Opinion: At 55 Nigeria’s Socioeconomic Growth Has Seemingly Hit a PlateauFeatured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Saturday, October 3rd, 2015
By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
Nigeria had hit a plateau in its socioeconomic growth curve at 55 because the nation hadn’t been experiencing growth, we aren’t seeing as many industries as we ought to, not many and brilliant innovations coming. Just pure intriguing politicking, outright deception, government contractors are simply agents of government officials. In this way the ruling class wallowing in wealth whilst the masses in great poverty, it drifted farther and farther from the people and even away from the constitution. No growth means that our curve is simply flat or a plateau type. Someone told me that if the exponential population growth is used to adjust the economic growth, in addition to institutional dilapidation, brain drain, etc, that the curve is actually experiencing a negative growth; not simply static. The nation needed to do something, but what? Has ingenuity, knowledge or good moral nature left Nigeria also? Surely goodness has left many lands and the result is violence and disorder in several places, but that shouldn’t be the case in Africa; a continent that prides herself as the conscience of the universe and Nigeria calling herself the giant of Africa.
The idea to create a utopia society, which we are conscious of and should desire, is but a tiny portion of the whole, the tip of a peninsula, a finely focused ray of an infinite source of light. But we failed so far because those who fought for our independence and those who granted it to them had only limited visions and skewed personal desires. They were concerned, not so much for humanity, but what positions they would occupy, what to gain or lose, each actor pregnant with pride and seeking personal advantages. If we celebrate them as heroes today it is because our generation is magnanimous, and we want history to favour our past. Hence successive Nigeria governments had always attempted to correct the previous ones because the foundation of governance, laid in 1960, was weak and imperfect. Had the situation been different then we would have found that Nigeria is a land of unimaginable wealth, storehouses of treasures left by many generations. We would haved discovered that upstream lies every great moral value system and the acts of our devoted mothers and fathers, the strength and courage of every martyr, the unlimited power breath within us. Then on every independence day Nigerians would have been dancing and singing in the joy of a beautiful independence day music. We will hear our leaders of ages past dancing and singing along still. Unfortunately on every occasion we celebrate the independence of our nation in silence, in apprehension, in some gloom, only the officials celebrate because they must and they are paid for it. What will be our next steps toward revitalizing the growth we all want to see?
Right now the entire nation is experiencing a situation where it seems that sanity has left a nation and that’s where the conversations of change had really started. Conversations that are more likely leading to change, to growth, to moving off the plateau into uncharted territory. We don’t believe that President Muhammadu Buhari has all the answers, his limitations are very obvious, but he has provided himself and we should take advantage of that opportunity. The change matras we are in has only a narrow view on behaviour, taming insurgency, and possibly creating some serenity. It may not include modern economic growth, rapid empowerment of our youth, opening up and letting the people be truly free and not just some religious bigots, strengthening our institutions and ensuring that the law is for all to obey.
We may consider for a moment all those things that take away our freedom as a nation. Being under a colonial power, authority that came from a distant land, symbolised that something was wrong; inability for proper self governance, a sense of weaker domestic institutions, a sense of childhood state or not mature to self governance. Freedom from foreign domination is supposed to mean freedom from all classes of weakness and an index of maturity of some level; this freedom is brought upon us by the attainment of responsibility, that we can run our institutions, that we can manage our people and the land space peacefully. In Nigeria’s case the nation never was, but enclaves and various kingdoms pulled together in a union. Nigeria was governed by Britain up to 1960 in three regions (and hitherto each region comprising several kingdoms), the East, North and Western Regions. Because they had a common master there was a lot of interaction. At independence a new nation was born as Nigeria. Whilst the colonial masters were unwilling to go it was also true that the different components in the amalgamation were in different degrees of readiness. That situation allowed Britain to play politics with Nigeria experiment. Politics, as a game of numbers, didn’t bother who would better steer the ship of Nigeria but rather who had what numbers. Nigeria will always be ruled by compromise candidates and not necessarily the best set of candidates. This is probably the best approach but where patient, tolerance and understanding will be it’s ingredients rather than knowledge, ability to organise and transform the society. I always prefer coalition governance in pluralistic populations like Nigeria, inclusive governance rather than winner takes all.
As Nigeria struggles along, alongside its diverse and many interest groups, mafia and kidnapping activities, Boko Haram and other terrorists, ethno-religious sentiments, attempting to revamp and awaken it’s failed institutions, facing declining oil revenues in the midst of ever growing population, and many others, it will always be necessary to work with road maps, called in the 1960-1970s as development plans. Good as President Buhari’s administration may look, on the surface and within, Nigeria should avoid henceforth a trial and error approach and stick to planned programmes. President Buhari’s optimum performance can be realised better if he is given a format, bigger than his own conceived agenda, to implement. We must remember that nations like China, India even Malaysia and others recently went through similar difficult programmes before they are beginning to emerge and they were guided by rigid leadership. Part of the change also should bring politics cheap enough to every class who wishes to, for the youth and both genders. Can you imagine an ordinary application form to contest at party level sold for several millions! Politics shouldn’t shut it’s doors to people simply because of their genders, economic level or because they are new generation into the game. Nigeria should have come of age and caring enough for every good interest of her people even when loopholes have to be blocked.
Therefore since we truly wish to be independent, whether our path has been rough with troubles, or smooth with mercies, we can surely say that it has been full of proofs that we are a greatly beloved nation. If we have been chastened with fermine, civil war, epidemic, draught, violence, even unemployment or others, yet not in anger. If we have been poor instead of been rich, yet in grace we have been rich. The more unworthy a nation we feel to be, the more evidence have we that nothing but unspeakable love could have led us to have been joined together as one indivisible people. The more demerit we feel, the clearer is the display of the abounding love of nature in having chosen us and made us into a nation of hope and of bliss. Hence let us live in the influence and sweetness of an independent nation, and use the privilege of our position to move both Nigeria, Africa and black race up. Do not let us serve or approach our nation as though we were strangers in it, or as though we had no inheritance in the land. For despite the whisperings of vices and evil forces in the land, and the doubtings of our own hearts whether we belong or not, we are greatly beloved. As individual members of this great nation let us meditate on our exceeding greatness and the faithfulness of divine nature on every independence day, and so always go to our bed in peace every night.
Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi
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