By Adisa Adeleye
It is no senseless assumption to believe that many Nigerians would prefer a great and prosperous nation under any favorable condition. The lovely song before Independence had a sonorous chorus – we prefer independence with danger than servitude in tranquility. However, since 1960, Nigeria had the desired freedom but with undesired misery.
A casual report on Nigeria since 1960 has shown tremendous progress in social and educational spheres – many primary, secondary and tertiary institutions have dotted the horizon. The local cities have their own share of development with skyscrapers and big big buildings dominating the landscape.
In some areas, good roads keep traffic moving freely while some beautiful ring roads provide support. There are some luscious estates provided in the 1970s for the emerging middle-class.
In politics, the agitating politicians of the colonial era became the leaders of post-independent Nigeria and some of them cast their names in solid blocks, though on ethnic basis.
The last forty-five years have also witnessed the rise to the top political positions of crude politicians in military uniform. Some of the military adventurers of the 1980s are still within the community, seeking relevance or political power.
In the developmental phase, credit must be given to the crop of present politicians. They are young, crafty and tough, with insatiable propensity for making money.
Politics has been turned into a huge business venture with a rich dividend. The dividends euphemistically called, ‘democratic dividends‘ are shared among the political leaders of the same party in areas controlled by their parties, leaving little or nothing to others, commonly referred to as the commoners.
Party politics is the rule of the game that, since independence, robbed Nigeria of its greatness and prosperity. Party politics is an appendage of democracy, which gives the other party an opportunity to form an alternative government, if opportunity ever occurs. Though the Greeks who introduced Democracy never considered party politics as a necessary tool, the rich Western European nations have refined party politics to a desirable device for political development and prosperity.
In Nigeria, it is a pity that election results are still being disputed because of ‘winning at all cost‘ attitude of some politicians and the negative position of others in accepting glaring defeats. The hope is in the judiciary which has risen to the expectation of voters who want their wishes to be obeyed.
The other hope is in full consideration and implementation of the Uwais Commission on electoral reforms. Some of its fine recommendations on Independent Candidature and Proportional Representation should be tested through a national referendum.
That Nigeria should be a great and prosperous nation seems axiomatic in spite of forebodings of the political Cassandras of this world who see 2015 as the doomsday. That path towards greatness lies in the art of perfecting party political game to see clearly the needed areas of genuine unity in solving a common problem. There could not be political development without political stability.
The supporters of true federalism see in a federal unit the true social, cultural and multi_religious development leading to a healthy rivalry among the federating units and national cohesion. In the United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are regarded as separate countries in the sporting world, each country sending its own contingent to the World Cup and the Olympics. And yet, politically, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are parts of the United Kingdom.
The aim of good leadership is the goal of a United States of Nigeria, and not a Nigeria as a monolistic monster. Thus, the practice of true federalism with fiscal accountability is a sure way to becoming a great Nigerian nation.
In a national emergency, the submission of opposition parties to a genuine national government is not a way of scuttling or weakening the opposition as it happened during the previous government of Chief Obasanjo who believed in a strong one party state – a sort of military or party dictatorship.
A wise leader who has the greatness of Nigeria at heart would shun the past mistakes of killing the opposition and sharing all the booties among party supporters only.
The essence of greatness and prosperity is political unity and economic stability. Experience has shown that economic development cannot be achieved under any form of political uncertainties. Obviously, political instability cannot produce economic progress. It is agreed that prosperity would follow economic planning and implementation in an atmosphere free from corruption, mass unemployment and uncontrolled inflation.
In the last three years, the battle has been against rising inflation which has reached about 20 per cent in 2010. However, inspite of Central Bank‘s tightened monetary policy _ the use of high interest rate as a cure, the exercise has become an illusion and a big threat to economic growth.
The new dispensation calls for a change of attitude or change of baton in the leadership of the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance. There should be a free flow of funds to the critical real sector of the economy in order to achieve economic growth.
It is in our best interest to note the observation of a notable economist that ‘the economics‘ of development is not very complicated, the secret of successful planning lies more in sensible politics and good public administration.
President Jonathan should note that no meaningful economic progress could be made under a tightened monetary policy and hostile fiscal stance. A high exchange rate (devalued naira) could not help an import dependent nation.