In Nigeria as is probably the case in most African countries, the government has failed in delivering on framework and policies to harness and position their countries for robust economic development.
In absence and by default, individuals looking to appear larger than their bloated egos step in to offer solutions or Do-It-Yourselfers.
Giving back is commendable but never to take the place of government resources and collateral values which is bigger.
Since Nigerians look for temporary fixes and take such framework, it is evident the country is dotted with individual projects that add up to nothing. No offense intended but necessary to jolt the decade long practices.
Here are some examples to drive home my views.
(1)- Education at all levels. Since then Head of State Obasanjo 1976-79, slashed the federal budget for education which led to the first ever riot by Nigerian students christened "Ali-Must-Go", funding for tertiary and higher institutions has suffered. In 2022, Nigeria’s federal budget for education is less than $1.5B and no state has an education budget of $100m equivalent value in Naira. The evidence is seen in depressing conditions of schools and universities in Nigeria. In rather desperate reactions, individuals thinking their generosity through village groups or light pockets often misconstrued as deep step in to assist. The outcome is less than pleasing. Because the Nigeria government does not function on policies but benevolence of whoever is at the helms, things are done haphazardly.
(2) - Economic Development is beyond villagers gathering through their town unions to do projects. The town unions with good intentions, are not quasi government nor authority with any legislative backing to ensure their functioning. It is purely emotional and ego reactions to absence of fundamentals. Again, done village by village without coordination or order.
(3) - Infrastructure: Power/Transportation/Water/Wastewater. No individual no matter how rich or wealthy can handle the longevity of capital needs in this space. The notion that villages looking to or relying on generous sprinkles of cash will take the place of public investments required is laughable.
(3) - Public Safety and Law Enforcement. There is a direct relationship between public safety and investments in developed countries. Any time there is lawlessness, a country will never migrate to the column of developed status. Vigilante groups are ad hoc and evidence of law out of order.
(4) - Landownership and Marketable Title. Marketable land title in Nigeria is a nightmare because when individuals convey title without title insurance, they may be holding onto a worthless piece of paper. And government issued certificate of occupancy, may be subject to revocation if the holder falls out of line with a government official. Without security in Marketable titles, economic wealth associated with land development is shortened or shunted.
Nigeria should begin looking at policies to attract and magnify its desires for greatness. Leaning on the current practices even if every Nigerian is a billionaire will not lead to success.
Money works well in an environment where there is high degree of predictability and reliability of government constantly adjusting to needs as opposed to individual flashes that fizzle before they sizzle.
Money bags are in it to enlarge their egos. They are hardly committed to the long haul needed for robust development agenda.
Ejike E. OKPA
Global Affairs Analyst.