Opinion: NIGERIA @58: Why Nigeria’s growth is stunted – By GUY IKOKWU
A REFLECTION of Nigeria’s palpable dismal situation 58 years after independence shows that our growth has been stunted for over 40 years since independence. The Nigerian nation is today at the cross roads of choosing its path to National growth in line with other developing nations or on the other hand continuing its present retardation along the ignoble road to self destruction and conflicts among its numerous ethnic nationalities as had been witnessed within the last few years.
It is such that most observers, domestic and international, have observed that our country has not been as divided as it is today, the division stands from religious bigotry, economic degradation, high index of poverty, joblessness, insecurity, massive corruption as a way of life, high rate of mediocrity in the leadership circles, lack of good governance, very low capital appropriation coupled with massive external loans and indebtedness which are being used mainly for recurrent expenditures, personal allowances, and non-diversification of critical areas of the economy, which makes Nigeria a dumping ground for other countries and a classic case of consumption rather than production.
The lack of infrastructural development over the last 30 years and the absence of electrical facilities have becoming a bane in Nigeria’s evolution from its present comatose economic state which has become a pathetic disgrace within the concept of the developing nations in the world. Role of the military Most observers agree that the pathetic situation of our country resulted from the quittance of our military from its role as custodians of the territorial integrity of our nation for the past 50 years into politics which have resulted in the present day degradation and almost total disillusionment in virtually all respect of our national evolution such as Education, Health care, Cultural Identities, Public service, Modern agriculture and Industrialization and cottage industries and small scale entrepreneurship and technological concepts for which Africans had been known for multiple centuries gone. In the current clime, Nigerians do not even realize that the first human beings on planet earth were Africans.
We shudder when told that it was Africans of old who built the various pyramids from Egypt to Sudan with scientific and technological exactitude with spiritual innovations still being unearthed today by modern archeologists. Many Nigerians shudder when told that our Nigerian forebears were resolute enough to survive the herculean tragedies of the slave trade which impoverished our black nations from the Congo to West Africa, and that Nigerian slaves from the southern part of Nigeria were able to survive such transgressions in West Indies, Britain, South American territories such as Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Argentina, Honduras, and of course Haiti where Nigerian slaves were able to set up the first Negro Republic from where they moved to the North American United States in Virginia, together with the anti-colonial emancipation struggles of African countries like Nigeria. In the United States of America today most Afro-American are able to trace their blood types (DNA) back to their African descents including Nigerians. Nigeria’s population of today is the highest concentration of black people on earth and should be the shining light of Africa. If we compare our achievement in Nigeria with those of other countries in Africa as well as the emerging developing nations in Asia as well developmental trajectory of some developed nations in Europe and North America, it will not be difficult to analyze where Nigeria got it all wrong to the point that we are now virtually a Failed State.
Duty of a sovereign state The first duty of a Sovereign State is to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. It is such a proactive action of the government that will imbue in its citizens a sense of patriotism and nationalism, a situation where the lives of every citizen matters will impose on the nationals a voluntary sense of defending the values and machinery of governance instinctively, but such is not the case in Nigeria in the last few years. The herdsmen- farmers clashes have resulted in more than 5000 deaths without any sense of obligation on the part of the leaders at the helm of affairs to arrest or prosecute any of the perpetrators who have killed, burnt, and pillaged villages and occupied their homestead without remorse. The international community and their ambassadors to Nigeria have gone round most areas of the Middle Belt to have a first-hand account of these pillage. The UK, EU, USA, and UN have been shocked by the reports of the killings which include clerics and worshippers. Skewed security architecture It is quite obvious to them and Nigerians that the above defaults are due primarily to our skewed security architectures where about 90 percent of the high ranking security operatives are virtually from one zone in the Northern part of Nigeria.
It has been clear that these high ranking operatives are not manifestly keen on implementing the established rules of engagement in other to maintain peace and order. Any real democracy in modern days can only be sustained by the implementation of the rule of Law and constitutional precepts which are the established grundnorm for law and order. In the month of May this year at the national assembly of Nigerian lawyers and Judges and members of the Executive and Legislature, the Educated and Elite Nigerians were baffled when the President Muhammadu Buhari in a written address told the audience that security and national interest are superior to the Rule of Law. Most of the audience was baffled and the NBA’s final communiqué repudiated such an unconstitutional rhetoric and insisted that the Rule of law is immutable and remains the foundation of the Nigerian constitution and democratic tenets, and the grundnorm of our legal existence. President Buhari has not retracted his misguided statement which was mischievously written for him by some of his elite misguided subordinate. One of the primordial factors which will lift any nation to greatness is Education.
The greatest investment any parent or nation can give to its children or citizens is quality education and this can be best done in an egalitarian society, although it has also in the past been adumbrated by despotic and militarized societies which had given rise to several wars in Europe and in Asia. Poor quality of education The quality of education in Nigeria has deteriorated so much in the last 50 years. It is such that the literacy level in Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world and our educational institutions continue to produce illiterate graduates, most of whom are unemployable when compared to those of other countries. It is so pathetic that wealthy Nigerians no longer send their children to public schools. Our Leaders either use very expensive private schools within Nigeria or send their children to other countries in Europe, United States, and Asia or even to neighbouring West African countries such as Ghana. A clear example of the rate of unemployment is that of this September, FRSC screened 324,000 applicants for just 4000 openings for employment! Statistics show that 7.9 million Nigerians have been unemployed since 2016. In modern days, valued education must include a very high quota of technical and digital propensities in other to meet the challenges of the modern world. It is only in such a sphere that a country can be productive and export oriented.
On the other hand Nigeria’s economy is consumption based to the extent that Nigeria presently still imports more of her finished agricultural food items from abroad, the examples of which are: rice, cereals, chicken, wheat, fish, meat, flour, apples, peaches, strawberries, oil including palm oil and even toothpicks. Wonders shall never cease to end in our abysmal import potentials. Poor development indices In all areas of sustainable developmental goals nationwide such as healthcare, infrastructure, energy, female gender discrimination, Nigeria which many years ago ranked more than any other African or West African country has presently dropped in many cases to the position and grade of about 143 position and in some cases even dropped to 180 position of the nations on planet earth! An example of the deteriorating state of Nigeria’s healthcare situation shows that 201,000 of our children under the age of five years die every year due to lack of adequate maternal healthcare, malnourishment and malaria disease.
Nigeria accounts for more malaria deaths than anywhere else in Africa and Asia, statistics show that mosquito nets which are delivered by international organizations or even those bought by the state or Federal organizations are sold in some shops and street hawkers at unaffordable cost for our poor mothers. Nigeria is now haemorrhaging with infertile sickness as a very poor nation, with very robust resources that can make Nigeria one of the 20 developed nations on earth. Nigeria in the last three months has overtaking India as a nation with the highest rate of poverty and our governments fiscal and economic policies do not offer any redemption from these abysmal indices on Nigeria’s poverty and literacy levels. It is therefore not surprising that just within this last month the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in a discussion with the National Assembly revealed the very pathetic financial exposé that if care is not taken before the end of 2018 the Federal Government may not be able to pay monthly salaries of its workers as at when due. It said that direct taxation across board including petroleum products may be introduced in other to raise sufficient revenue internally. However such a fiscal alarm is not only horrendous but humongous in the present situation.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have this year warned Nigeria that our external borrowing which is being committed for recurrent expenditure rather than capital expenditure has reduced our yearly financial growth rate to about 1.8% instead of the former 6 – 7% per annum. This situation shows that the growth rate in Nigeria’s economy is presently less than that of any West African country, most of which are growing between 5 – 6% per annum. If Nigeria looks at the state of the Asian countries, and their achievements in the sustainable developmental goals we will find the real reasons most of them in Asia such as Malaysia, Singapore, North and South Korea, Brazil, etc. are known as developed nations. In the case of China, their leaders Mao Tse -Tung locked up their nation for 40 years, at the end of which China has become the world’s fastest growing economy, for which United State of America is currently indebted to by almost (Three Trillion Dollars).
China has become one of the world’s three super powers economically, militarily, scientifically and one of the powers in outer space exploration, and just this month proposed to lend to Africa 60 billion dollars for projects and finance. It is really a dismal situation for Africa and the black race that Nigeria which Almighty God has blessed with diverse resources and largest concentration of black population on earth is currently unable to lift herself out of her present state of indolence, ineptitude, despondency, domestic frustrations, religious intolerance, and immense backwardness.
There is hardly any more time left for Nigerians to lift themselves out of their current negative situation of becoming a failed state, which is devoid of the mental capacity to restructure our governance etiquette begotten to us at independence by our forefathers. Only a new class of leadership with a resolute and resilient affirmative character devoid of ethnic, cultural, religious and primordial inhibition and bigotry with a revolutionary spirit can within the limited time left lift our nation from this degrading and degenerating morass. There are quite a few Nigerians across boards that have this spirit of determination to move our Nigeria forward.
Please let it be, for the sake of the black men on this planet. Yes it can be done and should be done, not for our own sake but for the sake of our children born and unborn, and for the greater goal of the black race which was the first human beings to originate and exist on planet earth. Vanguard
Chief Guy Ikokwu, Second Republic politician, a member of the Ime-Obi (inner caucus) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, wrote from Lagos.