(By Toks Ero)
“Our leaders, at all levels, have failed. They make governance seem like rocket science? They have abandoned their responsibilities. They keep calling on youths and graduates to be entrepreneurs without complementing such calls by creating the enabling environment for the actualization of such ideals. What have they done about the output of our economy? What steps have been taken to diversify the economy? Inadequate and inefficient infrastructure increases the cost of doing business. Businesses are forced to bear indirect costs to fill gaps created by government.“
I love my country – Nigeria. In spite of the hydra-headed nature of the problems plaguing Nigeria, I have faith that one day Nigeria would take her pride of place amongst the comity of nations.
Often times, I ponder on the state of Nigeria in an attempt to understand our situation and how we got here. I believe the Nigeria of today does not correspond to the visions of our founding fathers that fought for her independence. The Nigeria of today will sadden all those who fought for her independence.
To most people, the major problem plaguing Nigeria has been narrowed down to corruption. I am not one of those people. I have been opportune to engage in debates and arguments about the nature of our problems as a nation and I have always argued in favour of wickedness as the underlying factor and root cause of all our problems.
Some time ago, a video clip showing the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole reveal the wicked side of him went viral. Not a few Nigerians expressed shock at such wickedness from no less a person than the people’s comrade. The video showed our own Comrade, Adams Oshiomhole angrily telling a poor widow to go and die as the hapless woman wailed and begged the governor to salvage her only source of livelihood in an economy that has done more harm than good to ordinary Nigerians. Comrade Adams Oshiomholes behaviour can aptly be described as wicked, a characteristic most of our leaders share.
Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and natural resources; but is also cursed with wicked leaders. If not, how can one juxtapose our huge oil revenues with the sorry state of our nation? How can one explain over 70% of Nigerians living below poverty level and on less than a dollar a day? How can one explain the majority of Nigerians lacking basic social amenities? How can one juxtapose the billions of dollars supposedly invested in power, yet no electricity to power our economy and homes? How can one juxtapose the obscene opulence our leaders revel in and the abject poverty most Nigerians are subjected to? All of these questions have a common answer – wicked leaders.
Nigeria ranks poorly in the Human Development Index (Long and healthy life, access to education/knowledge and decent standard of living) and many other international indexes such as maternal/child mortality, life expectancy, ease of doing business, university ratings, etc. Our universities are no longer conducive for learning and research. The sanitary conditions and ambience are despicable. Growth of student population is no longer anticipated and preceded by a commensurate or correspondent growth in infrastructure and capacity. Hostels, laboratories and lecture theatres are overcrowded.
Corruption is at an all time high and growing too. Our politics is characterised by profiteering. Parliament blackmail the executive into increasing their allocations thereby increasing the cost of governance. Legislators have turned budget endorsements into money making ventures. Lack of probity, transparency and accountability has resulted in public distrust for government and her institutions. Unemployment has resulted in grave social consequences amongst them crime and insecurity.
Our leaders, at all levels, have failed. They make governance seem like rocket science? They have abandoned their responsibilities. They keep calling on youths and graduates to be entrepreneurs without complementing such calls by creating the enabling environment for the actualization of such ideals. What have they done about the output of our economy? What steps have been taken to diversify the economy? Inadequate and inefficient infrastructure increases the cost of doing business. Businesses are forced to bear indirect costs to fill gaps created by government.
As a nation, we must begin to pray for God to instil His fear in the hearts of our leaders. We must pray that God causes our leaders to have a change of heart to one of mercy and compassion.
As citizens, we must begin to take steps to ensure our voices are heard. We must begin to air our opinions with specific demands; demands for exemplary conduct and high moral standards from our leaders; demands for balanced income distribution to minimize the great gulf between the rich and the poor; demands for existent and uninterrupted power supply, good roads, health, education and other critical infrastructure that would encourage local industry and attract foreign direct investment to transform our economy; demands that our democracy be demonetized. It is evident that money does not guarantee good governance or discourage corruption. Nigerians must wield and exploit the powers of democracy, exposure to international best practices and the ubiquitous social media to reap the dividends of democracy.