By Jerome-Mario Utomi
From the content of Hernando De Soto’s book; The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, a book about the transformation of dead capital into live capital through the institution of formal property rights, capitalism is in crisis outside the West not because international globalization is failing but because developing and former communist nations have been unable to ‘globalise’ capital within their own countries-as most people in those nations view capitalism as a private club, a discriminatory system that benefits only the West and the elites who live inside the bell jars of poor countries.
Similarly, leadership in Nigeria is in crisis because too many politicians and public officials have exercised power and responsibility not as a trust for public good, but as an opportunity for private gain. Making the problem worse is their endless quest to get hold of more at all cost without consideration to the general well being of the entire Nigerians.
Admittedly, it is a very natural and common thing to acquire more and when men succeed in this, they are always praised rather than condemned.Of course, as humans, we are all in this together. ‘If we look calmly and honestly at ourselves, we will discover that we too have the same basic desires for recognition, for importance, that desire for attention and the desire to be first’.
But it becomes a challenge and a reality to worry about when public office holders instead of taking steps that will better the life chances of the people, get preoccupied with embezzlement public fund in forms that diminishes the masses socially and economically while the privileged political class continues to flourish in obscene splendor as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country. Certainly, a striking human tragedy deepened by the awareness that it was avoidable.
Indeed, this is the kind of leadership crisis that is bound to happen when ‘lust for power prevails over granting people the love and care they deserve, and when the interest and destiny of one individual becomes more important than those of the whole nation. This is also what happens when the interests of some groups and cliques benefiting from certain leaders are served instead of those of all the people; in order words, when you put the people at the service of the government, in sharp contrast with the norm’.
Without loosing sight of the present myriads of sociopolitical contradictions that have conspired directly and indirectly to give the unenviable tag of a country in constant search of social harmony, justice, equity and equality, this malfeasance at all levels of governance has not only led to the destruction of social infrastructures relevant for a meaningful and acceptable level of social existence for our people and consequentially visits the nation with broad range of socioeconomic issues which covers -poverty, health, sanitation, education, climate change, water, energy, environment and other challenges. Life in Nigeria quoting Thomas Hobbs has become nasty, brutish and short as the country turns a hotbed for all manners of violence.
However, various commentators have attributed the type of leaders we have to the people’s decision given the fact that democracy makes everyone equal on Election Day. The significance of election, they argued, is that it serves as a means of implementing the principle of popular sovereignty. And popular sovereignty means that the people have the final say.
Definitely an effective argument that makes political sense, but, cannot hold water as it faces some embarrassing facts.
Fundamentally, even if, every vote carries exactly equal weight, considerable room for inequality remains in the electoral system. To a large extent, political parties in Nigeria for example, are being privately financed. And it may well be that those who contributed money to a party or candidate expects to get something in return.Thus, those who have the resources to help finance elections are likely to have more influence than those who merely vote. Beyond Election Day itself, tremendous inequalities, political influence begins to emerge, such as advocacy groups and lobby activities. Such disparities may lie outside the scope of political equalities as bare ingredients of the definition of democracy, but they are of concern to many observers.
The truth is that majorly, the root of our national malady goes deep into venality and incompetence of successive administrations. It was these politicians – that ate up the notions supplied to them by well meaning Nigerians about proven theories that can improve both the economy and society, and how to put the economy and unemployment in check. Instead of adhering to such advice, they threw the economy into reserve and passed the burden on to the backs of Nigerians. The government’s ‘shift’ of attention from job creation to elusive corruption fight has deliberately slowed down the pace of economic activity in the country. It undermined the feelings of Nigerians and shifted the distribution of income strongly in favour of those in government.
The average Nigerian is worse of now, economically and materially, than he/she was in 2015-or even 1999. We are presently living through the worst social and economic crisis since independence; poor leadership; poor strategy for development; lack of capable and effective state and bureaucracy; lack of focus on sectors that will improve the condition of living of citizens such as education, health, agriculture and the building of infrastructure; corruption; undeveloped, irresponsible and parasitic private sector; weak civil society; emasculated labour and student movement and poor execution of policies and programmes’.
Follow the logic.
Over the past few years, Nigerian workforce has grown. The number of manufacturing jobs has actually declined as a result of the relocation of these industries to neighbouring African countries-a development occassioned by the inability of the FG to guaranty security and electricity. Jobs created by the Federal Government under N-Power programme are part time and not secured. Two third of those doing the partime jobs want full time jobs and cannot find them. Unemployment is far and away the top concerns of Nigerians, ranking ahead of insecurity, lack of electricity and national unity. While millions of workers have given up hope of finding employment, unemployment going by the National Bureau Statistics (NBS), 2019, is was at 23.1 per cent, with under-employment rate of 16.6 per cent; and expected to reach an all-time high of 33.5 percent in this year, 2020.
Also, Nigeria is presently a country that services its debt with 50% of its annual revenue; we don’t need to be economists to know that we have become a high risk borrower. The country, going by reports, would be facing another round of fiscal headwinds this year with the mix of $83 billion debt; rising recurrent expenditure; increased cost of debt servicing; sustained fall in revenue; and about $22 billion debt plan waiting for legislative approval.It may be worse if the anticipated shocks from the global economy, like the Brexit, the United States-China trade war and interest rate policy of the Federal Reserve Bank go awry.The nation’s debt stock, currently at $83billion, comes with huge debt service provision in excess of N2.1 trillion in 2019, but set to rise in 2020. This challenge stems from the country’s revenue crisis, which has remained unabating in the last five years, while the borrowings have persisted, an indication that the economy has been primed for recurring tough outcomes.
The issue in my views is the refusal of political office holders to be fair and honest in their dealings with Nigerians.
To give one example, in 2005, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration and 2010, under Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Federal Government made two feeble attempts, coming up with the electric power sector reform, EPSR, ACT 2005 and the roadmap for power sector reform of 2010, which was targeted at sanitizing the power sector, ensure efficient and adequate power supply to the country.The project ended in the frames -gulping the nation $16 billion dollars for NIPP without contributing one mega watts to the nations power needs. The current administration is again in similar partnership with the German government and Siemens.And in my obersation, the only change that has taken place since this new development is but thoughtless increaments of bills/tarriffs paid by Nigerians.
No nation can survive under this form of arrangement.
Correspondingly, security-wise, Nigeria is right now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war. And by not taking steps to arrest the insecurity situation in the country, heed the call to resture the nation or impliment the 2014 Confab report, the present government is doing this country more harm than good and quickening its disintegration.
This should certainly raise a legitimate concern for all.
Jerome-Mario Utomi can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org