Wrong Focus is Nigeria's Undoing

Published on 21st September 2010

Will President J.Goodluck drive Nigeria to greatness? Photo courtesy
Will President Jonathan Goodluck deliver Nigeria? There is need for renewed vigor and drive to unleash the potential in the country. While exploring and producing mineral resources to help develop, Nigeria forgets that 150 million people is all one needs - it's very potent. Just get them doing something and provide compelling services, and the economy will explode.

Even if Nigeria were to produce oil from every inch of the country, it will never become a developed nation until it harmonizes her citizenry and get a grip on its land use. The clamor for mineral resources and undue attention given to such has rendered the country dependent and lazy.

Were I President Jonathan, I will tell the south-south to drink their oil and tax them heavily. Come to think of it, Nigeria has never realized $100b, from the sell of its oil and gas in any given year. In the ranking of oil exporting and producing countries, Nigeria is the poorest. At 50 years old, she has less than $40b in foreign reserve. Not that having a foreign reserve boosts her standing, but it is hurting that a nation that once held the promise of becoming Africa's beacon has become Africa's embarrassing state.

Just imagine 150 million Nigerians using 15 gallons of piped water daily and paying no more than N1 per gallon, and government collects service fees for such. That single effort will deliver more than $300b to the economy. But without water and electricity, no nation will develop on boreholes and generators. Nigeria runs on life support, never enough boost to sustain its economy.

The political class imbibes and practices extreme federalism when agency democracy with states given powers to pursue its best regional economic activities offer the best angle to develop. There are only 37 men that matter in Nigeria, and they because of constitutional provisions - undue powers and influence, see their roles as that 'Chief Operator of a Petty Cash' operation. Dipping hands into the treasury and doing as they wish and want.

To curb and curtail the purse politics that is the bane of Nigeria's political class, an agency democracy model whereby the Governors are limited constitutionally to a set budget percentage to run the Government House, indexed to an annual growth rate recorded in the state is required. This will limit their excessive abuse and use of public fund. The present system where the Governors/President decide who gets what and when, is reason for the chaos and a do-and-die political practices. The governors should be constitutionally given no more than 3% of their state budget to run the Government House and maintain its staff. As for the presidency, no more than 5%. Nigeria must limit and constitutionally eliminate the practice whereby Governors have access to the treasury and can write checks [literally] as they want. That is recipe for bad governance

The north has the greatest opportunity to feed Nigeria, because they have the land. The Igbos have the best opportunity to be the most developed section of Nigeria because they have the least of all tribal land. But judging by the level of understanding of what it takes to unleash and jump-start the critical sectors needed to boost a nation's economy, Nigeria is after the wrong sectors [oil/gas], and sees politics as the only tool to develop a nation. Wrong approach.

Ninety-nine per cent of those holding offices in Nigeria, are clueless and reckless as to what it takes to move the nation forward. If nations were allowed to go bankrupt, Nigeria's handlers are money leeches.

President Jonathan should be encouraged and supported. At least his demeanor is good for the often brash and reckless leadership cadre that Nigeria has thus far been subjected to. With a little 'TLC', Nigeria could regain its lost glory and take on its domestic issues with pride and productivity. However, the proper and effective hands must be on deck to steer the ship of state to desired destination. Outside of that, this nation of 150m folks will remain a danger to herself and keep sliding to dismal standing.

By Ejike E Okpa ii
Dallas, Texas.

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