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Nigeria’s socio-economic scene: Perhaps now is the time to dialogue

By Adisa Adeleye
AMID the euphoria of  the success of the amnesty deal in the untidy Niger Delta small scale fratricidal war lies the sober reflection on inability of the present Nigerian leadership to foresee danger and present catastrophe.

Like the ‘Briafran’ tragedy, the clear warning was treated with unpardonable levity until it was too late to avert a full-scale civil war. Now, if the militants have seen the wisdom of laying down their arms to give room for dialogue, then the voice of reason has triumphed.

Now it is the appropriate moment to talk not only on the problems of the Niger Delta region but also on the political and economic stability of the entire country.

That the country is sick and needs a quick surgical operation may not appear so glaring and important in the face of the licentious and riotous living of the populace. We have become Nigerians in the face of economic adversity and political uncertainty.

Rather than face and fight poverty, many Nigerians have taken to Religion which has turned to be the opium of those seeking prosperity out of desperation. Citizens no longer rely on government to solve social problems but throng to the sanctuaries of nascent prophets (some dubious) for the good things of life. In their pursuit of material prosperity, money as the spiritual nexus is expected to cater for everything, not excluding the acquisition of political power.

Where money could not be acquired lawfully and spiritually, all forms of corruption become acceptable norms. Fraud and armed robberies are for the desperate, despicable and the indolent.

It is observed that since the return of civilian rule about ten years ago, living standards of the majority of Nigerians have not improved beyond the experience of those dark days under military dictatorship.

It may appear unfair not to notice some improvements over the years or fail to see some glimpses of prosperity in many places. There are beautiful glassy buildings around, there are also private estates with luscious green gardens and shinning swimming pools; also luxurious imported vehicles ply our roads in every state capital.

But these are all for the rich and society is fast becoming money lusting, declining and sordid. Everyday shows the widening gorge between opulence of few and the abject poverty of many.

While party propagandists and apologists of the ruling caste have constantly reminded us about the good intentions of the Federal and State authorities, and especially how the President would change the face of Nigeria. There is a limit to what a single party or an individual could do, even if pious, to stop the drift towards decadence.

Some believe that the states and local governments are not helping the central authority in a coordinated effort to move the country forward.

There is no general health policy, road policy or employment generation efforts which are common and well coordinated even in areas controlled by the ruling oligarchy in the country. Even within each state, the local governments seem to be on their own, lacking in vitality to support the overall developmental efforts.

Even in the progressive Lagos State, the efforts of the governor on road development are hardly matched by the local councils whose streets exhibit various depths of pot holes, and cry for constant and proper maintenance.

Some do argue with justification and a good sense of history that the structure of the country’s edifice is so deficient that even angels from heaven would find it impossible to manage.

Of all the world’s political contrivances in the 20th century, only Nigeria still stands since 1914 as a united country by divine grace. Other countries, even in Europe, have broken into several states.

If a united Nigeria of our dream is yet to be realized, what stops us from pondering and thinking about options to make for tolerable solutions? Perhaps a talk or dialogue (or whatever name it is called) can do the trick. There is a need to re-examine our past and present to make the future a safe haven – a prosperous and stable polity.

It is dangerous to forget the past so soon as to be carried away and influenced by the shaky present, and to be talking about the dark future (2011). There is no doubt that the political gladiators are ready with their bloody armour and shield with filthy money to do battle.

To many Nigerians (if there are some left worthy of that appellation), it is now time to talk, discuss and debate and reach tolerable conclusions on specific issues like, the Niger Delta, Power supply, Electoral reforms, Federal fiscal system, Police decentralization, and federalism based on six or more geographical zones.

Perhaps a frame-work for general dialogue should include a measure to involve oil rich areas in the operations of the oil industry; true federalism to ensure economic viability and political stability of each of the federating unit; decentralization of power generation and possible decentralization of the Police Force to enhance safety of life and security of property.

We should start now to talk on the dangerous issues that divide us and forget for the moment the battle of 2011. There is time for that if we are alive, happy, healthy and prosperous.

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