By Kareem Abdulrasaq
The state of Nigeria economy and political system in recent years shows power play among elites over the policies aimed at changing the existing order and ensuring effective management of available human and materials resources. Being decision makers whose power is not subject to control by any other body in the state, the elites exercise considerable power and influence by virtue of their position. In this way, they felt comfortable often oppose any move aimed at subjugating their authority. These elites include both elected (legislatures, governors, and president) and unelected- unaccountable (members of the government cabinet officers, bureaucracy grade, top military officers, business tycoon / cooperate, leaders , religious leaders to mention for a few ) individuals. They constitute less than 1% of the population but their decision and lack of decision have enormous consequences in the state of the nation. They scattered every part of the country and are more united than body joint. They all have the interest to protect, and such interest is always protected with every available opportunity. They know each other and could hit one another at their weakest point when problem arises.
Like any other countries, elites are driven force of the nation socio-economy and political development using their money, influence, prestige, and exposure. They are expected to ensure; smooth running of the nation, adequate exploitation, management and utilization of available resources, facilitation of viable and societal oriental policies, effective implementation of policies, facilitation of strong government institutions and agencies, effective support for anti-corruption crusade, supremacy of national interest over individual, group or sectional interest; frequent dialogue among the various groups that made up the whole nation to discovered and mend loophole in the process; to promote national integration, sense of belonging, and respect for the rule of law; maintain how, when, to whom and ensure equity in the distribution of resources as well as its effect or otherwise on the people. The effectiveness or otherwise of any policies allow them to initiate new one that would conform to changing the state of the nation.
Their enthusiasms for state control often drive them crazy to manipulate issues for the economic and political gain. In the process of establishing their wishes, they employ different tactics such as ethnicity, poverty, hatred comment, gangsterism, mobilization of resources(capital and human), defeat slogan (power for the people, change, restructuring etc), to mention but a few. While some of these strategies are often used to further sharpened disunity, ethnic tension, power tussle, socio-political crisis, hamper national integration, other are meant to change the ruling party. This is to give them say in the government that has not yielded to their demand (which is always suicidal).
Today Nigeria elites are witnessing what they some of them have never experienced in the nation’s political history. The anti-corruption crusade of the present government took them aback making them unable to continue their habitual lavish style of living, hence, uncomfortable with every action and inaction of the government. Being fortunate to rule, they often saw their action whether positive or negative has promoted the need of the po or whereas in a real sense their personal need comes first. In fact, they conspire and united in an attempt to suppress the poor or the government for the purpose of achieving their respective political goals. The majority of them have visited more than ten (10) developed countries, studied and researched on how they reached the peak of development but instead these experience and knowledge are used to improve their personal business and not on how to manage the national economy. Despite the level of their exposure, life has continued to be tough for the poor, they are suffering daily from the conspiracy for the elites who saw nothing bad in the current state of the economy, where majority of the masses are not being paid their salary, hence, would still divert little available public resources for their personal gain. Their country is in abject poverty. Don’t they have sense of shame?
In developed country elites stood for the progress of the nation, and sustenance of good practices. When issue of abuse of public resources emanated they treat it strictly in line with the law without compromise. This is not the case with Nigeria elites, too greedy and has neither sense of humility nor humanity, tolerance, responsibility and peace. They walk wetted land; they hate the truth and feel no shame for their misguided actions. Their intrigue and deception have nothing good to contribute to the development of the country rather it will further weaken the state of the nation; underdevelopment, unemployment, poverty, disunity and corruption.
Today, Nigeria elites are agitating for immunity, initiating bill for amnesty for the looters as well as amending laws to suit their need and overpower others. They often acted under weakness (poverty and ignorance) of the masses as well as the laws. They decide the need of the masses with no consultation acting under the phrase “The Nigeria Democracy”. A democracy; with a weak constitution (with contradictory phrases and clauses), institutions, laws and making it impossible for the masses to be protected and decide their destiny; the poor cannot fight the elites because they have been incapacitated with poverty, manifested with unrealistic and one-sided policies. The court which could serve as the last hope for common man is being hijacked by cabals. It becomes a major problem on how to fight the elites/cabal.
Going back to history, we realized that at different stages of Nigeria political system, different issues, agitations, and discrepancies had emerged. For instance, the issues of minority question, marginalization and agitation for secession are not the thought of the poor, they arose from the elites in the process of servicing their goals. They are parts of the tools used to achieve their political need. The truth is that in Nigeria of today, poor have been incapacitated to fight the elites and the government. Elites used tools and strategies earlier stated to fight for their course without necessarily resorted to open combat against the incumbent government not ready to service their need and often change it to suit different situation hand. During military era, elites collide and come up with “power for people” used by PDP in 1999 up to the time of her defeat in 2015 general elections. In 2015, APC comes up with slogan “change” which got mass acceptance among the poor and its subsequent victory. Today some elites have come with the idea termed “restructuring”.
It is believed that as long as Nigeria remains federal system, no viable development is attainable, hence, the need for restructuring. While some call for devolution of power, the unicameral system other calls for Confederacy. These calls had gained tremendous support across the globe. Does Nigeria really need restructuring? If yes, one should understand the motive behind it. Who are those calling for restructuring? Why restructuring? Why now? Masses need to play along with the elites/ cabals in the process of restructuring the nation. No elites will call the poor or masses to give their stand on the perimeter under which the restructuring should be based. They will only call themselves, sit together, wine together and fashion out policies and laws in line with their political and economic need and which would not affect their income.
Although, restructuring of the nation in this economic hardship is not a bad idea but must; addressed the difficulty facing the poor, reduce excess spending, energize the state government to exploit their resources to further develop their areas, make public resources diversion more difficult, make the elected and non-elected office un-attractive (with no security, furniture, wardrobe, sitting, medical allowance, as well as other unnecessary allowance apart from the basic salary and travel allowance which should also be reduce as part of restructuring). The elected offices should be a service to the nation not to the pocket as it is being operated today. All these are necessary to make money available for developmental projects. Whatever the nature of restructuring, it requires constitutional amendment, would our elites ready to alter the constitutional provision to service the interest of Nigerians?
Written by Kareem Abdulrasaq,
Research Assistant Grassroots Development and Advocacy Centre, Ilorin. Kwara state.