By Kede Aihie
As the 2019, general election is fast approaching, Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy is currently facing its worst economic recession in a quarter of a century, coupled with a multi-layer cake of challenges, which seem not to be abating.
In light of poor budget implementation, there is the need to have a look at proper policy initiatives on efficient borrowing, inclusive growth and optima utilization, financial inclusion, lifting people out of poverty, investment in education (which empirical evidence shows reaping benefit in ten years), budget size, modern transport infrastructure, harnessing Nigeria’s trillion dollar economy (informal economy three times the size of formal).
Aside from the theatrics and nebulous agitations (sovereign national conference, resource control, true federalism, religious and separatist agendas), restructuring has taken a more aggressive tone. Restructuring debate is a concept or slogan that means different things to people.
The clamour for ‘Restructuring’, has reached fever pitch, with opportunists obfuscating the narrative.
Threading the Needle
In the absence of a comprehensive legal frame work, there is no clear cut agreement amongst those championing the ‘restructuring’. What does restructuring mean, does it mean resource control, political, regionalization, and local government autonomy, devolution of power or loose federation? If State governors are acting as Demi gods now, what will they be, with more powers and money? Won’t we create several regional and communal tensions and marginalization?
Are there ethnic and religious tensions, of course yes, but there are more issues uniting Nigerians than divisions. Speaking with a diverse section of Nigerians, from Keke (tricycle) operators, cab drivers, unemployed, government officials, businesses, students, university graduates to diplomats, I have come to the conclusion that most Nigerians identify CORRUPTION, IRREGULAR POWER SUPPLY, INCOMPETENCE, POOR INFRASTRUCTURE, and POOR HEALTH CARE as issues more important to them.
The Bishop of Diocese of Kaduna Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The Rt. Reverend Timothy Yahaya, while presenting his address at the 3rd session of the 20th Synod themed ‘Faithfulness’, commenting on the agitations and eviction threats, blamed the various agitations for self-autonomy by different groups on unfaithfulness of Nigeria’s leaders, saying the leaders are self-centred.
According PwC, “corruption in Nigeria could cost up to 37% of Gross Domestic Products (GDP) by 2030 if it’s not dealt with immediately. This cost is equated to around $1,000 per person in 2014 and nearly $2,000 per person by 2030.
Mercy Corp’s study on the Effects of Farmer-Pastoralist Conflict in Nigeria’s Middle Belt on Sector, and National Economies, says Nigeria stands to gain up to $13.7 billion annually in total macroeconomic progress in a scenario of peace between farmers and pastoralists in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, and Plateau alone.
Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) stated in its report in 2016 that pipeline vandalism in the Niger delta costs the state and oil companies $14bn (£9.3bn) a year and devastated up to 52,000 hectares of land in 2014. The North East Nigeria Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA) say impact of Boko Haram terrorist atrocities in the region cost $9 billion.
No one knows the true number of people killed during the Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970, it is estimated that more that more than one million people (which is half the population of Qatar) died in the war through famine, disease and fighting in the southeast.
Before the Brexit referendum, many pro-Brexit campaigners and supporters cited the cost of EU membership as a strong reason for leaving. But the reality is that there’s likely to be hefty divorce bill, which could run into billions of pounds (estimates have put the cost between £15 billion and £52bn). South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, almost six years after gaining independence is in the grip of a massive humanitarian crisis due to civil war.
The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades. With the liberation of Mosul in Iraq, the rebuilding of the destroyed city is estimated to cost over a $1billion.
When funds and resources meant for the common good of Nigerians are misused and the benefits not getting to the people, then there will be agitations. Perception and reality are two different things, democracy is not perfect, democracy is messy, but thrives on context of ideals, and so would always be difficult. Frustration should be handled democratically, pastors, imam, traditional rulers must speak out unambiguously about hate speeches.
Nigerians are a resilient people with an ambitious and entrepreneurial attitude that compares more favourably to developed markets. There must investment in education and infrastructure to give Nigerians the opportunity to go out and build better lives.
We need to make sure Nigerians can create wealth and jobs. We need to create new industries and encourage Investment in manufacturing, agriculture and ecommerce. We need to unlock the potential of our young people. Nigeria needs to tell the world that we are proud nation and one where the rule of law is followed.
How long can Nigerians, stick to the fault lines based on ethnic identity, religious bigotry, it comes down to resources and governance, Corruption takes away money from poor people.
No to hate speech hate speech. Tech creates incredible opportunities. The U.S. can learn from Nigeria, ultimately distribution of power should be a good thing, separation of power has worked well for America. Its very important for multi nations and local community work together, csr in terms of jobs. Basic principle should focus on unity and no to violence and hate speech.
Nigeria needs to give power to the people, security of farmers don’t go the farm any more, we need to find a way of devolving power, our business differences and culturally