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Nigeria’s absent middle class: A threat to democracy

THE significant disparities between rich and poor in Nigeria no longer invite much comment or analysis: poverty, despite political rhetoric, is more or less accepted as the capitalist norm and many have been content to watch the middle class gradually disappear, squeezed into in-existence by systemic corruption and economic inefficiency. Interestingly, in other West African countries which haven’t had the Nigerian experience of military rule (Senegal and Ivory Coast, for example), the middle class lives a life that only few could dream of in Nigeria. It isn’t strange in such countries to find individuals buying yoghuts, meats and hams which in Nigeria are reserved for a small elite.

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Vice-Presidents, goats, yams and shopkeepers

THE Vice-Presidential debate was a fascinating opportunity to see and understand the philosophies of Nigeria’s two main political parties (APC and PDP). During one of the most commented upon segments, Peter Obi, the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate, criticised the rise of unemployment and the slump in Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, reinforcing his earlier remark: “fighting corruption is not an economic policy”.

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Lawyers and religious leaders: A note of caution

IN Nigeria logic is constantly turned on its head, all to defend or excuse illegality. From the media to religious leaders, to judges and lawyers, virtually every sector which ought to fight for the common man’s rights, or to defend our democracy finds itself shielding those accused of corruption from investigation and prosecution, or representing their interests by aggressively upholding the status quo.

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Coping with Nigerians’ short-term political memory

CAMPAIGN season is officially upon us: there will be no shortage of populist sentiments making the rounds, as in 2011 when we were introduced to the tale of   the “boy without shoes”.   Like   Goodluck Jonathan before him, Atiku Abubakar has a tale of woe to convince the public he is “pro-people”: he grew up an orphan he says, selling firewood in Adamawa.

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Atiku

Restructuring our society: Saving the progressive alliance

IT is widely known and discussed in history books and colonial  documents that the British handed over power to the most conservative elements in the North. In both the North and the South, colonisation reinforced elitism and autocracy by granting the Native Authorities unbalanced, undisputed and unquestioned power, which despite misconceptions about pre-colonial African society, was a novelty.

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Another kind of restructuring: Legislating our way out of dysfunction

THE perennial focus on the Presidency is one of the reasons for the lack of real development in Nigeria. We forget that no president, no matter how intelligent, well prepared, or well-meaning, can govern without the support and firm backing of a legislature which is able to produce well thought out laws to institutionalise public policy. What we prefer in Nigeria is tokenism, or drop-in-the-ocean initiatives such as constituency projects: feeding 100 widows here and there, providing 500 pairs of glasses for indigent people or a few tricycles and sewing machines.

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