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A NATION WAITING FOR GOD: Nigeria’s many problems

By Adisa Adeleye
MANY Nigerians, at different days and times, in speeches and writings, have pondered over the state of the Nation.  During the dark days of the colonial era, the nationalists were often branded as agitators, and the hardheaded ones became the awaited guests of His/Her Majesty’s prison yards.  Thus, political imprisonment became a mark of honour in those bitter days of British imperialism.

At least the colonial officials exhibited reading culture to be able to decode the offence of sedition from the fiery utterances and writings of the dangerous politicians of the day.

Though the prominent political leaders of the Governor McPherson era were able to avoid British jail houses before independence in 1960, the British overlords listened attentively and evaluated effectively the agitation of the people for home rule.  It is no surprise that Independence was granted to Nigeria on a ‘platter of gold’.

Some political analysts (not uncharitable) have since argued, perhaps with unblemished conviction, that the ease with which our independence was won has blurred our vision of greatness as a united and prosperous nation.

The argument went further that the political leaders and their followers of the 1950s and 1960s missed the golden opportunity of papering the cracks to unity through their acts of widening the cracks and near attempts of bringing down the edifice – breaking the country.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the military interventions brought no lasting solution to the basic problems of the country.  The hospitals, as ‘consulting rooms; did not change much; the bad roads did not fare better; costs of living rose abnormally but without any appreciable rise in the standard of living.  The military rule witnessed a mad assault on the domestic currency which eventually led to a massive brain drain.

The brutality of the military policy of suppression of ‘hostile ideas and opinions’ aided the push of economic harshness to send some citizens into the wilderness of political asylum.

The modern critics who berate Achebe and Wole Soyinka and others for living in Europe and America without waiting at home to fight for the enthronement of credible leadership, should be pardoned for their childish innocence and palpable ignorance of the dark periods of the 1980s and 1990s.

The first decade of 2000 has been unpredictable with armed risings, daylight armed robberies, massive election riggings; assassinations; ritual killings widespread kidnappings, and of course, the old scourge of religious disturbances with wanton destruction of properties and lives.  Unfortunately past scenario is being presently repeated.

Perhaps this country is lucky for having good international friends who would be bold enough to talk straight to the ruling class, if and when it is prepared to listen, ponder and act in time.  Nigeria having found no favour with President Obama, the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton spoke on the familiar fact.

She noticed, ‘that the most immediate source of disconnection between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is a failure of governance at the Federal State and Local levels’.   Nigeria does not need a crystal ball to gaze the level of waste, corruption and lack of accountability in all phases of our administration.

If the problems of corruption and lack of accountability are endemic in our society, the truth is that the weapons of attack (EFCC, ICPC, e.t.c) may be inadequate for successful prosecution of the war.  Party solidarity (funding parties through corruption) and method of funding of governments at all levels are the real impediments.  Every level of government relies on ‘oil money’ for its functions, with minimal consideration for internally generated revenues.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was kind to remind us of our economic shame.  ‘Nigeria is the fifth oil producer in the world and it still imports oil.  This is an example of bad governance’.  That remark remains mild in the fact of glaring stupidity and economic sabotage of the nation by the ruling class.

The government licenses importers of refined products and subsidizes the cost differences from revenue derived from crude oil sales – a crude policy indeed to satisfy rising demand arising from inadequate domestic supply.  A rational policy would be to attract private initiatives (oil marketers and oil producers in the country) to build more refineries if government could not build new ones and lease out to marketers.

Instead of becoming an economic laughing nation of the world, Nigeria should by now be an exporter of crude oil and refined products to the world.  Is anybody listening?

A more disturbing issue raised by the American Secretary of State is the problem of electoral reforms which had engaged the attention of many Nigerians and their friends.  At present, a free and fair election in Nigeria looks like a distant dream.  Every ruling party studies the best ways to deny the opposition any say in a democratic environment.

Courts (not the ballot boxes) are becoming the reliable authorities on real winner of elections either in federal, state or local government levels.  In a situation where the ruling party rigs elections to remain in power, the people suffer because of loss of opportunity to offer alternative solution to problems.

The present and perhaps regrettable position in the country is the prospect of a strong ruling party and a weakened and almost disappearing opposition.  In a political situation of, ‘winners take all’, with the goodies and allurements of offices; where politics is money and money is politics, the distinction between the ‘conservatives’ and the ‘progressives’ in politics is often blurred.

It is advisable to examine the options listed below to avoid the tag of a ‘failed society.’

-Formation of a genuine national government to tackle complex political and economic problems e.g. Constitution Review and Power supply.

-Complete implementation of Uwais Report on electoral reforms as suggested by the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER) and other hopeful Nigerians.

Is should be realized that no patriotic Nigerian would wish to break the country where his vote counts and his rulers listen to his woes.  Otherwise, Nigerians should start to pray and wait for that Devine Intervention.
Long Live Nigeria.


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