IN normal climes, many would be disappointed that, for the second week running, public discourse in Nigeria is still largely dominated by considerations around the desirability or otherwise of the election postponement.
By now, we should be talking less of the forest and more of what we did with the trees Even in the most democratic dispensation, full disclosure is not always necessarily desirable — not everything known to our security chiefs and the nation’s top leadership should be known to all of us. There comes a time when the security chiefs should be given the benefit of doubt. This presupposes that at times they have a right to “speak in tongues” to the citizenry with the full realization that the insurgents are also listening. After all, the security chiefs are citizens first, and security providers after that.
While we wait for March 28 and April11, there cat be no opportunity to begin a deep reflection on how we got to this sorry state. Evidently, failing to plan is planning to fail. We saw it coming. For the past 16 years, we were led through an adventure of reckless squandermania, which openly suggested that there would never be an end to the utility and flow of the black gold. Even if there is now a clear distinction between stealing and corruption, courtesy President Goodluck Jonathan, we allowed ourselves to be consumed in the twin evils.
While we watched helplessly, our economy was plunged into deep recession and from there we are gradually gliding into the Great Depression — perhaps the type never experienced anywhere in the world. We have argued elsewhere that except something is done, and pronto too, the Naira may not be worth the paper on which it is printed.
As recent as 1982/83, the Dollar exchanged for some 80 kobo but we hear that in the parallel market, it has attained the giddy height of N205 and still climbing! The Nigerian economy currently appears to be in a “liquidity trap” or a situation where no amount of monetary policy can stimulate it back to full health.
Perhaps oblivious of the fact that to the unemployed, the rate of unemployment is 100 percent, we easily abandoned our youths who streamed out of schools annually to their fate. They roamed the streets of our cities endlessly in search of non-existent jobs.
In the prevailing circumstance, crime and criminality soon reached a crescendo. The situation started with militancy in the Niger Delta until it degenerated into other crime areas like armed robbery and kidnapping. Up North, particularly in the North-East, the fear of the insurgents is today the beginning and the end of wisdom. They now call the shots in a manner that easily suggests the absence of a sitting government.
In a depressed economy, it is not unusual for government to bail out ailing organizations in order to avoid job losses and the concomitant effect of the organizations going under. We have watched the Federal Government investing multi-billion Naira in bailing out some ailing banks; while such banks still went ahead with their staff retrenchment exercises.
In the name of privatization, we have sold our hard-earned assets to our friends and cronies while still continuing to fund such assets. For instance, we have balkanized and auctioned out our power sector companies into smaller pieces, ostensibly for greater efficiency and effectiveness. The penultimate week, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, still announced multibillion Naira loans to the electricity distribution companies. Not everyone in Nigeria can suddenly become an economist; some of the transactions we engage in certainly make no economic sense whatsoever.
The economy has become thoroughly mangled, leading to major downswing in the business cycle characterized by virtually extinct industrial production, serious declines or complete cessation of growth in construction activity and great reduction in international capital movements. One thing is certain: the bad economic climate spares no one.
For example, the pride of the black race; the greatest employer of labour in this country; and hitherto the richest African on mother earth, A Aliko Dangote, is currently in the eye of the storm. As we write this piece, news came that he has just lost US $12.6 Billion because of the economic downturn in the country. It would appear that half of his wealth has been wiped off the books, no thanks to the country’s maladministration. This is one man that President Jonathan has been holding out to the entire world as the epitome of Nigeria’s success story.
Oil remains the mainstay of our economy. What we cannot comprehend is the awkward situation in which day after day, a substantial quantity of our crude gets stolen, with the pipelines vandalized. Yet, we pride ourselves with having a sitting government; a living military manned by able-bodied soldiers plus a permanent navy and air force.
Meanwhile, we have migrated to churches in search of salvation, perhaps totally obvious of the fact that God helps only those who help themselves. And some pseudo men of God have taken over government with negative and divisive messages, with the attendant commercial connotation. For some time now, they have been spreading the vainglorious message that “this election is between light and darkness; arid between Christians and Muslims… a vote for Jonathan is a vote for Jesus…”
This is a government by committees in which it has been one probe after another. The reports of these probes have never been made public, talk less implement the recommendations and decisions. This is wasteful and undermining of faith in the entire system.
Without any iota of shame or guilt, these people are still running round in circles in their desire to come and continue their misrule. Need we reiterate here that superior performance is the antidote for electoral success?
In sum, government is about human needs, the satisfaction of which is the sole justification for government. And, in a system where just people are imprisoned unjustly, the only just place for the unjust and non performers is also the prison!