Nigeria: A Nation Trapped in Bad Governance

Nigeria: A Nation Trapped in Bad Governance

By: Idumange John

IT IS NO LONGER ARGUABLE WHETHER NIGERIA IS A FAILED STATE OR NOT. Even a blind man who does not see can feel the hardship sweeping across the land like a hurricane. This
is manifested in the high dependency and unemployment rate, the spiralling
inflation, decrepit physical and social infrastructure and poverty of
governance. What is however still in contention is on the strategies to
re-engineer the Nigerian State, its institutional capacities and operations and
more importantly to rejuvenate the economy so that the ordinary Nigerian can
boast and have confidence in the Nigerian State. Successive administrations had
looked for many escape routes, some of them so
tortuous that the malaise is even aggravated. Nigeria is a criminal
enterprise, and the general bad governance, which has precipitated acute
hardship has created room for the youths and unemployed to go into criminality

Since 2005, I had asserted that Nigeria is a failed State but I surely under-estimated the magnitude of failure. When I saw the workers of Nigerian Telecommunications
(NITEL), protesting the non-payment of their workers for 24 months. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, NITEL was a
thriving company, which was the envy of son many people. When I imagine the
trauma the families of the NITEL staff could be going through; some might have
died. The over 12, 000 workers that were laid off by the Banks following the
Central Bank reforms may be suffering a similar fate. They are victims of an
economic system that is subjected to horrendous manipulation and cruel
buccaneering. Many Nigerians are victims of anomie and acute frustration. The
collective anomie and frustration may be aggravated if there is no genuine
national leadership.

Anomie refers to the lack or ineffectiveness of normative regulation in society. The concept was first introduced in sociology by Durkheim (1893) in his study on the social
dimensions of the division of labour. Durkheim argued that the division of
labour is not problematic as long as it is sufficiently regulated. Durkheim saw
such anomic forms inherent in industrial crises, in the conflict between labour
and capital, and in the lack of unity and excessive degree of specialization in
the sciences. Translated into politics, anomie results from an abrupt
transitions in society leading to a loss in the effectiveness of norms to
regulate behaviour. When anomie is acute, then society degenerates to a
hobessian state of anarchy and ultimately total collapse.

Those who enunciated the concept of Western style democracy did not consider that a peculiar people like Nigerians would be someday spare a thought to practice the system or
rather make a mockery of democracy. The world over, democracy is considered to
be the best avenue in human history, which enables man to realize the essence
of his being. De Tocqueville used the term as a synonym for equality; Herbert
Spenser associated it with a free-enterprise society, while Thomas Jefferson
saw democracy as both a constitutional and moral imperative based on the
concept of equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In Nigeria, democracy implies that the poor have to contribute whatever they have including their blood to sustain a State that
does not provide for them, a State where they are not secure, a state where
their welfare and human rights are not respected. Since 1960, the nation has
witnessed intense cyclic instability. Nigeria has dallied with Westminster
style of parliamentary democracy in the First Republic; the Ironsi junta
inaugurated something like “Unitary system”; this paved the way for “diarchy”
in the turbulent civil war years. After nearly two decades of military
dictatorship the nation was gingered to try presidential democracy. The basic pre-occupation
has been to erect a truly united Nigeria on the foundations of democratic

In 1978 Obasanjo conceived a vision to feed the nation hence the introduction of Operation Feed the Nation. Today, OBJ is a super rich Nigerian and even IBB confesses that OBJ
made more money in one year than he did in eight years. Shehu Shagari’s Green
Revolution was also transformed into a yellow revolution, with an astronomical
increase in the importation of rice and other staple food. The Abacha
administration initiated the vision 2010. The vision of the bespectacled
General was intended to grow the economy through the promotion of Small and
Medium scale industries, providing access to information relating to
opportunities for credit. The vision was a still born as it was undermined by
poverty and inability of government to provide the basic infrastructure for
industrial take-off.

Nigeria has never lacked beautiful policies but implementation and policy inconsistency are two challenges the nation is yet to overcome. This is true of many transitional
societies that are democratizing. When Obasanjo mounted the saddle, he launched
the New Nigerian Economic Policy in the first term of his administration. The
fundamental objectives of the new economic thinking were to revive and grow
Nigeria’s comatose economy with a view to improving the standard of living of
the people. It was also designed for creating job opportunities and to
re-position the economy within the context of an overall global economy. Nigeria’s
democracy thrives on deceit, inequality,
alienation and delusion. The duplicity of bourgeois democracy is apparent
especially in the areas related to welfare rights. While the political class is
over-rewarded, other classes of public servants .

Nigeria’s democracy thrives on deceit, inequality, alienation and delusion. The duplicity of bourgeois democracy is apparent
especially in the areas related to welfare rights. While the political class is
over-rewarded, other classes of public servants . Such a polity is
characterized by three basic features

First is the fact that in bourgeois democracy state resources are appropriated by a handful of persons at the expense of the masses. Thus the same group of persons who
appropriate the commonwealth cannot turn out to be poverty alleviators – the
poor they help to create. Therefore the utopianism bandied about by miracle workers
that by 2020 Nigeria will join the league of the 20 largest economies in the
world can only be grandiose
delusion It is a vision designed to
sustain the fate of the down trodden until they are snuffed out of existence.

Secondly, in a bourgeois democracy, those who have power automatically control the mode of production and ensure its supremacy. The bourgeois therefore make laws to
guarantee their dominance. The primary role of the State then is to disguise
the law of the strong as a law purporting to guarantee the good of all. In
Nigeria today, the law enforcement agencies such as the Police and the army are
in the hands of the bourgeois class and they are in the forefront of repression
and cohesion. The bourgeois class also uses its positions to appropriate the
commonwealth also engages in large scale bribery and corruption, and this is
very conspicuous in all spheres of the nations life.

Thirdly, we have the comprador bourgeoisie who serve as cronies and fronts to protect foreign interest even at the expense of the
domestic economy. These are the Nigerians who collude with foreign oil
companies to steal our oil and cannot give account of how many barrels we are
selling and how much money that is accruing to the Nigerian State. Some of them
are mandarins who do everything to stifle the implementation of government
policies. They work hard to ensure that public policies do not work so they can
convince government to privatize everything. They do so at the expense of the masses, who are compelled to make
huge sacrifices in the form of paying
higher prices for petroleum products.

More often, governments genuine efforts at economic rejuvenation have been deliberately sabotaged by the same thieving economic class that have rendered the economy prostate. These
Nigerians plunder the economy with buccaneering impunity. They were with
Obasanjo and they are still influencing policy directions at the Presidency.
And if President Jonathan does not put this class in check, the administration
will not make much difference.

Government also initiated the Poverty Eradication Scheme. Initially, the scheme promised to be successful but the way and manner it was administered reduced it to a routine
money sharing business. Some time ago, we also visioned about becoming the
greatest palm oil producer in the world. Malaysia came in 1978 and saw the
dream, but the reality is that Malaysia is now the greatest palm oil producer
in the world while our leaders through their policies killed the lucrative
vocation. Today, Nigeria is crude-oil dependent and no mono-product economy can
be sustainable.

Nigeria is indeed wrapped in anomie occasioned by bad governance. In Nigeria, the law is used to legitimize the appropriation of the private property of the minority
to further widen the gap between the major and minor stakeholders in the
Nigerian project. That is why the Land Use Decree and the Petroleum Act will
endure in the Nigerian Constitution irrespective of the clandestine injury it
has inflicted on the psyche of the people of the Niger Delta Region. Now the
youths of the Region eagerly await the implementation of the amnesty programme
– a fire-fighting measure that must be sustained if the oil wells must continue
to flow.

There are some Nigerians who are eager to solve the economic problems of the country. These reform-minded Nigerians also appreciate the fact that our economy cannot be
resuscitated by quick-fix solutions against the background of the cumulative
mismanagement of the economy over the past two decades. They are those who
proffer medium and long-term solutions to the economic malaise afflicting the
nation. The reformers are those who advocate economic diversification
especially in the Agricultural sector rather than depend solely of a
mono-product economy. They also advise government against external borrowing
and dead weight debt but rather advocate the application of measured doses of
World Bank and IMF inspired policies grandiosely designed to put us in a
cauldron of perpetual debt peonage.

The NASS is dragging her feet on the important issue of electoral reform. The Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) is still in the morgue. The white papers on the power probe have
been held hostage, even as the Siemens scandal stare us in the face. The PDP
led administration is one of unending scandals and unmitigated disaster. As the
colony of the despondent, disillusioned and frustrated is mounting and the
masses seem to be inching near the limits of human endurance. That is why
Nigerians emigrate to China to populate Chinese prisons; the unlucky ones are
summarily executed and cremated.

In Libya, Nigerians are tortured daily, and a great many are kept in underground prisons to die slowly- an indication that Nigeria has very little respect for human life.
Amidst these gory tales, our foreign policy managers believe that Nigeria is
making progress. We are indeed a good people in a great nation. Since we do not
even know how many we are in Nigeria, how can we know the number of Nigerians
that are killed in Libya, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Gabon, and other
countries where Nigerians tend to stay as economic refugees. These are the
urgent tasks the Jonathan Presidency should begin to tackle NOW.

Idumange John is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Management, Nigeria

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