Let Democracy be for the people | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Comment, Opinion

Let Democracy be for the people

Posted: Jun 3, 2015 at 12:49 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

“While other nations are faced with the challenges of the 21st Century,/ we are bogged down by the avarice of the elite./Every time we believe we have seen the worst from our country,/the shameless, opportunistic power grabbers take us back to a new low.”

-Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum (NDLF),New York.(June,2010)

With trillions of naira revenue, mostly from crude oil sales from 1999 till date, it is a crying shame that Nigeria parades some of the most disturbing dismal figures in the Human Development Index (HDI). From increasing poverty rate including helpless citizens caught in the terrible trap of extreme poverty, maternal and infant mortality rates, food insecurity to huge youth unemployment, our nation’s parlous economic situation is a criminal betrayal of what God has richly endowed us with.

For instance, poverty rate rose from 15 % as at independence in 1960, to 67.1% in 1999 and 72.2% in 2014. The World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, stated in April 2014 at the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings that Nigeria, with 7 % of the world’s poor ranked  third in the world while India was placed at  number one with 33 per cent of the world poor.

Similarly, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 5.8% in 2008, 19.9% in 2009 through 21.10% in 2010 to 23.9% in 2011. Infant mortality rate total stood at 74.09 deaths/1,000 live births. And Nigeria accounts for 13 per cent of Global Maternity Deaths,GMD.

Simply put, the vast resources in oil and gas, agriculture, solid minerals and breath -taking tourist attractions have come to make the politically favoured few richer while the majority wallow in grinding poverty.This insidious systemic rot has got to stop. The paradigm must shift. The political pendulum must also swing in favour of the vast majority of Nigerians.

Wealth re-distribution is a now a must. (Check my opinion essay of similar title on  October3,2012).Nigeria can no longer afford a sordid economic situation that had 17,474 political office holders setting the nation’s treasury back by a whopping N1.13 trillion(naira) on yearly basis,and jerking up their emoluments at will as revealed by the Economist of London  in 2010.

We can no longer sustain the huge capital flight of unpatriotic politicians who steal the nation blind only to empower foreign nationals. For instance, in July 2004 UNIDO Report listed countries such as China,India, Singapore and Thailand amongst those with robust economies that reduced poverty rate from an average of 40% in 1981 to 21 % in 2001 while ours was on the upswing. In fact, the Report singled out Nigeria as the country with the worst case scenario of capital flight and advised us to borrow a new leaf from Uganda, which had a similar challenge but was able to reverse the drift.

Back then, our politicians were accused of stashing $107 billion abroad. Similarly, in April this year CNN MarketPlace Report stated that Nigerian politicians own 40 per cent of luxury properties in Central London, with the cost ranging from 17 million to 33 million pounds sterling. Dubai is not left out. Such barefaced robbery of our common patrimony must also come to a halt.

Good enough, we now have the change mantra sweeping across the entire country, from Otuoke tropical forest, across Abuja savannah to Daura desert fringe. Coupled with this, the pilots of the ship of state have come on board with the proud pedigree as highly disciplined, patriotic and committed Nigerians, eager to enthrone transparency in governance.

To do so however, all hands must be on deck. The undue fixation that the federal government alone should do it all- provides the requisite solid infrastructure (stable electric power, good access roads and rail, and potable water) as well as create jobs must be done away with. Hopefully, with the expected Constitution Amendment and implementation of the well thought out recommendations of the National Conference, true fiscal federalismshould eventually ensure that more economic resources are devolved to the states in this regard. An economic expert has posited that with creative thinking and prudent management of resources the states could cumulatively generate up to 10 million jobs.




As suggested in my opinion essay entitled: Job creation for Nigerian youths, a must on March 26,2014, governments at the federal and state levels should consider instituting a Ministry of Job Creation. This could be done by merging the Ministry of Labour and Productivity with that of Trade and Investment. But we have to start planning with the benefit of credible data. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) should be financially empowered to avail Nigerians with the number of job-seeking citizens, their areas of professional specialization, age, gender, places of residence and year of graduation.



If such a Ministry works in tandem with the organized private sector and research institutes a lot could be achieved in getting our job-seeking youths off the streets. As Professor Francis Ogbimi has consistently advocated industrialization remains the panacea to solving the searing scourge of unemployment. Emphasis should however, shift first to small and medium scale enterprises. Our banks should be more interested in identifying viable home-grown businesses and be ready to fund them.

In a similar vein, Nigerian youths should have a change of mindset from seeking the fast-diminishing white-collar jobs to establishing their own businesses. That should begin from their undergraduate days. Their final year projects should be SME-driven and relevant to the Nigerian economy. A lot could be gained from laudable initiatives at Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun state whereby a course on entrepreneurship is made compulsory for all the students. There is the Skills Development and Resource Centre, SDRC. Seasoned professionals with different backgrounds are also invited from the private sector to provide practical application in various fields.

The hope therefore, is that the Buhari-led administration should provide the much-needed conducive environment for businesses to thrive. There must be transparency and accountability in government such that our enormous resources are channeled to make the quality of life of the average Nigerian better and safer.