OUR politicians never miss an opportunity to blame the military for the retarding growth of Nigeria. The 28-year cumulative hold on power the military had in the first 39 years of the nation’s life, agreed, left consequences Nigeria still suffers.
From the mass purge of the civil service in 1975 to creation of states, which stretched administrative resources of the country, corruption, insipid leadership and imperceptible future of Nigeria have been blamed on the military.
True as these may be, there is a limit to which the military can be blamed for the challenges Nigeria faces. While the military operated in the circumstances of its training and capabilities, civilians, who point at their democratic credentials as their best reason for being in office, have woefully failed to prove the difference.
If the military left a culture of corruption, civilians have improved on it. If the military mutilated the civil service, civilians have ignored it or explored the service to loot the country beyond imagination.
After 13 years of uninterrupted civil rule, during which the country earned more than $300 billion from crude oil, the lot of Nigerians has worsened. The infrastructure the military built has not been maintained. Civilian governments have not made any efforts to sustain the democratic culture, whether within their political parties, or in the administration of governments at federal, state and local government.
Elections have been promoted to the apex of the democratic ladder while political parties operate without any programmes for the benefit of the people they harass for votes when the calendar reads elections. Did the military mandate governments to neglect their people the way they have been doing since 1999?
Matters would have been different if governments operated along the provisions of Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Constitution, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” How many governments since 1999 have shown concerns about the provisions of this section?
If the compassions that this section envisaged had been the purpose of governments, would they have budgets with minuscule provisions for capital expenditure which benefits majority of the people? Is the unprecedented corruption to be blamed on the military, when government officials and politicians have elected to elevate malfeasance to unimaginable levels?
Unless politicians are seeking more excuses for the disappointments they are serving the people, they should get on with the challenges of their plum positions and earn the offices they occupy.
With vision and purposeful leadership, whatever problems the military created could be overcome. However, civilian politicians appear to have found the best excuse for their choice to do nothing or at most, the minimal.