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‘Nigeria needs structural changes’ | The Nation Nigeria

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The Convener of African Leadership Group, Pastor Itua Ighodalo, examines the crises of nation-building confronting Nigeria and the imperative of urgent structural changes.

We invited you here today on the backdrop of happenings in our dearly beloved country Nigeria. We will not speak to the challenges which are numerous and well known to all of us but we will also strive to suggest the way forward.

 

Background:

Since independence in Nigeria. There has been a recurrent and sustained argument that the Nigerian state, like its counterparts in Africa and other countries of the developing world, underperforming due to lack of state capacity to deal with the contemporary complexities of governance. At The African Leadership Group, we strongly believe that the nature of the state, the public institutions through which legitimate power is exercised and enforced, is critical to good governance.

Therefore, the issue of state capacity is central to understanding the Nigerian socioeconomic malaise and this draws particular attention to the inherent challenges of state maintenance in weak societies and offers probable explanations to states’ incapacity. Of greater concern are the issues of structural and contextual variables that enhance the vulnerability of most states in Nigeria.

There is no controversy about the series of symptoms of state failure and state collapse in Nigeria, the point of debate remains the extent of state’s incapacity displayed by the Federal government and various states in the countries.

 

Introduction:

Nigeria is a blessed country. We are rich in human and natural resources. Nigerians are among the most resourceful people in the world. And our exemplary skills and abilities can be attested to inside Nigeria and outside of Nigeria. In spite of the suffocating environment in the country many of our country men and women display excellence in different fields of endeavor. In this regard our youth have a place of pride. Regardless of assertions in the face of prevailing cyber-crimes associated with them they have done phenomenally well in many areas.

Outside Nigeria reports abound on the feats and achievements of our country men and women in virtually all aspects of life from science to technology to sports to arts to space exploration to robotics to AI or Artificial Intelligence, among others.

In the area of natural resources, Nigeria stands head and shoulders above many countries in terms of endowments. We have crude oil, gold, tin, coal, bitumen, bauxite and many other precious metals. What we have done with them is a different ballgame.

 

Politics:

Our politics is broken. There’s little doubt about this. Our political parties do not approximate the aggregation of interests and they are not driven by any discernable ideology.

The natural growth of our political parties was arrested by the military intervention in government in 1966. And for almost 30 years the military held away. The most important arm of liberal democracy – the legislature- was kept in abeyance for that long. Grooming and nurturing of politicians was aborted. Under the military Nigerians imbibed the culture of Command and Control which is alien to liberal democracy. We acquired the mannerism of the military of demanding that things happen ‘With Immediate Effect’.

In addition, the serial deceits the military adopted while promising to hand over power to civilians’ elicited distrust of the military juntas and their hand over programmes. So, when the hand over eventually happened in 1999, serious and well intentioned people stayed out as charlatans and sundry dubious elements took over the political space. Now, they have a stranglehold on the system and to dislodge them has become a herculean task.

And this task has not been made any easier by the fact that the strange elements have deployed corrupt means to loot the commonwealth and to entrench themselves.

 

Economy:

The experience of Nigeria has been the case of serial bungling. Our economic philosophy is ill-defined if not totally confusing. We neither operate a capitalist nor a socialist nor a welfarist economy.

Whatever is the case our economy is not productive nor producing. It’s a mono-product economy based on crude oil. And the fact that hydrocarbons are going out of fashion poses existential threat to Nigeria as a country.

A combination of many factors including lack of vision and leadership has made Nigeria a sorry case. All the economic indicators are going south – inflation, unemployment, exchange rate, crime, and misery index, just to mention a few. Now our country has acquired the dubious distinction of being Poverty Capital of the World.

 

Ethnic tensions:

Schisms have been with us since we gained political independence in 1960. But, today the country is virtually tearing off at the seams. Our country before our very eyes appears to be dying in the hearts and the minds of the citizens. And that is frightening because this phenomenon is worse than losing territories. It’s now commonplace to hear people giving expulsion orders to fellow citizens and at the risk of their lives, if the order is ignored.

Non state actors have usurped the powers of the state. Anarchy appears to be enveloping the country. Secessionist and separatist groups are now in the ascendancy in Nigeria. The country is faced with anomie and our extant political leaders at all levels have not helped the situation.

 

Insecurity:

Insecurity across Nigeria is a clear and present danger to the wellbeing of the country. Terrorists and bandits and kidnappers and ritualists are on the prowl. No one is safe. Not on the road. Not in your home. There appears to be no hiding place. The chicken is home to roost. For years the country had been planting in the wind. Now it is harvesting in the whirlwind.

 

What to do:

It’s only a fool who does the same thing the same way and would expect a different result. The way Nigeria is right now is not working. A sensible thing is to course correct and safe Nigeria from a shipwreck.

 

Social re-orientation:

Our traditional values have been contaminated, compromised and corrupted. And changing course would have to start from families. We are persuaded that to heal this country, we have to heal families. And then we should empower designated state institutions to carry out a sustained campaign of value reorientation. But there must be a buy-in on what the values are.

 

Structural changes:

We are no longer correct when we refer to Nigeria as a federal republic. It is presently not. It looks more like a unitary system of govt. Devolution of powers is imperative. To agree on a system that approximates a federal republic is not rocket science. We ran such system in the First Republic. With slight modifications, we can resurrect that order that served this country fairly well until the military intervened and aborted it.

Availability or absence thereof, of natural resources are unfounded. A casual study of the archives of the federal ministry of mines will convince you that there are natural resource deposits in all regions of Nigeria, in fact, in virtually all the states of the country.

 

Human resource:

Studies have shown that no country in the world has been developed by the abundance of deposits of natural resources. NONE. If natural resources develop countries Switzerland, Japan and Singapore to mention but three countries will not be in the First World in terms of development. Indeed, studies have shown that countries with abundance of natural resources are most likely to turn out poorer. So, that which is buried under our soil will never develop our country. Nations are developed on the minds of its people and built by ordinary men and women with uncommon vision, zeal, focus, determination and commitment. And the firm foundation for the accomplishment of this is the powerful office of the citizen. Let’s stop looking for messiahs to pull us out of the pit.

Let us work hard at changing the personality, character, attitude, and the mind of the average Nigerian.

 

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A Passionate Media professional who has a penchant for creative writing. he loves watching Movies, Music love and loves sightseeing.

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