Special to USAfrica multimedia networks Houston
The Nigerian political and ruling class have, lacking shame, transformed themselves into a bunch of oppressive, arrogant and corrupt kleptocrats.
I blame the Nigerian masses for allowing the rape of democracy to continue unabated.
Unlike the protests occasioned by the Arab Spring in the Middle East and north Africa, the Nigerian masses have refused till date, to protest against the invidious treatments meted out to them by their civilian leaders since 1998. Without coming together regardless of tribal or religious affiliations with the aim of causing the cessation of the abuse of human rights and denigration of citizens’ collective humanity, nothing will really take place
The people that must be severally blamed are the Nigerian intellectuals who, for reasons best known to them, lack the ability to seize opportunity that their participation in government presents to them. According to Ayittey, George B. N (1998), Nigerian intellectuals lack the critical thinking ability to incorporate their book knowledge to real life and real world experiences and their inability to translate knowledge into problem-solving – we can aptly describe the Nigerian intellectuals along the line of Ayitteh’s thought process as “the functionally illiterate elites”.
After eight years of civilian rule of the All Progressive Alliance rule (2011 – 2019) in Imo State, there is an advanced stage of decay and virtually all government structures have collapsed, infrastructure, especially road networks, have also crumbled; in fact, tarred and paved roads have been reduced to death traps.
Pensioners and to an extent civil servants, have gone for many months without pensions and salaries paid. Needless to talk of epileptic power supply and quasi non-existent telephone and Internet services. Thus, while electric bills are sent out for payment for electricity not provided or utilized, Nigerians pay without raising a voice or an eyebrow. Even at the scenario presented above – and with no salaries paid to civil servants for monthe, hyperinflation still raged, up to 23 percent. The Nigerian currency is worth much less – exchanging for 360 naira for just 1 USD.
There are high taxes and as stated above, rampant inflation and runaway cost of running government and government expenditures persist. There is unstable currency exchange rates, high level corruption, etc, all these have retarded economic growth potentials of Nigerians and Nigeria. Also, there is deepening economic and security crisis, which are characterized by weak economic forecast if agricultural and declining industrial output (World Bank 1989)
Increasingly, Nigeria is becoming very a failed state that is fast becoming very unattractive to foreign investors and even Nigerians in Diaspora. This also explains why there is high level of fatigue of foreign aid.
Increasingly, the rise in insecurity in the entire Nigerian society frightens all. Part of the causes is because all the wrong people are at the right places. This explains why the wheel of production has almost come to an unexpected halt, explaining further why Nigerians are faced with the grim reality of poverty in the midst of plenty.
It is increasingly frustrating that in the midst of this grim economic and political realities, the Nigerian political leaders surround themselves with various councils, bodies, commissions, institutions, etc; for example, National Economic Council, Federal Executive Council, Ecomomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – yet, government functionaries have refused to be transparent and accountable to the people they govern.
This can explain why Nigeria has remained the poverty capital of the world and further buttresses the fact that the powerlessness of the masses to get rid of their predatory government and leaders through democratic means.
More treacherous and disturbing remain the acquiescence of highly educated Nigerians: lawyers, professors and others, especially the media who are supposed to be the watchdog and conscience of the people, have themselves joined the official rodents (Ayittey, 1989). They have failed to exhibit enough courage to effect any meaningful change. Consequently, Nigerians have remained intractably mired in extreme poverty while the nation is on the verge of complete collapse caused by pillage of the greedy political class who use the instrument of state power to advance their selfish and tribal interests and by so doing, they exclude everyone else, especially the poor — Ayitteh calls this: “the politics of exclusion and discontent”. This is a situation where the cabal of Hausa – Fulani has monopolized political power since independence in 1960 (Ayitteh, 1989).
The politics and government of All Progressive Congress (APC) have remained predatory, creating enormous problems of capital flight, corruption, repression, embezzlement and many other vices too numerous to mention. Western governments are culpable. They have been complacent not by deliberate design or mere ignorance but by default of being silent.
Ikegwuoha, professor of political science and public administration at the Imo State University, is a member of the editorial board of USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com