FAILURE OF INSTITUTIONS, FAILURE OF THE NIGERIAN NATION: A SYNOPSIS OF A NATION ON A LIFE SUPPORT
EBENEZER, LEO THE GREAT Ph. D
August 3, 2021
The past few weeks have witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity across the Nigerian federation that one can easily conclude that Nigeria is either a failed state; or the political leaders of Nigeria are willing to trade the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation for greed and selfish interests. This may not be an empirical conclusion; it may not also be the factual position of things within the Nigerian project. However, every keen observer of the dynamics of the Nigerian political system will agree, without sentiments or prejudices, that Nigeria is currently on a life support machine. Unfortunately, and regrettably; the “blame game” theory will not be applied here. This is because nationalism runs in my blood as a patriotic and optimistic Nigerian. The level of insecurity occasioned by poverty, illiteracy, anger and unfulfilled expectations did not just envelop the nation within few months and years; it has been there over the years.
The Nigerian state and her people have allowed the gradual decay of governments, the governance processes and her institutions for long to the extent that societal abnormalities were normalised, and societal normlessness became the order of the day. The beneficiaries of this normlessness did everything possible to consolidate it, while the rest of the society looked and did nothing. Now, institutional failures have become globally scandalous and disheartening to Nigerians, and is also threatening the corporate existence of the Nigerian state. Poverty, anger and depravations in the society have made it difficult to address the multi-dimensional ineptitudes of the Nigerian state. Societal stratifications and the “sticking factor” have further compounded the little chances of redress. This is why institutions that were established to address societal needs and demands were utilised for personal aggrandizement by those elected or appointed to head these institutions.
The Nigerian state is faced with the challenges of dismantling the existing political, economic, social and administrative institutions for a new one; or setting up a generally acceptable platform to address and redress the various issues that led to the failure of all institutions in Nigeria and placed the country on a life support. Failure to do either of the two, with the trend of things especially the emerging and consolidating carnage across the nation; the end or survival of the Nigerian State will be settled in another bloody civil war with the innocent bloods of her citizens. God Almighty should not allow this to happen again. Amen!
The question is: how did the Nigerian state get to this level of institutional failure that challenged the essence of governance which is the security of lives and property? How do we address the numerous problems bedevilling the Nigerian state? What can the Nigerian political elite sacrifice to sustain the Nigerian project? What is the level of poverty, illiteracy and socio-economic deprivations in the society especially among the youths? Is it possible to address the negative dichotomy between the rich and poor in Nigeria? What are the lasting solutions to the numerous problems affecting the nation that may be generally acceptable to the North/South political divide in the country? These and many more questions are opened for interrogations in looking at the reasons for institutional failures in Nigeria. Both historical and contemporary events in the country have shown that Nigeria and Nigerians have been lackadaisical in building institutions that work.
From independence to date, individuals have emerged in various spheres of lives in Nigeria with national and international acclaims; while the institutions that made them who they are today decay beyond measure. In the political, administrative, economic, socio-cultural and religious spheres; institutions in Nigeria have served the interests of few individuals who were privileged to head or work in these institutions to the detriment of the larger society. After the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970, the hitherto parliamentary system of government in operation before and after independence (1960-1966) was jettisoned for a presidential system when the military temporarily allowed their civilian cronies to briefly administer the country in proxy. The merits and demerits of these two systems of governments (parliamentary and presidential) were not taken into consideration either by the constitutional conference of 1978 or the constitution drafting committee of the same year.
The psyche of the military and the near usurpation of the powers of the hitherto autonomous regions (now states) by the military regimes (1967-1979) were also not considered. Personal interests, greed and the quest for power to sustain their interest and greed did not allow this consideration by the political elite. What was paramount was corruption and personal enrichments such that individuals who parade wealth were respected and worshipped. Over the years, while few individual and their cronies become very rich and wealthy, the rest of the society wallop in penury. Institutions collapse and the nation bleeds with just a few individuals within and outside the government staying afloat. The journey to this level of unprecedented failure did not start yesterday. Over the years, no one cares. Now the country bleeds and stagnates.
In the second Republic (1979-1983), the most important recorded success of the political elite was corruption. Corruption was instituted and consolidated to the detriment of institutions, nation building and sustainable development of the country. The military came back and stayed for another 15 years (1984-1999), applying diarchy (military/civilian regime) in 1991-1992. All these years, the military and their civilian cronies normalised abnormalities, and corruption became government trademark. Democracy from 1999 to date have been unable to remove the toga of corruption because of the freedom to steal, plea “not guilty” and sue for the protection of fundamental rights with the best lawyers in the land lining up to defend. Now you hear politicians both in and out of government preach the gospel of restructuring when they have stolen and amassed wealth during their time to the envy of the people, and further entrenchment of poverty in the country.
Hardly do we find a politician who has served in a previous government advocating auditing and recovery of assets of former government officials and prosecuting their corrupt deeds. Everyone is asking for restructuring in order to recycle themselves back to government or wipe up public sentiments to win future elections. Some are even sponsoring banditry and violence in order to discredit the present government. These strategies will not solve the Nigerian problem. The Nigerian political elite are not ready to make any personal sacrifice. They also find it difficult to stay out of power for too long. Their selfishness is beyond limit. That is why they will abandon the people while in government, and become the people’s advocate when they are out of government. The Nigerian legislators are the most dramatic in this regard. None of them is asking for the review of the organs of government especially the legislature in terms of remuneration and allowances.
No legislator has returned his or her salary or allowances because of its hugeness and the need to speak for the poor masses who have nothing to eat. No one is advocating that the institution of the parliament at both the federal (Senate and House of Reps) and in the 36 states of the federal (State Houses of Assemblies), their salaries and allowances should be graded as civil servants, based on experiences and qualifications; or paid little stipends as sitting allowances without any salary at all. We cannot address the problems of institutional failure when the legislature, the arm of government that makes laws and carries out oversights of other institutions of government is a failure. Most of the existing solutions to the problems of the Nigerian state are self-serving to the political elite. The people, the custodians of sovereignty and government are not considered in the mechanics of restructuring and the review of federalism and governmental institutions.
Statistically, The CIA World Factbook in 2020 ranked Nigeria 5th (70%) poorest country in the world, just behind Syria (82 %), Zimbabwe (72 %), Madagascar (71 %), and Sierra Leone (70 %). This means over 140 million people (70 %) of the over 200 million estimated Nigerian population are in the poverty line. This is attributed to low economic growth and empowerment, income inequalities, unemployment, corruption, bad governance, diversion of public funds, embezzlement of governmental funds by political officeholders and administrators, inadequate endowment of human capital, lack of job creation in the labour market, low productivity, low wages and poor development of human resources among others. These identified variables are caused by weak institutions over the years.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its 2020 report noted that: “In Nigeria, 40.1 percent of total population were classified as poor. In other words, on average, 4 out of 10 individuals in Nigeria has real per capita expenditures below 137, 430 Naira per year. This translates to over 82.9 million Nigerians who are considered poor by national standards.” Similarly, the same NBS report observed that 41.25% males and 26.93% females in Nigeria have primary education. For secondary education, it was 25 % males and 14 % females; while 18. 13% males and 5.66% females had post-secondary education. The projected unemployment rate according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is 32%.
- Quote paper
- Mr. Leo the Great Ebenezer Ph.D (Author), 2021, The Failure of Institutions and the Nigerian Nation. A Synopsis of a Nation on Life Support, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1119006