Nigeria has been variously described as the giant of Africa for a good one, the global capital of human poverty for a bad one and as the hot pot of insecurity in the West African sub-region for an ugly one. These last two afore-cited descriptions of Nigeria have links with human capital mismanagement and culpable wastage of vast resources that are a result of bad governance.
For the respect Nigeria commands as the giant of Africa, one would expect the country to be up there in the developmental strides, competing with the First World and having a socio-political culture imbued with a strong value system that would give it a global face. However, from all assessments, this is, sadly, not the case. If national development presupposes the ability of a nation to harness its human and natural resources for growth and advancement to its full potential, then Nigeria is a long way off. How can there be development in a country in which public funds are embezzled by those who control them? How can there be development in a country where self-interest is the dominant rule of action?
In their lawlessness, Nigeria’s political class see the nation as their personal investment. Human capital development and socio-economic growth have been abysmally poor, caused by its retrogression on those fronts, because the leaders have largely become preoccupied with milking the nation rather than committing to nation-building. Embezzlement and mismanagement of public funds, and abuse of public trust have become the hallmark of the holders of our political offices even as they constantly make lip service at fighting corruption, which is wholesomely affecting and eating deep into every fabric and facet of the nation‘s life.
Suffice it to say that no sector is free from the lethal hold of corruption. It has astronomically deadened the consciences of a few and the willpower of many so much so that the only noncorrupt Nigerian is the one who has not had the opportunity to choose between being and not being so. Nowadays, not being corrupt, especially with regard to the management of public offices, is to be averagely depicted as being unwise. So, when a public officeholder refuses to be corrupt, as is the norm, they are considered a hindrance to the progress of others and may not last long in that position.
To hit the nail on the head, Nigeria’s economic and socio-political woes continue to linger because the political system is steered by retired heads–the so-called ‘godfathers’–and ostensibly by the same visionless and unproductive political caucus that put the nation in the sorry state it is in–and a greater number of them still constitute those who decide the fate of the nation today. This bad governance manifests in the absence of integral and sustainable human development.
Simply because the basic platforms for national growth are not in place, our tertiary institutions are not the apex centres for technological breakthroughs as it is in other climes and our courts are predominantly theatres where the most connected in government and the wealthy flex muscles against the poor and the vulnerable. Additionally, we do not have the technological basis for production since we import even the little things like pencils and toothpicks, and there is no electricity, good roads, or jobs. The socio-economic misfortunes of Nigerians continue to increase daily as the rate of inflation rises geometrically.
To make matters worse, the leaders proffer all forms of cosmetic solutions, which serve as conduit pipes for them to siphon the nation’s wealth to their foreign bank accounts, to our national problems rather than time-honoured and enduring ones, and bodies set up to study issues affecting the nation only end up becoming toothless and reduced to white-papers fit only for the national archives. Having weakened the social contract between the government and the people, Nigeria’s political officeholders stymie the nation’s development on all fronts.
Our current crop of the political class is least concerned with engineering development that guarantees the welfare of the citizens. Nigerians might remain in this mess for a long time should the decision-makers continue to be unwilling to chart a new course for the nation and adjust to a system different from the prevailing trend. It would not be easy for Nigeria to be free from this economic death knell and socio-political calamity resulting from the unjust systems, structures and attitudinal dispositions of the policymakers but it is not impossible.