Nigerian government gets its acts right.
Nigeria, instead of recording firsts in tens and twenties, is accumulating so many records from behind, while South Korea generates 3.6Mn megawatts of electricity for its 48.6mn populace, Nigeria now generates less than 2000mw for its over 154Mn population. Ghana with a population of about 24Mn generates 1743Mw just about what Nigeria generates. In South Korea fossil fuel alone accounts for 62.4% of total generation; nuclear sources generate 36.6 while hydro and other sources account for about 10%.
A country that is not aggressive and outward looking in its search for technology will remain far behind in technological and economic development. A country that is in the throes of rapid de-industrialization as a result of lack of power is not a serious nation that can competitively match the fast- forward economies of the first world.
But the time has come for all Nigerians to shake off this age long lethargic somnambulism and stand up to be countedÂ behind our new President and Commander-in-Chief- Goodluck Ebele Jonathan whose responsibility it is now to move this country forward.
Our industries are relocating to neighbouring Ghana and those industries which cannot pay Ghanaâ€™s cut throat relocation taxes are closing shop just because industries cannot survive on generators alone. Government has always liberalized generator importation because many former Nigerian leaders have strong links in China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries churning out sub-standard generators for the Nigerian market.
The Federal Government even went a step further by making a special budgetary allocation of $2BN (N300BN) in 2009 for the purchase and servicing of generators for Federal Government offices and parastatals. Even the Nigerian Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), an agency devoted to fighting corruption got a slice of the cake – $250,000.00 (about N37.5Mn then).
So what do we say about a government that has officially syndicated corruption and failure. One of the greatest challenges facing the Goodluck Jonathan Government is the problem of petroleum procurement and distribution. Since a prodigiously endowed country like Nigeria has no functional refinery and has decided to depend on scandalously imported petroleum products, then something cataclysmic has to happen for this great change to take place. This change will not come through guns and bombs but through an intellectual coup akin to the students uprising in South Korea in April 1960 that led to the resignation of President Syngman Rhee.
We all know that Nigerianâ€™s woes in the petroleum sector can only be eradicated by the provision of small and functional refineries â€“ not our bogus refineries with hyper inflated turn around maintenance costs.
But most of all, the highest common factor of all our problems in Nigeria is high-profile corruption, lack of patriotism and a greedy and selfish compartmentalization of Nigeria into North and South.
Let us abandon our feudalistic tendencies behind us and embrace tribal cohesion as in other climes. Malaysia has a racial distribution of Malays(49%), Chinese (32%), Indian (8%) and Malayan Indigenes (11%). This racial spread is a global phenomenon. It is so in America Australia, China etc. Most countries of the world have used a massive investment in education to level educational lopsidedness that could breed what Nigeria refers to as Federal character.
Federal character is an unwritten part of the Nigeria Constitution which makes it compulsory for the North to rule the country for 4 or 8 years and pass the next 4 or 8 years to the South. This is rotational Presidency. Federal character also means that the North must produce the permanent secretaries while the South produces the clerks. All Southerners have gone through this unbridled humiliation before. Whether the Northern Permanent Secretary is a disciple of Boko Haram (who believes that Education is an alien culture) does not make any difference.
President Goodluck Jonathan must give us the clarion call for a new spiritual intellectual and mental reawakening, a puritan renaissance to wash this country clean of its impurities. So many people are stealing the nationâ€™s wealth and getting away with it even without trial. Those who are tried are discharged and acquitted before you say Marian Robinson. Goodluck Jonathan must dissolve his cabinet and scout for fresh and unsoiled hands to set this nation on its path to greatness. He should not be discouraged that he has just about 16 months to carry out this onerous and transitory task. The problems are enormous.
The problems of corruption, fuel scarcity, building of smaller refineries, electricity, re-industrialization of the economy, empowerment and upgrading of Democratic Institutions, conducting free and fair elections, implementation of the Mohammed Uwais report on Electoral Reforms, Equity before the law, investing in Human capital development etc etc.
The love and protection of the nationâ€™s interest are the twin tonics that have fired leaders of great emergent nations â€“ Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and even America. I do not know of any other country that has revved patriotism to the highest level as the Americans have done.
The answer is good leadership. The great German Chancellor-Otto Von Bismack, achieved German Unification â€œnot by treaties and speeches but by blood and ironâ€. He was therefrom called the Iron Chancellor.
This reference is not insinuating that President Goodluck Jonathan must shed blood. He must however be firm and resolute and conduct a transparently free and fair election to hand this country over to new politicians without blemish or a sordid past that will incapacitate their ability to move this nation forward to its promised destiny.
He should not hand this government over to international shoplifters who are already plotting and scheming to rig the 2011 presidential election with stolen gubernatorial wealth. He should not hand over to those who will forge the nationâ€™s budget signatures or empty the nationâ€™s treasury with equally forged signatures and instruments.
The President will do the nation proud by probing and unearthing how much of the nationâ€™s wealth was frittered away during this period of Presidential looting, forgery and madness.
President Goodluck Jonathan should move on without â€œshakingâ€. The progressives and those who wish this country well are solidly behind you.
God bless Nigeria â€“ a land of unquantifiable resources and talents.