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Oddities in our political and economic operations

By Adisa Adeleye
It is generally accepted that Nigerians are queer people with unpredictable responses to events and often, indeterminable responses to events.

To a sober question on whether after spending over N70 billion to prepare for elections for an electorate of over 73 million, there would be a qualified success I could only say with divine intervention incidences of electoral malpractices would be drastically reduced. One would like to agree with former President Obasanjo‘s assertion that only God could conduct an election that would appear to be free and fair to majority of Nigerians.

Of late, the ruling party has been jubilating over the elongation of the term of office of five of its governors who won their re_elections. To some party members, justice has been done and by that pronouncement of an Abuja High Court judge, judiciary is superb.

Some weeks before, the opposition governors who were declared victorious by other judges were often ridiculed as governors elected by the judiciary. The country‘s judiciary has been turned by politicians into a partisan body whose decision is viewed from the narrow political angle and purely selfish interests.

It is a great credit that the country1 judiciary has been able to maintain a neutral stand in the dispensation of justice. The courts would always be there to deter notorious riggers and damnable criminals.

On the question of elongation of the period of stay for the five governors, I think, in my layman‘s view that the Supreme Court has pronounced in Ladoja‘s (former Oyo State Governor) case that the period formerly served by the same person in office should count.

One is a bit puzzled if a judge of the High Court could set aside a judgment of the Supreme Court on similar issues. However, it is up to INEC to contest the legal issue.

Some people argue and morally so, that if the ‘lucky governors‘ would spend more than four years in office, they should pay back all salaries and allowances enjoyed before their elections were annulled by the courts Afterall, re_run elections they won were not thrown open to other contenders as would be required for a new general election.

The problems raised in the re_run elections would always create problems in future political contests unless there is included in the country‘s electoral regulations a clause forbidding any fraudulently elected member discovered by an election tribunal from contesting any elective post again.

This would save the country from an embarrassing situation of a legally sacked governor gunning for another legislative post. There are now cases of governors sacked for various mal practices now appearing as Senatorial candidates. What a shame!

Many still believe and firmly too, that all election court cases should be finally resolved before the swearing in of public officials as it was being done in many civilized countries including Nigeria before the collapse of democracy in 1983.

That INEC should work within the electoral Laws is desirable. However, in the complexity of the Nigerian political situation, INEC officials should be more innovative. Where there are conflicting claims of rival gangs within the same party, INEC should help in resolving the conflict by ordering and supervising a joint election by the contesting parties.

Another funny idea (funny indeed) is to operate separate ballot boxes for contending parties so that their supporters could endorse their true candidates by their votes. Nigerians are a peculiar class of people and need a strange way of dealing with them. The only problem is where the electoral officers lack initiative and vision.

The clever Nigerian judges have learnt the rudiments of additional mathematics to unravel the mysteries of bloated figures of dubious winners.

The present dispensation has shown how fragile is the political structure which lacks democratic foundation. The race for wealth, power and prestige has thrown open the field for all kinds of combatants. The lack of political principle and difference in ideology is responsible for the chameleonic characteristics of some politicians.

As we seem to be politically amiss, we appear to be economically remiss. The other day, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Allison Madueke spoke beautifully about the oil industry with production of crude oil at about 2.3 million per day and the receipt by government of S680b from sales of oil and gas. The relative peace in the Niger Delta region would attest to President Jonathan‘s progressive oil policy.

With such huge revenue, Nigeria needs not to be poor or beg for foreign investment or fall into domestic and external debts. Many believe that Nigeria should have nothing to do with poverty even if according to a Presidential candidate, Professor Pat Utomi, Nigeria is ‘determined to be poor‘.

If a reasonable question may be asked, could a country with abundant human and mineral resources determine to be poor? It may not help to ask the ever brilliant candidate to explain his theory of poverty as abundant evidences surround us and stare us in the face. It is certain that Nigeria is poor because of poverty of leaders who could manage our resources well.

The simple answer is that our country is poor because the country‘s resources are not well managed and often wasted or stolen. The price of our precious oil in the world market is about S114 as against our budget bench mark of S160 leaving an excess of S54 per barrel in the kitty. There is no doubt that the surplus money in the account would find its logical route through the distribution pool to the various tiers of government to promote inflation, according to Central Banks‘ logic.

There is no doubt that the increase in world oil price is giving Sanusi Lamido Sanusi many sleepless nights and perhaps unjustified nightmares. More foreign exchange would be needed for higher import bills of subsidized fuels. The release of excess funds into the economy and anticipated expenditure by all levels of government and politicians would fuel the flame of inflation which has not been controlled in many years (inspite of claims).

The Central Bank has been concerned in its monetary policy with problems of demand inflation and forgetting how to curb inflation induced by the supply factor.

A policy of high interest rate (tightening of credit) if severely used might curb excessive demand and subsequently, retard economic growth. A regime of low interest rate with suitable fiscal incentives might tempt the dormant manufacturing industry to want to expand to meet the opportunity of rising demand. The Central Bank in its one way approach to maintain price stability would surely ruin the economy. But if finds a way to provide cheap infrastructure development funds for the real economy in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, it could be good_bye to poverty.

However, in an atmosphere of tightened local credit control and lack of free flow of foreign capital, the only saving grace should be the use of our oil revenue as a pivot of economic growth and prosperity, this calls for attitudinal and constitutional change in revenue allocations. It also calls for innovative leadership


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