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Nigeria A Nation In Constant Motion Without Any Movement

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

Many of us always feel that the good news on Nigeria is what we should be writing about but alas there is just none. Do we turn the deepening political crises and uncertainty or the unnecessary interference of the military statements in politics to good news? Or do we say that Boko Haram and its sponsors are doing some great job in their blind killing and destruction, or that kidnapping and daily armed robberies on our roads and homes are great news? What scientific breakthrough has been celebrated and uniquely to Nigerian’s contribution or what economic model for the coming generation is a product of our research? Instead our forests have been dilapidated, roads on the maps are becoming impassable, and hospitals are now only obituary places to keep dead bodies till we are ready to bury them. Our Universities admitting three or more times their carrying capacities and teaching only theory of the practical. Nothing seems to work any more.

By far the biggest scandal in town is from the political class. Having lower the education level to as low as O’ Level we still have governors in court because they still don’t have the little education required to qualify them, while other politicians choose to Toronto themselves to the office claiming what they only wished they have had. Their story is like a king who had ten sons each from his ten different wives and could not on his own decide his successor amongst the ten. Unknown to the ten sons and their mothers the king boiled some maize seeds and gave the ten sons to plant, nurse and bring the harvest after three months. Only one of the sons could not germinate the already boiled maize seeds and he came back with his mother after the three months sorrowful. The other nine sons had Nigerian mothers and they found their ways to bring to the king mountain top harvests with their mothers behind each of them giving tactical supports and thanksgiving at harvest time. Of course the king became disappointed in the nine Nigerian politicians and had to Buhari them with several jail terms. Some got 120, 180, 250 or even over 300 years jail terms depending on what methods they had used to grow the already boiled maize seeds.

Why is our story always like this? Whenever we would witness a breakthrough someone amongst us would scuttle everything and we would be back to square one, why? Why us here in Nigeria? As a very young boy then I am a witness of the first Republic where it seemed that after independence Nigeria would be standing tall amongst nations. In our house my father was a politician of the stock of the then Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and a councilor on five shillings a month. The Action Group was also prominent in our area at the time and which my father had to always contend with. He told us he held that position since 1948 till 1962. He also told us never to join the Nigerian politics. But daddy why not? The intrigues, deception, the religious and regional factors, the differences in tongues and languages, etc, were allowed to be used as political weapons, whereas if we had been successful all would have benefitted.

The regime of Jonathan of 2011-2015 is practically ending, yet Nigeria and Nigerians are yet to know how the several billion dollars the country earns daily from crude oil sales alone are being spent, how much more had been borrowed in our name to provide for services that we could neither see, nor feel. Jonathan’s regime is only just one of the many regimes. The same question should be asked of each regime since independence. This amount from oil does not include daily collections for royalties, petroleum profits taxes, sales of liquefied natural gas and other condensates, income taxes, value added tax and other internally-generated revenues. The open quarries of the last two CBN governors should never have been brushed aside nor allowed to be swept away simply because someone has a degree in accounting and is smart to have appeared able to reconcile figures. The truth is that we sense that Nigeria is going round a big circle that is leading to nowhere. We need to all come clean and face the reality of our society that may permanently be under developed at the rate it is growing. We note that the population is growing geometrically but the economic indicators are going the opposite directions or growing much slower.

Is the successive government in Nigeria blind to the urgent need for infrastructure development, social services, poverty alleviation and job creation? Is the annual ritual called budget really for the Nigerian people, or simply a convoluted mechanism to further defraud long suffering citizens? The government talked about renewed rail roads, which we all like to see working, but only as if we all agree with them on the level of improvement and the amount invested. Similarly we were informed that some new equipment had been procured to assist the armed forces in their combat with Boko Haram. The direction we would have loved to see in our military development is rather different and totally outside the infinitesimal effort of the present military regime. In personnel for example, if only 0.05% of Nigerians should be serving in the army then we need at lest 800,000 men and women in the service; and similar numbers in the police and other paramilitary forces. Home grown army is the order of the day not one proud to depend only on importation.

I was one of those who praised the creation of federal universities in every state of the federation by President Jonathan; but the Federal Government of Nigeria has not done what we also suggested to backup the education development in Nigeria. We had suggested devoting one or two Nigerian universities totally for postgraduate programmes; we had suggested University of Ilorin, University of Ibadan and or University of Nigeria Unsukka. The situation in Nigeria has remained poor because we failed to link research with development and the creation of institution to local development. The professors in Nigeria universities ought to actually have been servicing industries and leading research institutions in their areas rather than allowing or tempting them to be part of the wasting away societies. For example we may like to ask if there are any political advisers privately assisting any Nigerian politician or political party at a monthly or annual hire from Nigerian universities. You do not create universities and institutions only to turn them off from their official use. I cannot wish to lead a research group that would have been of less practical use and less of people oriented. We carry out research and set up institutions to cure diseases, improve on crop yield, build our system and equip our society.

The real motion without movement is more apparent in politics where the political parties are not different in ideologies but in personalities, where what unites them is power pursuit rather than pleasing the aspiration of the society, where no politician knows his or her own limits. Some politicians are just good as ordinary party members but they find themselves as presidents or presidential candidates, others are no more than local government councilors but they are now senators and ambassadors because they lost elections. The situation Nigeria has found herself is worrisome especially giving that war is not an option and that the political class is indistinguishable by any tangible ideological factors. Whereas we believe in the “live to fight another day” many are the politicians in Nigeria who believe in the “do or die” fight. Whereas we believe in the “plan your successor approach” Nigerian politicians all almost believe “no one is good enough to hand over to”. Nigeria will keep making fruitless motion and running at a high speed around the same cycle because we have no guiding principle to control the system other than falsifying results, deceptions and outright stealing other people’s opportunities.

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng


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