Nigeria is an emerging economy! Due to their despot actions; Politicians have dressed Nigeria to appear like a country with low level of material well-being. We have experienced year by years, or even decades of economic depression and social chaos. Low income per capita per Nigerian person, declining life expectancy, high rate of literacy are premium evident. We have not achieved a significant degree of industrialization relative to Nigeria’s 130 million populations, and which have, in most cases a medium to low standard of living.
There is a strong correlation between low income and high population growth. We are supposed to line-up among Newly industrialized countries (NICs) like Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey because we started with them but we cannot meet up for now. Some developing countries like Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Trinidad and Tobago have been classified as “Developed countries” by the World Bank, we are not among, yet they can’t measure with us before 1984 and now we can’t meet up with them. Is it as a result of degrowth, uneconomic growth from oil-economy or zero growth? We need not to deceive ourselves, pretending that all is well!
Is good governance—through democracy— essential for achieving sustainable development in Nigeria? Alternatively, can sustainable development be achieved without good governance—without democracy—and vice versa? One challenging argument given on this issue is that the present structures/institutions and their capacity of both the Nigerian states and societies are not fully developed to the level of being capable to successfully implement, simultaneously, strategies and policies for institutionalizing democracy and sustainable development.
The focus is on values and behaviour of those involved in development policy management in the ministries and agencies of the federal government. Again, reform measures have been overwhelmingly concerned with federal government administration. The fascination has continued to be with highly technical and centrally formulated and implemented solutions to development problems. When these solutions fail to work due to difficulties of implementation or otherwise, the concentration has been on finding ways to make them work. The possibility that these central solutions might be fatally flawed and that solutions which look away from central government to local agencies of development policy management might need to be sought, has rarely been considered.
The second issue posed the simultaneity question differently, placing it within a more complex and historical context. It challenged the simultaneity question on historical grounds, arguing that Europe, North America and Japan achieved economic development first and became democratic afterwards. In this century the East Asian (the “Asian Tigers”) and Latin American experience (Brazil, Argentina and Mexico), achieved economic development first (through authoritarianism) and became democratic later. And most intriguing is the contrast between China and India. While China has been achieving a very high economic growth rate (some would call it phenomenal) without any form of liberal or any type of Western democracy, India, which has been proclaimed the largest democracy in the world since its independence in 1947, has had a much slower economic growth rate (approximately half) than China.
Actually, Nigeria has the potential to not only guarantee good living standards for its peoples, but also contribute to human development around the world. Moreover, Nigeria has human resources with the capacity for developing socio-economic programs and managing public affairs. Yet, the reality is a Nigeria that is underdeveloped and dependant, with very shaky economic and political foundations, is largely characterized by the following: Very low economic performance, evidenced by low standards of living, poor social infrastructures, insufficient industrial production, low level of imports/exports, inadequate internal and external investments and mismanagement of public resources; Internal and external conflicts, causing displacement of populations, devastation of natural resources, disunion of families and communities, disorganization of public services, increasing endemic diseases and famine; Political instability, repression, exclusion, corruption, breakdown of governance systems and rebellion.
Efforts to bring about development have produced only meager results. Nigerian debt continues to increase while investments are decreasing; levels of deprivation are growing, culminating in conflict and violence. Why has this been the case? Several causes can be pointed out as being basic to the present underdevelopment of the continent, some external, some internal. However, the fact is that no change will occur without addressing the principal causes of the present situation. These causes have to be understood and properly addressed. One principal variable explaining this problem is poor leadership. While it can be asserted that in general there are improvements in the procedures through which especially political leadership emerges in Nigeria, the urgent challenges before the continent call for a much more qualitative leadership. Fortunately, the old way in which persons in key leadership positions seem more driven by avarice and ignoble ambition, rather than inclusiveness and the common good, is being daily and publicly rejected by Nigerians. Broad vision, hard work and dedication to commonly arrive at goals and personal example are being demanded. Facing the country’s developmental challenges requires this.
But given its importance and urgency, it is public sector leadership which is the main focus. It is the main arena for ensuring equity and inclusion, and the promotion of meaningful solidarity. It also has the critical responsibility of regulation and support to private sector activities, including appropriate responses to globalization. It requires emphasis that in the emerging Nigeria.
These problems have delayed the development of our citizens’ living standard due to over-dependent on the government-controlled economies. Better policy and social change is demanded of this government. Certain issue such as the liberalization of government-held property should be revisited. Government Regulations, fiscal policies, monetary policy, and government supply and citizens demand must be harnessed.
Several causes can be pointed out as being basic to the present underdevelopment of the Nigerian nation, some external, some internal. However, the fact is that no change will occur without addressing the principal causes of the present situation. These causes have to be understood and properly addressed. One principal variable explaining this problem is poor leadership. While it can be asserted that in general there are improvements in the procedures through which especially political leadership emerges in Nigeria, the urgent challenges before the continent call for a much more qualitative leadership.
Fortunately, the old way in which persons in key leadership positions seem more driven by avarice and ignoble ambition, rather than inclusiveness and the common good, is being daily and publicly rejected by Nigerians. Broad vision, hard work and dedication to commonly arrive at goals and personal example are being demanded. Facing the nation’s developmental challenges requires this. Political office holders, senior public servants and non-state actors are being narrowed down, if not done away with, as befitting the sensitive understanding that the deepening of a common vision and strategy to respond to citizen needs is a necessity.
At a recent meeting, a group of experts understood leadership to encompass “personal or group attributes, organizational structural arrangements, positions, functions, responsibilities, knowledge,
skills, actions and attitudes that are shaped by the past and current socio-politico-economic and cultural conditions in pursuing a shared common vision/goal/purpose/objective. It is a road and a vehicle leading from the past through the present into the future.” Leadership is required at all levels and under all situations. However, the tasks of, and immediate needs for, leadership are the more obvious depending on the nature and degree of a crisis at hand. Large-scale, complex and rapid changes, especially brought about by a multiplicity of sources, call for exceptional leadership qualities. We can continue to debate the extent to which leaders are “born” or “taught”, but analytic and strategic skills are needed to confront the current challenges confronting the public sector in Nigeria. The capacities needed can be developed and continually so.
Yet, given both the enormity of the problem in light of need and the availability of resources, the focus is on developing leadership involving political figures and public servants and on public sector training centers and institutions in Nigeria to deepen their understanding of the issues and better prepare them to service identified leadership development needs. Nigeria’s most immediate task remains economic revitalization to create jobs and income.
The “nigeria4betterrule” community is of two minds on the issue; that poverty has established grey-market all over Nigeria. They consider it to herald a national economic collapse on the premise of government intervention and over-regulation of the economy, shortcomings in bank lending. The centrally planned economy has resulted in some legacies in the economy. Few viable businesses are seen and greatly overstaffed; no plan for new industries, reflecting the rigidity of the planned economy. Most people has agreed that the “concentration of wealth in few hands” and “stoppages in the rolling of money” if not checked may be root cause of Nigeria’s poverty in the next decade. All these actions can lead to the conditions for collapse. While the majority, including governments and non-governmental organizations, predict a sluggish economy or a recessionary trend. The causes and cures are not far-fetched!
We understand that Nigeria will develop if all the institutions which are required to maintain her economic, health, and cultural and social standards; such as the financial system, the education system, the health care system, the system of government, and law enforcement, as well as emergency services are reformed to perform. To achieve this, President Goodluck Jonathan should become an employer of choice. Services provided by his government to Nigerian citizens.
Unfortunately, the incentives for realizing that result are in short supply. The budget process rewards spending, not success in achieving a program’s goals. Rather than cutting the waste and improving program efficiency, members of the national assembly find it easier to create a new program or spend more money on those that do not work well. Both sides of the aisle bear responsibility for the accumulated debt that will be borne by future generations. But for us here; an early solution to this perceived problem was government provision of the utility service. However, this approach raised its own problems. In Nigeria today, most politicians are using the state-provided utility services to pursue their selfish political agendas. They see it as a source of cash flow for funding other government activities, or as a means of obtaining hard currency. These and other consequences of state provision of utility services have resulted in inefficiency and poor service quality.
Taxpayers have to make their voices heard. Government waste will be reduced when politicians believe it is in their best interest to do so. If members of national assembly think they need to spend more money to get re-elected, they will act accordingly. If their re-election depends on being fiscally prudent, they would be more restrained in how they use your tax dollars. To make a difference, get involved in the process. Go to a meeting and voice your opinion – whether it is the local school board, city council, or at a town hall meeting. The best question to ask: “Can you please tell me what you are doing with my money?” We need basic Infrastructure!
Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function The term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, telecommunications, yet Nigerians cannot boast of any the better services unless on dilapidated and poor forms.
Poor governance has erupted as a result of leaders not implementing reform agendas for Nigerians, not ensuring the citizens have access to basic needs, non accountability, passing of policies and laws that oppress people, not fighting impunity providing an environment where citizens don’t enjoy their rights. The big question at the moment was, should foreigners meddle with our affairs or should we be left alone to handle our issues? What if the foreign envoys aren’t involved who else apart from the free media would act as the voice for the people and question the government?
Implementing reform agendas of the Obasanjo regime-time as well as the late Yar;Adua government would bring a lot changes since it will ensure political accountability, rule of law, respect to governance and state resources. Due to vested interests by the politicians Nigerians will have to wait more as the law makers debate on whether to pass the laws that facilitate their implementation or not.
In a constitutional democracy, accountability is owed to the electorate by all persons in government but Nigerians had had their voice caged for so long now. If accountability can be enforced through a great variety of regular procedures, including elections, systems of promotion and discipline, fiscal accounting, recall, and referendum, how are such milestones in my beloved country? Rightfully, the accountability of government officials to the citizenry makes possible the citizens’ responsibility for the acts of government, but this government has destroy such mindset for self-aggrandizement.
The most obvious example of this two-directional flow of responsibility and accountability is the electoral process. A member of the legislature or the head of government is elected by adult citizens and is thereby invested with authority and power in order that he may try to achieve those goals to which he committed himself in his program. At the end of his term of office, the electorate has the opportunity to judge his performance and to reelect him or dismiss him from office. Who is responsible for a Nigerian politician who failed to render his account; who can be held accountable for Nigeria’s deplorable roads? For instance, Oyigbo (Rivers State) has its roads totally gully, but the former council boss and the governor left everything on blame-game-state or local government trunk A or B, I do not know.
Nigeria government monthly allocations are supposed to be for the development of infrastructure and services, but our people lack basic services. Hospitals are in bad shape and without medicines and dues of nurses and civil servants are not paid for several months at a time, particularly for servicemen and women. Nigerian cities and rural communities has changed a lot in terms of expansion beyond , but the city services and amenities remain in miserable shape and are hardly recognizable as of government, to mention only a few. No one knows whose responsibility it is to renovate these to get repair. Many Nigerians in the civil service complain about the failure to issue their salaries. Most registered companies today have got no offices, only mobile offices and yet some do acquire government tenders for supplies after which they deliver poor services. In most cas
es the contractor ends up without fulfilling the assigned deal because the money is being released to the contracted company in advance.
The inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) remained quite stable for a long time between the 1970s and1990s. That it played a significant role in Nigeria’s development effort is not an aspect of good luck, but one of the examples of good management – attracted by good policies and market-friendly environment. The same argument applies to the inflow of foreign aid and its sustainability long after Nigeria became a middle-income country. One can also appreciate the advantages of “light-minded country effect” in key macro-economic indicators, and frustrations regarding broad or agriculture-based poverty reduction strategies due to recurrent drought conditions that make agriculture a precarious undertaking. Institutionalisation of multi-party political system and good macro-economic management contained various interests, thereby managing not just the country’s wealth but also the diversity of its people. hence, the context of the “good natural fortune” is crucial
No matter how much money is taken in, there will never be enough to fix these “problems.” Road funding is a cash cow for states. They use it to hold hostage for ever expanding revenue. Tell it like it is, these bureaucrats need a fat pension to retire with, after they sit in never ending meetings discussing how they can raise taxes and fees in infinity.No matter how much taxes and fees are raised, the fat cats in office will come back demanding more. The problem is not funding, it is a corrupt fat cat that cannot do what it has to unless it is fed more.
Considering the need to adapt the different public services for better Nigeria ;a new public service system is desirable, so as to be able to anticipate or accompany the profound changes that Nigerians are experiencing and take into account the prevailing socio-economic conditions, including:· Modernizing administrative structures by mastering the new communication technologies, allowing to transform historically and politically motivated functions into sound business-like operations;· Adapting to the increasing globalization of the economy and creating an enabling environment for private sector growth; · Ensuring not only the economic growth and the strengthening of basic infrastructure but also promoting social development and striving to reduce the growing disparities in income and opportunities in order to foster social solidarity.
We have seen Beautiful Plans with Poor Implementation. There is persistent tendency to overlook the problems of implementation of plans has been a central focus of concern and attention in Nigeria from independence. But since the mid- 1980’s this concern has become particularly strong. A report prepared by our “nigeria4betterule” moderators on the implementation of the current 5-year Development plan emphasized the need to establish a well- trained cadre of officers in development policy formulation and management (an issue which, I was interested to note, I; Mr. Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu had discussed in my article sometime ago). To implement this recommendation a National Management Policy Development Project should be launched with a Steering Committee and Project Coordinator.
This project has commenced its assignment by focusing on five priority sectors in which Implementation of plans and programs is of major concern: human resource development, science and technology, administration of justice, international trade, and tourism. The reports of the researchers who have examined the bottlenecks to plan implementation in each of these sectors must be revisited.
And finally; the evidence seems to suggest that being mindful of basic economic fundamentals provides a good basis and investment-friendly environment, but it may not be enough for broad-based economic growth and diversification. The necessity of retaining a strong state that possesses a strategic development-oriented capacity for effective public service delivery and/or facilitating the role of the private sector in order to fulfill crucial development goals is asserted. This requires, in our view, forging ahead with management ideas that have served the country well so far, and resolute implementation of the public sector reforms that have been announced in line with the redefined role of the state, the facilitative role of the public sector in the economy.
Arizona-Ogwu writes from Oyigbo, Rivers State, Nigeria.