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My fears of the unknown

By Adisa Adeleye
NOT for the first time in our recent political history, the country appears to be heading towards an unknown land or uncertain future.  The reasons are quite simple but very clear.  None of the issues that could make Nigeria great are being adequately addressed or raised either by presidential aspirants or gubernatorial and other contestants for political posts.

Many observers believe that the leading contestant President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples‘ Democratic Party (PDP) would require no introduction as he is the head of the ruling party which is yet to move from its lethargy towards a more dynamic and revolutionary stance.

The seemingly sentimental ornament adorning Dr. Jonathan‘s presidency which is based on the triumph of the minorities in political leadership needs to be strengthened by innate ability to perform above average.  The verdict of many people on the administration of the country since the return of Democracy (under civilian politicians) has been less dignifying.

My fears, which I think are being shared by many patriots, are the continuation of the same political and economic policies which have over the years (under three different rulers) brought neither political stability nor economic prosperity.  The recent primaries (to elect political office holders) have shown clearly that the party leaders who should promote the niceties of democratic principles are themselves budding dictators.

If internal elections of various parties were riddled with vices of rigging and alleged impositions, killings and kidnappings, what would be expected of coming elections in the 36 states, including the Federal Capital territory of Abuja?  Only our divine guardian knows.

Perhaps a mere disturbing aspect of our political engineering is the dominance of money in all aspects.  The political parties in their unpatriotic stance set high prizes for contestants for political posts.  The implication is that only the rich or those who have access to wealth could play the political game of seeking nominations.

There is little doubt that party machinery would be able to curb the money grabbing propensity of those elected under such circumstances.  This is the root cause of corruption in public life.

Those who believe in electoral reforms which should ensure that the individual vote counts would be disappointed that though their votes might count, but the counting would be for those who might have bought their nomination tickets.  By the current electoral law, Prof. Jega,

The INEC chairman could not nominate people he deems decent, rather he arranges election for present Electoral Laws candidates approved by parties (no matter the mode of selection).  Those who lamented and those who are still moaning over the allocation of N87 billion for electoral purposes should have the sympathy of the people.

It is clearly understood that the problem with Nigeria and many ‘immature states‘ is the ‘winner takes all‘ attitude, enshrined in the electoral laws.  The victorious parties corner all political posts, share the booties among their members and often, damn the consequences.

The opposition is left dry and dejected and its hungry members at times, lured by money into the happy atmosphere of luxury sharing.  The Justice Uwais Committee did recommend some ways to moderate the ‘winner takes all‘ attitude of parties.

The introduction of ‘Independent Candidate‘ and Proportional Representation clauses were rejected by States controlled by the present ruling party and could not be included in the present Electoral Laws.  President Jonathan promises to follow that aspect of electoral reforms approved by the Legislature (dominated by his party) in his election manifesto.  President Jonathan as the nation‘s leader should rise above party partisanship by allowing the nation to decide in a referendum the type of electoral reform they need and not, what his ruling party needs to win election unfairly.

The argument for a referendum on electoral reforms goes also for Constitutional amendment.  The ruling party has on its own, been changing some sections of the Constitution without the real consent of the people.  The country‘s Constitution is the Law of the land.  It should be done with the active participation of the people through their representatives through thorough discussion and not an imposition like the 1999 Constitution.

Apart from electoral reforms, which could be properly addressed by a referendum, there are other aspects of Nigerian life which could affect the drive towards development and growth.  People, especially the aspirants to political posts talk glibly about Economic Growth without explaining how.  Some commentators would not support the idea of subsidizing or protection of home industries in an international environment.  None has stated how economic growth could be achieved by a country with a low industrial base with a high propensity to import machinery, spare parts and necessary raw materials.

The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank which are responsible for advising the Federal Government on the growth policy are mortally afraid of the deadly scourge of inflation.  Both agencies talk piously of macro_economic stability based on low value of naira and high lending rate to the real sector of the economy by the commercial banks.  Both agencies acting like the ‘Siamese Twins‘ take delight in creating interest yielding bonds which commercial banks prefer as safe and profitable.

The country seems to be rushing into an election fought with every type of danger starting with ‘stop a bit and go‘ registration equipment and unsure electoral officers as witnessed during re_run elections where it is almost impossible to defeat a sitting government whether votes count or not.

This seems a pleasant diversion from the danger of going to vote for a government without any viable economic option.  What is the economic sense in the Central Bank‘s cornering all petro dollars entering the country on government side, redistributes them at its own rate to all layers of government in local currency, map up what it describes as excess liquidity and resell some accumulated dollars to importers of consumables, including oil refined products, at its own rate achieved through auction?

It is not yet clear how growth could be achieved  at a faster rate in a dormant economy with high unemployment, high inflation rate, high bank lending rate and an unfavorable foreign exchange operation in an import dependent nation.  If the macro –economic stability could be maintained under such condition, then there is the danger of the appearance of an economic illusion only common to failing states.

Could a CHEAP MONEY Policy (properly managed) be an alternative option?
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