Constructively analysing Nigeria’s present devastating and deplorable situation, one can say the efforts to bring about positive change and in the task of nation-building have not reached the expectation of the masses. The difficulties confronting the nation are enormous and are jeopardising the future of the citizenry – ranging from unemployment to penury. The conferences and symposia which most of our leaders attend seem not to have effect on the day-to-day running of the affairs of government. When the FG sets up committees to carry out specific assignments, it appears to be encouraging in the first instance, but in the long run they start deviating.
If clergymen were to assume political offices in this country, I presume they might also end up falling into the temptation of corruption. Recently, a certain man of God in one of the Pentecostal churches was reportedly found at a very late hour threatening to kill his financial secretary who had refused to release money for his egocentric projects. Countless rape cases have been recorded in many of the churches today. In another instance, another man of God was said to have been caught in compromising circumstances with his choir mistress.
The questions to ask are: who can restore sanity in the country? Who will tackle the malignant scourges of administrative ineptitude, kleptocracy, corruption, electoral malpractices and other ills associated with politics in the country?
“The Nigerian problem,” according to Chinua Achebe, “is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility and to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.” His central argument, therefore, is this: “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.”
At the local level, government and good governance are virtually non-existent. At the state level, it is hard to think of a great exception to the general rule of mediocrity and nepotism. In the southern states where there is a lot of talk about “progress and development and newness”, all these have remained mere talks – or a little bit of progress and a whole lot of publicity and fanfare. At the federal level, some have argued that it is a contradiction in term to speak of a government. The centre, it appears, is where people go to hone the art of triviality and frivolity.
Nigerian federalism is an abnormal system. Its abnormality has no comparison anywhere in the developed or developing world. At the state and federal levels, there seems not to be any sort of real and functioning separation and the supposed “checks and balances” are also not there. And not many politicians are worried that there are no separation of powers and checks and balances amongst the three tiers of government. But more than that, one arm of government feeds off and enables the other in the free flow of depravities and debauchery.
An individual could hardly achieve affluence without going contrary to ethical and moral principles. Independence of the judiciary is no longer in existence as a result of poor remuneration and excessive interference from the executive. Compare a judge and a minister: a judge with the greatest emolument may not be receiving as much as one-tenth of what a minister is receiving.
What about our distinguished senators? The huge sum squandered on 106 senators in the name of monthly allowance could be used to create employment opportunities for thousands of jobless youth. Some states have not complied with the N18,000 minimum wage for workers, then who is making effort to ensure that the pronouncement of the minimum wage is being implemented?
Most youths today are striving to leave the shores of the country. Reasons for this are legion. Education in the country is flat on its belly. Favouritism and nepotism have replaced meritocracy in the students’ admission process. “I personally was deprived admission to study Medicine in one of the universities in the South-east simply because my parents could not afford N50,000,” noted a young school leaver.
Even the so-called constitution seems to be no longer effective based on what has happened and is currently happening in some states where the long absence of the governors due to ill-health has impacted negatively on governance.
The media as the fourth estate of the realm has a crucial role to play in bringing about positive change. The media should act as a watchdog to the society. Embracing investigative reporting is essential at this point in time; it should be a prerequisite considering the devastating state of the nation. Sensationalism in journalism has not helped and will never help. The judiciary could team up with the media to see how far they could go in the task of nation-building.
Otherwise, with what I see and hear around me on a daily basis, I begin to doubt seriously the ability of Nigerians to transform Nigeria. Perhaps we should try another British rule.
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