Celebrating Vision, Mediocrity @ 50


By: Idumange John


Nigerians especially the working class have been short-changed since Nigeria attain independence in 1060. Year after year and regime after regime, promises have been made to
improve their living conditions. Political power holder have doled out tones of
promises - some of them “food for all” “shelter for all” “health for all”
“education for all” and many of such vacuous utopian promises. Successive administrations also saw visions ( maybe illusions) and earmarked
miracle years during which Nigeria would catch-up with other advanced
economies. For the same reason, government floated programmes and voted huge sums of money to
implement them. Whereas some of them recorded a modicum of success, others died
as soon as they were initiated.


Sadly, most of the programmes where either stillborn or poorly managed because of the high corruption index. The Operation Feed the Nation program (OFN) was turned into
Obasanjo farms in Nigeria: The Green Revolution Program was high jacked by the
bureaucrat who claimed to be farmers. While the program was being implemented
their was an exponential increase in the importation of Rice and other staple
food. It was a program that transfer money into the pocket of Alahaji Umaru Diko and other in-law of President
Shehu Shagari. The aforementioned
programmes were a monumental failure. The National Poverty Eradication
Programme coordinated by Magnus Kpakol has succeeded in aggravating poverty.
The Banking Sector Reforms too have deviated from the macro-economic policies
of government, as the nation is still grappling with corporate governance.


Fifty year after 1960, our leader are still visioning, planning and forecasting; it may take them another fifty year to provide the template for implementation. Today, there is near paralysis of social infrastructure such as health
services; educational is in a near-comatose state – a reason why parents prefer
foreign schools.
This
is amidst policy discontinuities, inconsistencies and implementation flip-flop,
which characterize most transitional societies that have either failed or on
the slippery slope of failure. This is the same languid road Vision 2010, Vision
2020 and the much orchestrated Seven-Point Agenda have travelled.


Democracy is an experiment, and the right of the majority to rule is no more inherent than the right of the minority to rule; and unless the majority represents sane,
righteous, unselfish public sentiment, it has no inherent right. Leaders
establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there;
they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right
direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there. Nigerian
leaders do the reverse.


On May 29th 2010 the PDP-led administration will roll out the drums to celebrate the triumph of democracy. The yearly ritual
will continue in intensity in spite of the fact that their administration has
inflicted severe hardship on the masses. Since democracy resurfaced in May
1999, the economic indicators have been negative; inflation is double digit,
unemployment has soared, the quality of education at all level has diminished,
industrialization has taken a back-seat while work ethics has been totally
eroded from the lexicon of our bureaucracy. On the contrary the PDP lead
administration has estranged corruption as a way of life in discipline in all
spheres of life electoral malpractices and other sundry vices.


We are the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) yet our refineries produce at an unenviable low capacity, hence about 70
percent of petroleum products consumed domestically is imported. We have one of the most fertile soils on
earth yet we cannot grow enough food to feed the populace. Nigeria relies
heavily on the importation of rice and other staple for her survival. The
nation is blessed with some of the best brains in the world, yet the
educational system is so decrepit that these high calibre manpower cannot be
retained. Nigeria frustrates her brain power and get them brain-drained out to
develop other lands. The implication is that the nation is robbed of the
much-needed quantum leap. On the contrary, the Nigeria runs a war economy
because of the mindless ruination of the nation, yet we dream about a vision
that is unrealizable.


The top echelon of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party shows that the terrain is inundated by impetuous “belly conscious” Kleptocrats. In Nigeria, politics is no longer a game that ennobles the human soul; but stigmatizes even
sane people with the rapacity of “petty thieves.”
Democracy dividends
in Nigeria are interpreted to mean poverty for the people and affluence for the
political class. It also means the entrenchment of grand larceny . Democracy
dividends in our landscape mean empty promises for the people and primitive
accumulation for the elite.


The PDP has an impressive, superlative profile of highly politically motivated assassinations that are yet to be unravelled. The PDP
administration has not unravelled the death of
death
of Dr. Marshall Harry Chief A.K. Dikibo, the Igwes, Funsho Williams, Dipo Dina and scores of others. The Freedom of
Information Bill is confined to the morgue by the National Assembly, as more
and more journalists are paying the ultimate price in practising the
flotsam-jetsam profession. The several journalists that have been assassinated
and the Police does not feel a sense of duty to de-mystify such knotty cases.


For the first time in the political history of Nigeria, the PDP introduced a strange terminology called “carry go” As a political philosophy ‘Carry Go’ entrenchment of carrygoism has made it
practically difficult for the conduct of free and fair elections. The practice
has been that, before elections are actually conducted, a list of favoured
candidates is compiled and positions allocated, not minding their level of
competence and acceptability to the people. The Independent Electoral
Commission (INEC) is either coerced or paid to endorse candidates against the logic of popular
mandate. This is why the Justice Uwais Report must be implemented to ensure
that basic democratic values are not compromised.


One democracy dividend that has benefited all Nigerians is the policy of increase in the pump price of fuel. As at May 29, 1999, a litre of fuel was N17.00. The Obasanjo administration has
increased the pump price of fuel for about seven times. The hike in fuel price
has worsened the economic haemorrhage that has spelt disaster for the masses,
as the misery index exacerbates. In the face of these dire development
challenges, the mandarins are calling for more deregulation even when the old
arguments and promised benefits about deregulation have not yielded positive
results. Another familiar trademark of
PDP is that Ministers with the worst
performance indexes are usually retained to wreck more havoc in the
system- all in the name of politics.


The democracy dividends PDP talks about are either ordinary social amenities or basic infrastructure, but the phrase is often used
by politicians to keep the masses expectant of the good things of life such as
job creation, uninterrupted power supply, potable water, good roads, security
of lives and property among others.
The
ruling PDP uses every opportunity to mention democracy dividends as a soothing
balm to palliate the cruelty and injustice meted out to the masses and to curry
the favour of the international community that Nigeria is democratizing.


Our collective deceptions over the years have completely lacerated the scant democratic credentials we had when our foreign policy was vibrant in the 1970s and the
1980s. The nations political adventurism and posturing as Giant of Africa
prompted the nation to fight for the freedom of Apartheid South Africa, Angola,
Mozambique and Zimbabwe Nigeria has perfected the importation of what is in
abundance and exportation of what is in acute short supply. Our questionable
democratic credentials notwithstanding, Nigeria wasted human and fiscal
resources to restore democracy in Liberia and Sierra Leone but democracy is a
rare commodity on the delectable sheet of our political menu. A grandiose
paradox!


Nigeria is a nation that has been miniaturized by ineptitude and corruption, to a mere footnote of insignificance. This ugly trend may continue unabated because the
leadership class has, over the years, resolved to diminish the potentialities
of this great nation, and they achieve this through a deliberate policy of
truncating viable policy options that can propel the nation on the orbit of
accelerated development.
In this land, our leaders have betrayed the hope and aspirations of
the people in aggressive pursuit for material wealth acquisition.


The democracy we practice in Nigeria was designed for the people, has veered into the hands of mafia bosses and empire builders. In the words of John Schaar “The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the
present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will,
created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one
we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of
making them, changes both the maker and the destination”. Nigerians must labour
very hard to create the future they desire. A nation that celebrates
non-achievement and mediocrity at 50 years can celebrate anything else. This is
the ugly situation PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN MUST TURN AROUND before the 2011
Presidential elections, and time is running out.



Idumange John, is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN)



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