Money Power, Extreme Inequality of Opportunities Bane to Nigeria DemocracyColumnists, Prof.R.A Ipinyomi Sunday, September 15th, 2013
By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
The ongoing political wrangling involving realignments of some groups, now calling themselves APC, or the decamping of others from the ruling PDP party and calling themselves New PDP, is just the beginning of a more serious undercurrent problems worse things to come and index of our political development. Late Achebe might have called this a thing falling apart but we actually believe that nothing was ever together before. Nigeria and its political system has always been a hijacked scenario. Deception and outright dishonesty combined with tribalism and nepotism have been tools used by politicians to hijack power either by politicians or their co-military maxims travelers.
The resultant effect is that Nigeria has always been visited by serial lost of opportunity to develop and become a viable nation. What is politics here in Nigeria? The serial administration of the People Democratic Party, PDP, either under General Obasanjo, Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, or Dr. Jonathan, if anything, has exposed the shallowness and perceptions of our leaders. Our elected leaders are neither bureaucrats nor democrats when they hold the offices. A president in Africa promotes himself as a boss like a Royal King. They are less accountable to anyone, at any time and on any occasion. They travel and come in, spend and are spent for, appoint and fire as they will. They set up new institutions at will, especially to bypass existing orders or to ignore existing normal channels.
If we dare to complain they may call us pessimists and ones who make the difficulties of their offices our own opportunities to talk. Our complaints originally are to improve the system and bring the best possible out of our elected officers. Elected officers see every suggestion as opposition. Yet we are optimists believing that every challenge is a potential opportunity to build a virile and robust Nigerian system that is transparent, humane and stand the test of time. A politician ought to be a man or woman who understands government and wants to participate in government passionately in a democratic process. Not here in Nigeria where the politician thinks he is the sole owner of every penny in the treasury and every inch in the land.
From all indications the global economic growth ought to strengthen during this 2013 and 2014 to affect Africa economy positively. At present manufacturing, mining, and agriculture productions remain below pre-recession years, indicating only partial recovery in these sectors. GDP growth in Africa is projected at 2.5 percent in 2013 whereas what is needed is a GDP of at least 5 percent annually. The main reason for the lower projection is the further slowdown in the European Union and in China, two of the main export destinations for Nigeria, South Africa and the other countries. An easing of global financial market tensions would contribute to a pickup in global demand, which should support gradual acceleration of growth in Africa toward its potential of 5 or a higher percent annual growth rate. An important constraint on a faster pickup in growth is likely to be bottlenecks in electricity supply, which is already rubbing against peak demand. In most countries factory productions are powered by generators which raise the production cost and lower the production capacity.
All the indicators make a Nigerian who is already poor much poorer whereas those who already have the economic capacity are going to continue to grow at a higher acceleration than pre-recession time. We have the observational information that only about 1% of Nigerians may the sole owners of 99% of Nigeria economic, political power, and all resources. This alarming growing gaps of inequality are not the concerns of our politicians but “who and how” they would remain in office perpetually even when they have not justified their contribution to our well being since they are in office.
Similarly the realignment of a few political groups recently is not based on proffering any solution to solution our unemployment rate that is very high, insecurity of life and our properties from hoodlums at day or night times, insecurity of food by making it both available and accessible to all, and all others. While we ought to have been developing on high technology as other nations the set of leaders we have always force us backward to be concerned only on power supply, road construction, and many more primary concerns that would involve contract award and money sharing.
The power of money in Nigeria politics, where so much naira may be chasing only very few votes they consider matters, where if you cannot join them you may not be able to feed your household, or even if you want to join them you may lose your very life, all this is a danger to democracy and our well being. We have written severally on Boko Haram and educating people to exercise patience, faith in their being, working hard but it is becoming more difficult to persuade anyone to have any hope from the government. I have found many university graduates who after they completed the NYSC five years ago but remain unemployed for no visible fault except the government that cannot open the labour market.
If the inequality between the poor and the rich is allowed to continue to grow then we are growing unrest, insecurity and immoral society while claim falsehood to our national anthem each time we sign it together. We must be truthful to our national anthem at least whether or not we have any moral conscience to grow a just and equitable society. We now know that Nigeria democracy is going nowhere but should we not feed our ever growing population? Nigeria doubles its population every 20 years because it grows at an average of 3.5% annually through new births, deaths, immigration and emigration. If we are 160 million in 2013 then we would expect 320 million to be roaming around come 2033. Have we made any preparation for this? Do we have the thinking capacity to advance our development even through growth or its control?
May be and just may be nature would remain kind to Nigerians and help would come from only God knows where. When such intervention will come many of the causalities are usually politicians, money bags, and their families. We saw this in Ghana in 1977 when a Rawling decided it was enough. Today Ghana democracy is about the best yet in Africa. But we should avoid any blood birth. Or yet may be another colonial master would come, may be China this time. But we are already slaves to the global community. We troop out in drones looking for mania jobs just outside our shores.
Nigeria has been run down and it is clear. I remember that 1984 and returning from Britain to Nigeria with a new PhD that many other nationals gave me their CV to help them find jobs in Nigeria. They wanted Nigeria from India, Pakistan, Indonesia and even Latin Americans at that time. That was before Babangida came and did not know how to fix a messy economy except to reduce us to what the brain of his collective administration could understand. There has been a continuous summersault ever since. We are in a worse situation now whereby a Minister of Finance saying that “to honour any agreement FGN reached in 2009 and not kept ever since“ was going to cripple her finances in 2013. Meanwhile we are talking only about N93 billion. We wish they would publish what is spent to run Aso Rock monthly, or the National Assembly. Let us fix things on time to avoid fixing a much bigger problem tomorrow.
Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi,
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