Opinion: Nigeria – Suffering from a resource curse

by Raymond Inkabi

Jonathan 7

Unlike past Nigerian leaders, he is neither charismatic, nor flashily intellectual, nor domineering. Yet nobody can deny this: he is a highly effective politician who has vision and has been through and seen through, as Commander-in-Chief of the most populous black nation in the world.

The modern image of Nigeria is built on shaky foundations. Nigeria’s global economic status is well understood, but how this has driven social change is not quite clear. A stroll, away from the gleaming capital Abuja to the streets and suburbs, keeps one bewildered and confused of such sharp disconnect between the core and the periphery. This same narrative is seen in practically all the states of the federation. With some places having little or no Federal presence or infrastructural development. And yet though, change is taking place at an unprecedented rate as never seen before. Poverty and malnutrition are infamously severe in the rural areas, where up to 80 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Cynicism, disappointment and rejection bears its mark on the citizens. Who remarkably know their government for dodging and shying away from its biggest concerns. Nigerians are yet to experience better economic policies, stable power supply, lower unemployment rates, electoral reforms, reduced poverty, also visibly upset are they over the government’s incapacity to tackle growing insecurity – of which the abduction of over 200 school girls at a remote community of Chibok, in the Northeastern State of Borno by insurgents in April, sparked series of debate and condemnation – locally and internationally on the government’s resolve in providing adequate security of lives and property for its more than 160 million people, with as much as 70 percent living on less than US$1.25 a day.

Public frustration, festering for years is one bomb blast waiting to happen, seeing the wave of demonstrations of discontent appearing in various forms. Yet, amid the ebb and flow of protests, the question is still how do we get real societal change? How do we get a workable nation? How do we forge a national identity? However, the historicity of Nigeria’s problems are so ingrained and endless that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has so far been unable to do much.

President Goodluck Jonathan, is Nigeria’s first President with a PhD and also the first since the Amalgamation in 1914 to hail from a
minority tribe of Ijaw, from the Niger Delta. He has had the job as acting-President in 2010, then sworn in as President when his boss serving President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua passed on in Saudi Arabia, after battling with an ailing kidney. And also, for three years now, after being elected as President in 2011. Recent events happening also make it seem he will likely keep the job after the forthcoming 2015 general elections in February. Mai Nasara’s character as he is fondly called in the North is best summed up by what he is not. Unlike past Nigerian leaders, he is neither charismatic, nor flashily intellectual, nor domineering. Yet nobody can deny this: he is a highly effective politician who has vision and has been through and seen through, as Commander-in-Chief of the most populous black nation in the world.

A technological change, if encouraged and adopted as a national policy so profoundly will reset the economics of manufacturing and industrialisation. It will decentralise monopolies completely, reversing the dictatorship accompanying sole-licensed operators and diversify the economy. And as such, anyone would be able to adopt the change that technology brings. For targeted efforts to develop a national technology will have implications not just for the distribution of capital and jobs, but also for carving an international identity and propel national growth. Just as nobody could have predicted the impact of technology in India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Israel, Singapore and Japan. It is impossible to foresee the long-term impact of technology in Nigeria. But our technology is coming, and it is likely to positively impact every sphere of the Nigerian society. And one thing, at least, seems clear: although developing our technology will create winners and losers in the short term, in the long run it will stretch, advance and project our economy socially and culturally beyond imagination and current World Bank stats. This responsibility to first do something lie with this current administration if it does not want to be banded in the same category as its predecessors.

Yet there is broad recognition, at least, that Nigeria’s 21st-century problems cannot be addressed by romancing its 20th-century system. What will replace it, is still unknown. This mystery is the sole reason for Nigeria’s woes. The failure is about more than just predictable corruption, which now is widely regarded as a perception. It is systemic. Nigeria suffers from the “resource curse”, which blights nations nature has endowed. The effects of the resource curse is soulfully crystal clear, the common man carrying the sins like the Biblical goat into the wilderness. And even well articulated good intentions often fail the poor. Cynics relish the rebasement of the economy as paper stats serving no purpose on the daily reality of the citizenry. Yet they fail woefully, in propositions for collective action and a workable future.

Genuinely change-driven persons and candidates are necessary in any democratic process. The current leadership seem to be fully motivated by the state of the state and its people, through it’s various reforms and people-driven projects coupled with targeted policies to help ameliorate the lot of its poor. Meanwhile, lots of anti-democratic individuals, cynics and critics masked up as activists and Messiahs are clearly lurking in the background, stirring up discontent and mass uprising against the government. Tactically, an intention to seize control is well shielded, lulling a gullible mass of undiscerning pawns into a false belief that the removal of the ruling bad guys in government will automatically lead to a government led by the good guys. These guys under a seemingly popular stance have defined what they are up against, but have not had time to clarify what they are for; to be sure and accountable. Nigerians need time for political scrutiny and a public debate as we countdown to the Presidential elections next year. For it is the only way to think seriously, make the right choices, and how to make progressive ideals and economic growth add up. Even at then, we could still be disappointed and left panting and longing for the “good ole lucky days.”

 

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Raymond Inkabi tweets from @Alykka

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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