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Published On: Thu, Jun 19th, 2014

Niger: Intangible dividends, a tool for nation building

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By Ayegba Israel Ebije

The intangible dividend of democracy is indeed, a major aspect of service delivery for elected officers to explore and adapt. Sadly, however, people do not often value the intangibles, which are mostly very cardinal in the area of keeping the society peaceful, with high intellectual capacity to engender lasting dividends of democracy.

For the Governor of Niger State, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, his Servant Leadership practice of governance since 2007, has made it possible for him to breathe a sigh of relief at least for delivering on both tangible and intangibles dividends for the people of Niger State. Intangibles dividends are interventions that have no physical presence, form or traceable quantities with solid feel.

Intangibles are however high intellectual aspects of dividend of democracy, which form the fulcrum of society, prepared to grow physically and psychologically. Fortunately, nothing prevaricates tangibles like the Luma-Babana road that was successfully constructed by the Chief Servant’s led administration, breaking a 50-year jinx of a people cut off from civilization. This attests to the value of having tangible dividends of democracy, but the need to explore the principles and practice of having intangibles may help a great deal in changing the society completely.

Sadly, people are often quick to forget the intangibles especially as some of its impacts are not immediate and do take a measurable long period of time to manifest. Leaders, must however, be courageous to embark on intangible dividends of democracy especially as it involves serious money and yet could be lost in the tide of adversarial reportage fuelled by fault seeking blackmailers in the opposition.

Regardless of the dangers in providing good works, which cannot be physically seen, felt, or touched, they are indeed very important as they provide the module for people to use in making the best out of the physical infrastructural facilities being provided. To properly understand the importance of leaders embarking on the principles and practice of intangible dividends of democracy is what an average half-educated Nigerian suffers each time they travel overseas – they do not know how to use elevators, cable cars, and the worst is not even knowing how to use computers.

It is, therefore, instructive to know that neglecting the intangibles aside affecting other important social and economic sections might just be inimical to human capital development. Under this circumstances therefore, the tangibles will be like having new electronics without manuals to operate then.

Having the manual therefore is having intangibles imbedded properly in the developmental process. The area of security (lives, property and nutritional), education (moral and academic), dismantling of partitioning of “indigene/settler” syndrome, removal of religious boundaries and institutionalization of the doctrine of ONE NIGERIA has indeed, constituted those intangibles the Chief Servant of Niger Sate has been able to bring to bear since the past 7 years.

The truest meaning of the dividend of democracy transcends beyond what people can see physically but indeed, it is, imbedded in what can be of lasting value to the individual, the community, and the entire nation. Consequently, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello among other past Heroes of our great nation who were in the scene are now all gone, but their legacies lives on and remain in the area of intellectual development through free and very lucid educational strategies put in place during their time as Premier of South-East and Northern Nigeria respectively.

Education is, therefore, a very important aspect that must never be neglected. For instance, the present security challenge in the country is a direct negative of what could happen to the society once the educational sector is neglected. It is, therefore, worthy of note that those who championed education in the wee days of Nigeria’s independence by implication bequeathed lasting legacies of human resources that the county is enjoying from the early days of Nigeria’s post independence era to date.

The Chief Servant who has expressed himself a good student of history in best global example of leadership threw muscles behind the education sector, taking it from challenges in the sector where school administrators engaged in nefarious activities cutting across outright stealing of funds meant for academic utility purpose to examination malpractices at “miracle centres”.

Before Aliyu took the reigns as governor, parents were confused, students where completely empty, the system was operating according to its own whimsical drive based strictly on the wind pressure of those profiting from the lugubrious trade of selling off the future of the youthful population of Nigerians.

To worsen issues, parents had nothing to offer their children or wards. They had no money, hence their school going children had to pull out of the system – a very deadly development considering the negative effect of having indolent and illiterate youthful population in the present escalating security challenges in Nigeria.

The administration had to toe the line of the Premiers earlier mentioned, not for the purpose of emulating their good works alone but for the value of creating a literate citizenry towards having a competitive human capital and people of rational minds and blended moral chastity to mitigate possible conscriptions into vile acts of violence.

Therefore, in a revolutionary move, the Chief Servant decided to abolish payment of school fees by parents in all public schools, and registration fees for WAEC, NECO, NABTEB examination since 2008, which his led administration is paying until date.

Thus, parents are presented with the opportunity to use their money for other social and economic needs as government as so far expended billions on education alone. Qualified students have also been sent outside the country to read professional courses the state was deficient in. Top among the professional courses includes medicine, engineering among others. Soon these graduates will compete favourably in the labour force, adding to the human capital worth of the state, and Nigeria as a country – that indeed is the power of intangible dividend of democracy.

Ayegba Israel Ebije is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger state.

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