Nigerian Crises: Who is Responsible? by Prof. Bedford Nwabueze Umez*
Nigerian Crises: Who is Responsible? by Prof. Bedford Nwabueze Umez*
The growing rate of crises in Nigeria demands that Nigerians should use the forthcoming 2015 elections to determine their future. To do so, Nigerians of all religions and all ethnicities, from every section of the country, should remove all religious and ethnic sentiments that often cloud common sense. In fact, events on the ground clearly demonstrate that we have no other choice – we must confront our crises without ethnic or religious prejudice if we are serious about finding real solutions.
It is obvious to any objective thinker that the oil rich Nigeria is falling apart – and falling rapidly and shamefully:
· Our currency, Naira, is sinking deeper and deeper by day(2). In 1981, for instance, Naira was more powerful than Dollar – the average rate of exchange was 75 Kobo to $1. Today it averages N188 to $1. This is pitiful.
· Nigerian national legislators continue to earn more than other legislators in the whole world. Specifically, Nigerian Senators earn $141,667.00 or N23.4 million per month(3) – a monthly pay that will take an average Nigerian civil servant, on a monthly salary of N20,000.00, 97 years to earn, while House of Representatives earn $120,833.00 or N20 million per month(4) – a monthly pay that will take an average Nigerian civil servant 83 years to earn. This is unconscionable.
· Infrastructural decay, project failures and abandonments are still the order of the day in Nigeria due to "corruption, poor documentation of contracts, lack of performance criteria, no specific start and end points of several projects, lack of true leadership, and failures of successive regimes to issue appropriate white papers on failed contracts(5)."
· Corruption continues to rise by leaps and bounds(6), and there is no serious effort by our government to prosecute those leaders and elite who are clearly corrupt. Within international community, it appears that corruption is being “celebrated” in Nigeria.
· Nigerian healthcare system continues to face total abandonment(7) as most Nigerian leaders and elite fly abroad for medical checkup and treatment.
· Nigerian educational system hinges on imminent collapse(8) as most Nigerian leaders and elite abandon Nigerian schools only to send their children to foreign schools.
· Nigerian economy continues to suffer massively due to capital flight(9), and many Nigerian banks endure serious existential challenges as most Nigerian leaders and elite proudly double their efforts in opening huge personal bank accounts abroad – often with public funds amassed through corruption.
· Violence continues to rise in Nigeria unabated as one terrorist cell, Boko Haram, continues to wax stronger and stronger(10) (killing, kidnapping and, maiming innocent Nigerians, including children and women) thereby exposing the weakness of Nigerian government to the whole world. Unbelievable!
· Today, many countries are angry and frustrated with the oil rich Nigeria, mostly because of the rising level of corruption and violence in the country. In fact, while the US continues to import oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries, it has stopped buying Nigerian oil(11) since July 2014.
Fellow Nigerians, how much worse can it get? How much? But whose fault is it? Who is responsible for this mess?
Of course, Nigerian leadership continues to bear much of the blame for Nigerian problems – a fact well known within and outside Nigeria. Indeed, literature is awash with Nigerian leadership failure as the primary precursor to Nigerian problems of development(12). However, we, the governed people of Nigeria, must share a part of the blame. The general population of Nigeria, as categorized below, contributes to this dreadful and agonizing state of affairs in Nigeria.
Personally, I see FOUR major categories of Nigerian people - the governed:
(a) Uneducated Masses. This group includes most of the forgotten and downtrodden people of Nigeria who typically live in small towns and villages. Uneducated masses believe whole hog whatever cock and bull stories some leaders tell them about root causes of the Nigerian Crises. Out of sheer ignorance, these villagers often sing songs of praise to these corrupt leaders and elite who use a tiny portion of embezzled public funds to buy rice and goats for the village during Christmas or election periods. Once the masses are fed with rice and goat meat on Christmas day or during election period, all is well with Nigeria as far as they are concerned. Without a doubt, ignorance is bliss.
(b) “Educated” Cowards. This group includes some Nigerians who understand perfectly the acute and chronic nature of the atrocities unleashed in Nigeria by corrupt leadership, but refuse to condemn such practices for fear of being “dealt with”. Educated cowards are afraid of losing their lives, their jobs; or afraid of being denied promotion, appointments, etc.
(c) “Educated” Sycophants. This group contains vicious Nigerians. These people also understand the root causes of the Nigerian Crises but will employ all sorts of baseless, unfounded, far-fetched theories and illogical comparative analyses to rationalize, without shame or conscience, any act of corruption on the part of “their masters” – the corrupt leaders and elite. These people will go to any length in defending the status quo because they have been “settled”, and patiently hope and eagerly wait for their own opportunity to continue milking Nigerians.
(d) Frustrated Nigerians. This group understands the root causes of the Nigerian Crises, and often complains. However, some of them have become so tired of complaining that they have decided to leave Nigerian problems to be solved by a Higher Power. To these people, a miracle will happen one day in Nigeria: God will wake up and change Nigeria for better - after all, He once dropped manna from Heaven, and Jesus, His son, fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. In fact, many Nigerians in this group have joined or formed different religions – hoping and praying for a “divine intervention.”
Fellow Nigerians, there is no cause for pride in a nation dominated by these kinds of people outlined above – Do Nothing People. Do nothing people are exactly what corrupt leaders need – the kind of people who will not ask questions no matter the extent of corruption and abuse of power on the part of the corrupt leadership:
· So, in the Nigerian brand of democracy, the corrupt shield their Chief Executives (Governors and President) with the so-called, constitutional "Immunity Clause," preventing any court from trying them for any crime while in office – and no questions asked.
· So, in the Nigerian brand of democracy, the incumbent Chief Executives often “select” whoever they want to succeed them in the name of democracy. Today, Nigerian politics is a multi-billion Naira business of “cash and carry” laced with “Godfatherism” – and no questions asked.
· So, the national legislators budget and pay Senators N23.4 million per month and pay House of Representatives N20 million per month – and no questions asked.
· So, the corrupt embezzles public funds for road construction and other public projects – and no questions asked.
· So, the corrupt opens personal bank accounts abroad with public funds, which create big economic erosion in Nigeria, and force Nigerian banks to send their staff scrambling for customers by any means or lose their jobs – and no questions asked.
· So, ill-advised leaders allow our Naira to continue to depreciate day by day – and no questions asked.
· So, misguided leaders abandon our schools only to send their own children (who might never come back to Nigeria again) to foreign schools to study – and no questions asked.
· So, inconsiderate leaders abandon our hospitals only to fly abroad for medical checkup and treatment, leaving the masses to battle their illnesses and diseases with “konka mixture” of some sort – and no questions asked.
· So, imprudent leaders ignore any serious effort to provide steady flow of electricity, only to buy high-powered generators for personal use – and no questions asked.
· And, so they – the corrupt and misguided leaders and elite - continue to do whatever they want, anytime they want it, often with public funds - and no questions asked.
The bottom line, fellow country men and women, is that we, the people of Nigeria, must know that the surest way to create and maintain a bad leader is for the people – the governed - to keep quiet at the site of bad leadership. In fact, no one will be good if goodness is not in demand. We must demand goodness from those leaders known to be bad and corrupt. Therefore, we must rise – individually and collectively, and demand good government by confronting evil wherever it may be. Let us together right the wrong. Let us together do justice. Let us together demand that our leaders serve us – the people of Nigeria, as the leaders in other OPEC nations serve their own people with prudent use of their oil wealth. Enough is enough!!!
Let us demand good government. Let us vote wisely. Let us vote our conscience.
1. Nigerian Leadership Council (NLC). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.nigerianleadershipcouncil.org
2. Babajide Komolafe (Nov., 19, 2014). "Naira in free fall against dollar." Vanguard. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/11/naira-free-fall-dollar
3. Nigerians Petition President Goodluck Jonathan: Please Cut the Outrageous Pay of Nigerian Legislators (May 5, 2014). Nigerian Leadership Council. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.umez.com/petition-against-the-pay-of-Nigerian-Legislators.html
4. Nigerians Petition President Goodluck Jonathan: Please Cut the Outrageous Pay of Nigerian Legislators (May 5, 2014). Umez.Com. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.umez.com/petition-against-the-pay-of-Nigerian-Legislators.html
5. Uket E. Ewa ( October 28, 2013). "Root Causes of Project Abandonment in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria." International Business Research, Vol. 6, No. 11. Retrieved January 16, 2015, fromhttp://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ibr/article/viewFile/31484/18412
6. Transparency International (May 21, 2014). "Nigeria: Corruption and Insecurity." Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/nigeria_corruption_and_insecurity
7. Chioma Obinna (October 10, 2014). "Rescuing private health care from imminent collapse." Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/10/rescuing-private-health-care-imminent-collapse
8. Ogunwoye Ibironke-Jumoke. "Nigeria’s education sector facing imminent collapse –Tambuwal." Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://dailyindependentnig.com/2013/01/nigerias-education-sector-facing-imminent-collapse-tambuwal
9. Ajayi, S. Ibi. "An economic analysis of capital flight from Nigeria, Volume 1." The World Bank. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://econ.worldbank.org/external/default/main?pagePK=64165259&theSitePK=475520&piPK=64165421&menuPK=64166093&entityID=000009265_3961003110354
10. Aminu Abubakar and Faith Karimi (January 12, 2015). "2,000 feared killed in 'deadliest' Boko Haram attack in Nigeria." CNN. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/09/africa/boko-haram-violence
12. Published by Heinemann Educational Books, Portsmouth, NH (1983). Published by Fourth Dimension Publishing Co, Enugu, Nigeria (2000).