The political reality of our beloved Nigeria remains to be dominated with enormous complications. Although a nation blessed with abundant natural and human resources and noted as symbolically the “Giant of Africa,” she continues to leave dwarf like footprints on the African continent and the global political terrain. This can be partly attributed to our misguided, visionless, and apathetic as well as cowardice political leadership who are more inclined in maintaining a corrupt and self-serving status-quo than in developing a structure that will benefit the general public. As a result, their inaction has led many young, talented, and gifted Nigerians to not only develop but be recognized, internationally, for proliferating 3 major Black Market Industries: prostitution in Russia, Italy, England, and Dubai; drug trafficking in southeast Asia, Africa, America and Europe; and Yahoo or 419 scamming all over the world.
While domestically, young Nigerians are relegated to 3 other Black Market Industries: prostitution, criminality, and okada/danfo transportation. Some Nigerians, especially men, have tried to dismiss and justify the existence of prostitution as being one of the oldest professions on earth; yet, if most civilizations only produced a space for their daughters, wives, aunts, etc. to be prostitutes such peoples would have become instinct due to destabilizing the core of any functioning society that needed women to play an integral part in its development.
Undoubtedly, the rate of prostitution in Nigeria has reached catastrophic levels and needs to be addressed. Of course, this shouldn’t stop us from celebrating the success many young minded and brilliant Nigerians have attained all over the world and in Nigeria with moral integrity despite facing enormous odds. Still, some of Nigeria’s socially deviant behavior should be a cause of alarm and concern, which leads us to deep individual and national introspection and questioning: what is the solution?
Every election period, Nigerians await a political savior, one who will move the masses beyond her current socio-economic limitations while stomping out corruption. Yesterday, it was Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan and today it is Muhammadu Buhari. The expectation is that elected political saviors will miraculously solve the central issues that Nigerians have been wrestling with for decades. Moreover, these are mere fantasies or imaginary political wishes not grounded in the structural and institutional reality of Nigeria.
Structural or structure signifies the policies of dominant government institutions that are intended to ensure socio-economic gains of individuals and society through institutions. A socio-economic gain is the economic gain a person acquires from work that will position her to live a better and healthy social life as well as being a contributor in society. Institution denotes the legal system, public-private schools and housing as well as corporations that bring to life dominant government policies. For example, a government policy to create safer roads is a public value (public infrastructure and safety, education, etc.). In seeking to create a public value, the government policy allocates resources to ensure that the value is funded through awarding and administering an objective contracting system to corporations and public entities (institutions). The end result is not only a public good such as roads is provided but jobs are created as well. Unfortunately, Nigeria doesn’t have the political machinery in place to produce such public value and the beneficial socio-economic implications attached to such outcomes.
Nevertheless, the lack of structural and institutional formation to produce socio-economic outcomes and create public value seems to be a subset of an overarching dysfunctional governmental structure. In other words, the Nigerian federal government needs to be decentralized and its fiscal and political reach limited; thus, allowing local and state governments to meet the socio-economic and political needs of their respective constituents. For example, Nigeria’s Federation Account Allocation Committee allocates revenue from oil producing states to all other states. This is problematic. First and foremost, it doesn’t challenge local and state governments to formulate a socio-economic agenda that will create industries, which will employ the masses as well as address the needs of their constituents.
Secondly, it breeds a level of complacency that no matter what socio-economic outcome a state achieves or doesn’t achieve it will be awarded for being non-productive or mediocre on an individual, communal, and local/state level. Lastly, it doesn’t permit for elected officials to be held accountable to their constituencies. This is an unfortunate command-control structure inherited from Nigeria’s military days that continues to cause social and economic disarray vis-à-vis local/state and federal government jurisdiction.
Clearly, the structural and institutional inefficiencies that plagues Nigeria seems to be a symptom of a federal government that indirectly encourages a culture of non-productivity by monopolizing political power from local and state governments, which hinders polices that shape public value creation and socio-economic gains on the local and state government level. Moreover, even if major government reform has been undertaken, to decentralize the overarching reach of the federal government, the only sustainable way forward would be to ensure that government accountability and transparency become part and parcel of Nigeria’s political culture. There are too many elected officials getting away unscathed without consequence or reprieve after gorging themselves in unbridled greed, which has led to the economic genocide of many Nigerians.
In the final analysis, there seems to be a pervasive political culture in Nigeria and Africa, which believes that political saviors will be elected overnight to materialize change in the daytime. Such notions are rooted in fantasy and not grounded reality; it’s very similar to dreaming of losing weight when one’s daily eating habits aren’t structured in accordance with a well-balanced diet. Similarly, the thought of political change can only be entertained in Nigeria once local and state governments are able to determine their political and economic realities, respectively, while simultaneously being able to hold their elected officials accountable in an atmosphere of transparency by their constituencies.
Hopefully, in addition to President Buhari’s stellar and impeccable moral leadership, which outpaces most of his contemporaries; he will devote the time to address fundamental government reform in effectuating lasting and permanent change. Government reform, that decentralizes the federal government’s economic and political power, is the only practical proposal and solution a political messiah can bring to Nigerians not himself.
Solomon Adewale Sogunro is Nigerian political enthusiast. He studied history and public administration, as an undergraduate and graduate student, respectively at Brigham Young University in the United States. He works as a government consultant and organizational instructor.